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In the year 2012 I made a new year’s resolution to eat an ethical diet. I called it eating ‘cruelty free’. At the time I wasn’t sure what that was but I made it my goal to find out. At first I assumed this meant simply avoiding foods where child and slave labor are often involved such as chocolate and coffee that are not fairly traded. I thought it meant avoiding foods that have been genetically modified by companies for unethical reasons. While these things as well as a few other things I have discovered are true,
I also thought eating ethically and cruelty free meant only eating animal products that came from organic, ethical, humane and/or family farms.
Since January 1, 2012 I have learned to my shock that there is no such thing.
I should have figured it out sooner than I did but I had been so conditioned to believe that my life was worth more than any farm animal that I never put two and two together. For example, the eating of something in and of itself which also requires the killing of something, now how in the world can that be cruelty free? That should have been obvious to me but 43 years of conditioning made it so it wasn’t. But it should have been obvious, especially if I had other things to eat and did not need to put another living being in my stomach for the sake of my own survival. To kill just for pleasure of taste . . . how could I have done this to another living creature? I had never thought about that before. But the abuses I uncovered not only opened my eyes to that fact, but it opened my eyes to animals in general: these peaceful creatures who have never harmed anyone or anything and the value of life itself, any life at all, not just my own.
The abuses I uncovered have scarred me for life. How could I not have known? Why did no one tell me? The following are a sampling of what I have learned. I warn you the links lead you to the dark side of the food industry. But please remember, there is no light side when it comes to animals and how they are being used. These links do not take you to the exceptions. I have learned that when it comes to using any living being without its consent for any human purpose abuses are an unavoidable consequence. The industries would have you believe otherwise. Are you convinced everything is just fine and that anything bad with regard to animals is minor? Then they have done their job well.
Even when there are seemingly no abuses, I must tell you that there still are. For almost every animal used for food or its products no matter where it lived its life or how ends up in a slaughterhouse. I did not want these things to be true so that I could continue my life as I always had. I didn’t want to give up cheese, dairy (remember dairy cows give birth in order to produce milk, the calf is taken away from her and these mothers cry click here to experience what she experiences), eggs (there is no such thing as free range once you investigate this further), fish. Around each and every corner, when it came to animals being used for food or as entertainment, in a zoo, at a circus, in a shelter, in a medical lab, a rodeo, a dog race and in other places that are simply unspeakable that you probably never even realized existed I found mental, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse and physical abuses some of which were so horrific they sank me to my knees with a despair and sadness of which I had never experienced before.
I realized that the animals, like me and in the same way as me and as a mother, feel pain, cry, give and receive love, possess intelligence and want to live their lives fully. As a culture we have been taught that these things are only true for some animals. And we believe it. The truth is that these things are true for all who live, not just for some who live. Click here to watch a video that might explain how we have come to disregard animals and their lives collectively as a culture.
I found these abuses to exist even in the most seemingly kindest of settings. It is an unavoidable consequence of viewing another living being as food or as something less than what it is- some of their rights must be taken away, least of which the right to live because every animal from the dairy cow to the egg laying hen will end up in dog food, a hot dog, a nugget or in the trash even while still alive. And their journey from one to the other will be filled with tremendous suffering along the way. Even a fish will suffer. Just because they are not like us does not mean they do not possess the same capability for tremendous suffering. In this we are all the same. Click here to read about the problem with believing that you and your life is worth more and therefore more valuable than the lives of others.
Click on any of the highlighted words in the previous two paragraphs to learn more. You can slough these off as isolated, not credible, whatever you want. It does not change the fact that if you truly research this further and get the knowledge for yourself that these things exist. Each link will take you to one example out of billions upon billions. Yes, billions, for just in the time it has taken you to read this far another 20,000 plus innocent loving creatures who lived a life of misery from birth to death have been slaughtered. Some of them never even having seen the sun’s rays until the day they are loaded onto the cramped transport truck with no water, no love, where many of them arrive at the slaughterhouse covered in their own feces and vomit already dead from being crushed, over heated and / or dehydrated. Innocent creatures who have never harmed another, yet who have never been known to anyone else except by a number drawn on their skin or stapled to their ear. Does this sound familiar?
To my surprise on May 27 I became what I call an accidental vegan. I never wanted to be one. I never set out to be one. I simply wanted to live a life that did not cause suffering for others. I learned that this meant eating a vegan diet and living a vegan lifestyle which I learned is not just what you eat. Veganism is how you act. It is living in a way that causes no harm as much as possible. This has permeated every facet of my life and influences every single decision I make. This was something I never could have anticipated! At the same time this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
Someone who eats a vegan diet and lives the lifestyle is a vegan. You can eat a vegan diet but not be vegan and my friends, that’s fine. But it is important to remember that veganism is not about what you eat. It is about your actions, all of them, and not just the act of eating. It is a caring to the nth degree and back again. It is an absolutely wonderful way to be and live. And unlike what you may think, it is not expensive, inconvenient, difficult or restricting. In fact I have never felt more free in my entire life. I do not spend more than I did before. And the only inconvenience or difficulty I had was overcoming the myths, the stereotypes, of veganism.
I now live in harmony with myself. This means that I am, at last, who I believe myself to be. Click here to find out if you are who you believe you are.
Now that I am vegan, it is also torturous for my eyes have been opened to suffering a mere trip to the grocery store causes a painful sorrow to the depths of my being as I try to avert my eyes from the animals. I no longer see ‘meat’. Click here to read more about the word meat and to see why this word is no different to any other racial slur. What I see is the truth, the reality for these living beings and their truth, the truth, is death. Click here to learn more about why we don’t consider ‘meat’ dead. Now, if there were horse in your hamburger, at this stage in our American culture you would probably think with heavy sadness about the death of that horse but it would not occur to you to think the same way of the cow. Click here to learn more about why this is.
