A few years ago I changed my diet due to health reasons. I wanted to cut out sugar, wheat, dairy and basically almost all processed foods. While searching for healthy recipes on the internet I learned about the Paleolithic-diet (also known as the caveman diet), and this way of eating felt like the way to go for me. Within the Paleo-diet you basically eat what your ancestors ate. Our bodies haven’t changed much genetically since the stone age and our digestive system hasn’t adapted to our modern way of eating. The relatively late and rapid change in diet outpaced the body’s ability to adapt. This is believed to be a contributing factor to the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease , and many other illnesses.
After a while my health started to improve and I became a Paleo food enthusiast, trying lots of new recipes based on vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruits and especially…….meat and fish.
I have always loved a piece of honey-glazed oven baked chicken, or some crispy pan fried fish. Even reading about it is mouth watering right?
A few of my friends are vegetarian or vegan, and last year I spent a lot of time with them, adapting to their way of eating. I always tried to eat organic meat. (dairy)Cattle are often treated with hormones in order to promote rapid growth and increased milk production and they are given antibiotics as well. By eating meat, this all ends up in your own system.
I am living abroad most of the year, and it is impossible to know exactly where your food comes from, let alone to find organic meat in your Thai curry. So I decided to go with the flow and join my friends in a plant based diet.
Very slowly, over time I started to become more and more aware of the fact that we as a human race eat animals. With not eating any meat or fish, it felt as if a veil was lifted or I just woke up from a drowsy state of mind and started to see clearly again. ‘’I am eating an animal……I just decided that this animal had to die to satisfy my taste buds’’ It suddenly seemed SO weird to me. I am promoting kindness and a life of non-harming and at the same time I am eating other living creatures…..Why? because I like the taste. Because there simply isn’t any other good explanation for me to justify why I eat meat.
And second, I am walking on this planet as an environmentalist. Knowing that animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change. According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40% more than the entire transport sector. Omnivores contribute seven times the volume of greenhouse gases that vegans do.
There is an ongoing controversy about the adequacy of vegetarian diets (lack of calcium, scarcity of vitamin B12) But this can easily be addressed by eating collard greens or tofu, and taking supplements. Protein rich foods are Quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, beans, broccoli, seeds, nuts and green peas (one cup of green peas contains about 79 grams of protein, almost the same as a cup of milk)
I guess I have always told myself that when I eat organic meat from farms who take good care of their animals, it is oke. That when they are slaughtered in a ‘humane’ way it completely justifies me eating them. But isn’t that still murder? If I would have to go to court because I murdered someone, would a judge care if I did it in a ‘humane’ way? What gives me the right anyway to decide on the life of another living being, especially if there isn’t a good reason for it.
As I became more interested in a vegan diet (to be vegetarian didn’t make any sense to me as dairy cattle suffer the same, and there is not even an end to it) I started reading the book that changed my life on this topic: ‘’EATING ANIMALS’’ by Jonathan Safran Foer. I would recommend everyone to read this book, just so you know the whole truth behind factory farming and you can decide for yourself what to do with this information.
Almost all meat we eat comes from factory farms. (99.9 % of the chickens, 97% of the laying hens, 95% of the pigs and 78% of cattle)
A few interesting terms I came across while looking into chicken factory farming:
Broilers: make meat and are killed after about six weeks. Broilers nowadays are designed to produce more breast meat with less feed. These genetically engineered animals can’t fly, and their legs can’ carry their weight. Basically, farmers create unhealthy animals for cheap production, and treat them with antibiotics because that is cheaper than just taking good care of them.
Layers: lay eggs. All the male offspring of the layers are…destroyed (farmers language) because obviously they don’t serve any function. Most male layers are destroyed by being sucked through a series of pipes onto an electrified plate.
Downers: an animal that collapses from poor health and is unable to stand back up. In most of America’s fifty states it is perfectly legal (and perfectly common) to simply let downers die of exposure over days or toss them, live, into dumpsters.
I think we are raised not to question certain things in life. For example, why we do not eat companion animals. Is it because a dog interacts with us and gives us a good feeling about ourselves for being a friend, and a fish doesn’t? So the fish deserves to die, right?
No-one would tolerate someone swinging a pickaxe at a dog’s face, but when applied to fish a fish nobody cares. So we decide which animals are oke to eat and which ones aren’t. Is the suffering of a drawn-out death something that is cruel to inflict on any animal that can experience it, or just some animals?
At a slaughterhouse in West Virginia that supplies KFC, workers were documented tearing the heads off live birds, spitting tobacco into their eyes, spray painting their faces, and violently stomping on them. This slaughterhouse was not a ‘bad apple’, but a ‘supplier of the year’. Most of the factory farms never allow anyone to enter their farm. Imagine what happens at the bad apples when no one is looking.
I just didn’t want to look the other way anymore….To say ‘OMG that’s horrible!!!!’ out loud while hearing these facts and yet the next day enjoy my steak while going out for dinner. The argument that this is just how the food chain works, or that we are ‘supposed’ to eat meat, just doesn’t do it for me. I think we as humans can make a conscious choice, and I am choosing not to eat animals.