Monday, June 11, 2012

The Confused Vegan

During the first couple of years of being vegan, I was a very confused person.

I believed in promoting veganism and was passionate about animal rights. I was a member of Peta2 (PETA for youth), and I supported them, as well as a few other big "Animal Rights" organisations. However, many of their actions puzzled me.

When SAFE in New Zealand got undercover footage of factory farms on tv, I didn't think it was a good thing. Because there was no mention of veganism. Only promotion of free-range animal products.

When PETA campaigned for KFC to use "Controlled Atmosphere Killing" on their chickens instead of slitting their throats, I didn't think that was right. The chickens still lose their lives, either way.

Once on the Peta2 forums, a farmer was complaining that we were trying to put him out of business. I was the first person to comment, and I said that I simply don't support violence, and that the lives of those animals are as valuable to them as ours are to us. Everyone else on the forum, however, reassured him that they loved little family farms where the animals were treated well, and it was only the big mean factory farms that they were trying to get rid of. I actually felt embarrassed, and wondered if I'd said the wrong thing.

Was I being a bad advocate for animal rights because I didn't support campaigns by PETA or SAFE? Should I be advocating for welfare reforms like them? I didn't believe it would help animals, because they would still be murdered in the end, but it seemed like that was what all the vegans and animal rights people were campaigning for. I was very confused indeed.

Then one day, I stumbled across Professor Gary Francione on Twitter. After reading some of his "Tweets" I thought, Finally, here's someone who actually makes sense! Someone campaigning for the end of animal use - not better treatment! I then learnt about the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. I met other vegan abolitionists on Twitter. And suddenly I didn't feel alone, or that what I believed in was wrong.

Now I wonder; how many others out there are feeling the same way I did? How many confused vegans are there who support PETA and the like because they are supposedly "Animal Rights", but don't agree with the things they campaign for? How many vegetarians are there who haven't learnt about veganism because nobody's talked to them about it? How many omnivores are there who pay extra money to buy free-range because they believe they're helping animals?

This is why I urge people to promote veganism, and encourage others to promote it too. You don't need to be a part of a big animal welfare organisation to help other animals. Talk to others about veganism, and promote veganism only. People can make up their own minds about whether to go free-range, vegetarian, or vegan after you talk to them, but I never compromise my message and say that anything less than veganism is okay - that would just be speciesist.

Since going vegan at the age of 13, I have always believed in promoting veganism. I always looked at it from the animal's perspective. If that were me in the slaughterhouse, if I were a slave to another species, I wouldn't care if I got a bigger cage or if I were gassed to death instead of having my throat slit. The thing I would want the most, and would hope for for my children's future, would be to no longer be considered as someone else's property. An individual in control of her own life.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Mother And Her Baby

This is a story from my week at an animation school in 2010. Originally posted to Facebook, I thought I'd share it here.

It was a clear Tuesday morning. While waiting for class to start, I was watching the cows in the field nextdoor. In the field closest to me were 4 cows and a young calf. The calf was lying down next to his mother. It was all peaceful, until the farmer started approaching the paddock on his quad bike. The mother - alerted to danger - got up and stood in fron
t of the calf. The calf, sensing something was up, got up as well and stood close beside his mother. Two of the other cows came to the mother's side, ready to protect the baby from danger. They all watched the farmer approach with wary eyes. He appeared to only be checking up on them, and then he left. But the cows didn't drop their guard until quite a while after that. Only when they were sure it was safe would they go back to doing what they were doing.

You can tell by this story that cows are very maternal animals. They adore their babies. But, in order for humans to drink the milk intended for the calves, dairy cows are denied motherhood. In order to keep lactating, they are repeatedly impregnated, and their beloved children are stolen away from them. Cows produce milk for the same reason all mammals do - to nourish their young. Milk is for calves, not humans. 

Respect the rights of others. Go Vegan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Want vs. Need

In order to stay alive, there are certain things we human beings need. We need water, we need oxygen, and we need food. And food is the necessity I'm going to talk about in today's blog post.

I have heard that humans need to eat meat for survival. That we need to eat animal products in order to stay healthy. 

Eating other animals may have been necessary for human survival in the past when times were hard and plant food was limited.  But they only ate it because they needed it to continue living - not for palate pleasure like we do now. Quoting an episode from my Vegan for Life podcast:
"Early humans didn't overdo it. They only killed what they needed, in order to survive, and worked in harmony with nature. But look what we're doing to nature now, in order to satisfy the growing demand for animal products. Thousands of acres of forests have had to be destroyed, air and water is being polluted, and so much life is being lost. The earth has provided us with enough resources for all the animals living on it - human and non-human - to survive. But we are exploiting these resources in order to satisfy our taste for flesh. Early humans ate meat in order to survive. Why do we eat meat now? Purely because we like the taste."
For humans now, eating animal products is a want. A want for the taste. It is no longer a need. In fact, it's very easy to stay alive and healthy without consuming animal products. Long-time vegans are proof of that.

In a survival situation, when you're lost and you need to survive, maybe you'd have to eat other animals to survive. Maybe even other humans. In a situation like that, things are different. You wouldn't have a choice, you would have to eat what you can to survive - or die. Like lions, wolves, bears, and other carnivorous or omnivorous wild animals - they don't have a choice of what to eat. They have to eat what they can so that they will continue living. But right now, you're not out in the wild starving (I'm assuming you aren't if you have internet access and are reading this blog), and you have a choice. Over 56 billion land animals and trillions of sea animals don't need to be exploited and murdered for our consumption, clothing, entertainment, and other uses. 

We have a choice. To continue engaging in violence towards other sentient beings, or to go vegan and live nonviolently. If you're not starving, if you don't need it, and it harms others, why continue doing it?

It's easy to be vegan. Vegan food can be DELICIOUS and exciting! And if you really want the taste of animal products (cravings do go away, I promise), they can be replaced with plant-based alternatives. There's no reason NOT to be vegan, so give it a try! Start here: