I have been a vegetarian for over 40 years, a vegan for the last 25 of those. Although it did not start out as an ethical position – in fact it was the consequence of a five dollar bet during the first week of my freshman year in college – it quickly became one. Back then, that was all there was; it was all about the animals. No one knew much about the overwhelmingly beneficial health effects of reducing your consumption of animal fats. No one knew anything about the relationship between food and the planet. Hell, very few people even knew anything about the planet.) So although I was just trying to find a way to maintain the extraordinary sense of wellbeing that came from my two week wager, it was not long before, “I’m trying a vegetarian diet,” became “Killing animals for food is immoral.”
By now it’s been 40 plus years, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. Honestly, I don’t see a lot of moving parts to this conversation. The picture of Mike and the dove was a result of a quick search for “vegan.” A search for “farm animal abuse” or “factory farming” brings up photos of a very different sort. You know which ones I mean: pigs, cows and chickens crammed into cages and pens so small they cannot turn around; animals brutally killed by having their heads smashed into the ground; tails and beaks cut off without any anesthesia, limbs broken, muscles torn, skin shredded …. Almost daily we learn that these photos do not depict the rare, the odd, the anomalous, but rather the everyday, the common, the business of producing food from animals. Just today we find more news of abuses in the dairy industry. Less than a month ago we watch pigs horribly abused at a Tyson farm. Although you certainly won’t find it on most tv channels, If you follow the right feeds, you see these are everyday goings on.
I could go on – and no doubt will – but, as I said, there are not many moving parts here. Only a simple question. Given that the pictures you find ARE the norm in the animal food industry, why do you continue to support it? Really… why? How can you be okay with it? Yes indeed there are now all sorts of other reasons to join Clinton, Gore, Serena Williams and millions of other meatless eaters, but not in this installment. This one is simply about the animals. Given that your meat, your chicken, your dairy products come from this, why do you continue? Why don’t you just stop?