Food For Thought

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Food For Thought
 
I became a vegetarian just under two weeks ago.  I didn’t rush into it.  It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.  It had been coming for a while.  My conscience had been pricking me.  How can I call myself an animal lover when I eat meat?  I’m sure it’s something many people who call themselves animal lovers wrestle with.  The final kicker came as I was tucking into a burger one night and the stray thought flashed into my mind, “I’m eating a dead cow.”  The burger didn’t taste so good after that, I can tell you.  Two days later, I made the change.
 
I figured I could still eat dairy.  That way I could always select an omelette if we were at a diner that didn’t offer good vegetarian food.  The dairy industry doesn’t harm animals as much as the meat industry, right?
 
Wrong!
 
I discovered the truth when I saw several videos on YouTube.  That changed everything.  Now being a vegetarian wasn’t enough.  The videos showed what really goes on in the meat and dairy industries.  How the cows are milked three times a day.  Far too many times.  Enough times to cause infections.  Enough times to cause the animals great distress.  And when the cow is too old to provide milk, when its been worn out, what is its reward?  Does it get to spend the rest of its life grazing in a pasture?  Does it get retirement?  Nope.  Off it goes to the slaughter house.  The dairy industry has to screw every dollar it can get from its victims.  And the cows are repeatedly impregnated.  When the calf is born, it’s taken from its mother.  Can’t have the calf drinking the profits now, can we?  I’ve heard that cows bellow for days grieving for their young. 
 
And you thought animals don’t have feelings.
 
By the way, that calf?  If it’s male it goes to the slaughter house to become veal.  If it’s female it gets subjected to the same treatment its mother got.  These videos opened my eyes to the truth about the dairy industry. 
 
They also showed what really goes on in a slaughter house.  I saw images I wish I could unsee!  But they did their job.  I would share links.  But most meat eaters probably won’t watch them.  As an experiment I posted a video on facebook about the slaughter of pigs.  I got one comment from a woman who said “I can’t watch this video.  I’m sure it’s heartbreaking.  Meat eating is something I can do only without thinking about how it gets to the plate.”  Thus neatly missing the whole point of my posting the video.
 
Ugh.
 
Sadly all too many meat eaters are like that.  Ignorance is bliss?  Not for all those animals who suffer daily for your meat habit.  I bet if we all had to go out and kill animals for food there’d be a sudden rush of vegetarians overnight.  People want their meat.  But only as long as someone else is willing to do the dirty work.  As long as someone else gets blood on their hands everything is just fine and dandy.
 
When I first became vegetarian I swore to myself it was only my decision.  I wouldn’t preach.  I wouldn’t try to convert anyone.  But the more you know about the meat and dairy industries the harder it becomes to stay silent.  People just don’t realize just how inhuman it all is.  The overwhelming suffering so many animals have to go through every single day.  The fear.  The pain.  .
 
Just so you can enjoy your burger.  Or your bacon and egg sandwich..   
 
Now, it’s easy to dismiss a video.  It’s easy to say this was an extreme example.  That this is the exception, not the rule.  Are you really that naive?  I think people have this image of all food animals living out this wonderful Disney style life where they have lots of room to roam in, all the grass they could want to eat until the day their time comes and they’re led to one side to be killed humanely. 
 
Question.  How exactly do you kill an animal humanely.  If your cat or your dog is really sick, you can take it to a vet and if it’s beyond help you can end its suffering painlessly with a simple injection and it just goes peacefully to sleep and then dies.  A cow or a pig gets hung upside down and gets cut open.  While it’s still very much conscious and squirming and screaming in pain.  I’m sorry, was that too graphic for you?  If what goes on in a slaughterhouse was portrayed in a horror movie there would be an outcry.  It’s too graphic.  It’s too sadistic.  It’s horrifying.  So how come it’s acceptable that something so horrifying goes on day after day?  All over the world.
 
