I’m not about to try and make you go vegan, that’s your own choice to make, or not make, but I’d like to talk about why I decided to go vegan after being a vegetarian for thirty years. Before you read on please be aware that I have included some rather grim facts, although there is nothing graphic (definitely no pictures) here.
At the heart of my decision is the fact that I believe my own life should have as little of a negative impact on all other living beings as possible.
I don’t believe that animals are there to be exploited in any way for my own purposes. Whether that’s as food or entertainment. I believe that wherever possible if there is a cruelty free option then choosing that option is the right thing to do.
To be a vegan means to avoid using any animal or animal byproducts as for as possible and practicable. It’s impossible to completely avoid animal/animal by products because they are everywhere but it’s relatively easy to make other choices in lots of cases.
Animals have feelings just as humans do. They are capable of feeling sadness, and fear, they also fear death. And I choose not to be complicit in causing sadness and fear as far as I possibly can.
Food. Animals that are raised for food are not beloved creatures, they are commodities, and however well they are claimed to be treated the fact is that they are kept in, often very overcrowded living areas, they are only able to roam and graze freely for a fraction of time, before being herded into trucks and driven to their slaughter, long before the end of their natural lives.
They are often treated badly at slaughter houses, as if being there is not bad enough. This is easy enough to back up with a quick look at google.
As for ethical meat I see nothing ethical in raising an animal in sub par conditions, taking away it’s right to a full and free life and then killing it in terrifying conditions just to eat it when there are other options.
The dairy industry is arguably even worse than the meat industry. Male calves are either slaughtered or raised for veal, cows are artificially impregnated in an endless cycle, forced to produce much higher volumes of milk than is natural, imagine the discomfort of producing such large amounts, then mechanically pumped on a loop. Their calves are removed which in my opinion shows no regard for either the cows maternal instinct or the calves natural need to be mothered. When a cow is no longer useful she is slaughtered long before the natural end of her life.
I cannot be complicit in this when there are a whole range of cruelty free alternatives available to me.
The egg industry is horrific. Chickens are kept in awful cramped conditions, even so called free range hens are not really any better.
Free range sheds can contain up to nine birds per square metre – that’s like 14 adults living in a one-room flat. Some multi-tier sheds (still “free range”) contain 16,000 hens. So while these poor birds can theoretically go outdoors, they can also be too crammed in and too traumatised to find the few exit holes. From the PETA website.
That’s not even taking into account things like beak trimming, where their beaks are burned off to prevent them pecking other hens.
Male chicks which are largely surplus to requirements are killed daily, in vast numbers, either by being gassed to death or minced while still alive. On occasion they are simply dumped while still alive.
Froi gras. Ducks and geese have pipes rammed down their throats in order to be pumped full of hugely excessive amounts of grains and fats, to produce fatty livers. I believe this is an absolutely vile process, carried out purely to feed the desire of humans to eat this so called delicacy.
Household products and cosmetics.
There is absolutely no need to buy any of these items which contain animal by products and are tested on animals. There are a huge number of cruelty free alternatives on the market, readily available in supermarkets, even Poundland. I cannot justify using non cruelty free products when there are alternatives.
The idea of wearing leather or fur is one I find absolutely abhorrent. There is absolutely no need for this. An animals skin belongs on that animal. I have no right to wrap myself up in another animals skin.
Wool is not as cruelty free as you might imagine. Sheep raised for wool are raised in huge flocks, and often sheared by people who are paid by the volume of sheep they shear rather than by the hour so shearing is often a hurried process which can sometimes lead to discomfort and even injury to the animal. The sheep are simply commodities.
Being vegan is about more than this though, there are environmental reasons which are explained well here as well as health reasons also explained in that link.
I am firmly against zoos which are touted as places of conservation and education but zoos actually do little to aid conservation, the money and resources would be better used in conservation efforts in the wild. In a zoo you can only learn about how an animal lives in a zoo. Far removed from its natural habitat.
Zoo animals are confined in spaces which are far smaller than the animals need, zoo animals are often stressed and they live a life of being gawped at for entertainment.
And what happens to surplus animals? Slaughter.
I cannot be complicit in any of this.
Aquariums are in my opinion no better. Ocean and sea creatures are confined in tanks rather than living full and free lives in open waters. They are exploited for entertainment by the paying public. These creatures do not in my opinion deserve to live confined lives, constantly gawped at.
Crufts and other such shows.
The requirements demanded by the kennel club, who have taken it upon themselves to decide what makes an attractive animal, mean that dogs are inbred to such an extent that they become disfigured in ways which cause pain, discomfort and even premature death.
I have no right to decide how an animal should look, and cannot be complicit in anything that deems this acceptable.
The Grand national and other horse races. I believe these are cruel because aside from the fact that the animals are whipped as they run, at speeds greater than they should run at, horses are often injured during races, and then usually killed, or actually die during the race. Horse racing is purely for entertainment and I can’t see it as anything other than cruel exploitation.
Greyhound racing. I believe greyhound racing to be a cruel *sport* and nothing more than cruel exploitation.
The hidden side of greyhound racing includes dogs kept for long periods in lonely kennels, painful injuries from racing and training, drug abuse, illness and neglect. Shockingly, thousands of surplus dogs die or disappear every year. The League believes dogs should not suffer or die for entertainment or for the profit of the dog racing industry. From the league against cruel sports.
This article from the league against cruel sports makes for grim reading.
I choose veganism because I don’t believe that any animal has more right to be loved and treated with kindness than another. For me, the idea that animals such as cats and dogs, are loved and allowed to live full lives, while other animals are exploited is one I simply cannot understand.
For me, being a vegan is not a sacrifice, it’s a choice which goes some way to eliminating the sacrifice of the lives of animals.
I don’t look down at people who make different choices, and I don’t feel that my choices make me superior to anyone, I certainly don’t walk around with my head filled with the notion that I’m a better person than anyone else, rather, that my choices make me the best person I can be.