Are you an animal lover? Do you care about our environment? Do you care about your health? Do you value compassion? If the answer to any of these is yes, please read on. If the answer to all of these is no, read on anyway. This post is long, and yet it will only scrape the surface of all there is to unload about this issue. Because it is an indescribably important issue. One that reaches down to the very depth of our souls, plumbs the darkest crevices of our humanity and our inhumanity alike, and begs the very question of who we are as human beings. The ultimate question being: is the human being the custodian and caretake of our great planet and it’s creatures? or is the the tyrant king of all creatures, the one thriving being in a world filled with lessor creatures suffering at his hands for his benefit alone?
I don’t eat animals or the byproducts that animals create. I don’t eat animals because I don’t believe in killing innocent beings who have no wish do die. I don’t eat animal byproducts because I don’t believe in stealing away resources which individuals have created for their own comunities through their own bodily processes or labors. I believe all individuals should have the rights to their happiness, their families, and their health. All of which are taken, in various undeniable ways, from non-human animals who are subjected to animal agriculture.
I think that the average meat eater looks at this view I’ve just expressed: that using animal byproducts is stealing, and thinks it’s like i’m saying “I’m opposed to breathing because I don’t want to steal the oxygen from our atmosphere.”
Meat eaters think this way because we’ve all been taught that non-human animals are here on this earth for the purpose of being consumed by humans, and that just as it is in their nature to be consumed, it is in our nature to consume them. This is the argument many meat-eaters fall back on when asked to consider the morality of their choice to contribute to the premature deaths of animals.
The average internet-user is bombarded by propaganda on a daily basis from companies all trying to make a case for why their cause, their product, their diet is a change for GOOD. Good for your hair, your health, your summer bod, your relationships, your self-esteem etc.
In order to keep up, Animal rights activists are often faced with the very strange work of making their goals seem MORE selfish, so that the public
will listen to them. Vegan activists are seen as radical, crazed, and unrealistic because they want to make a change for the good of animalkind, and not JUST humankind. For that, they are seen as reductionist, dangerous; capable of threatening the delicate cycle of human selfishness that human beings have so diligently established here on earth.
Animal rights activists want to see an end to industries in which animals are kept in horrifying conditions, their living bodies treated as edible flesh vessels. These are people who would rather see animals roam free and happy on sanctuaries than rot away diseased, caged, and desperate, their lives cut short and what remains of them sold for a profit. This is a cause for a different kind of GOOD. Good for another. A “greater” good, if you will.
Because animal rights itself is a selfless cause, activist have the bewildering task of shifting the conversation to the human health impacts of eating meat, the human disease spread caused by factory farming, the impact on the environment we depend on to survive, the human labor issues involved in the meat industry, and the links between eating animal flesh and cancer.
Thankfully, as you can gather from the long list of options i’ve just given, It has been incredibly easy for activists to find more “relatable” less “radical” reasons to give up meat then simply admitting to ourselves that we do, and should, feel empathy towards those outside our own species. There are many legitimate and terrifying consequences that humans have been and will continue to suffer because of our contribution to and participation in the abuse, slaughter, and consumption of animals through animal agriculture. But these are simply the symptoms of a much greater, much more terrifying disease. It’s a virus made up of complacency towards systems that harm others, as long as we feel those systems benefit us. Its a virus of blindness towards abuse when that abuse is done in a setting in which we can normalize it. It’s a sickness of widespread violence condoning.
In our search for a way to break free of violence-condoning mindsets we need to ask ourselves the questions we like to avoid. Do we deserve healthy lives free of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and pandemics, when we contribute to this? Do we deserve to raise healthy happy children in an environment that they can thrive in, when we deprive non-human animals of their health and happiness, take their children from them, and profit from the breast milk we deprive their babies of? Do we deserve to go home to the comfort of our beds when night after night billions of animals struggle to rest amid the stench of feces and death, unable to get a morsel of comfort in their miserable lives, their feet growing into the wires beneath them, so that farmers can profit?
Not a single meat eater I know could do to an animal what is systematically done to animals on a daily basis on the farms they get their meat and dairy from. Not unless they believed it was their ONLY means of survival. But because we don’t participate in the actual “raising” of animals, and by that I mean the abuse and enslavement of animals, and we don’t participate in the slaughter of the animals we eat, we absolve ourselves of the guilt in the act that we pay for. People have become comfortable with distancing themselves from the guilt in this issue, and they not only condone it in others, but any suggestions that eating animals might be morally questionable causes some to become so defensive that they are altogether incapable of participating in a conversation. Why is it such a touchy topic? because most of us LOVE animals. We don’t want to imagine that we are responsible for the deaths of our furry friends. But if we eat meat or dairy, then we are.
We’ve become comfortable with the lie we tell ourselves that we actually have no hand whatsoever in what happened to the animal on our plate. That death was simply inevitable, people tell themselves.
It would seem that people don’t like to believe they can make a difference, because then they would have to make a change.
Peta estimates that on average a person can save 100 animal lives every year by going vegan. But thats not the truth. Because you don’t save lives by going vegan. You stop taking lives. I went vegetarian at age 16, and I went vegan in just January of this year. I have contributed to the deaths of over 1600 animals. I made a difference then, when I chose to eat animals, and I make a difference now, by choosing not to fund those who will profit off of their deaths. We make choices. Our actions cannot be excused by our culture just because our society tries to make our hideous actions invisible to our own eyes.
SO yes, eating plant-based is better for your personal health, yes, by going vegan you stop funding an industry that will likely be the source of our next pandemic, yes, by going vegan you will lessen your negative impact on your environment. If you need a more personal motivator to stop eating animals then feel free to pick any of the valid and pressing issues above that are directly related to Animal Ag.
But should you need any of those incentives to know that we should not pay industries to willfully deprive non-human animals of their longevity, their families, and their health, and that we should not uphold a “food” system that confines and abuses living beings in order to profit off of their bodily functions? No. So please stop killing animals, and start making a positive difference.