There’s a reason it’s called a slaughterhouse.  Think about it.  There is nothing gentle or humane about it.
 
I’ve only just become a vegan.  So I haven’t had many reactions yet.  But vegans online say a lot of people ask them, “Where do you get your protein?”  Well, there is plenty of protein in vegetables and fruits.  Also in grains, beans, nuts etc.  More than enough.  In fact, most meat eaters get far more protein than is healthy for them pretty much every day.  Plus cholesterol and saturated fat.  Neither of those exist in the natural world.  Studies have actually shown animal protein is the worst form of protein for the human body.  Not to mention the obesity rate is rapidly rising.  People are getting sicker and it’s mainly from their diet.  Since becoming a vegan I feel I have more energy.  I’ve already lost three pounds and I’ve only been vegan a few days.  And a new study suggests that a vegan diet can actually reverse diabetes.  So plenty of reasons to go vegan.  Not so many reasons to eat meat.  Even if you could care less about the welfare of the animals, maybe you care more about your health?   How’s your cholesterol?
 
Antibiotics injected into animals to make them grow bigger.  Pink goo put in your meat to make it look more appetizing.  Frequent meat recalls due to salmonella and other hazards.  I’m glad I don’t have to worry about any of that any more!
 
Some meat eaters argue that we’re top of the food chain, or we have carnivorous teeth designed to eat meat.  As far as being top of the food chain goes, showing compassion to the animal world isn’t high on their list of priorities, clearly.  And, no, we don’t have carnivorous teeth.  Are you referring to those fangs lions and tigers etc have, designed to rip and tear flesh?  Our teeth are more designed to crunch and chew.  Also, true carnivores have a short intestinal tract, so meat can be absorbed and jettisoned more rapidly.  Why?  Well, meat rots quickly.  Herbivores have long intestinal tracts, designed to slowly digest and absorb nutrients from vegetables and plants.  We have long intestinal tracts, just like the herbivores.  Guess what that means?  You have meat rotting in your gut because it doesn’t get jettisoned quickly enough.
 
Enjoy your burger!
 
There is only one true reason people eat meat.  Because it tastes good.  I know.  Remember, I’ve only been vegetarian for less than two weeks.  I remember how good burgers and bacon tasted.  I will never eat them again, though. 
 
Do you think we’re born to eat meat?  Do we have some kind of instinct to eat meat?  When a child is first introduced to a small animal what does it do?  Does it want to pet the animal?  Does it want to play with the animal?  Or does it try to eat the animal?  Hopefully you said no to the last option!  If not, call a psychiatrist!  No, it isn’t our instinct to eat flesh.  We learn to from society.  From our parents.  From everyone around us who eats meat. 
 
Maybe it’s time for a change.
 
You might not have a choice for much longer.  With the world population growing, the demand for meat is starting to grow faster than the ability to supply.  The amount of grain and water required to feed animals prior to their slaughter is extravagant.  Many starving people in the world would have food to eat if that food wasn’t required to feed the animals. More and more forestation is being destroyed to create more land to feed more animals to keep up with the demand.  Even if people cut down their meat consumption to three or four days a week, it would make a huge difference.
 
I know a simple blog won’t change the minds of simple die-hard meat eaters.  The kind who bluster “I don’t care.  Meat good.  I eat meat.”  But if you’re reading this, and if you’ve been thinking of at least cutting back on eating meat, or even giving vegetarianism a try, then let me assure you it’s very easy to live and eat healthy without meat.  The fact you are reading this shows you are on the internet.  Google living as a vegetarian.  Google living as a vegan.  There are so many sites out there with so much information.  Plus there are groups that can support and advise you on making an easy transition to a kinder, more humane way of living.  Some people argue one person can’t make a difference.  And it’s true.  But if one person reached out to one person who reached out to one person….
 
Be that one person.  Start making a difference.  Start today.
 
The animal kingdom will thank you for it.      

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