Sunday, 23 September 2007

Why go vegan?

I thought it might be an idea to write a little about why I have made the decision to turn from a vegetarian to a vegan. Firstly, I'd like to recommend a book I received yesterday which I had ordered from Amazon. It's called 'The Peaceful Palate' by Jennifer Raymond and I can't put it down! It's full of gorgeous recipes even I could handle! There is so much choice and it makes you hungry just flicking through it!

So, why vegan? I am sure there are many vegetarians out there, maybe you, who think 'Why vegan? I'm not eating animals therefore I'm not contributing to suffering'. Unfortunately in most cases this just isn't true. Not to say being a vegetarian isn't a wonderful thing and I thought exactly that same thing before becoming aware of other issues surrounding the animals for food issue.

I became what I classed a part vegetarian when I was 25, no red meat or chicken but I ate fish. My reasons being that it was not my right to cause pain to animals. I still ate fish, believing fish felt no pain and often said I could catch and kill a fish therefore that's ok, I could not catch and kill a cow. My argument soon fell apart upon further research. So I gave up the fish. There, so now I'm not causing any animal to suffer for my food choices. Wrong. And before I go on I want to say something about awareness. A lot of people don't want to be aware. A lot of other people know that the way they eat is wrong but close their ears to the facts because they know that if they really learn about what goes on then they will have no choice but to stop their consumption of animal products. People ask why you are vegetarian or vegan but are really asking what you do for nutrients and dishes, they do not seem to like it so much if you actually use the words 'animal', 'dead', 'flesh', 'corpse' etc. That they don't want to know.

My recent decision to adopt veganism as a way of life came around after my willingness to actually listen to the facts. The main ones that made me so adamant never to eat dairy was that of the dairy cow. A dairy cow lactates just as a human does, basically, after childbirth. A cow is made pregnant, carries her calf and gives birth to it. She is a mother and there is a bond between mother and calf. She is usually given 24 hours to milk her calf (and that's not for her benefit as the colostrum or pre-milk is of no use to the dairy industry and the calf gets rid of that). After that time spent with her offspring, the calf and mother are separated. A female calf is raised as a dairy cow, a male calf is taken to the veal industry, where it is usually murdered before it is 6 weeks old. If you believe there is no bond between cow and calf you are hugely mistaken. Calves in rescues centres who are lucky enough to have a mother there, still nurse sometimes age 3 years old (by which time the calf is ridiculously big due to growth hormones - given so they can be slaughtered at around 6 months of aged for normal beef cows). After this, the milk is pumped (for you to drink and eat in cheese etc) until it runs dry. Then the cow is impregnated again and the cycle continues. When a cow can no longer produce calves and therefore milk, she is sent to slaughter. Doesn't this just make you want to cry? If you are a mother you may have suffered mastitus, a painful infection of the breast. Many dairy cows suffer many bouts of mastitus. As mothers, we may put it down to a negative side effect of nursing but at least we are nursing our babies, the cow does not have this basic right.

I do believe in the future, all people we see the consumption of animals and their byproducts a moral injustice, just as most people now know the wrongs of slavery and equal rights for women. To be aware of the mass disrespect for animal life happening all over the planet is just hurtful but change is not gradual, it follows a upward curve so hopefully that time won't be too far away.

If you're not already on the path, please at least don't hide from the truth about what you are eating and what that choice means for those who have no voice.


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