Female cows are often assumed to always produce milk, however just like all female mammals they first need to impregnated. The female cow is artificially inseminated in a piece of equipment (commonly referred to by the industry as a “rape rack“) and will begin lactating once she gives birth to the calf. If the calf is born male, he is either sold to the veal industry after a few weeks of confinement, sold to the beef industry and killed after approximately one year, or he is immediately destroyed due to not holding any profitable value. If the calf is born female she will be taken away from her mother so that the milk being produced can be sold to humans. The calf will be fed formula as an alternative and the cycle will be repeated once she is old enough to reproduce. Once the adult dairy cow is too exhausted to produce milk consistently (approximately 6 years of birthing and milking), she will also be destroyed.
Cows are no different to other species in the sense that their milk is only produced for the purpose of feeding their babies and in fact humans are the only species to drink milk from another species. Due to this unnatural behaviour, we have developed many health problems relating to dairy consumption including intolerance to lactose, osteoporosis and a variety of cancers.
It is standard practice that male and female chicks are separated upon birth, and the male chicks are killed immediately due to not serving a purpose or profit. Subsequently, the female chicks are taken into captivity until their egg production is no longer profitable. Once the chicken is too exhausted to produce eggs, (around 1-2 years) they will be slaughtered. The natural lifespan of a chicken usually averages around 8 years.
Like all other industry-bred animals, lambs and sheep are slaughtered when they reach peak profitability – this is always prior to their natural life expectancy. The wool industry is part of the mutton and lamb industry so often the wool is removed and sold before being killed for meat. Lamb and sheep are often treated cruelly during the process of wool removal, particularly in industrialized farming).
Silk farmers need the cocoon of a silkworm as it has been spun with silk. The method of acquiring this is through boiling the worms whilst they are still alive, until their cocoon unravels.
To take honey, the standard practice is to spray the bees, remove the honey from the hive (often crushing the bees) and replace their honey with sugar water or syrup. Honey is produced by bees as source of food and the syrup is not what they are naturally designed to consume. Unfortunately, honey farming does not encourage bee population and is in fact detrimental to their survival. During honey farming, bees are often transported to various unnatural locations which in some cases introduces them to diseases.
FREE RANGE, GRASS FED & ORGANIC
All animals which are bred for their byproducts go to slaughter houses, regardless of what kind of farm they lived on prior to being killed. Farming is an industry and an industry’s purpose is to make a profit which means in this scenario the animals become the commodity. As such, when an animal’s purpose has been served or they are considered to be at their most-profitable form, they will be sent to slaughter (often much earlier than their natural life expectancy)..
Some organic and free range farmers may treat their animals with care (particularly in comparison to the practices of industrialized farming) however the definitions and legalities behind grass-fed, free range and organic can be quite misleading, and instead are often just used as marketing tools to convince consumers that they’re purchasing from a ‘high welfare’ farm. The term “humane slaughter” is a contradiction of itself and no matter the quality of a life, by definition, the act of killing without consent is inhumane.
Additionally this style of farming does not have the capability to be employed on a large enough scale to support the world’s demand for animal products. There is not sufficient land for the animals to graze and the quality of our topsoil is too degraded to make it possible.
Because something is normal, it does not mean something is right. Many cultures have different thoughts on what is normal, and normality is constantly evolving. There was previously a time when slavery was a social norm, and even today there are many communities with highly unethical ‘normal’ practices. If the behaviour of eating meat and dairy is justified by being normal, then this also means that the act of breeding and killing dogs, or hunting lions also becomes acceptable.
In modern times, little of what we do is considered natural. Modern technology is not natural and a lot of the food we eat is not natural. There is also little evidence to back up the nature of humans eating meat – especially to the extent we do now. There is nothing natural about buying a lb of pre-packed ground beef at the grocery store.
There are plenty of healthy, living vegans in the world which prove this to be false. The ‘necessity’ to eat animals is far removed from the overwhelming evidence that optimal health can be best achieved through a whole food plant based diet; whereas many preventable life threatening diseases have been found to be accelerated by and even caused by the consumption of meat and dairy.
Feeding the population on plants as opposed to animals is actually much more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and we would have the capability to feed a larger population if we were to employ this model. Check out the statistics here.
All nutritional requirements can be met on a plant based diet. Yes this includes protein. And B12. Check out the statistics here.
Some of the world’s cheapest food items are plant based – bread, pasta, potatoes, beans, oats, legumes, rice, vegetables. Eggs, meat and dairy produce are often the most expensive items in a standard grocery shop.
Times have evolved vastly since the days of our ancestors and in this modern age of advanced technology, we have become very far removed from that way of life. We now live in a time where food is widely accessible and we have an abundance of alternative options. We simply do not need to kill animals to survive anymore.
Our teeth are more representative of a herbivorous animals’ as opposed to a carnivore. The biological structure of our jaws allows for us to grind down plant material in a side-to-side motion, whereas the jaw of a carnivorous animal will generally only move up and down. Comparing human canines to canines of a carnivore results in very noticeable differences (namely size and sharpness). Our canines would provide no use in breaking down raw flesh, bone and animal hide.
