of livestock raised in the US are in brutalizing of factory farms. To learn about what you are DIRECTLY enabling, see the “From Farm to Fridge
” 10-min video at Mercy for Animals or on YouTube, or “Meat Video
”, or better still Earthlings.com
(Earthlings is an hour and a half documentary, free for eye-opening viewing online), or a lecture by Gary Yourofsky
: “Cage-free”/“free-range” in the US for chicken eggs means the hens are in one very large cage, still full of feces, still de-beaked (beaks have nerve endings, like your fingers!) and still unable to spread their wings – and their brothers were sent through grinders or crushed and suffocated in trash bins upon birth. “Organic” for beef cows can still mean crammed immobilizing feedlots, if not a pool of their own “free-range” feces. Even if an animal is free-range AGA Grassfed (highest US standard) there are ZERO regulations against physical abuse (so the animals may still be beaten by bullies seeking a power trip) or transportation (so infants can still be thrown around, as they are objects to the farmers), or slaughter (so they may still choke on their own blood for twenty minutes). Dairy cows (after someone shoves a steel rod into their vaginas to inseminate them) are pregnant their entire very short lives (sparing 2-3 months between pregnancies) until their milk production slows, at which time they become hamburgers (and their female children suffer the same fate while the male infants are likewise stolen from the mother immediately (so that humans can drink her milk instead) and shoved into immobilizing crates and sold as veal in their first week of life). PS vegetarians, 90% of hamburgers are spent dairy cows. And if you think brutality like THIS
is isolated, just ask yourself: Do you think slaves are typically treated well?
ETHICS: No livestock live full lives, and ALL have the same instincts that we do for self-preservation. None of them WANT to die, nor do they even submit to it – they all struggle when they are slaughtered, just as you would. (They have the same basic neurological structures as we do for the experiences of pain, pleasure, fear, and desire.) Moreover there is NO SUCH THING as “humane” slaughter (I will be willing to change my position on that if you are willing to test such a thing out on your dog if you have one, or otherwise your loved ones, or your self). They have done nothing to hurt you. They are all caged and killed against their will. THOUSANDS of them, just for you as the average American consumer. For your habit (which, PS, you aren’t losing anything because the taste can be substituted superbly (don’t make that face until you’ve tried several), and you are gaining SO MUCH in health and new flavours (as I’m pretty sure there are more flavours of vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds than there are of carcass)).
: Globally, livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation (see the FAO report that put the global stat at 18%; or the WorldWatch repor
t arguing why it could easily be much higher, as the FAO excluded quite a few substantial items). Also see nature.org for a good run-down on why we need to curb emissions to slow climate change
. Livestock use 1/3 of our arable (plant-able) land (for their metabolisms (1lb beef requires 7-13lbs grain)). 1lb of beef also requires approximately over 20x as much water as 1lb of corn or 15x as much water as 1lb of wheat or 10x as much water as 1lb of soybeans or 4x times as much water as 1lb rice. Even if AGA Grassfed, the cows still require massive amounts of water to grow the grass in regions where it does not rain year-round (ie California) (not to mention methane emissions). Livestock also pollute water and soil.
ENVIRONMENT: Don’t tell me that one slice of cheese is negligible. Everyone eating one piece of cheese even once a week is a damned lot of dairy production. If everyone said “my vote doesn’t matter” then no one would vote and we wouldn’t have democracy. “What is the ocean but a multitude of drops?” You HAVE to be the change we need to see, or you give everyone else the right to care just as little.
ENVIRONMENT: Check out Allan Savory’s TED Talk on Holistic Management, which is an approach that can arguably heal desertifying land by letting ruminant livestock graze while migrating. But unless your meat is from a Holistically Managed ranch, it is extremely environmentally destructive.
EVOLUTION: We evolved to BE ABLE TO eat meat when necessary to our survival. Now with agriculture, it is not (and in terms of climate change, it is actually rather necessary TO NOT consume animal products). Just because it is in your genes does not justify it – rape and genocide and the seeds of racism are written into your programming too, but we don’t use that to rationalize them. We have laws and morals to overcome the destructive impulses of violence in our genetic programming. PS: Put a baby, a bunny, and an apple in a crib – which does the kid play with, and which do they eat? Unlike carnivores, you don’t have an impulse to hunt everything that moves, because you don’t NEED it.
