As humans, we have choices. The choice to buy the clothes we like, the music we listen to, how we spend our free time, and the people we hang out with. We also have the ability to choose the types of foods we eat, and do not eat. With so many options available, it is our responsibility to learn about where our food actually comes from. People who choose to eat meat and dairy products, might not think about the realities of the farming industry, and the horrible things animals go through just to feed us. If they did, then maybe they would think twice before taking a bite from that juicy, bacon double-cheeseburger. Choosing a vegan diet instead, is healthy, humane, and ethical.
The terms vegetarian and vegan are pretty common in today’s society. According to the Vegan Society, veganism is defined as, ‘A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude-as far as possible and practicable-all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment’ (vegansociety.com, 2018). A vegan chooses a plant-based diet, and does not eat any animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. The vegan diet includes whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. People who live a true vegan lifestyle, avoid purchasing products made from or tested on animals, like leather goods and makeup. They also do not visit zoos, aquariums, and horse races, as a way to protest animal exploitation (vegansociety.com, 2018).
Animals are intelligent creatures who share bonds with other animals and humans, can communicate without a spoken language, and learn how to use tools. Humans who have pets, like can dogs, cats, birds, and even pigs, know that animals are very smart and can understand commands and emotions. According to North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS), a non-profit organization that supports a vegetarian diet, animals have the ability to communicate with each other and come up with ways to survive in the wild. For example, researchers have documented “how chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo use a variety of tools to extract termites from their nests” (Lehmkuhl, 2018). The article also reports that according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “dogs have personalities…that can be identified as accurately as similar personality attributes in humans” (Lehmkuhl, 2018). If this is true for chimps and dogs, then why would cows, sheep, and pigs be different? People who choose to eat animal meat and products, also choose to ignore this information.
Gary Yourofsky is an American animal rights advocate who argues that all animals are experience emotions and pain like humans. In his website, Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow, or ADAPT.org, he states, “When pain, suffering, and emotions are taken into consideration, all animals – humans, four-leggeds, birds, snakes, fish, and other aquatic creatures, amphibians and insects alike – are equal. Therefore, it should be our goal as a society to reduce and eliminate the intentional pain and suffering we inflict upon innocent beings” (Emotional Intelligence, 2018). One way we can do this, is value animals, stop consuming animal products, and choose a vegan diet instead.
The meat and dairy industries commit acts of cruelty against animals every day. In “The Greatest Speech Ever,” Yourofsky addresses college students, and persuades them to make better choices about the foods they eat and do not eat (Speech, 2010). He is not shy about sharing the reality of what goes on in farms and meat factories. For example, while observing a normal work day at a farm, he saw workers “kicking and punching” animals (Speech, 2010). He also describes how female dairy cows are “raped” with “a long steel device” that injects sperm into them so they can get pregnant, make babies, and produce more milk. In another powerful example, Yourofsky tells the students how disturbing it was to see a female cow “scream and bawl her lungs out” because her calf was taken away (Speech, 2010). Again, we have to become better educated about this issue, and have compassion for the animals who cannot defend themselves. We have to be their voice, and protect them from suffering.