Milk. In order for a dairy cow to make milk, it needs to be pregnant. The breeding process for both the bull and the cow is against their will. If you actually watch a video of this happening, it looks like beastiality and sexual assault, and I would even argue that it is. In large industries the apparatus’ they use are actually called “rape racks”. The dairy cow goes through this procedure of artificial impregnating for the entirety of her life. Every time she gives birth, the calf is taken away, usually immediately, and the mother will cry our for her baby for weeks in stress and despair. If the calf is female, she will become a dairy cow like her mom, and if it is male, and therefore won’t make milk, it is either shot in the head, or used for veal. The mother is hooked up to machines to be milked. As a mom who breastfed for a long time, the idea of having metal things milking me sounds torturous. Even though a cow can live to 20 years, as a dairy cow she is so emotionally and physically exhausted, she drops (they call her a “downer”) and she is taken to slaughter for meat. A dairy cow, IS a meat cow in the end and is what supplies the veal industry. That is why I now feel that there is really no place for the term vegetarian. You are either deciding to live vegan and not support the dairy industry, or you are choosing to live as a vegetarian/omnivore. In some issues there is space for nuance, but I don’t consider Dairy use to be one of them.
Eggs. There is a spectrum with how we get eggs from Factory Farms to Backyard Eggs. So, in some scenarios, for example, voting in a two party system, we have to make the choice of the lesser of two evils (if we don’t like the republican or democratic candidate). But with eggs, it makes more sense as a vegan, to not take the egg AT ALL since I DO have the option to not eat eggs. No one is dependent on eating eggs, except the chicken who can eat it to regain the nutrients they are deficient from by us humans breeding them to produce 30 times the amount of eggs that they once naturally produced in the wild.
So eggs from a worse case scenario, a factory farm, come from chickens that go through horrific procedures such as beak burning so the crowded chickens don’t peck at each other in distress.
In a “cage free” scenario, the chickens are often out of their individual tiny cages, and “free” in a crowded dark warehouse. “Cage Free” is a marketing ploy to make you feel like you are making the humane decision with your food, but it’s still not right.
With “Pature Raised” , while they may have more outside space, there is still the two main issues of eggs. The first is the Parent Breeders. There are chickens reserved for the breeding process alone, and are artificailly inseminated continuously their whole lives, to keep making egg laying hens, until they are worn out and die, or are killed.
The second issue is that egg laying hens are bred differently than chickens bred for meat. So after the eggs are collected from the breeding process, when they hatch, on day one, the chicks get seperated into males and females. The females will become egg laying hens, and the male chicks, which are useless in the egg laying industry will get ground up in a macerater or suffocated in large plastic garbage bags.
Even with Backyard Eggs, if you are buying chicks from a breeder, you are still supporting the breeding process, and still have the issue that when they are bred, the male chicks become byproducts and are discarded of.
Now if you rescued the backyard chicken and did not support the breeding process, and your chickens didn’t want to eat their own egg to regain the nutrients, and you eat the egg ~ I don’t feel it’s my place to argue that choice. However, as a vegan, I simple don’t see the chicken as something that gives me things to take. So I don’t see their eggs as a food option for me, and I don’t see it as food at all.
People who are defensive around the idea that if we can live vegan, we should live vegan ~ will often assume a vegan’s diet to either be an expensive or inaccessible raw foods diet consisting of raw cashews and agave ~ or they go to the other side of the spectrum and assume it to be Beyond Burgers and palm oil and products that come in plastic. They seem to never acknowledge that a plant based diet can also be something as simple as rice, beans, potatoes, bananas, apples and kale.
It seems like they are looking for the worse case scenerio plants foods, and equating that with veganism.
They usually refer to crops like soy, yet most soy is actually grown for livestock feed. Or they point to agave, which is mostly grown for tequilla.
