28 Dec 2015

Could you slit an animal's throat?

It's a harsh question. A horrible question. And while I apologise to anybody who is upset by this question, it needs to be asked.

To get meat, we must kill. It's a concept most people understand - but unfortunately, it's a concept very few people will acknowledge. For many people, it is easier to ignore the truth about meat than to make an effort to change. Many people will eat meat, several times a day, without a second thought. But what if they had to slaughter the animal? What if they had to choose their victim? Would that make any difference at all?

I know, personally, that I could never intentionally slaughter or harm another living creature. And, to be consistent in my morals, I choose not to pay for other people to kill animals for me. That, plain and simply, is why I'm vegan.

"I know there are many people out there who aren't vegan, and yet they too would never harm an animal. Most people have kind, compassionate hearts. Most people don't want to hurt anyone."

But I know there are many people out there who aren't vegan, and yet they too would never harm an animal. Most people have kind, compassionate hearts. Most people don't want to hurt anyone. Morals and ethics are deeply ingrained in our culture, and one of our strongest morals is the idea that killing is wrong. So for many people, given the task of slitting a living animal's throat, they would turn away in horror and disgust. They couldn't go through with it. Many people refuse to even watch videos of this kind of behaviour.

So that's why I ask this question.

Could you take a knife, slice an animal's neck, watch he or she bleed out and die, slice his or her body to pieces, cook these pieces and eat them?

Could you?

Just reading these words sickens me. And I know many other people would feel the same. These words are uncomfortable and unsettling.

So why do we allow it to happen, on a huge scale - a scale of billions, every single day? Why do we pay money to keep this horrific industry afloat?

I believe that moral consistency is very important. I believe that if we think killing is wrong, we should not pay for it to happen.

I believe that moral consistency is very important. I believe that if we think killing is wrong, we should not pay for it to happen. It is a very simple concept, and it is why I have never wanted to eat meat.

Of course, I should address one thing. There are people out there who would happily slit an animal's throat and eat its body. Those people are not the target of this article. I am not going to waste time with somebody who simply doesn't care. But many people are kind and compassionate towards animals. Many people care a lot. All they need is a guiding hand. That's what I am offering with this article.

The reality of slaughterhouses 

If you're doubting whether or not these animals are killed by such gruesome means, I invite you to read this page. It contains accounts of actual slaughterhouse activities written by actual slaughterhouse workers.

Bill Haw, CEO of Kansas City's National Farms writes this:
Well, the slaughterhouse is not a pretty thing. I mean, it's a necessary process. It's a highly efficient process. But it's not now, nor never will be, a very pretty thing. Animals come there to die, to be eviscerated, to be decapitated, to be de-hided -- and all of those are violent, bloody and difficult things to watch. So your first and foremost impression of at least the initial stages of the packing house are a very violent, very dehumanizing sort of thing.
But the fact is, we are meat eaters, most of us. And it's a highly efficient way and a reasonably humane way. The animals are rendered unconscious before any of this happens. I think there's a concern for humane treatment of the animals. But the process itself is a violent and unpleasant sort of thing. ...

What he says is both true and false. The violence he describes, however shocking, is accurate. In saying this, he also justifies his actions through claiming that slaughtering animals is necessary and humane. The first is a matter of fact, and the second of opinion. It is a fact that humans do not need to eat animals to thrive and survive. There are millions of healthy vegans and vegetarians proving that every day. Secondly, if we describe humane as "having or showing compassion or benevolence", then Bill Haw must be wrong, because there is nothing compassionate or benevolent about killing without good reason.
And what's more, Bill Haw describes the dehumanisation of slaughterhouse workers. This is a horrible thing to subject a person to - the loss of their sense of self, of humanity. Slaughterhouses are bad not only for the animals, but for all involved in the horrible process, humans included.

Moral consistency is important

Is it natural for humans to eat meat? Some say yes, some say no. It's arguable. Some say we should make logical rather than emotional decisions, but our entire human lives are based around emotion. What's not arguable is that human society is a society based on morals. Nearly every day, we make decisions based on their ethicality. We live by a system of what's right and wrong, and if we choose to disobey this system, we end up in jail, or are shunned by our fellow humans.

There are two major issues to which humans are strongly opposed: killing and abuse. Needless killing and abuse both go against society's morals - so much so that committing these acts could land you on death row (another issue that is subject to moral debate). We are intelligent creatures able to understand when killing is okay and when it's not. In self-defence, killing is usually justified. If a bear is attempting to rip you limb-from-limb, it's okay to fight back. If a human is trying to kidnap you, it's okay to fight back. But if a human is casually walking by, minding their own business, not harming anybody, it's not okay to kill them. And if a bear is prowling through the forest, seeking shelter or food, it's not okay to kill it. And it's not okay to harm or abuse the beast. What are you doing in the bear's territory, anyway?

"I am morally opposed to necessary killing, and so I will not pay for necessary killing to happen. I will not give my money to an industry that needlessly kills, regardless of how "humanely" the killing is done."

These are the morals we live by. So why should things change when cows, pigs, sheep, and other commodified animals enter the picture? To reiterate what I said earlier: I am morally opposed to necessary killing, and so I will not pay for necessary killing to happen. I will not give my money to an industry that needlessly kills, regardless of how "humanely" the killing is done.