CIRCLE OF LIFE: Other omnivores and carnivores eat other animals TO SURVIVE. We are not required to brutalize nor kill other fully sentient lifeforms in order to survive, much less to be healthy, now that we have agriculture. Google “plant-based diet” for plenty of information on nutrition. Or watch Forks Over Knives. Ultimately, they do not need to die for us to live.
"BUT OTHER THINGS WE DO DO DAMAGE": 98% of the animals we abuse and kill are for food that we do not require. This is not about a black/white paradigm of absolutes. Nothing else we do does this much damage, ethically or ecologically (nor is anything else so utterly unnecessary).
PLANTS: Plants are not sentient. They do not feel pain. They do not have, as animals with central nervous systems do, fundamentally identical neurological structures to yourself. But go on, try swatting at wasps and see if they do not engage in a fight response to your threat. Try chasing a mouse and see if they don’t demonstrate a flight response to your fear stimulus. Whack a dog with a hammer and see if they do not cry out in pain. Plants do not experience pain or fear, nor do they have an instinct for self-preservation, as they simply do not have a brain. Oh, and PS, when you eat another animal, you kill the sentient animal AND all the plants it ever had to consume. Again, we need plants to survive, while the [brutalization and] slaughter of OTHER fully sentient animals is not necessary for our life.
PROTEIN: It is a common misconception that vegans have to replace their meat and milk intake with soy products. Soy is hard on our digestive systems, not to mention the phytoestrogens, so it is better not to use it. The average American consumes twice as much protein as we need – and we can get what we need just from consuming the veggies in the produce aisle. If you are an athlete and want more, then nuts, seeds, and especially beans are fantastic (and beans are also fibrous and nutrient-rich, and do not have the saturated fat and other junk that meat does, and are cheaper than carcass too). Check out veganbodybuilding.com for proof right before your eyes that there is nothing lacking in a balanced vegan diet. Also look up the “Plant-strong & healthy living” TED Talk (from TEDxFremont) by Rip Esselstyn, a vegan firefighter.
HEALTH: A balanced plant-based diet is no compromise to your health, and IS in many ways an immense improvement (from dropping the sat fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and other junk). Frankly, do what you like with your own body – just don’t hurt others (which animal product consumption very much does, between the direct slaughter of other fully sentient lifeforms AND the acceleration of climate change which will (er, has already started to) affect you and your loved ones and your species designation and all earthlings).
COLLATERAL SLAUGHTER: We kill 700,000 marine birds and mammals every year when we catch wild fish. Did I mention the oceans are also acidifying (and so ecosystems are being severely damaged, which PS also means a domino effect that comes back to you) due to climate change (while a minimum of 1/5th of our emissions are from livestock production)?
DISCRIMINATION: If you don’t want males to treat females as objects, or people with particularly pale skin to treat people with pigmentation that is decidedly “darker enough” as objects, why is it okay for YOU to treat OTHER fully sentient lifeforms as objects?
JUSTICE: Do you not mind when people hurt you because they feel like it, just because you are powerless to stop them? “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” has no exception clause for “unless they are powerless to you.” They scream, they cry, they struggle, they fight, they suffer – just as your dog would in their situation, and just as you would in their “shoes”.
TO PRO-CHOICE-ERS: You’re pro-choice because you understand that before 4-6 months the fetus is not capable of feeling pain should it be aborted, right? So presumably you value sentience more than genetic composition? Huh.
TO PRO-LIFE-ERS: Why do you value the life of a pre-sentient cell cluster more than the life of a fully sentient animal that is not 100% your DNA? (Oh PS, neither is any other human in the “homo sapiens” species designation 100% your DNA.)
TO ENVIRONMENTALISTS: Look beyond the pink slab or the white paste to see the excess greenhouse gas emissions. Is it the responsibility of the engineers to save the world, or is it everyone’s, including yours?
TO DOCTORS: 80% of our antibiotics are used in factory-farmed animals (rather than maintain ANY hygienic standards – this way they can live in their feces).
