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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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427 comments

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3:05AM PDT on Oct 29, 2014

Interesting no one says what you should eat or not it is up to yourself what you want from life wether meat or no meat its only your choice,

11:56AM PDT on Oct 12, 2014

Recently I showed family & friends videos of the well documented torture dairy cows suffer at the hands of some very sick, cruel & downright cowardly 'humans'. They were shocked. Many have no idea & many turn the other cheek. Why must certain people try & justify the fact they buy into animal torture, exploitation & suffering by calling those with the conviction of their morals silly judgmental names...very sad...the circle of life is natural, what isn't natural is intensive, factory farming & abuse of cattle because they are part of the food-chain! As a young child I made the connection that the beautiful creatures I saw in the fields were actually being served up to me for dinner, I knew then I could no longer eat them. That's my choice. I do think if people wish to eat meat they should at least insure it wasn't factory farmed & was bred & killed in their own country.

2:55AM PDT on Aug 29, 2014

And ... watch them turn on each other. How sadly entertaining.

5:04AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

bless us all and help us...help us on the path to kindness

7:28AM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

@ Rachael H.

You have my empathy... you show both your ignorance (of science and the "truth" of our existence) and your arrogance (by judging me when you do not know me, AT ALL).
Just because you are unaware, or don't wish to know that ALL life here is sentient, and refuse to see that man is the ONLY creature that destroys its own home, so be it. Your problem, your "life". Tell yourself what ever you wish...

10:43PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

"if we could lead happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?" Pam Ahern - Edgar's Mission

10:30PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

I have been a vegetarian for 26 years (since I was 12 yrs old) and plan to go Vegan this year. My diet is not 'mindless, infantile religious zealotism'! as according to W.A above. What a narrow minded, shallow and heartless person you show yourself to be. But I guess narcissists and psychopaths too walk among us, how else would all the cruelty on earth still happen? Thank goodness though that there are the compassionate people who choose to have a cruelty free diet. I sleep better at night knowing I have not consumed pain and torture of sentient beings, and that I have not paid for the wages of those that kill and abuse the animals in slaughter houses across the world. Plants do not have brains, hearts, emotion or feelings - so who is the infantile and mindless zealot?

8:44PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

I think it was Tennyson who wrote "nature is red in tooth and claw,"It is the order of nature and we cannot change it..Accept it..I am a lacto vegetarian by choice .I do not put free range eggs from a reputable hatchery or milk from a well run dairy in the same categatory as the slaughter of animals in an abattoir. However that is my choice and I do not impose my views or beliefs on others..We live and let live.

7:57PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

Plants perform the exact same functions animals/humans do, with entirely different systems.

If they can breathe without lungs; move without bones or muscles; absorb nutrients without stomach/intestines; and excrete toxins without a liver or kidneys; Why is it so hard to believe that they can feel without a CNS?

ONLY because you want to go on using & abusing them, just like all those people who used to deny animals could feel pain through the ages (some try to do it even now).


7:51PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

Once again:

-Choosing to kill CERTAIN living beings instead of others (crops & wildlife instead of grass & livestock) does nothing to reduce cruelty/suffering.

-"Not eating animals" does nothing to help those animals UNLESS you individually rescue and care for each animal you refuse to eat.

-What matters is not WHAT you eat, but how you TREAT what you eat.

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