January 7, 2011
Last October I decided to switch to a vegan diet. That came about because in January 2010, I embarked on a journey to live more consciously. I realized that when I shop, I essentially vote with my wallet, only I had no clue what I was actually voting for. So I did a bunch of research, read a lot of articles and books, and watched a bunch of documentaries. What I learned is that I have unknowingly been voting for body products that are full of harmful toxins (propylene glycol, SLS, phthalates, parabens, artificial dyes, etc.), and meat that is full of antibiotics, growth stimulants, bits of other animals, and sometimes poop. After I saw Food, Inc., I was highly disturbed. But what really did it for me, were the videos Glass Walls, and Meet Your Meat. After that, I just could not in good conscience keep contributing to the whole factory-farming business, that meat production has become.
Since I made the switch, I’ve had several friends and family members ask me the following: “If the animals are treated good, and they’re not all caged up and abused, and they eat foods that are natural to their diet, and are humanely slaughtered, then is that okay? What’s wrong with eating that meat?”
I’ll be honest, initially my decision was based more on ethics and animal treatment. So even I had a moment where I thought that may be alright. But then I reeeally thought about it, and realized if I was completely honest with myself, I think that was my way of giving myself an out. Like, “I don’t really need to go all the way vegan, right? I can still eat meat, as long as it’s from an organic ranch, full of happy animals?” But there are several problems with that: 1) That’s just not the reality. The meat that is stocking our super market shelves is not from Old McDonald’s Farm. 2) The meat that is from organic farms, where they animals aren’t fed any hormones or antibiotics or other animals, is quite expensive. 3) How exactly, does one humanely slaughter animals? What are we talking here? What does that even look like? Is it like in the movie Avatar? Is the farmer approaching the animals with a heart full of kindness, then looking into their eyes and saying “I see you”, before sliding a knife into their throat, and thanking them for the abundance they provide, while acknowledging their role in the circle of life? Or is it like when you take your beloved pet to the vet? Are they laying these animals on beds, while the family stands nearby petting it, telling it how much they love it, before the farmer injects it with a shot of go-to-sleep-now medicine? No! Farmers aren’t doing that. That would take too much time, and too much money. The animals are still shot-stunned and slashed. Again, I think this is a way of justifying the act, because I can guarantee if this is how cats and dogs were put down at the pound, people would be up in arms. I think this is an example of how we put priority on some animals over others.
But let’s put all this aside. Let’s say there was some way that farmed animals could live a happy life, and have a peaceful slaughter. In the studying I did, I also learned that meat and dairy-based diets are inflammatory to the body in general. Many diseases and ailments can be linked to poor diet, and typically that poor diet involves too much animal product. I read numerous articles, testimonies, etc., where people claimed their physical ailments and diseases disappeared or went into remission after switching to a vegan diet. So that made it more than an ethics/animal treatment issue for me. It also became about maintaining my body and preserving my good health. And that’s not an issue I can justify my way around.