The article below, originally from One Green Planet, explains why I had no option but to go vegan. You can’t have a society that consumes as many animals as we do in a capitalist economy and expect that there is some way we can do it without causing suffering and death. And ‘humane’ practices lead to greater environmental destruction.
The only option I can see is to stop consuming animals altogether. We are destroying our planet’s ecosystem – the one that makes it possible for US to live here.
At some point, hopefully very soon, we have to wake up and realise, we can’t continue with our heads in the sand, we do terrible, terrible things and we have to stop. The type of cage we confine animals to is irrelevant – they are still breed and held against their will, usually in horrible and abusive conditions and then they are slaughtered, and there is no ‘humane’ way to kill someone against their will.
When I read about some of these campaigns with a vegan perspective I feel outraged. It is all marketing spin from the industry. Yet, for years I brought into it and ate ‘free-range’. I am angry with myself for being so gullible. If I had spent even 20 minutes really thinking it through I would have realised what BS it was, but I DIDN”T WANT TO think about it because then I would have had to change my behaviour.
I am confused about why vegans support these campaigns. We know they are wrong. We know people need to face it head on and change. I know people need time to change. But if we (vegans) don’t show them where the goalposts are, who else will?
In the last several years, multiple farmed animal welfare improvements have been announced and implemented through the enactment of new laws and company initiatives. These welfare improvements have included actual or planned bans on battery cages, gestation crates, veal crates, and bodily mutilations. Each of these welfare victories have been the result of intense campaigning by many animal rights activists and organizations, sometimes over a period of many years.
There is no doubt that these improvements make a difference to animals. Battery cages, gestation crates, veal crates, and bodily mutilations are terribly cruel practices that totally rob animals of the ability to live natural and healthy lives. But is focusing on the production of meat and other animal products with higher animal welfare standards worth the time and resources that we pour into them? Is there any chance that they may actually have unintended negative consequences?
“Being vegan is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end. And for me that end is unconditional compassion: doing everything we can to make choices that cause the least amount of harm – both to ourselves and others.”
Colleen Patrick Goudreau, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge
Chapter 2 – Definitions
I thought this would be the quick and easy chapter, but instead I got side tracked reading up on Pythagoras and Buddha (more on that later).
In Chapter Two Colleen defines ‘vegan’, giving her readers a clear understanding of what she means when she uses the word. Definitions can be slippery. It is all too easy to assume everyone will understand the meanings of words in exactly the same way you do.
Until I started thinking about and reading further on some of the references in the chapter, I hadn’t really clicked to how important figuring out what ‘vegan’ (as a label or as a word) really means to the process I am now involved with.
“… you just don’t know where it’s going to take you.”
Colleen Partrick-Goudreau, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge
Before getting into the challenge proper, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (know henceforth as 30DVC) spends several chapters on set up. For the most part, 30DVC assumes its readers already know why they are going vegan, and instead focuses on providing information and perspective on how to go vegan successfully – the reason why I am reading the book.
Over the past six months, I have done a lot of random trial-and-error research. I am hoping that this book will pull it all together into a more cohesive, foundational whole.
I went back and reread the first post I put up on this blog, called Getting Started (30 July). When I started on this journey, I wasn’t sure going vegan was the right thing to do, but I wanted to find out if I should. Yet, I found myself strongly resistant to doing the necessary research. It is difficult to be objective about something like consuming animal products while activity engaged in the activity you are trying to critique. I decided to ‘go vegan’ for a year and then make a decision.
Even if you do not care about animals these are statistics we cannot ignore. As the impacts of climate change start to really kick in, land available for agriculture and water become even scarcer than they are now. As we increase the populations of our own species and the animals we eat, we consume resources faster than they can be replaced. We destroy habits for countless species.
Our extraordinary little planet has had mass extinctions in the past. Why are we so hell bent on going there again?
If we could just stop and do things differently, we could feed everybody, and our grandchildren would not have to live through the ecological nightmare that will be their inheritance.
Now, is the time we need to stop and rethink – Right Now!
Knowing that the next time I see them in person I’m going to get a somewhat smug, “Did you read that article I sent you?”, I would like to be able to counterpoint this dick move with a little self-righteous smugness of my own.
Not only did I read your article, I also traced it back to its source, and then some.
“Being vegan isn’t about being perfect, and it’s not about being pure. You do not get a certification of 100% purity when you become vegan. Being vegan is about intention. It’s about doing the best we can to not cause harm when it’s practical and possible and it’s not always practical and possible.”
Although I’ve been a sort of vegetarian (some fish) for several years now, what I’ve mostly tried to do is not think too hard about what that means. I like to think of myself as giving some sort of a dam about animal welfare – if something doesn’t have to die in order for me to eat then I’d rather it didn’t. But does this go far enough?
And does this even make sense? While I may not consume animals as meat, aren’t they still tagged for slaughter anyway, even if the eggs are ‘free-range’? It’s hard to believe I never asked this question before – What happens to the roosters?
Vegetarian is the word I use for social situations. It means, “Please don’t feed me meat”. And for the most part people are good about that. They don’t put meat on my plate. They give me the cheese sandwiches instead of the ham ones at the work lunch. We look for a restaurant that has at least a couple of things on the menu I’ll enjoy eating. But I think most of all vegetarian is the word I use so I don’t have to keep thinking about what my food is and where it comes from.