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A Call to Vegetarians

A Call to Vegetarians

“The object of our Group is to state a case for a reform that we think is moral, safe and logical. In doing so we shall, of course, say strongly why we condemn the use of dairy products and eggs. In return we shall expect to be criticized. It will be no concern of ours if we fail to convert others, but we do think it should concern them if, deep in their hearts, they know we are right.”

- Vegan Society Founder Donald Watson, The Vegan News, November 1944

A great many people become vegetarian for ethical reasons, in response to a strong sense that animals shouldn’t be mistreated on factory farms, or that they simply should not be killed for food. However, many individuals who eschew meat out of concern for animal interests continue to consume and use other animal products. Many vegetarians, in fact, upon removing flesh products from their diet, actually increase their intake of eggs and dairy, two products which result from extreme animal abuse.

The production of milk and eggs involves both tremendous cruelty and also the deaths of billions of animals every year. Not only are these animals killed just like those raised specifically for meat, but they are kept alive longer, and subjected to a tragic lifetime of slavery, including the horrific violations that come from the brutal exploitation of their reproductive systems.

Typical dairy cows are only considered “productive” for two years, and are slaughtered when they are only four years old. During their short, wretched lives, they are subjected to annual cycles of artificial insemination, and suffer through several courses of mechanized milking every day. This occurs for 10 out of 12 months of the year, including 7 months of their 9-month pregnancies. When they give birth each year, their calves will be taken away within their first few days. A bovine mother’s newborn has only two possible futures… If she is born female, she will be sent into dairy production, into the same tragic life of reproductive slavery as her mother. If he is male, he will be sold to farmers who will sell his flesh as veal.

As with dairy products, eating eggs also contributes to both immense suffering and the violent deaths of millions of innocent animals. When chickens are bred for egg production, only the females are useful to the industry, so the male chicks are considered byproducts. Each year, millions of male chicks are gassed, crushed, or thrown into garbage bins to die from dehydration or asphyxiation.

But what about organic milk, and free-range or cage-free eggs? The truth is that for any product to be mass produced (and therefore economically viable), animals must be bred in massive numbers, subjected to a lifetime of exploitation, and eventually transported to the slaughterhouse, where they will be brutally murdered. The use of the word “humane” to describe animal products is nothing but a marketing ploy by the animal industry. Animal farming is a huge business which involves vast sums of money, and those with a vested interest are not going to just sit back and do nothing while the news of animal cruelty in their facilities reaches more and more anxious consumers. But those of us who claim to be concerned about the lives of animals ought not to sucked in by such blatant industry propaganda.

If you are an ethical vegetarian, and you have already decided that animals are individuals who should not be subjected to unnecessary suffering, consider using this year’s World Vegetarian Awareness Month, which is celebrated each and every October, to question whether your vegetarianism is really an appropriate reflection of the values you believe in. If your conscience is no longer satisfied with your lacto-ovo status, then I have some good news: Veganism isn’t difficult, as you might have been led to believe… There are growing numbers of happy, healthy vegans who enjoy exciting, delicious food, improved health from eliminating all animal products from their diets, and a new lease on life as a result of ending their dependence on industries that cannot exist without consumers who continue to contribute money to support the slavery and abuse of our fellow beings.

What makes veganism even more empowering is that it goes far beyond diet, and eliminates one’s contribution to the entire animal use paradigm. Consider the words of Eva Batt, writing in 1964:

“In our opinion, it matters not one jot to the innocent creature whether it is to be slaughtered for human food, medicine, clothing, sport, or such luxuries as ivory ornaments, horn, bone or tortoiseshell knick-knacks, crocodile handbags, or exotic perfume. Sudden death in the prime of life, or the lingering agony of pain and starvation in a steel trap, must be as terrifying for the field-mouse, stoat or rabbit as for the hunted tiger, whale or stag… Sometimes it is the baby, or rather its skin, which is coveted by man. What the parent seal feels as she grieves over the bloody remains of her clubbed and quickly skinned pup, is probably no different from the anguish of the domestic cow on losing her newly-born calf.”

Animal lovers: Don’t run or hide from the truth of veganism. It is a liberating experience when you let its significance move in on you… And it is a source of unending joy to spend your life striving to live up to its ideal. 

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Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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416 comments

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2:55PM PST on Feb 10, 2014

Sadly, I know some people who really do love their pets, and are kind and intelligent, but have no intention of giving up meat, even though they KNOW how the animals suffer- because they "like eating meat". I have been mostly vegan for 2 years, after being a milk drinking vegetarian for 30 years- sadly, I have my weaknesses too, and if someone brings homemade cookies or cake to work, I don't ask what it's made of, I just eat some....

6:56AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Since the chances of converting everyone to veganism, vegetarianism even, is remote to say the least perhaps we should concentrate on giving our food animals and plants the best possible lives. Which means living their lives as close to as nature intended instead of in factory farms and grown in rich soils instead of dead, chemically fertilised monocropped acres.

5:08PM PST on Dec 19, 2013

I remember reading a newspaper article in the sixties that US scientists have recorded a high pitched scream when a tomato is picked. This was in the late 50s/early 60s.
The way this world runs is that all species feed off other species - except man who attacks his own species.
I keep backyard hens & ducks for their eggs - over 4 years a fox has managed to get in and its tally is 55 ducks and 4 hens. I eventually trapped it in a humane trap, when asked what I would do I replied I would do to the fox what it did to my poultry (kill it I meant - not bite its head off). I paid a licensed pest control chap to put 2 bullets in its head and remove the corpse. I was told that I am evil for killing the predator, but the do gooders had no sympathy for the slaughtered ducks.
My point is that life is like the schoolboy refrain: Small fleas have big fleas upon their back to bite them, and big fleas have bigger fleas upon their back to bite them - and so on ad infinitum.
Other phrases that spring to mind are: Nature red in tooth and claw. Dog eat dog.
Also people that go fishing for sport claim that the fish suffer no pain - that has been disproved.
All life is a fight for survival from animals (that includes us) right down to the bacteria that we kill with antibiotics to protect ourselves.
Another point is that if we all became vegetarian, most of the livestock would never be born and not know the pleasure and pain of being alive.

1:06PM PST on Dec 15, 2013

Thank You !" Merry Christmas " !

10:19PM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

Akmal P. ...Plants aren't suffering in a small crate and living in pain until they are distroyed for food. They also have the luxury of receiving sunshine and fresh air while they are alive.

2:33AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Stephen:

Plant are living things and do feel pain when injured. That is exactly what has been measured by so many scientists. I fully agree that "paranormal biocommunication etc" as we understand is nonscience. The point is: if we care for animals, we should for plants too.

To think this way is against nature: there is always killing for food and life to sustain, the process is called "food chain", and it is dangerous to interfere with it.

12:05AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

@Akmal P - that's all you got? OK, let's see what Wikipedia really has to say:

"In the scientific community as a whole, paranormal biocommunication has been subjected to much criticism, and is largely regarded as a pseudoscience. Overall, there is little concrete, universally verified evidence suggesting that there is any truth to the theory, and it is therefore apt to receive a great deal of contempt among scientific circles, often disdainfully called 'the Backster Effect'. Skeptics typically criticize the fact that many experiments into 'plant perception' are not taken in controlled conditions and that therefore their results are not verifiable evidence of its existence. Many skeptics of the theory also state that, since plants lack nervous or sensory systems, they are not capable of having feelings, or perceiving human emotions or intentions, which would require a complex nervous system"

The key word here is "pseudoscience" ...

As for your Baylor Medical Center reference, I'm really surprised you got sucked in. Just so you know, that is an example of what is called satire. Read it again, this time with your critical thinking turned on.

Please remember this more than anything else. If you do not use critical thinking, you make yourself vulnerable to all kinds of nonsense and to all kinds of people who will take advantage of you.

11:29PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

@Stephen B:

I didn't say plants have CNS. But you don't have to have cns to feel pain. Perhaps you should check properly next time.

1) One of the first to research the concept was the Indian scientist Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose, who began to conduct experiments on plants in the year 1900. He found that every plant and every part of a plant appeared to have a sensitive nervous system and responded to shock by a spasm just as an animal muscle does. Playwright George Bernard Shaw (who was a vegetarian), was intensely disturbed upon witnessing a demonstration by Bose in which a cabbage had violent convulsions as it boiled to death. (Wikipedia)

Research scientists at Baylor Medical Center have proven that plants, including vegetables, feel pain when subjected to trauma such as being yanked out of the ground, peeled, cooked, and eaten. "Veggies and plants initiate a massive hormone and chemical barrage internally when they suffer any kind of injury," (Prof. Barry Lindzer). "This response is akin to the nerve response and endorphin release when an animal is injured. We cannot ignore the similarities." [http://www.department13designs.com/vegan.html]

9:01PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

@Akmal P. - last I checked there aren't any plants that have central nervous systems or brains. Maybe you should study a little biology before posting stupid comments.

8:37PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

Plants also have life and they suffer too . What about eating grains and pulses? Don't they contain baby-plants in them? Surely the plants did not produce them for you to eat them off.
Considering the same ethics for plants, we should only eat fruits and avoid leafy vegetables, seeds, grains and pulses. Will it be acceptable?

By encouraging vegetarianism you are creating a dangerous situation of hunger and starvation at a time when there is acute shortage of food for the growing population of the world.

Agreed that there should be no cruelty to animals, no cages, no suffering. But milk, egg and meat production cannot be stopped.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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