“I wish I could be vegan, but I love [insert dead animal] too much”, “don’t you miss bacon?”, “do you ever cheat?”, “can’t you just pick the meat out?”… these utterings have become the soundtrack to my life since cutting animal produce from my diet. Stowing my mental revolver, I try to respond to ignorant questioning with patience, knowledge and positivity. It can be seriously tiresome and irritating to address some of these queries – “no I can’t just pick out the meat, would you pick a severed finger out of your food and eat the rest of it?” – but I think it’s vitally important for the liberation of animals to consistently face negatively judgemental attitudes with the positive case for veganism, or indeed vegetarianism.
I intend to address the attitude of some carnivores in this blog by stating some aspects of the case for veganism, for readers who aren’t already enlightened.
In the US, more chickens are eaten per year that there are human beings on Earth. Before slaughter, they live a life similar to that of a pair of old trainers, cramped at the bottom of the wardrobe with no air. Chickens are separated by gender, the males are for dipping in tomato sauce while the females provide scrambled egg.
As for cows, or ‘beef’, many spend their lives deprived of their natural field environment, living indoors without air or freedom of movement. Even those who are treated ‘ethically’ by being allowed outdoors spend some of their time in cramped, filthy conditions, breathing in chemicals from the piles of manure which surround them. Meat-cows are sustained on an unnatural diet, designed to fatten them up for consumption, which can cause severe metabolic problems and pain. There have been reported cases of cows making a bid for freedom on route to the slaughter house, only to have their meaningless lives ended. The animals travel in large, cram-packed vehicles and often suffer extreme exhaustion. When they arrive at the abattoir, they are shot with a stun gun to placate them for slaughter. An average cow could live up to twenty years, however these practices limit the lifespan of a dairy cow to three or four years and even less for meat-cows. In some cases the shooting procedure is not carried out properly and the cows experience a brutal death in fear,
“still conscious as they’re skinned and dismembered” (PETA)
There are environmental implications to the meat industry too. The United Nations released a report in 2010 that warned of the dangerous effects that the meat industry has on the environment. Factory farms are one of the main contributors of air pollution in the US, due to the irresponsible treatment of manure and the transportation of produce which emit not only a wretched stench but chemical pollutants and greenhouse gases which have dangerous implications on climate change.
Across Western societies people are horrified by the notion of dog meat, yet wet their lips at the mention of rashers of pig muscle. Pigs are among the five most intelligent species, rating higher than dogs, and display real signs of emotional intelligence – yet one is murdered whilst the other is loved.
To a vegan there is no difference between a dog and a pig, or a chicken or a cow. We are all animals, just because human kind is deemed the most intelligent does not entitle us to dictate which other species get to live or die.
If you are a meat-eater, consider this for a moment.
The steak, chicken, burger, bacon, ham that you sink your teeth into is death on a plate in the eyes of a vegan. If you think for a moment, it’s abundantly clear why you can’t just pick the meat out, or have cheat day, or why we don’t miss bacon. Veganism is not a diet alone, it is a lifestyle and a set of fundamental values.
The mainstream contempt towards vegans breeds the reactionary attitude of the ‘obnoxious vegan’. Some meat-eaters don’t like to be ‘preached’ to because effectively they don’t like to feel responsible for the mass murder of food industries, similarly some vegans are offended by ignorant questions because the choice they have made is a crucial aspect to their personhood.
The moral of the story is that a little bit of understanding goes a long way.
Additional information at: http://www.vegansociety.com/sites/default/files/CompassionForAnimalsedited.pdf