“I could be a vegetarian… if it wasn’t for bacon!”
I used to say that all the time, usually during a hungover brunch between mouthfuls of crispy bacon from my favourite cafe.
Growing up, I had a pretty standard diet. I ate red meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Despite developing an intolerance for lactose in my late teenage years, I still consumed cheese and ice-cream regularly, ignoring my body’s warning signals that it wasn’t right for me. I loved it, and believed that it was all part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
I was wrong.
When I was about 25 years old, I discovered a few blogs online that slowly began to change my entire life. Over the course of a year, I slowly began making the connection between eating meat, and where it really came from. Obviously, I knew meat came from living beings, but I never *really* made that connection, ya know?
After many months doing research, I decided to watch a video on YouTube called ‘101 Reasons to Go Vegan’. At this point, I hadn’t made any real changes to my diet or lifestyle, apart from choosing to consume less meat at home in an effort to save money. I was still lactose intolerant, and I still ate cheese and ice-cream on a regular basis (despite the fact it made me sick).
Then I watched the video, and it opened my eyes wider than they’ve ever been before.
I not only learnt some important facts that I wasn’t aware of, but I also witnessed for the first time the inhumane treatment of animals in factory farms. I was absolutely shocked. As someone who proclaimed to be an ‘animal lover’ for my entire life, I couldn’t believe my eyes. How had I spent so long turning a blind eye to this? How had it taken me this long to make the connection between eating meat and where it came from? I guess I thought I was doing the right thing by choosing to buy ‘organic’ or RSPCA-approved’ meat, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great of a life a cow or chicken has had – slaughter is slaughter. Death is death. There is no humane way to kill something that doesn’t want to be killed.
I realised that I was putting my own personal taste and comfort over the lives of beautiful, innocent and sentient creatures. Did you know that cows have best friends, and become physically distraught when separated from them? Did you know that pigs have the same level of intelligence as a three-year old child? Can you imagine the fear, terror and absolute horror that a three-year old child would feel in the moments before slaughter? That is what pigs go through. They are aware of what is happening to them, and that is absolutely fucking heartbreaking.
I immediately became a vegetarian after watching that video. That was in June 2015. I gave away all the meat I had left in my freezer to my roommates, and I made a promise to myself that I’d give it a real go. Well, technically, on that day I became a pescatarian, as I still consumed seafood. I’d never been a big seafood fan, but at that point I wasn’t quite ready to give it up. I also hadn’t given up dairy – yet.
I SEAFOOD, THEN I EAT IT
I remained a pescatarian for eighteen months before deciding to give up seafood completely in January 2017. It was pretty easy since I didn’t really like seafood, and over time the flesh of the fish I was eating began to make me feel uneasy.
It didn’t feel natural to have to pick bones out of my food, and every time someone served a piece of fish with its head intact, it made me feel really uncomfortable. I decided then and there that I didn’t ever want to eat anything that had a face ever again.
NOT YOUR MUM, NOT YOUR MILK
Over the rest of the year, I still consumed dairy and eggs on a semi-regular basis. My lactose intolerance wasn’t enough to deter me from the delicious taste of cheese, ice-cream or yoghurt, and all the gross symptoms of my intolerance were just part of life.
I wasn’t listening to my body. Although I’d lost a bit of weight without trying after initially cutting meat from my diet, I gained it all back with an increase in my dairy consumption. I drank soy milk in my coffee, but always opted for ‘real’ ice-cream and ‘real’ cheese. I still hadn’t quite made the connection to where dairy came from, either.
I decided that I needed to do more research. Here’s a fun fact – did you know that milk comes from cows? Yeah, that’s right, cows! While I am stating the obvious here, there’s something else that you may not know. Cows only produce milk when they are lactating. Yep, just like humans, cows only produce milk when they’ve got a baby to feed.
Hang on a second, if that is true, then how do you explain the mass production of milk and other dairy products? Surely, there aren’t that many cows naturally giving birth in the world, right? Right. There aren’t enough cows naturally giving birth in the world, and when I realised this, it made me so horrified that I knew I couldn’t continue consuming dairy.
So, how do we make enough milk for all the dairy products in the world if there aren’t enough cows giving birth naturally? You see, dairy cows have possibly the most horrific life of any animal in the entire food industry. First, they’re artificially impregnated with a metal rod. What is the word for sticking something inside someone else without their consent? Oh yeah, rape.
Then, after they give birth, their newborn calf is immediately taken away from them, causing distress and grief to the mother cow. But, no time for grief, because it’s time to go get knocked up again by that metal rod. Oops, did I say knocked up? I meant raped.
