It’s just the smarter choice! It makes sense:
The following are the reasons why I, personally, decided to change the way I eat. I could pretty much write a dissertation on this topic alone, but let me just give you some fast facts. You can click on the links below for more information. I’ve tried to link to Canadian sources where applicable or possible.
This is the major reason why I stopped eating meat and dairy. Do you know what they do to those animals before it gets to the supermarket, let alone to your plate? Some of you are probably reading this and saying, “Who cares?” But if you knew, I’m pretty sure you would think twice about eating meat. There’s a blissful ignorance or a “veil of ignorance” (to coin a Rawlsian term) between the animal on the farm and what you put in your mouth, when in fact:
- The conditions in factory farms are horrific
- Chickens are unnaturally, genetically redesigned to have large breasts for their white meat
- Chicken never receive sunlight when there are in their cramped and over-crowded coops and they spend all day wading in their feces
- To keep up with the great demand, chickens are designed to grow faster — from a chick to a 5 ½ lb chicken in 7 weeks. Often their bones and organs are undeveloped because they can’t keep up with the rapid growth. Because of this, the chickens can’t walk and often suffer from heart failure
- Antibiotics are put in the chicken feed, which in turn enters our bodies and can make us resistant to our own antibiotics
- Animals are often fed the remains of other animals. That’s nasty and can’t be good for them… or us
- Undocumented workers are often among the catchers — this often leads to their exploitation
- Because corn is cheap, corn is often fed to these farm animals, many of which were only meant to eat grass. This high corn diet results in the production of E-coli that are acid resistant and can mutate
- Cows and pigs stand ankle deep in their manure all day and their hides are caked with manure
- The slaughter houses butcher the animals at an amazing speed — 400 animals an hour – with no time to wash the manure off of the animals. You know where I’m going with this… Manure gets into the meat
- Pigs spend most of their adult lives in cage and receive no veterinary care
- The snood, comb and beak of a chicken are seared off (without anesthesia) so that they don’t peck the other chickens in their cramped quarters
- Pigs and cows are castrated and branded without anesthesia
- Chickens are destroyed with a bolt gun to the head or they are hung upside down and their heads are run through electrically charged water
- Calves and piglets are separated from their mothers at birth, causing great stress to both mother and child
- When an animal is in distress and killed in a distressing way, it releases stress hormones – hormones that are packaged in your meat
- Basically, because animals aren’t living as they are supposed to and eating what they are supposed to their meat doesn’t taste as good as it ought. When I was younger, I always marvelled at how curry goat and Chicken McNuggets in Jamaica tasted way better than curry goat and Chicken McNuggets in Canada… (although the same may not be true today)
Let’s face it – with all that’s going on behind the scenes, you couldn’t possibly be eating a “happy meal.”
(The facts above are taken from the movies Food Inc. and Vegucated).
They often say seeing is believing. I hope that by visiting the links below, you too will believe:
Morality is a key issue in philosophy. The discussion is often focused on to whom morality should be extended and the extent to which it should be exercised. Some argue, including myself, that morality should extend to animals as well as humans. Moreover, animals are sentient beings. Many others argue that because of this, it is wrong to kill them just because they cannot talk or express their will and because we humans are stronger and self-conscious. Some say that we shouldn’t privilege our rights above animal rights. This is rooted in a school of thought called “speciesism.”
Peter Singer, a utilitarian and a vegetarian, has written about vegetarianism and the amorality of killing animals for food in many articles, as well as books, including Practical Ethics. In this book, he argues for an equal consideration of interests with regards to animals, even though animals may or may not be self-conscious and aware (p. 64).
“In any case,” he writes, “at the level of practical moral principles, it would be better to reject altogether the killing of animals for food…. Killing animals for food makes us think of them as objects that we can use as we please. Their lives then count for little when weighed against our mere wants… To foster the right attitudes of consideration for animals, including non-self-conscious ones, it may be best to make it a simple principle to avoid killing them for food.” (p. 134).
“Cruelty is acknowledged only when profitability ceases.” (p. 63)
Even though Michael Pollan, also a philosopher, is a not a vegetarian, he has started a movement causing people to think more critically about their food and from whence it comes. In his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he cites the inefficiencies of factory farming, as well as many of my reasons mentioned above. He’s also quoted as saying the following:
“Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.”
― Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
“What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!”
― Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
God wants us all to have an abundant life (John 10:10) filled with spiritual and physical health (3 John 1:2). He made provision for this from the very beginning. The first diet given in the Bible, before the flood (i.e. at the time when the world was untouched by sin and was the way God had intended it to be) was a vegan diet (Genesis 1:29). God soon added vegetables to their alimentary regimen (Genesis 3:18). I also couldn’t help but notice that the three Hebrew boys and Daniel looked better and were smarter on account of their diet of vegetables and water (Daniel 1). Since I noticed that my life is mirroring that of Daniel’s more and more, I felt impressed to adopt both his spiritual discipline and his diet. The following verse also jumped out at me:
He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”
Basically, God was saying to the Hebrews/Israelites that if they ate what they ought to eat and did what they ought to do, then they would be healthy. Christians should consider themselves as “spiritual Israelites.” Thus, if that admonition was pertinent to them, it is probably pertinent to us too.
Furthermore, Ellen G. White had written so much about the benefits of a plant-based diet in pamphlets and books such as Counsels on Diet and Foods, Ministry of Healing, Healthful Living, and Counsels on Health. As an Adventist, especially since I had been exposed to such rich and accurate resources, I should know (and do) better. I basically figured that I need to have as much energy and health possible if I am going to do all of the wonderful things God wants for me to do. I want a better me for Him!
This is the Bible study that we did that fateful day I decided to change my ways and become a vegetarian: God’s Free Health Plan
Ten Times Wiser (short video)
Jesus was not a vegetarian. He ate veal (Mark 14:12) and fish (John 21). I just want to make it clear — it is not a sin to eat (clean) meat, which is why I’ll permit myself to eat fish on occasion. However, the time in which we live and how our food is processed call for abstaining from flesh foods.
Producing milk, meat, and eggs based on feeding the animals crops leads to less food than we could produce from the land on which the crops were grown. Meat eating is not an efficient or productive use of our natural resources.
“It has been said that if the world went vegetarian, we would almost immediately end world hunger. One acre of land can produce either 20,000 pounds of potatoes or a measly 165 pounds of meat” (p.2, Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay S. Nixon).
Ever wonder where all of that manure ends up? Sometimes it ends up in our rivers (Food Inc.). Vegetarianism is more eco-friendly and sustainable on a whole.
Studies have found a link between prostate cancer and dairy consumption and colon cancer and processed meats (according to the movie Vegucated). A plant-based diet has been proven to help prevent or reduce complications from certain disesases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer. Moreover, vegetarian/vegan diets are typically low in fat and cholesterol.
Besides all that, have you been paying attention to the amount of meat recalls lately? Think about it. People often wonder where/how vegans get their protein and calcium (more about that below). I’d just like to note that some of the largest animals are vegetarians — gorillas, elephants, etc. Obviously protein is not a problem for them.
In Case You Still Need Further Elaboration and More Reasons:
Justifications for Eating Meat and Dairy
Here are the only justifications I can think of:
1) It tastes good.
I will admit – it sure does. But when I think about what that animal may have gone through and eaten before it is on my plate and what it will consequently do to my body, I suddenly lose my appetite. Besides, I’m finding more and more that a plant-based diet tastes pretty darn good too and is more nutritionally beneficial, which brings me to my second argument:
2) How else will I get my protein and calcium?
The typical American (and probably Canadian) consumes more protein than necessary (Food Inc). Legumes and grains are all good, adequate sources of protein, as is tofu. There are even vegan bodybuilders, which goes to show that you can gain and maintain muscle on a plant-based diet. Calcium can be found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach and romaine lettuce, as well as fortified beverages like some orange juices and non-dairy milk. I don’t even worry about taking a vitamin supplement. I do every now and again, but I’m not reliant on it, and I’m still healthier than ever. So this argument fails.
Just an FYI, and in order to present a balanced perspective, you can check out the winning essay responding to the question of why we should eat meat in the New York Times.
Simone, your arguments are very convincing. I want to try this vegan/vegetarian thing. Where do I start?
- Start small. I started with substituting vegetarian “mock-meat” for meat in my meals. Health food stores and grocery stores are chock-full of meat substitutes. You should be aware, however, that some of these mock meats are very high in sodium; read the label. You’ll find that as you embark on this journey, you’ll be reading your labels a lot more often. That’s a good thing. If there’s one thing vegetarianism/veganism causes you to do, it causes you to be more conscious about the things that you are putting into your mouth.
- Also try swapping other dairy products that you would normally consume for a similar non-dairy product, like using almond milk (Silk Almond and Silk Coconut Almond are amazing) instead of cow’s milk. Or you can use Earth Balance vegan butter or shortening instead of real butter. I’ll often blog about substitutes that I like or that I find work well and taste good.
- You can also try doing a “Meatless Monday” – try going without meat for one day of the week. Then try two days. Then three days. Eventually (hopefully), you’ll end up eating meatless seven days of the week.
- The next step, and what I’ve been trying to do, is to eat my meals without the mock meat substitute. If you season your vegetables properly (Mrs. Dash, Herbamare, and Spike seasonings are great!) you won’t miss the meat (much). If you give your body a chance, your palate will eventually change and even begin to prefer vegetables and simpler fare over more refined and processed foods.
- It is also important that you eat a variety of foods so that you get all of the vitamins and minerals that you need, and so that you don’t get bored. Vegetarianism has caused me to discover foods I’ve never even heard of or tried, like kale or quinoa or organic sugar or nutritional yeast. Take time to explore the “organic” or “vegetarian” section of your supermarket. You’d be surprised at all of the options available to a vegan nowadays.
- Another thing that has helped me is investing in a few good cookbooks with easy and quick as well as more complicated gourmet recipes. I’ll review some of the cookbooks that I like on this blog as well.
For more information on how and where to start, please visit the following websites:
For More Information…
After watching these movies, I guarantee you will think differently about your food and your health. If you don’t, please feel free to send me an e-mail. These movies are available on iTunes, Netflix and, in some cases, YouTube.