It is essential to their survival that predatory animals kill to eat. We are not in the same situation and do not need to replicate this behaviour for our own survival. Wild animals have also been known to rape and have multiple mating partners so using this as a justification to excuse the consumption of other animals is very selective.
WE GAVE THEM LIFE
Intentionally breeding animals does not grant us responsibility to decide when that life ends. Additionally, most would agree that it is better to not have lived at all opposed to living a life of suffering.
As the definition of veganism extends to what is ‘possible and practical’, in this hypothetical situation it would be advised to do what it takes to survive and if that requires eating another animal, it would be entirely justifiable to do so, as it was for our ancestors when the bioavailability of plants were much more scarce. Luckily this is not a situation many of us will ever experience
NEVER BE A VEGAN WORLD
The idea that a 100% vegan world will never exist should not be a deterrent to go vegan. It is also highly unlikely that we will entirely eradicate racism and sexism however many of us would consider ourselves for these social justice movements and will fight against it when we see it happening.
ONE PERSON IS POWERLESS
One person may not be able to make a difference however one person does have the ability to influence other people, and this is the way any change in social behaviour has occurred. Interestingly statistics show that in many countries veganism is growing, which indicates a change in public perception and demands.
IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID
Whilst it is true that many animal products are unavoidable (tallow in currency, animal fat in plastics etc) and because you cannot avoid animal products 100% of the time does not mean it is not worth avoiding the majority of it. A vegan lifestyle choice is predominantly about reducing harm and use of animal products where possible and practical (i.e, in your food choices). Additionally as veganism grows, so will the availability of vegan alternatives and the likelihood of having the option to avoid more animal-products will become easier.
ANIMALS DON’T FEEL PAIN
Countless scientific experiments have been conducted on animals to test their behaviour in response to actions which are expected to cause pain. Whilst measuring pain (in any species) is a complexity in itself, we know that animals have brains and nervous systems and that the purpose of nerves are to communicate sensory stimuli to the brain. Just like us, all other species have a reptilian brain or thalamus which is responsible for registering pain. It is also clear that animals react to pain in the same way as humans (e.g., instinctively retracting limbs from something hot, shrieking etc). In this case, both logic and science suggest that animals are sentient and whilst scale of pain cannot yet be measured, it is worth considering that pain in animals may be experienced at an even greater level since they may not comprehend that the feeling might be temporary.
Humane slaughter is an oxymoron and in reality cannot coexist. The standard forms of animal slaughter ranges from stunning and throat slitting, gassing, electrocution or pneumatic bolts to the brain. Animals bred for fashion can often be electrocuted with metal rods inserted through the anus, skinned alive or clubbed to death.
Unfortunately even “best-practices” for humane slaughter does not mean that they are painless – due to the high rate of demand for animal products, production deadlines are fast and often result in errors such as not ensuring an animal is unconscious during slaughter. Even so, whether the process was painless or not, a life is still being unwillingly taken which contradicts the act of performing something humanely.
Enjoying the experience of something doesn’t offer justification for an action. Many people enjoy doing things which are not ethical such as rape, murder etc, however their sensory pleasure does not condone their behaviour.
Personal choice is something which only affects you, personally. When an action causes harm to another person or being, it is no longer a personal choice. Most people would agree that personal choice does not extend to and would not be an appropriate justification for inflicting harm on a pet or another human being. Whether an animal lover or not, most people would not choose to cause harm to another living being unnecessarily.
If the world turned vegan overnight, we may have an issue with an excessive amount of animals. This situation would never occur, however if it did, it is likely that the animals would die very quickly as they would not be adept to surviving in the wild.
Also due to the fact that the animals are bred for our demand, as more people go vegan, less animals will be bred which means a world overpopulated with cows and chickens is nothing to be concerned about.
LOSS OF JOBS
The increase of veganism is putting dairy and slaughterhouse workers out of employment, however new opportunities are being created at the same time. In fact some large dairy corporations have turned their business models to plant-based alternatives as a way to meet consumer demands and when you consider the worker exploitation, large cases of PTSD and crime rates associated with slaughterhouse employees (who often become so desensitized to the act of killing), it could provide for a positive new direction.
CROP HARVEST CASUALTIES
The majority of our crops are fed to livestock as opposed to humans so the best way to reduce field-mice fatalities is to stop the consumption of livestock. Less grain will be required to be produced and harvested if we do not need to feed 50 billion animals.
True, there will still be some harvest-deaths when we are producing food for human consumption, but only a fraction of the amount which occurs during the livestock feeding process.
PLANTS HAVE FEELINGS
Plants may respond to stimuli but they do not have a central nervous system or brain to enable them to experience pain. However, if plants did experience pain we could reduce the amount of plants we kill by not harvesting crops destined for livestock feed.
Whilst there are a plethora of other issues in this world, there are not many issues you can actively do something about in your day to day life choices.
It is important to be conscious of all of these things and make improvements where you can (i.e, purchasing ethical clothing or buying second hand, recycling etc). Veganism is something you can implement multiple times a day, every day, and have a direct impact on your health (which can collectively save government millions on medical expenses), the environment, other human beings and animals.