While Mumma Cow is being impregnated again, and the milk meant for her baby is being taken for human consumption, what happens to baby cow? Say hello to your veal schnitzel.
A cow has a natural lifespan of up to twenty years, but when you’re a dairy cow, you can only expect to live until about seven before the strain of producing milk for the masses takes its toll on your body, then it’s time for slaughter. Say hello to your Sunday roast!
If you’d like to learn more about the horrors that dairy cows go through on a day to day basis, please visit this website. If not, have a think about why you’re so happy to consume something that, at the end of the day, is designed to grow a baby calf into a huge cow in a matter of months. But hey, dairy is healthy for you, right?
I PREFER MY EGGS AS BABY CHICKENS
Now that you’re nice and depressed after learning about where milk really comes from, I’m gonna tell you all about the egg industry. I ate eggs until late 2017, and only gave them up after committing to veganism at the start of 2018.
I’m sure you’re no stranger to the controversy of all the different categories of eggs available in the supermarket. From caged, cage-free, barn-laid, free-range and whatever other term the marketing guys over at the Australian Eggs Corporation want to use to convince you that your eggs are free from the same horrors that other farm animals go through, there seems to be plenty of options based on your level of guilt.
Hmmm, caged eggs are ‘bad’, but are free range eggs much better? Not to mention there are about a million different ways to define ‘free-range’, so how can you be sure that your eggs are coming from a chicken who had a ‘good’ life?
Spoiler alert – you can’t.
Female chickens (aka hens) lay eggs, right? Right. When their eggs hatch, there’s a 50/50 chance it’ll be another hen. If you are born a little boy chook (aka rooster), then, well, you’re useless so it’s the big grinder for you! Have you ever seen a video of hundreds of baby chicks getting put through a grinder to their deaths? I have. If you’re born a female, well, you’re probably going to wish you ended up in that grinder. Get ready for a life of mass producing eggs for human consumption in a tiny cage, because what is life if people can’t enjoy their eggs bene on the weekend, right? Oh, don’t forget that your beak will be painfully removed by a laser, so you can’t hurt any of the workers who are ruining your life.
Eggs may be delicious, but they come at a price.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Now, I really didn’t mean for this post to sound so snarky, and I’m not trying to make you feel guilty for your choices. Well, if we are being perfectly honest, I kind of hope that you feel at least a little guilty after reading this. However, my main goal is to educate and provide information, because only a few years ago, I didn’t know any of this either.
Being a vegan doesn’t come without challenges. Yes, it is bloody difficult sometimes and yes, it can be pretty inconvenient at times. But hey, I’d rather a little inconvenience in my life if it means that one less cow has to go through the pain, fear and horror that so many animals go through every day around the world. I used to think I was an animal lover, but that wasn’t true until I stopped eating them. Your actions need to fall in line with your convictions. If you claim to love animals but you still eat meat I’m sorry but you’re not an animal lover – you’re a pet lover.
Why do we love pets (such as cats and dogs) but eat cows, pigs, chickens and sheep? Why do some people keep rabbits as pets, and some people eat rabbits for dinner? Why does everyone get up in arms over the insanely horrific ‘dog meat festivals’ in China, but turn a blind eye to the same horrors happening in our own country?
LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
I’m not asking you to become a vegan. I’m asking you to *try* and make ethical and compassionate choices when it comes to fuelling your own body. It really isn’t that hard to eat less meat and dairy, and if you give it a go you’ll find that it is not only pretty easy, but it’s also tasty AF and you’ve save plenty on your shopping bill – and on your waistline!
If you’d like to learn more about vegetarianism or veganism, please drop me a line. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, no matter how stupid or silly they may seem. I will also leave a list of resources at the bottom of this post so you can do your own research too.
Becoming a vegan wasn’t only a compassionate choice for me, but also an ethical one for the environment and finally for my own health and wellbeing. There are plenty of reasons why veganism is the most effective lifestyle for this planet, and the creatures within it (including YOU).
I hope this post has helped you understand why not only myself, but other people turn to veganism. At the end of the day, we’re making compassionate choices and it really upsets me when people make fun of vegans for doing something for those who can’t fight for themselves. If you have nothing nice, encouraging or educational to add to this post, please don’t bother.
“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence”.
BOOKS TO READ:
The China Study
The Starch Solution
DOCOS TO WATCH:
Forks Over Knives
VEGAN FOR THE ANIMALS:
VEGAN FOR THE PLANET:
VEGAN FOR YOUR HEALTH:
GREAT BLOGS FOR INSPO: