Hello, environmentalists! This is my first ever “Green Eats” post, so it is only fitting that it is an all-encompassing vegan fact post, as the…
Hello, environmentalists! This is my first ever “Green Eats” post, so it is only fitting that it is an all-encompassing vegan fact post, as the bulk of my sustainable eating content will center around veganism! If you’re not yet vegan, I highly encourage you to give it a try; hopefully I’ll provide plenty of evidence and information for you to consider below. I am beyond happy to serve as a resource and mentor in your vegan journey (in fact, that is a huge goal of this blog!) so please reach out with questions, comments, or requests for content you’d find helpful!
This is not an exhaustive list! These are some not-so-fun facts that I found particularly striking, but animal agriculture harms the environment in many more ways than just the ones I have listed. For more information on food and sustainability, I’d recommend the documentary Cowspiracy (it’s on Netflix!) I’ll also be linking some articles at the very bottom of the post for further reading!
Veganism is a lifestyle that centers around the basic premise that violence is wrong. It is the way of living that seeks to minimize suffering wherever it occurs. Before I share some standard facts about the gruesome ways we use animals (like everything else in this post, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, just some tidbits I find persuasive!) I’d like to bring up a few things to think about.
So imagine that you’re at a dinner party. There’s a meat stew, and you’ve already had several spoonfuls. Curious as to what it is, you ask the host. “Oh, that’s Golden Retriever,” she replies. You’d probably spit the meat right out. Ew, right? Just the thought is completely vile and evil. But how are dogs any different than the other animals we eat? They hold very different role in our culture. We certainly have more day-to-day interaction with them than other animals. But are they any different in their capacity to feel suffering? (Credit for this concept goes to Melanie Joy! Check out her website and books)
A lot of people mistakenly use the concept of intelligence to defend violence against animals. First off, if we were to actually apply this logic everywhere and determine the worth of a being based on its intelligence, a lot of humans would be in trouble. Second, a lot of of farm animals are really really smart. Pigs for example are considered the fourth smartest creatures on earth, and are thought to be more intelligent than dogs, some primates, and even 3-year-old children. Cows are highly emotional and social creatures and have great memories. They even form close friendships and will keep lifelong friends (awww!) Cows also grieve like humans when they separate from loved ones, and a mother cow will cry for days when her calf is taken from her (an everyday practice on dairy farms). And while chickens are typically thought of as dumb birds, this is not at all true! Within two days of living, chickens demonstrate awareness of object permanence (when an object is hidden from view, they still understand that that object exists). Object permanence doesn’t even develop in human children until around six months (this is why “peek-a-boo” is so incredibly entertaining to babies). Chickens also have the ability to learn quickly, perform basic arithmetic (whoa!), and develop social bonds. The animals we eat have proven to be emotional, aware, and highly intelligent, just like your dog and cat. (Or maybe you think your dog and cat aren’t that smart. Either way, you don’t want to eat them, right?)
A lot of people may think that animals do not suffer, or do not suffer as acutely as humans do. As a matter of fact, the field of animal cognition was not respected until relatively recently, and the dogma of animal behavior science was that animals had no internal life at all. Just how so-called scientists could legitimately think that every non-human animal was just a little robot is still a total mystery to me, but regardless, we’re beyond that way of thinking. There’s a ton of animal cognition research out there and the field is growing every day, and there is even good reason to believe that not only do animals feel pain, they may feel it even more acutely than humans do.
For the disturbing details on exactly where all of our animal products come from, I’d recommend the film Earthlings (streams for free on the website!) The film goes through each way our society uses animals, from food and clothing to pets, entertainment, and research. Definitely a difficult watch but so worth it to know where your food, clothing, etc. comes from. Peter Singer once said that if he could make everyone in the world watch one film, he’d make them watch Earthlings and I 100% agree. For the purposes of this post, I have listed several ways that standard farming practices make animals suffer. Facts not sourced with a hyperlink are from Earthlings or this informative webpage, and a simple google search of animal farming conditions will provide plenty of confirmation and extra info to back up what I have here. I encourage you to do your own research and truly know what you contribute to and where you choose to spend your money.
At this point, you might be thinking “that is so horrible what they do to animals in factory farms! But I only eat local/grass-fed/humane/organic meat and dairy.” Think again. My first response to this mentality is that there is no humane way to kill a being that doesn’t want to be killed. It’s that simple. Just like we did above, let’s extend the logic that grass-fed/free-range etc. makes meat okay. You’ve had a pretty good life right? You’ve been pretty “free-range.” So it’s okay to kill you? Um… NO! I’ll repeat it again: there is no humane way to kill a being that does not want to be killed.
Furthermore, the 1% of farmed animals lucky enough to escape hellish factory farms are still subjected to many of the disgusting practices listed above. Small farms typically outsource their slaughter, sending their animals a great distance on smelly, overcrowded trucks (where the animals become hungry and dehydrated and often either overheat or freeze depending on the season) to the same slaughterhouses that factory farm animals meet their cruel fate in. “Humane meat” really isn’t all that humane.
Long (long, long, long) story short, the animals we use lead short, fearful, painful lives. I’ve barely touched on all the ways that farmed animals suffer, but I recommend that you do your own research and truly educate yourself. I get that it’s hard and unpleasant to research. Trust me, it was not easy gathering all these facts for this post. Right now my heart is racing just thinking about what I wrote about. But these animals, they actually live it. So this is the part where I beg you: please do not support this. Please put your money where your values are and do not support this violence. You know that it is wrong. It is plain to see that this is wrong. Please make the ethical choice here. Go vegan.
In all honesty, even if veganism was not the most healthy diet, I would absolutely still follow it for all the reasons listed above. Even if I had to take supplements on supplements every day for the rest of my life, I would totally do it, because helping the planet and the animals is worth it (vegans only need to take one supplement btw, and it’s B12). As I hope I made pretty clear above, veganism is a philosophy of compassion that extends far beyond what you eat, but it just so happens to also be the healthiest diet on the planet! (Don’t you just love when the most ethical choice you can make also results in great personal gain? Sometimes the world just works like that.) I rounded up a few facts below that highlight the health benefits of a vegan diet. For more information I’d suggest checking out Forks Over Knives and What the Health (both are on Netflix!)
Please feel free to comment/email/reach out to me on any platform; I would be so happy to provide support, answer questions, and help you start your vegan journey! There is plenty of vegan content to come on the blog to get you started and inspire you, and please reach out with any suggestions or requests! If you’re vegan, feel free to comment and let me know/provide support for others embarking on this wonderful journey! Also THANK YOU if you’ve read this far in such a long post, you’re the real MVP:)