Freedom is something we all desire, whether it is the freedom to choose where to live or who to love; this simple right can become a life changing scenario. I’d like all of you reading this, to take a minute to think about where you’ve heard the term “veganism”. Some of you may have never heard it while others might have seen it on a chalkboard sign outside of some hippy café that sells organic fruit juice, or maybe you’ve heard it from a cliché line from a comedy movie, poking fun at veggie burgers (although it’s beside the point, I’d definitely recommend you give them a chance; they’re actually quite tasty.). Veganism is not nearly as exclusive and difficult to sustain as many may make it seem. Many who have tried removing animal products from their diet actually describe it as a fulfilling and refreshing lifestyle. Although giving up animal products definitely has its health benefits, I think there are a lot of ethical reasons to quit eating meat and dairy, too.
For the last couple of years, I had constantly wondered what occurred behind the neat packaging and appetizing commercials of burgers and steak houses. Through many, many hours of research I found that in reality, it’s anything but appetizing. Eventually, I found a documentary called Food. Inc that displayed the exploitation and slaughtering of animals in the meat and dairy industry. There were images of cows being locked away in tiny cubicles in a giant warehouse that barely ever saw sunlight. The cows were dirty, had infections and scabs all over their bodies and were poorly treated. The workers of slaughterhouses often dragged and beat the animals until they were battered and bruised when they tried fighting back for their life, before they were thrown into a machine that killed the animal or in a place where they were shot. The workers threw their bodies around and yelled expletives at them. Despite the fact that they can’t communicate with humans, I believe that they should still be given the respect that they deserve as living beings. Animals are known to have the ability to sense when danger is coming their way, so imagine knowing you’re about to be dragged to your death and you have absolutely no free will in what to do about it.
As the documentary continued, it described how the calves were torn (literally) apart from their mothers at birth, and were sent off to another facility depending on their gender; females were sent to dairy farms and the males to slaughter houses. The baby calves, confused and terrified, will likely be shivering in a minuscule cage for several months, while it’s shipped off to dairy farm that will either exploit the female’s body for milk or raise the male until he’s old enough to have the most meat, so he can be killed. The calf would cry out while the mother desperately tried to reach its baby in confusion, and if the mother didn't comply with the worker, she was often beaten until her legs gave out. It was heartbreaking to watch a parent being ripped away from its child against its will, despite whether it’s a human or another species. Unfortunately, this is only a fraction of the unethical treatment that occurs within the meat and dairy industry. You don't have to be vegan to agree that that’s simply not morally correct. The saddest part to me was that they were solely raised just to live a lifelong of torture, only to be deprived of their only joy in their horrifying life; their very own child.
If you feel as though the ethical part of veganism doesn’t’t apply to you, consider the detrimental effects the meat industry has on our environment. Maybe many of you are wondering why exactly so many places are now experiencing droughts. A lot of this is actually attributed to the meat and dairy industry as well. Thousands of animals are raised each year just to be sold as meat or used for to collect dairy. All of these animals require a place to be, which causes mass destruction of natural habitats in some areas to create feeding grounds and warehouses for the animals to be housed in. To my surprise, I learned that this can actually lead to deforestation when some places are destroyed just serve as habitation for the massy produced animals. The animals also require a large amount of food and water compared to humans. Livestock generally consume five times as much grains as a person. According to Cornell University, 800 million people could be fed with the amount of grain that livestock eat. Over 40% of the world’s grain is being fed to farm animals instead of directly being consumed by humans. This research is actually found to be connected to issues such as a deficiency of water and even world hunger because of how much water and food are needed to supply these farm animals.
Although, many are still very close-minded to the fact of giving up animal products but I hope that at the least, let you and many others consider changing your outlook on the meat and dairy industry. I hope that that as time goes on, people become more accepting of vegans and even consider looking into it more. I know that it’ll take nearly centuries more than likely to convince even half of the human population to give up meat and dairy, but I hope that for the sake of the animals, the ecosystem and the rest of the world, that people will open up their minds to doing the right thing.