By Hans Santos
Not long ago I heard a joke regarding vegans: “How do you find a vegan in a group? Don’t worry, he will tell you.” This may or may not be funny, but it is true. And why does a vegan tells you that he or she is vegan? I have found out that it is inevitable. I became vegan two years ago and this situation happens every time there is a gathering and there is food involved. Imagine the next scenario that happened to me, one of a dozen that I have experienced: I was invited to a birthday party that my ex company was throwing to an employee. The waitress approaches me to take my order and I ask her: “Is the shitake soup made with chicken stock or is it vegan?” Since it is not a vegan restaurant, I must make sure that I am not going to eat an animal product. And as soon as humanly possible, the person next to me asks: “What’s wrong with eating animals”?
Where do I start, really? First, this is a conversation that you don’t want to have when you are about to eat. Do you really want to hear about how your food will give you cancer? About how you are destroying the planet? Or do you want me to talk about how disgusting and inhumane the animal factories are? But people must ask you, they cannot help it. They feel that you are judging them because you feel superior. We do not feel superior. That is not the case. We feel that we are equal to the rest of the animals. We feel empathy for them and we do not want to hurt them.
So where to start telling someone why I am vegan? Health-wise? Eating animal protein is bad for your health, you will get cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and many more illnesses. Planet-wise? It’s terrible. We are destroying the forests to make room for pasture lands. But most important what’s wrong about eating animals is what the animals go through so they can end up in our dinner plate, or in that particular case, the stock used to make soup.
In a nutshell, you have been lied to all of your life by the meat and dairy industry. Animal protein is not good for your body. It may taste great, but it will damage you. And do animals really suffer that much? I’ll tell you a bit about that, although in my experience people that don’t see the images are not impressed by the words. I sometimes tell people that I do not eat bacon anymore because “they boil the pigs alive,” and they seem to forget that in a minute. But if you were to see the pig screaming for two minutes in boiling water, the next time you had a pork chop in front of you, you will remember that image and hopefully be so disgusted about what you are promoting that you may not eat that. However, here it is what chickens go through without the sounds and images: Since male baby chicks will not lay eggs and do not produce as much meat as chickens, they are violently separated from the females and thrown alive into a meat grinder on their first, and last, day on this Earth. And they are the lucky ones. The females will spend their whole lives in darkness and under inhumane conditions. First they are debeaked. Their beaks are cut with searing blades without anesthesia (because anesthesia is expensive), so they do not peck each other to death in their cages. Why would they kill each other? Because chickens go crazy when they live under those conditions. They are crammed into tiny cages where they cannot extend their wings. They stand on wires every minute of their miserable lives. They do not have any veterinarian assistance. If they get sick, or get an infection, they let them die a very painful death, and later remove the carcass from the cage. They are bred to grow very fast, and to have larger breasts. What this causes is that their legs are too weak to support all that weight and cannot keep up, so the chickens cannot even stand up. They live their lives in darkness and under an unbearable stench. They are hurt on the way to the slaughterhouse. They arrive dehydrated, with broken bones or even dead.
All this suffering so I can have soup that tastes like chicken? I don’t think so. And chickens are not the animals that suffer the most. Don’t get me started on cows and pigs. Humans should be ashamed for treating animals this way. I became vegan after I saw videos of what animals go through. I haven’t been able to eat anything that I think may have animal products in it. I am convinced that most people have empathy. It’s something that makes us human. I believe that if they all saw these videos most of them would stop consuming meat and dairy. The problem is that once I tell this story to someone, their reaction is: “I don’t want to see those videos because I love the taste of meat (and or cheese), and maybe I won’t want to eat anymore, or I will feel guilty if I do.”
Yes, they are on to something. They realize that what they are doing, eating animals, is wrong. How sad. Humans are hypocrites. And yet they continue to support animal cruelty because of their selfishness. Some believe it’s a God given right. Some believe they are at the top of the food chain. We are not. We are not carnivores. We are not omnivores. We are herbivores. I recently heard the word “necrovores.” That may be a better description for those who eat corpses. Humans don’t kill their prey, they eat the carcass, and very rarely is it fresh.
Where do I get all my information? Can I back it up? Sure. I can tell you exactly where to listen to the doctors talk about the research and studies made that back these claims. If you believe consuming animal protein will not give you cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis, watch Forks Over Knives. It is a documentary that contains no animal cruelty, and it could and should change your life.
If you do not care that much about your heart, your bones or your health, but you are intrigued to see if animals really suffer or if I am only exaggerating everything that relates to factory farming, then check out Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, or watch Earthlings. If you want a glimpse on what the fur industry does to animals, watch The Witness. They will open your eyes. I guarantee it.
I heard an impressive vegan speaker not long ago that said: “To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that humans are herbivores, place a two-year old child in a crib with a bunny rabbit and an apple. If the child eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, then I’ll eat a steak sandwich that’s been dipped in ice cream! Humans have no carnivorous/omnivorous instincts whatsoever when we’re born, young and growing up.” – Gary Yourofsky.