TO DOCTORS: If you put your patients before your profit, get the animal products out of their bodies, since most of our major health problems are entirely attributable to the animal products in our disgusting diets. Prevention is ALWAYS better than pills.
TO DEMOCRATS: You get so angry about Republicans egocentrically profiteering their way up financial ladders at the expense of others. If you want to improve empathy in our selfish sociopathic society that praises military rapists and murderers more than the people they rape and murder (not to mention artists, scientists, charity volunteers, and children unable to afford an education), then do unto those powerless to you as you would have those more powerful than yourself do to you. To consider one sentient life inferior to another, with no regard for the pain that the other is capable of experiencing, IS racism and sexism and every other bigotry. We have drawn lines around skin colour and anatomical sex and sexual identity, which were all normative at the time, and now the status-quo (for self-proclaimed liberals, at least) has expanded to all homo sapiens… but there are still pain-capable beings on the other side of that circle of acceptance. If I draw my line around humans, why is it not okay for Rush Limbaugh to draw his line around fair-skinned heterosexually-identifying cis-males? That line is merely tighter – so maybe mine is MORE ethical, but WHY STOP THERE? The entire point of morality is to refrain from hurting people BECAUSE IT HURTS THEM, because you would have them not hurt you if they were in a position to do so.
TO THOSE FOR PEACE: Really? REALLY? You are literally consuming violence and death. For your own habit.
RATIONALIZATION: Rationalizing something by its normativity doesn’t make it right, whether that’s the majority of casualties in modern war being civilian; whether that’s the enslavement of people with darker pigmentation than you; whether that’s objectifying the female body and insisting on its submission; whether that’s discriminating against people for their sexuality; or whether that’s brutalizing and slaughtering other sentient lifeforms for a taste habit (that is long gone after a month – and that you can actually substitute pretty damned well these days if you do want to keep the taste of pus and morphine (dairy), period (eggs), or blood, flesh, veins, muscles, and tendons around) with ZERO necessity for your survival, much less your health, much less your fulfillment (no, transient hedonistic pleasure-seeking does NOT contribute to overall or long-term happiness, to think so is to be manipulated by the marketers who convince you that, through materialism, you will improve your life by giving them your money; no vegan is psychologically/emotionally lacking because they aren’t consuming animal products).
WHEN THE CONSUMPTION OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS IS RATIONAL WHEN NOT NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL: If you are a total anarchist, if you are entirely about a free-for-all (regardless of the fact that in the first-world country you CHOOSE to live in you enjoy clean water and safety and education and a voice because others fought for you to have those), then I cannot respect your position, but I cannot argue with it, because it is not hypocritical. If, however, you would have others not hurt you simply because they felt like it; if you would ever call the police or file a lawsuit or protest any law or make any complaint about social justice or in any way expect others to treat YOU as they would have you treat them, then you are a hypocrite to not do unto others as you would have them do to you (again, there is no clause there for a species designation nor an exception for those powerless to you).
If someone or something more powerful than yourself tried to brutalize and slaughter you, would you not hope that someone in a position to help would save you? Would you say nothing to the bystanders?
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
“When you’re not the victim, it becomes pretty easy to rationalize and excuse cruelty, injustice, inequality, slavery, and even murder” (Gary Yourofsky).
“What’s the argument for not causing the least amount of harm – inconvenience?” (Gary Yourofsky).
“My body will not be a tomb for other creatures” (Leonardo da Vinci).
“It often happens that the universal belief of one age, a belief from which no one was free or could be free without an extraordinary effort of genius or courage, becomes to a subsequent age, so palpable an absurdity that the only difficulty is to imagine how such an idea could ever have appeared credible” (John Stuart Mill).
“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them” (MLK).
“If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?” (Peter Singer)
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world” (Paul Farmer).
“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to” (Terri Swearingen).
"I’m not trying to convince people to live by my standards of what’s right, I’m trying to convince them to live by their own" (Jonathan Safran Foer).
That pink slab on your plate used to be a fully sentient being, like your dog and like you – and in their capacity to feel, they only knew pain.
When you go vegan, you give up nothing, and you and the world gain everything.
The corporations have drilled blinders into your skull. Take them off.
For compassion. For the environment. For your health. Go herbivore.