So I chose to go vegan. Several times. And failed. Why?
I first went vegetarian at 19 (many years ago). I failed at that initially, too. What had prompted it? First, there's a memory I have. I'm ten or eleven and at my aunt's house in the DR. They have several farm animals on their land. I'm chucking rocks into the overgrown grass in the yard. Moments later, I see a pig walk by in the grass, bleeding from his head. I felt a massive amount of guilt. The pig's blood and pain was a direct result of my actions. Fast-forward several years, I (16yo) watch one of the The Faces of Death videos. That shit made me feel sick for about a week. Every time I ate a hamburger, the images I'd seen came back to me.
I tried going vegan once or twice before, failing each time because it was too difficult. Namely, cheese was too delicious to give up. I also reasoned that, at least, buying dairy products and eggs didn't directly lead to the killing of chickens or cows. I had no idea how much animal suffering is caused by the production of dairy and egg products, or how integral they were in sustaining the meat industry. (The same can be said about fur and wool, for instance.)
So, about three months, I was watching a YouTube video (it appears not to be currently up) that gave the facts re: what happens to most dairy cows, chickens, and chicks at big farms, which included drone footage. Male chicks, for instance, are fed en masse (no anesthesia, absolutely conscious) into a big meat grinder from a conveyor belt. The footage of what happens was hard to ignore, and I, as a consumer, was complicit in that abuse.
So I was vegan. For, like, two months. I found it freeing. Of course, I had to pay much more attention to what I was eating, reading labels and learning a lot more about nutrition, and supplementing. But recently I relapsed. The temptation was too much, and I was too hungry. Honestly, it was great for a while to eat cheese again. Not to worry. Not to be inconvenienced. I had a couple vegan days in the week. Thought that was good enough.
Then, the other day, I saw this. If the footage of animal abuse doesn't have an effect on you, if you do not feel guilty as a meat eater after watching that, I do not understand you. I do not know if we can communicate. You might as well stop reading this. I decided, after that, that I would no longer be complicit in such suffering. I understand that people argue that not all animals are abused in farms, which is certainly true to an extent in some farms around the world. However, to believe that the animal you are now eating hasn't suffered before getting to your plate is a level of trust in people and places you have not seen that I don't have. Also, there's the fact that the animals are killed. It's kinda difficult to kill something without inflicting any pain or suffering. Sure, one might think up ways, but how is it usually done? One might also argue that labels such as "free-range" or "cage-free" are indicative of the absence of animal suffering and/or presence of animal contentment. Again, that is a lot of trust to put into people and things you don't know or see. I have learned that such labels do not mean what people think they do. For instance, the "free-range" label may be obtained if the chickens are uncaged for the last three weeks of life. It also does not prohibit the use of cruel practices such as beak-cutting and starvation-forced molting. (Click here to read more about what egg carton labels actually mean.) So now I am once more on the vegan path. And I will report on my journey.
I understand that there are other arguments against veganism. I will likely address these in future posts. I think one important thing to remember for anyone who is thinking about making the transition to veganism is to put back what you are taking out. Make sure you are getting enough protein and healthy fats and are supplementing.
Honestly, I think it's an accomplishment in today's world. I encourage everyone to try. Perhaps begin with reducing meat consumption. Then try vegetarianism. Then try to give up eggs. Then cheese. It's hard, no doubt. But it gets easier. You learn, and adapt. Most of us claim to love animals and abhor animal cruelty. Well, put your morals where your mouth is.