“I love meat too much.” “I could never give up cheese.” “Ignorance is bliss.” I, too, used to make these excuses when trying to justify eating meat and dairy products—until about a year ago. I’ve always loved animals, but I am also an avid foodie and was convinced that giving up meat and dairy products meant dropping my “adventurous eater” status. So, like many people, I chose to turn a convenient blind eye to the blatant fact that I loved animals even though I was eating them.
What I didn’t know—until I decided to give myself a dose of truth and watch “Meet Your Meat”—was that I was supporting the unimaginable life-long pain and suffering of tens of billions of animals. It’s easy to disconnect the meat on your plate from the animal who was killed for it when you’ve never witnessed how it got there. But once you see the pain and fear in the eyes of an animal who is being senselessly abused at the hands of a human, burgers and bacon look like violent death on a plate. Not even baby animals are exempt from abuse on factory farms. It was like I had peeled back the corner on a label full of lies—and I had to rip the rest off like a Band-Aid.
Veganism hit me like an avalanche. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. Many people choose to ignore the fact that animals who are raised for meat endure horrific abuse. But I had no idea that when I ate cheese, I was paying for cows to be forced to live mired in their own feces and urine and to endure rape racks. I also didn’t know that male calves on dairy factory farms are torn away from their mothers when they are less than 1 day old and chained inside tiny crates for four months, unable even to turn around, before they are finally slaughtered and made into veal.
I didn’t know that my scrambled eggs came from chickens who have part of their beaks cut off and who are crammed into cages so small that they are forced to trample each other. And that “spent” hens are ground up and fed to fellow hens when they’re deemed no longer useful. Not only do eggs come from chicken periods, they’re also a byproduct of cannibalism!
Keep in mind that animals who are raised for food spend their entire lives in fear. Who wants to knowingly digest another being’s lifetime of fear and pain for dinner? Not me.
Since going vegan, I have become MORE of an adventurous eater and have come to love cooking and dining out so much more than I did before. I get to eat all the same foods that I’ve always loved—only now, my food is murder-free. Who knew that making the right decision for animals would also allow for a more fulfilling and exciting dining life?
Ever wonder why there are plenty of vegans who made the switch for reasons other than cruelty to animals? It’s because animal agriculture isn’t just killing animals. When you see the meat industry for what it is, it becomes undeniably obvious how much animal agriculture contributes to the world’s biggest problems. I might not have been vegan my whole life, but I’ve always been passionate about making healthy choices, fighting climate change, and protecting human rights. So you can imagine my reaction when I learned just a few of the many, many ways in which raising animals for food is killing us and the planet, including the following:
- The United Nations reports that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, planes, ships, trucks, and trains in the world combined.
- It takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat—grain that could be used much more efficiently if it were fed directly to people instead of to fatten animals.
- Farmed animals use more than half the water consumed in the U.S., while there are numerous countries that don’t even have full access to potable water.
- Eating meat and dairy products means eating feces and pus. Salmonella and E. coli contamination are primarily caused by traces of animal feces found in meat, and commercial milk is allowed to have up to 750,000 somatic cells (pus) before it’s kept off the market.
- Every day, nearly 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease, much of which is caused by eating a diet that is full of animal-derived products.
When you sit down and face the truth about the meat and dairy industries, there’s no other way around it: Going vegan is the only way to go. It’s the easiest way to make the biggest impact on the world. With one decision, you can stop contributing to what’s killing animals, the planet, and people. In the words of PETA activist and Humanitarian Award winner Christina Cho, “Go vegan and everything else will fall into place!”