Death is death, life is life, and morals are morals. I shouldn't ignore my morals and push them to the back of my mind, out of sight and out of thought, to justify doing something that's convenient or traditional. I hope you, or whoever you share this article with, take this idea into consideration the next time you or they give money to a slaughterhouse.

If you are interested in veganism, I have many useful resources on my blog: here, here, here and here. You could also check out Veganuary, a project encouraging people to try veganism in the new year. Thanks for reading.

23 Dec 2015

Would you eat lab-grown meat?

Lab-grown or in-vitro meat is, according to Wikipedia, an animal-flesh product that has never come from a living animal.

Here is some further information on the topic, from Wikipedia:
"In vitro meat, also called cultured meat, is an animal-flesh product that has never been part of a living animal. In the 21st century, several research projects have worked on in vitro meat in the laboratory.[1] The first in vitro beef burger, created by a Dutch team, was eaten at a demonstration for the press in London in August 2013.[2] There remain difficulties to be overcome before in vitro meat becomes commercially available.[3] Cultured meat is prohibitively expensive, but it is expected that the cost could be reduced to compete with that of conventionally obtained meat as technology improves.[4][5] In vitro meat is also a cultural issue. Some argue that it is less objectionable than traditionally obtained meat because it doesn't involve killing and reduces the risk of animal cruelty, while others disagree with eating meat that has not developed naturally.[6]"
Given this information, and knowing that animals will not be used to produce in-vitro meat, please answer the poll below.

I look forward to seeing the results.

21 Dec 2015

How to have an amazing vegan Christmas

How does your family act at the annual Christmas lunch?

Do they accept your choice to be vegan with loving arms, and happily prepare vegan options for you? Do they let you bring a few meals of your own? Or do they shun your lifestyle choice, make fun of you and try to get you to eat some Christmas ham?

I'm fortunate enough to not have experienced the latter problem - but from what I've heard, a lot of vegans have. And it's not okay. Nobody should have to suffer through ridicule and rejection because of an important lifestyle choice they've made. Now, many families are accepting and accommodating, which is totally awesome. It's great when families are willing to learn about how delicious vegan food is and how easy it is to prepare. But some people just aren't so lucky!

And so, to help you have the very best vegan Christmas you can, or whichever holiday you celebrate, and to help you avoid feeling completely out of place and unaccepted, here are some tips.

Educate your family and friends about what veganism actually is 

This seems so simple, but it's super important. If you're a part of a family of gift-givers, you won't want your family members spending money on presents for you that aren't vegan. A lot of people just don't understand what veganism actually is. They get the vegetarian part - no meat - but some people aren't aware of the problems with milk, eggs, wool, silk, leather, etc. A good idea would be to bring up a discussion about Christmas presents and politely ask the family member if they're having any trouble finding vegan gifts. Be helpful, and let them know that you'd appreciate a gift that doesn't contain any animal products, and explain what this includes. It's important to be as friendly and polite as possible if you don't want to stir up trouble, because some people feel uncomfortable when talking about veganism. It's a guilt thing, I think.

Bring some plates of vegan food

Again, this is a simple tip, but one of the most important. If you want your family members to experience the awesomeness of vegan food and realise how delicious it can be - the best way is to show them! Cook up the tastiest vegan Christmas food you can muster, and offer it to your family and friends. Try not to make a big deal about it being vegan at first, because this can turn people off. Wait until they've tried it, then shock them with the news!

"If you're not a fantastic chef, consider ordering some vegan catering to bring along, or buy something from the store."

If you're not a fantastic chef, consider ordering some vegan catering to bring along, or buy something from the store. Otherwise, there are plenty of delicious, simple vegan recipes that you can try instead, so even beginner cooks will have a good chance of success.

Eat what your family is eating

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to eat real Christmas ham, or turkey, or whatever else your non-vegan family is eating - just have a vegan version! For most people, Christmas is about bringing everyone together. Eating a meal together is a huge part of this. So if your meal is totally different to what everyone else is having, you might feel a bit out of place, and your family might think that vegan food is really weird and different. If you make a vegan version of what they're having, they'll realise that vegan food can be just as good as what they eat, and you won't feel like an outcast. If your family's having Christmas turkey with gravy and roast veggies, bring some tofurkey and vegan gravy along - or, if you're not interested in mock meat, a big plate of roast veggies can be just as good.

If all else fails, celebrate Christmas elsewhere 

Christmas is usually a family affair, and spending time with your family is important. But when your family is unaccepting of your lifestyle, ridicules you, and often makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't owe them Christmas day. You shouldn't feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with people who are rude to you. Go out and enjoy Christmas by yourself, or with some friends, or with your pets - choose people who are accepting and loving, people who want everyone to enjoy Christmas, regardless of their lifestyle choices. If there's no one else to spend Christmas with - why not cuddle up at home with some blankets, a big bowl of roast vegetables, and watch Christmas movies? Or head our for dinner with your friends, or cook for your pets, or chat with other vegans online who may be in the same situation as you. You, like everyone else, have the right to an enjoyable and stress-free holiday season!

If you're wondering about how your veganism will affect your Christmas or other holiday celebrations, I hope these tips have helped you. I hope you all have a fantastic holiday and a wonderful new year!