Why Are You Vegan?

For most people nowadays, we spend much of our time online. We are reading article after article, amusing ourselves with endless amounts of personal videos and posts of people we may or may not know, stuck in this infinite void of emptiness. I’ve noticed how bombarded every platform has become with “quick success” schemes, which in return, apparently, provides happiness.

It ranges from your typical “get rich quick” schemes of becoming a wealthy day trader in only seconds, to the next big diet that will change your life in just one week! What’s even more amazing about this, is how quickly these trends fade out and recycle themselves right back in, reconstructed to appear new.

Many of these trends love to take advantage of the content that triggers an emotional response, receiving our attention immediately. Once we direct our attention to that particular subject causing discomfort, we word vomit all over the internet. Just as fast as it grabs us, disagreements fade us out.

One topic I could never get away from was animal cruelty. I would painfully react to seeing a dog being beat by their owner, seeing a video of someone strangling a dog or cat to death for food, large fishing teams killing millions of fish and by-catch, wild animals being poached, hunting selfies, slaughterhouse footage, etc. These footages always left me feeling helpless and filled with rage.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The crazy thing is, not even an hour after that, those feelings had disappeared from its position in my thought process. I was no longer directly facing that pain and could go about my day accordingly. Reviewing footages would continue, day after day. Utterly oblivious to the disconnect right in front of me. A disconnect that is only a click away.

Safety net of reality
We see these horrifying things and emotion surfaces as pain, sadness, anger or helplessness. The truth is, right behind those feelings is another emotion that saves us from feeling so vulnerable, removing that feeling of pain or sadness and replacing it with, what we think is, the safety net of reality. The reality of “well, it’s already done, and there’s nothing we can do now” or leaving a comment and an emotional response, satisfying your guilt of turning a blind eye, scrolling onto the next thing. Being present triggers the need for numbing in my opinion.

We know there is the truth, but we can skip past those moments that cause us to panic. By skipping past those moments, we can bypass the feeling of guilt. The longer we bypass facing reality, that numbness sets in so deep, we can no longer empathize with pain. It now becomes a part of what we perceive to be the “natural” and “it’s just the way things are” mentality.

Journey into veganism
My family and I began our veganism journey in January 2019 after sitting down and having our typical Netflix movie night. We ordered a pepperoni and extra cheese pizza, with BBQ chicken wings and extra cheesy garlic bread. Not to mention the soda to wash it all down. We started looking through all the new Netflix original movies and couldn’t agree on anything to watch. I remembered I wanted to finish this documentary called “Cowspiracy.”

Once we started watching, we had no idea that this would transpire a complete change in our lifestyle. The statistics of environmental damage from animal agriculture was shocking to us. What surprised my husband the most was how animal agriculture trumps all use of transportation in greenhouse gas emissions, thus learning about the true impact of climate change. We kept looking at each other, thinking “Could this even be possible?” and the most horrifying question “Would our world leaders allow this to happen?”

When the documentary ended, we looked at the pizza in disgust, our kids with concern and each other with shame. At first, we began this journey with the outlook of “we’re doing this for the environmental and health reasons, and of course, the animals,” which soon developed into the question “Why ARE we doing this?”. “And of course, the animals” was the part I couldn’t wrap my head around, stuck in the realm of “well, the slaughter is quick…we have always eaten animals…carnivores eat animals in the wild…what about tribal communities…we can’t save them all”.

Looking for answers
Killing animals was the topic my husband and I would “debate” about because I would always run out of exact reasoning and end up backing my choices solely based on emotions. An emotional barrier, seen as non-credible, dismissed with the simple words of “it’s our choice.” It didn’t and still hasn’t settled with me as the right answer. At first, as many people do when faced with disagreement, I went looking for an answer to justify my choice, but that didn’t make me feel confident to utilize either. I felt stuck and battled with not wanting to contradict myself while feeling ashamed for craving the meals I always ate without question. That’s when I started thinking, “how do people convert overnight flawlessly? There has to be an answer to why I feel so torn…”

I began to dig deep. I purchased a few books, “The Unexpected Truth About Animals” by Lucy Cooke, “Beyond Beliefs” by Melanie Joy, “Eating Animals, Should We Stop?” by Jonathan Safran Foer, “On becoming a biologist” by John Janovy Jr, “Against All Odds, Animal Liberation 1972-1986” by J.J. Roberts, “Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows” by Melanie Joy and so on. I even traveled back into my nutritional book from a college course I took, wondering why we would teach such atrocities with absolute certainty of nutritional value?

The real question was why do we blindly follow edification without question? More specifically, why don’t we question those that we hold to a higher standard? Why not do a little digging and research into what your parents, professor, doctors, political figures, secretaries, CFO’s, COO’s, CEO’s teach? Blind faith has seeped its way into everything, creating this dome developed to contain our questions without overstepping boundaries.