I have often had people say to me “But those animals are already dead so isn’t it a waste of life not to eat them? Doesn’t that go against your philosophy?” Click here to read about why it is not considered a waste of life to not eat the animals that have already been killed.
The next thing most people will say to me is “but what about plants and their lives, isn’t that against your philosophy too?” Click here to learn why the eating of plants is not against the vegan philosophy.
There are many other questions people have asked me about the diet / lifestyle. I intend to address all of them in my “Where do you get your protein? And other questions answered / myths debunked” portion of my blog. Click on that to read what I have written about so far. Including “but isn’t it natural for humans to eat meat? It’s how we evolved” and “animals do it in nature, so its natural”. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written and look forward to any comments you may have.
I have learned so much more than I ever expected to since January 1, 2012. I leave you with a sampling:
The vegan diet is 100% nutritionally sound. I took two nutrition courses at Rochester Institute of Technology, one standard and one for sports, and both courses confirm this for whether you are an athlete of any kind or not.
All nutrition comes from plants, not animals. Calcium, iron and protein are only in animals because they eat plants or eat plants that ate an animal that ate plants.
Vitamin B12 is not in plants. But it does not come from animals either. It comes from soil and water. Vitamin D comes from the sun, not dairy milk. The industry adds this in the same as if it were a supplement from a pill.
It does not cost more money to eat this way. It costs less.
It does not take more time to eat this way – it takes less.
It is not inconvenient to eat this way. Once you realize what contains animals and what doesn’t you just make your choices accordingly.
The diet is not limiting in variety or flavor. Most people consume just four or five animal sources. Cow, eggs, dairy, and chicken are the most popular in the United States. What gives these few items variety are the 10,000 plus edible plants, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and minerals that come from non-animal sources. In fact, there are just five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. Umami is a savory flavor and is the taste you get from eating an animal or its products or from eating vegetables. Umami is the only flavor that comes from an animal source. In contrast all five flavors, including umami, exist in plant foods. Plant foods flavor animal flesh and provide variety to the meal.
If you don’t believe me I have an experiment that I hope trying in your mind will suffice: Eat only animals for one month. When I say only animals I mean it can only come from an animal source – flesh, eggs and milk. No spices, breads, sauces of any kind. After one month tell me what you crave? Cookies? Pasta? Bread? Chocolate?
Now repeat this experiment in real life for one month but eat only plants. no flesh, eggs or milk. How do you feel at the end of the month?
I can tell you that you will crave carbs like a zombie during the first experiment. You may miss some of your normal foods during the second experiment but you will not have the intense feelings of deprivation you will have in the first. The reason is the fuel for a human being is the carb – not protein. Read here to learn about your body’s needs. Meat and eggs contain no carbs, milk has just a few. Plants on the other hand contain the perfect balance of carbs and protein for the human body. They also contain fiber, vitamin C, flavenoids, and antioxidants which are all things lacking in an all animal diet.
The diet does not make you weak. And this should be obvious because plants, the soil, sun and water are where all nutrients come from. It should also be obvious by the size and strength of many other animals who consume only plants.
You do not have to eat massive amounts of anything to get enough of everything. I eat three normal meals a day, two snacks just like I always did and I take in around 2200 calories a day. I am not lacking in energy, muscle tone, strength or stamina. I am in better health now than I was before.
A vegan diet is not a raw diet. It is not an organic diet although that would be best for anyone. A vegan diet is the diet you already eat minus the animals plus a few things you may not have tried that you will now have room enough on your plate for.
“The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”
― Jeremy Bentham
I have since learned that all animals talk and reason in their own way, even a clam. Click here to learn how.
“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”
― Theodor W. Adorno
If you research factory farms you will find a new kind of genocide occurring.
“I made the choice to be vegan because I will not eat (or wear, or use) anything that could have an emotional response to its death or captivity. I can well imagine what that must feel like for our non-human friends – the fear, the terror, the pain – and I will not cause such suffering to a fellow living being.”
― Rai Aren
“People care about animals. I believe that. They just don’t want to know or to pay. A fourth of all chickens have stress fractures. It’s wrong. They’re packed body to body, and can’t escape their waste, and never see the sun. Their nails grow around the bars of their cages. It’s wrong. They feel their slaughters. It’s wrong, and people know it’s wrong. They don’t have to be convinced. They just have to act differently. I’m not better than anyone, and 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
“Human beings are a part of the animal kingdom, not apart from it. The separation of “us” and “them” creates a false picture and is responsible for much suffering. It is part of the in-group/out-group mentality that leads to human oppression of the weak by the strong as in ethic, religious, political, and social conflicts.”
“Although other animals may be different from us, this does not make them LESS than us”
― Marc Beckoff
“To be ‘for animals’ is not to be ‘against humanity.’ To require others to treat animals justly, as their rights require, is not to ask for anything more nor less in their case than in the case of any human to whom just treatment is due. The animal rights movement is a part of, not opposed to, the human rights movement. Attempts to dismiss it as anti human are mere rhetoric.”
― Tom Regan
I would like to say that I am not eating a cruelty free diet for my health or to live longer. I am going to get sick and die no matter what I eat. I was 100% healthy when I started this diet. I was not overweight. I had no health reason at all to make this lifestyle change other than the fact that I simply cannot stand the way animals are treated in this world. I do not care for the way humans often treat each other as well.
Peaceful eating my friends!