Sunday, November 20, 2011

Action III: Going pure vegetarian

In my opinion, the absolute best thing that you can do for animals is to stop eating them. It sounds pretty obvious, right? I know a lot of people who would like to go vegetarian or think it would be cool, but they don't commit themselves to doing it. This is because from the moment we are born, we are constantly exposed to people consuming animal products and told that it is the "normal" and "healthy" way of doing things. Have you ever, as a child in particular, questioned meat-eating? I know I did. But my (clueless at the time) parents told me that it's just the way the world works and that it "doesn't hurt the cow". I think everyone knows that this is false, but to what degree?

Cows: The meat and dairy industries go hand-in-hand. When calves are born, if they are female, they are either carted off to the dairy industry or slaughtered right away. If they are male, they are almost always turned into veal by being locked up in veal crates, deprived of iron and denied of exercise so that they have white, anemic flesh. They are not even allowed metal cages, as they may try to lick the iron off of the metal. After a few months, they are then slaughtered. The cows in the dairy industry do not have it good either. They are kept in substandard conditions, and the calves never meet their mothers or fathers. Please read my article on the Teen Ink website to hear about my trip to a small, family-run dairy farm. As you can see, even the ones that aren't specifically factory farms are inadequate. In any case, who are we to deprive calves of their mothers' milk and have them born into slavery just so we can drink something that doesn't even taste very good and decays our teeth? I have included a picture from the family-owned farm:

Pigs: I haven't done much research into the pork industry, because my family never ate it to begin with. However, I have learned that at pig farms, the animals are kept in small pens, with absolutely nothing to do, and subsequently end up chewing the bars and screaming when meal-time comes. It sounds brutal, but there would be no need for you to hear about it if it wasn't happening.

Chickens: Like dairy, humans take two things from hens: both flesh and eggs. Oh yeah, and freedom. Anyway, I went to that dairy farm and also saw the two chickens who the farmer kept.  The hens were tucked away in two little cages that were about as wide as they were themselves. When we came in, they were just standing there and staring at the wall. I felt very sorry for them. the breeding process works like this: when the chicks hatch, they are sorted into two categories, male and female. The industry almost always is only looking for females, so the males are killed and made into dog food, chicken soups and such. The females then are placed into the egg industry. So please realize that you shouldn't do eggs either!

Fish: Some people choose to be pesco-vegetarian, which means that they eat fish, but no other animals. But there is no reason for fish to be inferior to chickens and cows, is there? I think that people think it's okay to abuse fish because they are so different from us. However, there are some similarities. As marine biologist Sylvia Earle put it, “I wouldn't deliberately eat a grouper any more than I'd eat a cocker spaniel. They're so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish really are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they're wounded." Please don't support fisheries, which scoop up more than just fish-- also dolphins and seals-- and avoid fish from fish farms, which pile fish up in tanks while they're still alive. You save a lot more than fish by not eating them-- you also save other marine wildlife and your health. See for more details.

Being vegan is more than a diet. Veganism can really embrace many different aspects of living, like food, clothing, shopping habits, even the way you think about animals in general. I've just listed the animals used for food here because otherwise this post would be too long!
As for actually making the switch, it's easy. Just browse around your grocery store or health food shop and look for vegan tofu burgers, veggie dogs, soy milk, So Delicious Soy Ice Cream, and, of course, staples like bread, pasta, rice, fruits, veggies, beans, etc. Just read the ingredients list to make sure you don't have anything animal in it, okay? Some people find that it is easier to go vegetarian first. However, lacto-ovo vegetarianism should only be a step in the right direction, as, like I said, the industries are working together, so by being lacto-ovo vegetarian, your diet still kills animals, while veganism does no harm.
Come back next Sunday for more ways to help animals!

1 comment:

  1. It is surprisingly easy to find so many vegan products available in cities that are big enough to support natural food stores and natural food sections in grocery stores. I think there is a definite movement in society to switch from a meat/animal based diet to a plant based diet. Peace.