Why I Went Vegan
(and why I hope you will too)
I often get asked why I went vegan, and of course I know my reasons, but as soon as someone asks me, I tend to freeze up. I've decided to take some time to write out a bit of my story, as well as why I have chosen this lifestyle, and why I hope, you will consider it as well.
In high school I had three jobs, one was working for a very well-known delicatessen company, that shall remain nameless, the other was for a now nonexistent company called Three Happy Cows, which basically just sold dairy yogurt, and the last was at a small butcher shop in McKinney, Texas. At all three of these jobs, I was completely detached from the fact that I was making my living off the backs of the animals that had given their lives for the products I was selling. When I worked for the butcher shop, I even visited the farm where the cows grazed, I petted the cows and talked to them, I was after all... an "animal lover". Unfortunately, even looking my meals straight in the face didn't wake me up. It would take me another two years before my eyes were opened.
As I stated above, I have always considered myself an animal lover, an environmentalist, a person who is overall sensitive to the sufferings of others around me. But looking back, I know now that I wasn't any of those things. I loved house pets, and I liked to talk about how cute cows, pigs, and sheep were, but I never even thought about taking them off my plate. I now know that the animal agriculture industry was responsible for the slaughter of 9.2 billion animals in 2015, in the U.S. alone. That is a staggering number. I also now know that "Animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after fossil fuels and is a leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution and biodiversity loss.. "
How could I call myself an animal lover, or an environmentalist and still consume animal products? I couldn't. After I learned these two facts, I cut out animal products and started my journey to a plant based, vegan lifestyle. This wasn't the easiest process for me, I did mess up (a lot), but I didn't give up. Every time I would slip, I would remind myself of why I was choosing to make this change. There is something so calming, and grounding about being able to look at my plate, and to not see death.
Now, I know a lot of you are saying "Okay, I get why you cut out meat. But what about eggs and dairy? The animals don't die to make milk or lay eggs!" Well, those were my thoughts at first as well, but after doing some research, I realized that unfortunately that isn't the case at all. In fact, the egg and dairy industry is just as severe, if not more, than the meat industry. For example, at egg hatcheries, if the egg hatches and the chick inside is a male, which we do not eat, nor do they produce eggs, they are ground alive in masses, this averages about 200 millions male chick deaths annually. Not to mention, the living conditions of the female chickens that go on to lay eggs/to be killed for meat, are horrific to say the least.
How about dairy? Let's think logically for just a moment... If a human becomes pregnant and gives birth to her child, she will (usually) naturally produce milk for her newborn. Humans cannot produce milk without having a baby first. Cows (and other mammals) are the same. In order for a cow to produce the milk that we use for drinking, cooking, cheese, etc. she has to first be artificially inseminated, she then carries her baby for nine months (just like us!), she gives birth, and then her baby is taken away from her generally within a day of birth in order for her milk to be harvested for human consumption. Mother cows have been known to grieve the loss of their baby for weeks after they are taken away. What happens to the calve, you may be asking? If it's born a female, it will live in a small crate until it's old enough to be impregnated in order to be used for milk just like her mom, and if it's a male, it will be sent away to be used for veal or meat in general. Dairy cows are slaughtered for meat once they can no longer produce milk.
Humane Farming is another topic brought up to me quite often, and I will keep this section quick and to the point; If you are drinking milk from an animal, that animal's baby is not with her mother. I don't care if the baby is sent to live on a lush farm (where he/she will still be eventually slaughtered), this is not "humane." If you are eating meat, it was taken without the consent of the animal you are eating. I don't care how that animal was treated, that animal still met the same fate as the animal next to him that was raised in a cage. They will both be stunned with a bolt-gun (which often doesn't work,) and their throats will both be slit. This is not "humane."
And for my Christian friends out there who like to throw this at me, "But God created animals for us to eat! We have dominion over them." You probably also have 'dominion' over your home, does that give you the right to abuse your spouse and children? Nope. Dominion doesn't mean we have the right to do whatever we want. Having the power to do something, and having the right to do something, are two very different things. Did you know that before the fall of man, in the Garden of Eden, God clearly states that plants were to be our food?
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.”
Did you read that? Even plants were meant to be food for animals. Before the "fall or man" there was total peace, and no need to kill to eat, regardless of species. Sure, in later parts of the Bible, when sin has fallen upon the earth, people eat animals, and it is condoned and acceptable. Do you know what else was condoned and acceptable? Slavery, stoning someone to death, having multiple wives, keeping women silent and without authority, cutting off someones hand for stealing... I could go on. In short, just because it's done in the Bible, doesn't mean it should be acceptable in the 21st century. A lot has changed since then, thankfully, so using the Bible as an argument to justify why you eat animals, unless you follow all of the other obscure normalities of that era, is pretty baseless. The Bible also talks about being a good steward with what the Lord has given you, this often gets used for financial sermons in the church, but last time I checked, God gave us the earth, and everything on it, so would you say that what we are being "good stewards" with the planet and it's inhabitants? (See stats in paragraph 3, if you're having a hard time answering that question.)
There are countless reasons to go vegan, for me, the main reason is because I don't want to financially support an industry that I find abhorrently unethical, but I am now seeing the health benefits that come along with a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Not to mention, I've saved a lot of money not having to buy organic meat and dairy anymore. I hope this blog post gives you some things to think about. When it comes down to it, you can live a healthy, cruelty-free lifestyle, or you can appease your taste buds. The choice is yours.
Still want more info? Here are some documentaries/films to watch!
-The Game Changers
-Forks Over Knives
-What The Health