The above image is what most of us would like to think is how most cows live. Unfortunately, it’s not.
I spent most of my afternoon watching different videos for my Animal Protection class, and one of them was the 2005 film, Earthlings, which you can watch for free by clicking here. (I must warn you, the film has graphic images. The first link goes to the Wikipedia description.) If you watch it, I can guarantee you will be changed as a person. I cannot believe what some humans are capable of doing to another living creature. I really can’t.
Now, I know that telling people all the things that they are doing wrong will just result in their tuning you out. So I’m not going to do that. But I will say that it caused me to rethink the cavalier way that I sometimes react when I really want a cookie and it might have been made with eggs. “Oh, it’s vegan today!” I sometimes say. Crunch, crunch.
Well, no more. The images from that movie are seared into my brain.
Chickens crammed into cages so tightly they can’t even move or stretch out their wings. Dairy cows unable to move from their milking area all day long, pumped full with antibiotics and pesticides so that they will produce more milk, having had their babies ripped away from them on the very first day of their lives. The slaughter scenes are what really did me in, as I knew they would. (I’d already known what happens in those buildings but seeing it again is something else.)
Another thing. In the past, I thought I could be in a relationship with someone even if they ate meat. I don’t think that I could do that, going forward. If I were dating someone, and they sat down across from me at the table and started to eat a raw steak, I think it would be nearly impossible to not imagine a cow being slaughtered and the immense pain it suffers from how it’s treated. I would hear its cries as my partner munched away. And I really don’t think I can do that again.
I choose to no longer be a speciest.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, speciesm is defined as the following:
Definition of speciesism
1: prejudice or discrimination based on species; especially: discrimination against animals
2: the assumption of human superiority on which speciesism is based
When I was eating meat and using dairy, I was being a speciest without even knowing it. I was raised to think that eating meat (even veal) was just something everyone did. Animals were put on this earth to make our lives easier.
I’m not condemning others who eat meat. But I do think that more people should step out of their comfort zones, and open their eyes to the suffering that goes on every day with so many thousands of animals who are raised for purposes of our food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. I no longer accept the phrase “Yeah, I’m good. I don’t want to know,” as being a valid excuse. In this day and age, we have so much information at our fingertips.
It may sound like I might be going to too much of an extreme in saying I can’t be with someone who eats meat. However, I realized today, watching that movie and holding Snuggles closely to me, my animals are all I need. I don’t need a romantic relationship in my life to make me feel complete. A few very good friends, located near or far, are enough for me.
A line in the film really stuck with me.
Humans are the one species on this earth that inflict pain just to inflict pain. No other species does that.
Animals may inflict pain on one another but it’s for survival reasons. The predator kills and eats his/her prey.
Humans have so many other choices for food and clothes. We don’t need to kill an animal just so we can have the newest “cute” handbag or “sexy” boots or softest fur coat. We have so many other options. The only vitamin a vegan needs to take in order to supplement their diet is B12. The rest can come from foods that don’t include dairy or meat.
I will add links to some of the other videos I watched to my animal rights page of this blog in the near future.
If you’d like to leave a comment below, please do so. If someone else’s comment goes against what you believe in or think, please respond in an above-board way. A healthy exchange of ideas is best.
When people ask me why I’m vegan, one of the main reasons I give is because I don’t want to play any role, no matter how small, in the suffering of living, feeling, and loving creatures. Inevitably, some people say something like “well, they’re still going to continue making beef for us to eat, you know?” Or “chickens are still going to continue laying eggs, so what are you stopping, really?” Um, a lot. And I’m sure it means a lot to every animal that doesn’t have to die just so I can eat it.
Here’s the thing. One person can make a difference. The guy who made the Cowspiracy movie – from his own research, he went vegan and thereby saved (and continues to save) some animals from being sent to slaughter as he’s not consuming them anymore. And by making the movie, he changed my mind into becoming a vegan. And I’m sure he’s changed more minds than just mine. So, he did do something.
During my medical leave, I finished reading a book by Gene Baur called Farm Sanctuary. Again, a man who started small, but who has changed many, many lives, both human and animal, over the past thirty years. It really inspired me to want to do more. So I reached out to them after reviewing their website. I saw that their pages on pending state and federal legislation were from the last congressional and legislative sessions. I asked if I could help them update that information, since I’ve got the skills to look up that sort of thing. They graciously took me up on my offer.
So, as they suggested, I reviewed the information on a few of the major animal welfare organizations and then did some additional searches on my own, for federal legislation. And I found out this week that the information I sent to them was used to update a newsletter being sent out to about 100,000 members and it would even highlight an act that they didn’t know about before I found it, called the SAFE Act. SAFE stands for Safeguard American Foods Act, and if passed, this bill would prevent health hazards posed by consuming horses raised in the U.S., by prohibiting, via interstate or foreign commerce, the sale of horses to be be used for human consumption. I feel good, knowing my efforts made a difference to them, and I hope, down the line, to the people reading their newsletter. (And I hope it will make a huge difference to the lives of horses in this country also.)
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the MA Humane Lobby Day. One of the speakers talked about a bill that had been introduced this session called “A Bill to Protect Puppies and Kittens.” Think of that title. As she said (and I paraphrase), “who in their right mind can vote against a bill that aims to protect puppies and kittens??”” Well played, ma’am, well played. 🙂
And if you still think that you can’t do something, well, look at what the power of people in some of our state legislatures can do. Don’t take my word for it – check out this clip of John Oliver from his show Last Week Tonight.
And finally, I’ll point you back to a post I wrote last year about a movie called Opening Our Eyes. It’s about what individuals have done in various parts of the world and how their efforts have changed the lives of so many over time. You just have to MAKE the decision that, YES, YOU CAN make a difference in this world. Things may seem depressing some days – I’m not immune to it. Some days, after seeing the news, I wonder “what in the hell is wrong with this world??!!” But then, I think, if we all just give up, then it will all go to hell. So, we can’t let that happen. Don’t let other people’s fears project onto you and keep you from doing something.I’m not. It’s why I am willing to take the steps I’m taking to change the course of my life and make the world a better place for animals. Because every little bit helps. (And if ever I forget that or doubt myself, I look around at my furballs and know better.)
Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or drop me a line below in the comments. Thanks for reading, as always!