True vegans (not just plant based eaters) are coming from a place of ethics, and usually have looked behind the scenes of different industries ~ and so we do have awareness around eating locally, buying organic, buying fair trade, workers rights, and human slavery in food systems.
We have to eat plants to survive, so we do the best with the options we have.
To suggest that someone who is an ethical vegan (vegan for the animals and the planet) has a diet made up of worst case scenario foods for the environment and workers ~ is a manipulating framing of what veganism is and how one can eat on a plant based diet.
Don’t let others talk you out of, shame you out of, or manipulate you out of the best thing you can do for your health, your integrity, climate change, public health, and for the animals we share this life with.
A common thing I hear people say (as an argument against veganism), is that not everyone can go vegan. I don’t disagree with that statement alone. There may be an issue of a family not allowing their kids to eat vegan, or someone dealing with a unique food allergy or health situation, or maybe their necessary medicine isn’t vegan. However, the main obstacle is usually poverty and having access to food options. Vegans understand this, and aren’t focusing the message on people in these situations.
To live vegan, is to avoid the use and exploitation of animals as much as possible. It’s not possible to live 100% animal-free as life is today. But we can do our best. So again, vegans are not judging, targeting or attacking anyone in those unfortunate circumstances I mentioned. And must say, I do find it offensive when people suggest that’s what we are doing, when we are not.
The main problem I have with the argument that “not everyone can go vegan so it’s wrong to suggest” is that the people making that argument aren’t in the situation where they don’t have access to plant based options. And while it may look like they are standing up for the underdog, what they are really doing is defending their own personal choice to continue to use animals for meals and clothes.
Another (intentional?) misunderstanding about the cost of living vegan is that people will equate veganism with a raw diet. A raw diet is often associated with Vitamixes, dehydrators, raw cashews, coconuts, goji berries and things like that. And yes, those things are expensive. But to live vegan, you don’t have to follow a raw vegan diet. I love salad and smoothies, but I also love baked potatoes.
Both a plant based diet and an animal based diet can be expensive or not expensive. The low cost side of a plant based diet can be made up of foods like rice, beans, and bananas. And the expensive side could be Beyond Burgers, and dinners out at The Standford Inn. The low cost side of an animal based diet can be McDonalds, and the expensive side could be Café Beaujolais. Is it really fair to just call out the plant based diet as classist?
If anything, the person who feels entitled to take another's life for the sensory pleasure of a meal, feels way more elitist, privileged and classist to me ~ than choosing to see chickens and cows as individuals that deserve consideration.
Veganism is a shift in how we see animals. It's a rejection of the idea that it's ok to use animals for food, clothes, sports or anything else. This shift in your mind and heart doesn’t cost a thing.
I don’t think badly of, or look down on, my non vegan friends who support me, and allow me to have my say about my thoughts on animal use. I’m sure there are things in life I can have more awareness around through listening to what others have to say. I am always interested in learning, new perspectives, and I’m not afraid of change, I thrive on it.
I do take issue with people who put a lot of focus on, or only focus on, putting a negative framing around veganism and vegans, and here’s why.
1~ Using animals (for testing, eating, wearing) is bad news for public health. 75% of diseases like bird flu, swine flu, measles, covid, and AIDS come from animal to human transmission. Is this not a lesson to stay out of the animals’ business?
2 ~ We breed billions of animals into existence each year. We need land and water to house and hydrate them, and additional land and water to grow their food supply. Their excrement is polluting the environment. It‘s a massive cause of deforestation and misuse of water. It’s one of the top contributors of climate change. Boycotting these industries would help tremendously.
3 ~ These poor animals are bred into existence to live a life that is not their own. They are confined, confused and scared. On large farms, procedures such as beak burning, tail docking, and teeth cutting are done without anesthetics. To look the other way, dulls our compassion for non human animals.
So to discount or downplay the importance of veganism ~ feels unfair to the animals, and also the future generations who will have to deal with terrible effects of future climate disasters and pandemics.