Sunday, 22 April 2012

Earth Day - Why am I vegan?

Why am I vegan?

I am vegan for many reasons. Any one of these reason is enough to motivate me to be vegan for the rest of my life and combination of them all makes it a really easy decision. 

My children are young, and I have spent years taking them to petting zoo’s. Petting and feeding the animals, looking into the eyes of a cow.  At the same time I am reading all about the food system, the business of food, and the impact on animals, people, and the planet.

These are the results of the food business world.

1)      Slavery.

Workers in third world countries are working in slave conditions and are starving and working producing food for us. We get a lot of food from the US, and the US does not have enough farm land to feed all of the people who live here. We actually have very little farm land. A lot of our food comes from other countries, poor third world countries.  I have seen a picture of a man wearing an iron mask, meant to stop him from eating the very food that he is farming.

The food that these people are producing in third world countries are corn and wheat meant to feed the millions of animals that are in factory farms.

Starving adults and children are producing our food. We are then taking the food out of the starving countries, putting it on ships, and shipping it to North America to feed the animals (food they aren’t meant to be eating in the first place), and then the animals are then sold here in the North America: home to the many people who are obese and obsessive dieters.

What is the ripple effect of the food companies producing massive amounts of food this way? When people in third world countries are starving, what are they forced to do for money? What do children do? What do women do? For those of you who are aware of what goes on in developing countries then you know how to answer those questions. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Also to add to the list, the people who work in slaughterhouses, and factory farms, and their families are also affected. When you are a parent and you go to work every day and then you come home. You bring your work home with you, or at least your mood. When you work at a slaughterhouse and you smell blood every day, you inflict harm and pain to vulnerable animals, and you feel aggressive all day long. How does that not transfer to your spouse and children? The reports from workers and the statistics on domestic violence also make me sick to my stomach.   

2)      Animals

We love our pets, we feel the need to rescue animals, be concerned about animals that are becoming extinct.  However, it’s perfectly acceptable to torture torture torture and murder animals as long as they taste good.

Pigs are as smart as dogs and as social as primates. What our society does to pigs, we would never ever do to a dog. And if we did, we would be in prison.

Learning about how smart, emotional, and social farm animals are, completely changed how I look at them. They are no longer items of meat, but families. I can talk to people about the reasons why I am vegan, but I cannot talk to anyone about how I feel about factory farming without crying. This is the one subject out of all of my reasons that puts a lump in my throat and I just can’t finish my sentences.

3)      Health

I watched Forks over Knives and that blew me away. Enough said about that. All of my reasons for health are in that movie. I have been vegan for a year, this May 8th, and I feel wonderful. I can tell there is a big difference in my body.  Reading info on our digestive system and how our bodies are really built a lot more for a plant based diet than meat is just information that makes sense to me.

4)      The environment

The effects our food system has on our environment and my responsibility in my share of contributing to the mess is enough of a reason for me to never eat animals again. Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to climate change. You could combine all of planes, cars, ships, etc. and it still wouldn’t add up the impact that eating animals creates. We are destroying our oceans and ruining our rainforests.

All of the information about what is happening in our world, and what the future outcome of what this will be is depressing.

5)      My children

This sums everything up.  Knowing everything I know, I just wouldn’t be able to look at my kids in the eye with my head held high and say I did my best.

People imagine that 30 years from now eating meat will be like smoking. We look back on previous generations and think…how could they do that and it be so normal? What are the differences between cigarette companies and food companies? The differences I don’t know…but there are a lot of similarities.

30 to 40 years from now, what will my children think of me? What will they think about what my values are or the decisions I have made?

I just want peace.

Years from now when I am older and I have all of the time in the world to review my life, I just want to look back with a sense of peace. I am vegan. I am peace.
Who am I? What do I value? What do I cherish? What am I committed to? What do I want to fight for?

How can I not be vegan?

For information on all of my reasons here are my references:

Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Stuffed and Starved: The hidden Battle for the World’s Food System – Raj Patel

In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan

Food Rules – Michael Pollan

The end of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying our Food Supply – And what you can do about it  - Thomas F. Pawlick

Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety – Marion Nestle

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World - Kathy Freston

Food Matters: A guide to Conscious Eating – Mark Bittman

The 100-Mile Diet: A year of local eating – Alisa Smith & J.B MacKinnon

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A year of Food Life – Barbara Kingsolver

The art of Eating – M.F.K Fisher

Putting Food by – Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, & Beatrice Vaughan

The Inner World of Farm Animals: Their amazing social, emotional and intellectual capacities – Amy Hatkoff

The Animal Manifesto – Marc Bekoff

The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything you think you know is wrong – John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

These are movies what have influenced me as well:

Forks over Knives

Food inc.

Eating animals
Stuffed and starved
Forks over knives

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