So Why Be Vegan?
I think the starting point is that we all feel. It’s that simple. Human and non-human, we are all sentient. We all have a central nervous system, along with a face, eyes, nose, ears; the same cognitive intelligence and the same spectrum of emotions - from joy to fear. We feel pain in the same way, and our inherent desire is to live and to live in a world free from pain and suffering. The fact that animals are considered ‘sentient’ ( thinking and feeling) is even enshrined in UK legislation. A perverse anomaly then, that we readily accept their ability to feel pain, yet slaughter billions of them in the most barbaric and appalling way, each year.
One of the problems is that we’ve become so conditioned by axioms like: ‘we need meat for protein’ or ‘dairy for calcium and strong bones,’ and we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that we cannot be healthy without animal products when nothing could be further from the truth. What the Health.
We’ve also come to view animals as commodities; as things, ingredients, disposable and not worthy of our compassion. This has enabled industries such as the meat and dairy to continue exploiting and abusing these animals in the most appalling way because we as a society give them no intrinsic value, and therefore give our permission to continue.
The biggest myth on animal slaughter is that there is such a thing as ‘humane slaughter;’ not only is this an oxymoron, it is entirely untrue and untenable. Killing an animal takes considerable violence, whether it is cutting their throat or herding them into a gas chamber; they scream in terror, thrash, kick and fight with every instinct not to die. There is no right way to do the wrong thing, only fallacious labels marketeers attach to packets to assuage our own conscience and sense of guilt. As the self-titled 'most evolved' species, I believe it is incumbent on us to exercise compassion and justice towards other animals who cannot defend or speak for themselves. Those without a voice or a choice.
We are all related, at one time evolving from one another. So in a sense, the animals we exploit, abuse and kill - they are our very distant relations. To my mind, that is as unconscionable as it is short-sighted. Our entire eco-system is sustained by the interconnectivity between species, so killing them by the trillion a year, we are not only destroying our own habitat and creating an apocalyptic future, but in a very real sense, we are destroying ourselves and our own humanity.
I have seen footage of slaughter house practice, both in UK & abroad, and there are no words to describe the hell on earth these sentient fellow animals feel during the moments leading up to their death. The vast majority of them have been miserably treated, deprived of every natural right, freedom or kindness throughout their short, misery-filled lives. The overwhelming majority of farm animals have never seen natural light.
Whether it's an 'organic' or factory farm, the end game is horrifically the same. Crammed into crates on trucks, they are transported en mass, terrified and deprived of water, separated from their friends and families. The treatment they endure is nothing short of sadistic, as countless undercover documentaries, notably the 2018 film 'Land of Hope and Glory' which exposed the colossal scale of cruelty and abuse on over 300 UK farms.
It is routine practice for farm workers and slaughterhouse workers to play sadistic games with the animals they are about to slaughter, the details of which are too appalling to cite. The level of aggression and sadism against these helpless, terrified animals is incalculable. When they finally arrive at the slaughterhouse, they are chronically dehydrated and disoriented. Many are with their young babies or are pregnant. Can you imagine the terror of a mother trying to protect her young, not understanding what is happening to her or why? It is a natural law that all parents experience; the fundamental emotion of wanting to protect their families and to live. No animal, human or non-human desires death.
Pigs are either herded into mass gas chambers where they are pumped with co2 gas which burns them from the inside out; their cries of terror and pain witnessed from outside as they thrash and gasp for air are relentless.
Otherwise, they are strung up and have their throats sliced open and left hanging upside down while they bleed out, fully conscious, fighting for their last breaths. This is standard practice in the UK.
In Belgium and other countries such as Australia, fully conscious pigs are lowered into 'scolding tanks' of boiling water to remove their tiny coat hairs.
Pigs are known to be more cognitively aware than the average 3-year-old human being. They are superior in intelligence to dogs and can exhibit problem-solving skills previously only observed with primates. Mother pigs 'sing' to their young while nursing them, and over twenty oinks and grunts have been identified by behaviourists to symbolise different meanings, from 'I'm hungry' to 'I'm terrified.'
The natural life expectancy of a cow can range to 25 years. The lifespan for a farm cow is 5 years. This is after she has been forcibly impregnated via what's termed in the dairy industry as a 'rape rod,' and human manipulation of her cervix. Semen is forcibly taken by a male cow by electrocuting him.
She will endure multiple pregnancies (nine months gestation, as humans) with each baby being taken away from her within hours of birth. The male calves, considered 'waste products' by the dairy industry are shot through the head, at only a few hours or days old, and used for veal. The females are hooked up machines in a relentless and painful cycle that continues for another four to five years until she too is considered used up.
Mother cows are known to cry for their babies for weeks after their separation. Again this is all testifiable, and even farmers acknowledge that this forcible separation is acutely distressing for both mother and baby. Baby calves can be heard wailing for their mothers as they are dragged away by farmers, to be confined in crates, alone, cold and frightened. They have never known their mother's breath, comfort, or their milk.
