Oh man, those preachy vegans; always shoving it down our throats with gory videos of animals being abused, tortured and slaughtered. How dare they push their beliefs on to me. I don't push mine on to them!
Do meat eaters really hold the belief that the cruelty, suffering and pain inflicted upon animals by the factory farming industry is justified by a desire to eat meat?
I'm not sure they do. I think they just avoid facing the truth. If slaughter houses had windows, eh.
The thing is, I used to be a meat-eater, so I have experience of being on both sides of the fence. So here's how I saw it, and see it…
One thing I never did was accuse vegans of “preaching”, because in my heart I knew they were right, particularly when it came to animal rights issues. Instead I used to unwittingly use pseudo-nutrition to deflect my stance and, when presented with videos of animal abuse, make out that I tried my best to eat organic, so-called “humane” meat. As an animal lover – or at least so I purported to be at the time – I'd wince and look away, unable to watch those harrowing images.
The argument for the nutritional value of meat and dairy may have at one time had a leg to stand on, particularly because people were subject to limited availability of knowledge and transparent studies. However, with what we know now, through the power of the internet and access to peer-reviewed scientific research, it is no longer even an acceptable aspect of the debate.
Moreover, farming meat, beef in particular, is destroying the planet; the very thing supporting the existence of our species.
Beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. ~ The Guardian.
The reality is that this is simply a matter of right and wrong. We have a choice. As an intelligent species, with a healthier food alternative for every instance of flesh, we have a choice to not participate in cruelty and the destruction of our planet. It is just a simple case of doing the right thing.
But in this post I'm going to focus primarily on animal cruelty. Because, strangely, out of the three – animal welfare, nutrition, ecology – this is what makes meat eaters dislike vegans. Tell a meat eater to go vegan because they will live 10 years longer and they will happily take a look at the research study. Tell a meat eater to go vegan to stop cruelty to animals and they roll their eyes with that “Oh, God, stop preaching” will you look.
Vegans are like so annoying. They bang on about animals feeling pain and how more than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. Actually, though, one did tell me that eating less KFC would make my skin clearer, so maybe it's not all bad.
If I had forced myself to watch those horrible videos back then, I'd have had that guilt on my conscience. I would have had to look in the mirror and admit to myself that no, I don't love animals, that I am a hypocrite and that I am responsible for this horrific, unnecessary cruelty. It goes deeper than that too. Veganism doesn't just bring in to question your love of animals, but your entire morality as a human being.
I mean, what kind of person turns a blind eye to this?
Well, me, at one time.
When the truth is laid bare in front of you, all you can do is turn a blind eye and try to forget about it before your next meal – and of course hate the vegan who keeps shoving this truth in your face.
Rather than acknowledge the truth and accept that supporting the cruelty is wrong and selfish, people have a tendency to curse the messenger for trying to protect animals from suffering. They chastise the vegan for their kindness and compassion.
It's madness. What sort of world do we live in when the person defending an abused animal is verbally attacked for upsetting the status quo?
In the past I have thought twice about sharing such horrific videos with friends, because there's an unspoken etiquette surrounding exposing people to such horror without their consent. Some would say it isn't necessary to keep sharing these videos and images because people are already aware of this and it causes upset.
I understand it's painful to watch. It's a really negative vibe to have those videos sent to you. You're trying to have a good day and then some vegan tries to pull at your conscience by reminding you where your meat and dairy comes from.
No animal lover wants to watch animals being abused, do they?
You can't bear to look at that crippled chicken who has been fed steroids to plump him up to an abnormal size – because you are having chicken for dinner.
You can't bear to watch a calf crying as it has its throat slit by halal butchers – because that's an inhumane way to kill an animal for meat.
You can't bear to see a pig having its teeth pulled out and tail cut off so it doesn't attack other pigs, or become the victim of an attack in the overcrowded and filthy pen it shares – because pigs can be cute, when they are piglets, that is.
