I just watched the Four Corners expose on live cattle trade to Indonesia (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20110530/cattle/)… if you haven’t seen it already, I urge you to watch it now via the link before you read on, it will be a real eye opener and make the content of my ramblings below easier to understand.After watching the doco, I read the ABC message board full of people wondering “what can we do to stop this unbelievable cruelty??” Many are saying we must sign petitions, talk to our MP’s, write to industry leaders, etc.. but very few are talking about any effective action that would make a profound statement or generate real and lasting change. Whilst the beef industry exists (and sheep, chicken, etc), there will always be unscrupulous operators, dodgy dealings, unknown and hidden horrors for the animals. That is the nature of business, profit and globalization… we cannot ever hope to control everything to a consistently satisfactory level, not ever, it’s impossible to police and implement on a global scale. Not even on a National scale for that matter, as we have seen in recent expose’s of the cruelties at a Pig Farm in Tasmania http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/tas/content/2006/s2564758.htm, and Battery Sheep in Victoria http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/wool-factory-farms-exposed-on-tv.php – to name only a few.
So what CAN we do to really make a difference? What is the one thing we can do that will make producers and industry stand up and listen? Let me tell you my thoughts on this…. I firmly believe that all we have to do is to STOP purchasing beef (and other animal) products and we STOP supporting the inevitable cruelties that happen behind closed doors in the name of PROFIT. If you consider that It has taken over 18 years for us to find out about this single issue… you can be damn sure there are so MANY MORE that we don’t know about, but they do happen EVERY DAY to millions of animals all over the world. Industry will never stop these practices whilst the consumers continue to purchase the products and generate generous profits. The reality is that consumer demand drives industry – so if we cease demanding a product the industry must change, it is the ONLY message they will really listen to, of that we can be sure, because history tells us that everything else we have done so far has not and does not work.
So what does that mean? It means we need to consider the word “Vegan”. I know the mere mention of this word makes many roll their eyes and walk away… but please, hang in there with me for a little bit longer.. hear me out and make your mind up at the end, ok?
For those of you who do not know, a vegan does not eat or wear animal products, they do not support animals used in entertainment or experiments, in a nutshell – they reject animal exploitation. But being vegan is much more than a diet and “conscious consuming”.. Veganism is a social justice movement, a revolt against profiteering over morality, an ideal that embraces peace and empathy, a mindset that rejects violence and oppression over the innocent. By it’s very nature, veganism tackles animal cruelty and exploitation head on, in the most profound and meaningful way. Go Vegan and you live true to your convictions.. if your convictions are that animal abuse (and abuse of innocents) is morally unjustifiable. Go Vegan and live in accordance with your values…. if you reject violence and value empathy and compassion. Going vegan is the one most significant thing we can do, RIGHT NOW, to help all animals.
That’s pretty amazing stuff right there… but will it really make a difference? How does depriving yourself of the stuff you love to eat make any difference to anyone? What’s the point because you’re only one person and changing what you eat won’t make any difference in the big scheme of things, right? Well, let me put it this way… yes it does make a difference because every time you request a vegan option from a restaurant you are establishing a “demand” for cruelty free meals, every time you request vegan options at a store, you establish a demand for cruelty free products. Producers DO listen to demand, so many companies are already jumping on that and producing high quality, healthy, good karma food and products to satisfy these new requests! Vegan options are all over the place in the US… and it’s a growing trend here in Australia too, with vege and vegan restaurants popping up, meat alternatives being introduced to the local grocery store aisle, faux leather fashion accessories are everywhere, you can find vegan skincare & haircare ranges, and even alternatives to animal testing is slowly being embraced. These products and industries are popping up because individuals like YOU and ME are asking for them… THAT my friends is the change that veganism creates. The more of us who ask for cruelty free products, the more will be produced and THAT is progress! However, the pressure needs to be consistent and constant if we ever want to effect lasting change.. like any social movement, there is a real need to stand firm and to never waver in your demands. Imagine the outcome if those who opposed slavery had only opposed it for a while, and then acquiesced that humane slavery was ok after all, every now and then… No, if we want cruel practices to end, we have to oppose them completely and fully… hence the vegan ideal. As we all know, some of the most horrendous cruelties are committed to the animals in our food production so it is the food industry that needs to change the most, not only for the sake of the animals, but for our health as well.
Some may say that going vegan is too extreme.. but is it really? Has any other method ever achieved significant welfare changes for animals? The animal welfare movement has been around since well before the 70’s and we’re witnessing more cruelties and exploitations now that we have ever seen before.. that should tell us something. Sometimes the only way to get things done is to put our money (or values) where our mouths are.. literally in this case… to stand up and fully reject a societal norm that no longer holds true. It’s not a hard thing to do, it’s liberating and joyous, and it is oh so very important.
Of course, another plus for going vegan is that you’ll be helping yourself too… because there is something that happens to you on a spiritual level when you reject violence, you find an inner peace you’ve never felt before. It is beautiful to be caring and this will shine through in you and everything you do. Go vegan and you open your eyes to the hypocrisy and deception, freeing yourself from the illusions that the meat and dairy industries have fed to you for so long. All the bogus health claims, all the lies about welfare standards, all the dissonance we all feel when we know that we’re supporting something that we would never do ourselves can be left behind. Trust me, that alone is liberating beyond belief! Compassion and harmony can be a reality, it only takes small, mindful choices every day. Think for a moment about all the animals that endure so much hardship, agony, terror and pain whilst we humans slowly figure out that what we’re doing to them is wrong, we owe it to them to try harder, to strive to become better human(e) beings.
If you would like to know more about how to go Vegan.. I welcome you to contact me. Almost everyone I know loves animals, and they want to live healthier lives and they care about the environment.. I know these things are important to you. It is easy to go vegan, you can start slowly or go “whole hog” straight away, please don’t do nothing because you cant do it all… do whatever you can, now. I’m here to help with veg starter kits, links, recipes, support networks, the lot. I look forward to hearing from you.
Peace and love.
PS – if you missed the Four Corners expose on live Australian cattle trade with Indonesia – you can view it here: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20110530/cattle/