Boundaries created through the company we keep, the music we listen too, the movies we watch, the advertisements, the brands, the trends, social media, and the law. The law has always been that invisible boundary line many people are terrified to cross. The ones that cross those boundaries are labeled “extreme activists,” terrorists” or “a nuisance,” being shamed or put in jail for exposing a reality that would threaten a brand that is protected by the very law built to protect us.

Consuming animals is “natural”?
When I dove into “Eating Animals, Should We Stop?” and “Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows,” I was not only shocked but embarrassed by how I never put effort into understanding the basics of animal agriculture. I never knew how factory farming began and realized that eating animals on a mass scale was not only unnatural but not the “normal” thing to do. Many people cling to the idea that consuming animals is “natural,” creating this conclusion of normality.

“Let’s not forget that Africans were seen “naturally” built to be slaves, and women were “naturally” lesser than men and Jews were “naturally” evil.”

Too extreme? If that crosses your mind, it’s due to the fact you “naturally” believe in the consumption of animals. But wait, if that’s the case, why not eat EVERY animal? Still too extreme?” Now you’re solidifying the fact you do know it’s wrong but won’t stop because you’re relieved by the standard of edible and non-edible, allowing you to believe it’s what we’ve always done, which plays right back into “its natural.”

Then I thought to myself, “How can I blame someone in 1923, who was a small-time chicken farmer, accidentally receiving too many chickens and capitalizing off of that.” It wasn’t even just the thought of luck but the events that transpired after that. By 1928, Herbert Hoover was promising “a chicken in every pot” (Safran Foer 105), now changing the local farming experience into an architectural innovation.

We completely stripped the definition of “farmer” and turned it into a science fest of modifying genetics to produce more food on cheap production costs. Was it that farmers fault or was it the ones who took this outlook of “innovation” as a chance to change the future and profit off of the ease of accessibility and blind consumption?

Mass production of food has directly contributed to a massive problem no one seems to correlate with animal agriculture. We’re talking about corporate corruptions, health issues, viral outbreaks, environmental destruction, biodiversity depletion, destruction of our oceans, poverty, starvation, water shortage, air contamination and so on. How far back will we allow this corruption to redefine wrong as right?

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Dominion
After pondering on the information and realizing how much psychology there is behind all of this, I sat down to watch the documentary “Dominion” with my kids. I was only able to get into 10 minutes of watching before pausing it, weeping out-loud. I kept saying “what have we done…what the fuck have we done!”

My son was holding me, crying and wiping my tears, telling me “don’t cry mom, we won’t let them hurt them anymore,” and from his innocence, I cried even more. How could we have been so naive to believe this process was so “humane.” Killing and humane can never coexist in a sentence. Ever. No animal wants to be killed, let alone in a “nice” way so that I can eat it for the taste and texture.

How can people possibly still consume flesh that has no nutritional value to our diet? Studies show that heart disease in the number one killer for humans and yet, we don’t stop to think how that transpires? We’ve become embedded into the very process these poor animals go through. Their lives aren’t the only ones living through an assembly line. The difference is, we have the means to fight back, and still, many people devour the process, dying piece by piece.

Carnism
My family and I no longer want to consume nor condone such a violent ideology called carnism. The way my husband and I see it is this transition will be flawless for our children. They are now awake and aware, which means more than anything to us.

We can fill the next generation with knowledgeable individuals connected with empathy and compassion for not just their bodies but for the bodies of other living, sentient beings. They will understand the importance of balancing our ecosystem without greed.

The transition for my husband and I have been very emotional. We are now at the point where we are disgusted by the sight and smell of meat, eggs, and dairy. What I would tell anyone wanting to go vegan, is to find your reason why. Don’t just do it because you feel guilty or want to try it out.

Educate yourself on the history and current information on animal agriculture (land and water farming), environmental issues, and global economics. Go out and experience peaceful protests against factorized farming, or go extreme and prolong a slaughter from happening, even try doing a little investigating yourself. You’ll find it hard even to get close to what’s inside those walls. You have to remember, the majority of the footage you see online did not come from casually walking in. They went in with courage, compassion, and a goal, no matter what the consequences may be.

All in all, immerse yourself into truth. It affects so much more than you can ever imagine. We are not naturally born to be violent; it is created and manifests over time. I don’t think it’s too late to make a change and I also don’t believe it will happen overnight. What I do believe is that we have the power in numbers to sway our economy. Supply and demand drive these companies successfully. That can’t happen without you paying into those choices, lending a helping hand directly into what you would never advocate.

For the ones that don’t care, well, it shows in your health and lifestyle. Living with the attitude “it doesn’t directly affect me” is equivalent to digging your own grave and burying yourself alive. To answer the question “Why are we vegan?” is this: We are vegan because we are no longer asleep.

“Any noise in the world can wake a person sleeping, but no noise in the world can wake a person pretending to sleep”
– Jonathan Safran Foer.

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