You can't bear to watch live chicks lobbed into a blender, or more cost-effectively smashed into the concrete floor.
Who needs to see any of that when you've got a nice steak for dinner!
The exact same reasons you don't want to watch these videos are the exact reasons you should watch them. This is what you are contributing to. You too are responsible for this suffering. Your money pays for this torture.
The vegan gets the blame for unwrapping you from the cotton wool of the supermarket floor and exposing you to the prison and storeroom out back.
But let me put this another way, the same way I put it to someone who complained after I forwarded them a video of a pig being tortured in a slaughter house:
If you knew a child was being sexually abused next door, would you keep quiet or go to the police? If your neighbour offered you money to keep quiet, would you still go to the police?
I'm guessing you would go to the police. Why? Because it's wrong to inflict pain and suffering onto another sentient being. The crime is even greater when the person involved has no way of defending themselves. Every being has the right to life, the right to be treated equally.
No man or woman deserves to be raped or beaten. Nor does any animal.
So why then do people expect vegans to hide the torture of defenceless animals? Why do they expect vegans to stay silent and let voiceless sentient beings die in their billions behind an iron curtain of corporate exploitation?
If you think it's wrong for someone to stick up for a defenceless baby pig, to want that pig to stay with its mum and enjoy nature as you have the chance to do so. If you think imprisoning and repeatedly raping a cow so you can drink milk is acceptable, then I put it to you that you would have no problem turning a blind eye to the abuse of children. There is no difference.
Animals feel the same levels of pain, fear and anxiety as humans. Children and animals look to us for protection. They are defenceless and vulnerable and need our love and care.
It does make some sense to me though: Humans are conditioned to accept war and violence against each other from a young age. We teach kids that enslavement, torture and abuse of animals is okay as long as we benefit. We then contradict this with speciesism, telling kids that cute animals like puppies and kittens should never be eaten. And then we wonder why we live in a world ravaged by war, human rights abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia.
So no, vegans shouldn't be made to feel guilty in any way, or shy away from sharing the truth that the meat industry desperately tries to hide.
The meat industry deliberately keeps the media out of slaughter houses because they know that fewer people will eat meat when they witness such atrocities. People will begin researching the truth that being a vegan is not only the most ethical way to live, but the healthiest too. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact.
This omnivore myth they sold us in textbooks in school is part of the indoctrination. We are not naturally omnivorous; we evolved to be able to digest cooked meat. It was a good survival tool when we foraged through harsh winters, but entirely unnecessary for most modern-day human societies. This ability to eat cooked meat does not make us truly omnivorous. We can, however, naturally eat raw vegetables of pretty much any variety with no problem, with no need to supplement our diet (in the wild). Only in the ultra-sanitary modern-world do we need to supplement with vitamin B12. More on that here.
So next time you see that a vegan has shared a video on Facebook exposing what happens in a slaughterhouse, instead of getting angry with the messenger, get angry with yourself. Get angry with yourself for not being able to watch the videos and face the reality. Because there is only one reason you get angry with those preachy vegans – because you know they are right. You are complicit with this cruelty. This truth is a hard pill to swallow when you realise it is your actions causing pain and suffering on a daily basis.
Once you have taken a long, hard look in the mirror, get angry with the meat industry: the lobbyists and shareholders who prevent the truth surfacing for their own selfish gain, the government who pocket huge sums of tax off of animal cruelty, the fashion industry and its penchant for striping the skin off defenceless animals for the sake of looking good, the nobility who hunt animals for fun and “tradition” – all of these people are responsible the perpetuation of this barbaric industry. Do you want to part of it too?
To turn a blind eye to the evidence of abuse to animals or children is cruel and heartless. To ask others to suppress that evidence is reprehensible. To fund the abuse and enjoy its spoils is unforgivable.
If you can't watch the videos in this post because they put you off eating meat, ask yourself why. Only a true omnivore or carnivore would have an issue with this.
You can't make up for the past, but you can make a better future.