Land of Hope and Glory (UK 'Earthlings' Documentary)
Baby Calves Kicked, Beaten, and Chained in Crates for Veal
The disgusting treatment of dairy cows and their calves!
The REAL Price of Meat | One Cow's Heartbreaking Trip to Slaughter
All of this so humans can drink their milk; a growth hormone designed by nature to grow a baby calf into a two-ton cow. Cow milk constituents include pus, hormones, antibiotics, semen and other foreign bodies now known to be cancerous and wholly unsuitable to the human system. Humans are the only animals on the planet to drink milk from another species.
Below are some links to information showing how bad for the human system dairy milk is in reality:
Chickens, Geese and Duck
Again, the marketers would have us believe that chickens live a contented ‘cage’ free, happy life, laying eggs when it suited them and generally enjoying themselves.
The truth couldn’t be more opposite. Chickens are pumped full of growth hormones to fatten them at a rate their bodies cannot cope with. They are unable to walk or even stand, crammed into cages in stinking factories. Their short lives are riddled with pain, disease, mutilation and physical abuse.
Free-range Prisons & The Welfare Myth
‘The irony of free-range egg production is that its success because of ethical concerns has led to increased stocking densities and intensification. Our investigation shows they are nothing short of factory farms. Hens are not placed in the free-range units until they are 18-21 weeks old, during which time they are kept in intensive sheds in their thousands. This conditions them to stay indoors, something which is encouraged because of the ‘hassle’ of collecting eggs from outside. In their first weeks, young birds were shocked into submission by electric wires running along the feeders and drinkers to prevent them from defecating on their food’ - Viva undercover documentary on the false claims around free-range chickens.
Free range 'organic' 'humane' eggs are utter myths. On any 'free-range' farm, chickens are crammed into barns with the average space of an iPad each. No natural sunlight, or water, with filthy conditions, disease and cannibalisation are rife.
Chickens naturally lay between 10-20 eggs a year, not the 300 they are genetically mutilated to lay. This places enormous strain on them, and many die from malnutrition and illness.
The dairy and egg industry is every bit as cruel as the meat - baby calves taken from their mothers at 24 hours old, shot through the head, or sold for veal, where they will be strung up and have their throats slit open, to bleed to death, watched by the ones awaiting their turn.
The other dark side of the egg industry is that ALL male chicks, considered no use by the industry, are at birth taken and placed onto a conveyor belt, where they are systematically ground up alive in machines. This is standard practice throughout the UK: Hatched, discarded, gassed: What happens to male chicks in the UK
One of the most disturbing things I have witnessed is the treatment of geese in the production of Foie Gras. So cruel is it that there are several on-going petitions to demand an end to it, here in the UK:
The filling inside our pillows and jackets, down has horrific cruelty attached to it. With ethical alternatives available, there is no excuse for this appalling level of brutality:
Today 56 billion land animals are slaughtered for food every year. That doesn't account for the sea animals which rough estimates equate to 970 – 2,700 billion; the planet is buckling under the weight of 7 billion citizens.
Specifically, 55 square feet of rainforest for every single meal with meat and every six seconds, an acre of rainforest is cut down for cattle farming. It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. In an age of global poverty, with the current estimate at 1 billion people starving, this is obscene.
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Cows emit 150 billion gallons of methane per day. Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time frame. Methane is more toxic than c02 & nitrous oxide. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined emissions from global transportation.
After learning this, I was clear that I wanted to live my life to my highest ideals of non-violence and justice, by consciously causing the least amount of harm, while still living it to the fullest. I wanted all the taste, fun and adventure life could offer without compromising my morals & I didn’t have to. Believe me, I’m pretty demanding customer when it comes to the things I love; food, health, beauty and travel.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all freshwater consumption in the world today.
What I quickly discovered was that a vegan lifestyle enables you not just to live, but to THRIVE. Two years in & I have never felt more alive (or eaten better) & I have discovered a world bursting with taste and beauty, and I’m incredibly excited to share it.
Of course, it’s not a complete antidote to life’s challenges, but what I have found is I am a lot healthier on the whole, with niggling little health problems just disappearing. My skin, which has always been sensitive, is now calm and happy, and I have a surplus of energy.
Above all of this, however, is my conscious decision to try and leave the planet, in my small way, a better place than I came into it. Even above this, is my desire to protect and respect all non-human beings who I share my habitat with.
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese. 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Did you know that animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction? Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans.
We are officially in the six mass extinction; the largest mass extinction in 65 million years, directly attributable to human activity.
We will see fishless oceans by 2048.
Think about that for a second. Make the connection and go Vegan. For them, you and the planet we share together x
Factual credits: Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, PETA, Cowspiracy Documentary. All footage of live transportation, farm abuse and abattoir slaughter available via youtube.