Have You Thought About Your Food?
Should you consider a vegan diet?
My aim here is solely to get you thinking about what you eat.
Let's begin with what a vegan is. A vegan is somebody who refrains from contributing to - as much as possible and practical - the suffering of animals. Yes, you probably knew this, but you may also have had other ideas about what a vegan is. Perhaps you thought of vegans as proselytising pests, as extremists, or maybe even very pale-looking hippies bordering on anorexia. This one is for you guys!
My journey began last year after seeing the documentary 'Earthlings'. This is somewhat of a cliché introduction to veganism. Earthlings is a documentary - albeit now rather old, but still very relevant - about the way in which we treat farm animals. It covers the birth, raising and inevitable slaughter of the animals. Needless to say, it is very grim.
I had never considered my dietary choices before viewing Earthlings. To be frank, I'd never really thought about anything I put in my mouth. As an Englishman, I loved my occasional fry-up, my Sunday roast and my tea with a dash of a milk. Nobody or nothing ever prompted me to think about where my food came from, or what the consequences of that were... until Earthlings.
It's almost like the Matrix; once you've had a peek, you can't go back. So next up was a selection of documentaries and books that would further help me understand where my food came from and what that meant. One page after the other, I was appalled at what I was discovering. I read about what was involved in the creation of a future bacon sandwich, from the artificial insemination and rape of the animals, to calves being torn away from their mothers just moments after birth. I read about the cramped, filthy conditions in which the animals lived out almost the entirety of their lives. I learned about how inhumane 'humane' slaughter really is. From failed attemps to stun the animals, to male chicks being ground up at birth. So I asked myself: Do I really want to contribute to this senseless violence?
Of course I didn't. I couldn't justify it to myself. How could I? Being so ill-informed, I didn't know what else I'd eat, but I knew I wouldn't touch meat or fish again. I decided to look online for a vegan cookbook to get me started. A lot of people tend to ''transition'' to veganism, which in itself is of course a good thing, since the contribution to suffering is significantly decreased, but I decided that if I decided it was fine for dairy cows to be kept in dire conditions for their entire lives, hooked up to machines until they're too old to stand any longer, at which point they are slaughtered anyway, then I might as well just be OK with cows being raised for meat. It's a line that each individual has to draw for themselves.
My new recipe book turned out to be an incredible surprise. I was trying new vegetables, cooking tofu in all sorts of different ways, and all sorts of milk alternatives, always expecting the worst but being delighted every time. I started feeling healthier, having more energy and even losing weight.
I often encountered myths in the form of questions, such as: Where do you get your protein from? Don't you just eat lettuce all day? Or more general statements such as: You need cow's milk to strengthen your bones. I would've posed such questions to people before becoming a vegan, too. But with a little bit of research these myths are easily debunked, and you discover that not only is veganism healthy, it's arguably the healthiest diet one can follow.
I highly recommend to you documentaries such as Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and What The Health. Some fantastic, informative books are How Not to Die, Animal Liberation, and Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. All of which are great for one who is curious about what they're putting in their mouths and the effects of doing so.
The transition for me was easy. Yes, I miss bacon sandwiches and a tasty steak, but there's more to me that the trivial desire of satisfying my palate. Many will disagree, but for me it is black and white: do you want to be a part of a system of unnecessary exploitation, in which sentient, intelligent (often as smart as your toddler) creatures are needlessly tortured and killed, just because you ''can't give up your chicken''? It's a very important question, and I hope you dedicate some time to answering it.
I'll leave you with a quote from Richard Dawkins: “In 100 or 200 years time, we may look back on the way we treated animals today as something like we today look back on the way our forefathers treated slaves.”
Tasty vegan food in Amsterdam!
© 2017 theveganguy