I read somewhere that in relation to how long Earth has existed, humans we have been around just four hours, and in that time we have used up half the world’s resources. When you consider there are 4.3 new humans created every second, and then you consider we already kill 56 billion land animals, and many, many more sea life, for food each year, and considering the impact of this on animals, the environment, and human health:
“Much of the growing demand for animal products worldwide is being met by concentrated animal feeding operations, or factory farms. Worldwide, some 56 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food each year. Factory farms account for 67 percent of poultry meat production, 50 percent of egg production, and 42 percent of pork production. These facilities rely on commercial breeds of livestock, usually pigs and chickens, that have been bred to gain weight quickly on high-protein feeds. Factory farms are also very crowded, confining animals closely together-many of the world’s 17 billion hens and meat chickens each live in an area that is less than the size of a sheet of paper. Cattle in feedlots often stand knee-high in manure and arrive at slaughterhouses covered in feces.”
(World Watch Institute, a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C.)
…it is clear that the diet adopted currently by much of the world, is simply not sustainable.
Not Eating Animals
So what’s the answer? The answer is something frequently termed “veganism”, but I don’t like the term anymore, I don’t like it because going around saying “I’m a vegan” causes people to think you’re doing something special or you’re in some kind of club. I’m not doing anything special and I’m not in any club.
I’ve simply realised and comprehended fully the impact of this so-called “normal” diet consisting of arbitrarily chosen animals factory farmed in the most inhumane and unhealthy conditions possible, is certainly not a viable option for this planet, my own health, or the other animals involved.
So whether your primary motivation is environmentalism, personal or public health, feminism (due to violation of the female reproductive system in farmed animals, notably cows), or simply animal suffering, the answer always begins with not participating in the practice of breeding, raising, slaughtering, and eating animals.
I’ve looked outside of this particular time and place, and this society which tells us certain things are normal, have always been done, and should always be.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Eating Meat! – Socially Acceptable Moral Wrongs
Wherever you live in the world at whichever point in time; nowhere is right up-to-date with what is morally objectively right. Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right, and vice versa. When I “went vegan” all I did was bring my actions in line with my moral code. My moral code includes “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, and as soon as you realise you would not want done to you the myriad of torturous practices that you know we practice on animals, then you can no longer justify doing these things to others – Animals qualify as others.
When you go into a shop and pick up a piece of an animal, you are not “doing unto others as you would have done unto you”, it’s that simple. I don’t identify as a Christian, but I do identify as a good person, and I do think that particular “teaching” is a sound guide for my actions. In short, not eating animals is not a personal choice, it is ceasing to do something which you never should have been doing – contributing to a socially accepted atrocity.
Many things are and have been socially acceptable, that doesn’t make them right. Ending your participation in the socially accepted moral wrong of supporting the trade in meat and dairy is no more outlandish than someone native to a country which practices female genital mutilation deciding not to practice that when their culture encourages it. It’s no different to someone in a country where they eat cats proclaiming that practice is wrong.
Did you know that only in 1991 did it come into law in the UK that one could commit rape against his own wife? Previous to this, one’s wife was considered one’s property and the term “rape” could not apply to forcing oneself upon her? Did you know beastiality is still legal in many countries, and in fact the sale and distribution of zoophilic pornography was only made illegal in the UK in 2008?
These facts are indicative of how far we still have to progress morally as a species.
So when you think about the absurdity of excluding exploitation from your diet, consider instead how absurd this practice will look to future generations, when we have evolved a little more as a species.
But, We’re Better than Animals
We say we are above other animals because we are more rational, more cognitively able. Yet we use these characteristics which supposedly elevate us “above” other animals as the very justifications for enslaving them at our discretion. That simply does not make sense. Either we are better or we aren’t, and I believe we can be better:
Where the lion rips the flesh from the baby deer, we have the cognitive ability to realise that that baby deer feels physical pain from that exchange, and she is not a willing participant. The lion acts “on instinct” and lions don’t practice a moral code in the way humans do, and when you look at what we are going to animals in the name of “food” you realise it is not morally sound. You realise this, and you stop doing it. It’s that simple.
As humans, we use our cognitive superiority to make decisions which cause the least harm possible to others. Animals qualify as others.
But, Animals Are Food!
Dead bodies are not food, and whilst lactate secretions are food; they are a species-specific baby food designed specifically for not only a certain species, but a certain baby. I do realise that “animals are not food” is a new concept for some, and such people often ask me “but what do you eat!?”
I eat food. I don’t eat body parts or lactate secretions.
Ziggy! Someone wants to eat you!!
If your diet consists of dead bodies and breast secretions, that is not food, that is a product of a faux pas in human history that will one day be looked back upon as a massive indiscretion, much like human slavery is today.
Coco! Someone wants to eat you!!
To include packed up body parts and breast secretions in your shopping list is as absurd as it is to go to market and buy a slave; perhaps purchase a young boy but reason you don’t require a middle aged female at this point, therefore you buy the boy, yet leave his mother screeching in emotional agony as her offspring is ripped from her arms to go home to tend your cotton crops – for these are commodities, not worthy of moral consideration. They don’t look like us, they are reckoned not to think like us, so we can do with them as we please.
The situation above is a black mark in history, but the very same situation occurs today, especially in the dairy industry.
Piggy, someone wants to eat you!
Just as all people, all animals are worthy of moral consideration, yet at this point and place in time, this is not realised fully. This will not always be the case, and the choices you make will determine on which side of history you will be. Will you be an Elizabeth Eckford, or will you be a Rosa Parks? Will you shout at those trying to progress our society away from cruelty and into equality, or will you stand up for equality no matter how much those behind you shout?
Are You Ready?
So if you are ready to take the easiest and most immediate step towards a compassionate lifestyle, if you are ready to move out from behind the cover of social acceptance that has and still allows atrocities such as slavery, the holocaust, female genital mutilation, bestiality, stoning to death, child brides etc. etc. etc. to continue, I will share with you what I eat.
I know it’s a bit difficult at first and you get told you’re being silly a lot, but so did slavery abolitionists, so do women’s rights activists in nations where they stone you to death for adultery, so did people who said the Earth was round, and so did Rosa Parks. All across the globe humans are still evolving, and there are people standing up against social injustice, even when it is difficult.
All struggles are interconnected. There is no moral difference between the struggle against the oppression of women or ethnic minorities, or other species, and standing up against them can range from risky to enjoyable, from depressing to uplifting.
YOU can be a part of the solution rather than the problem from this very moment, you can start with your diet (Part Two, a staple guide to cooking with food).