Like It Or Not, You’re An Animal Too

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We’re not vegetables.

We’re not minerals.

That just leaves animals.

Yes. We’re animals. Just like lions, cows, leopards, pigs, penguins, chickens and zebras.

Sounds BLINDINGLY obvious and you may think I’m being patronising. But people who eat animals do their absolute best to disassociate themselves from other animals, and make themselves seem something apart. They have to – in order to continue eating them.

The word for us – ‘human,’ is just a word (like lion) that differentiates us from other animals like penguins and sheep.

This differentiating word doesn’t mean ‘has dominance,’ or more intelligence, more conscience, or more anything. If we think it does, we think that because WE are human.

It’s exactly like someone saying ‘blond hair is best,’ when THEY have blond hair.

Questions

Why have we been taught to distance ourselves so much from other animals?

Why do we say ‘we love animals’ like they are separate to humans?

Why do we call someone an animal to insult them, again, as if animals were separate to humans?

Why do we say humans AND animals? Sorry to be Pete the pedant here but unless we are, in fact, vegetable or mineral, this is inaccurate. If you must differentiate, the most you can say is ‘human and non-human animals,’  though even this is very human-normative, i.e. arrogantly assuming that humans make up the majority and are ‘the norm’ when, in fact, considering there are around 7.7 million animal SPECIES in the world, and ants alone (according to a BBC documentary) number a hundred trillion; this indicates, quite fantastically, otherwise.

Answers

So that we can continue to kill and use other animals for our agenda (which is NOT even one of need), we have to desensitise ourselves by making them seem as different to us as possible.

And my, how we’ve done this!

Can’t we see that this is what we’ve done to any living beings we’ve wanted to colonise/enslave/subjugate/kill/rape?

Where other animals are concerned, we tell ourselves:

  • Other animals are here for us to eat, God said so (what we mean by this is – a book written by some flawed old men says this)
  • We are at the top of the food chain. Therefore we can eat animals that are lower down than us
  • Other animals don’t have consciousness
  • Other animals don’t have a soul
  • Other animals don’t know they will die; therefore they’re not as conscious as us

Unsurprisingly, it has not been highly publicised that prominent scientists now realise that animals are as conscious as we are. As for the rest, WE created the books. WE created the food-chain, and IF animals don’t know they die (which is completely not knowable) do they need to? Why is it better to know this?

Funnily enough, there is ONE time it serves us to liken ourselves to other animals, and that’s THIS argument humans use to justify eating them:

  • Lions eat antelope, therefore we can eat cows. It’s the same thing.

(FYI, it’s not the same thing. Lions are obligate carnivores; they HAVE to eat other animals to survive. We are not; we thrive and are so much healthier NOT doing so).

Now we can’t have it both ways. Are we like other animals or not??

If we were to make ourselves see the commonalities and not the (insignificant) differences between us and other animals, we wouldn’t be able to kill and eat them.

In the US during slavery, slave owners focussed on and played up the colour of skin and the different shaped skulls Africans had to whites, so they’d be able to see them as not quite as ‘human’ as THEY were, and therefore not feel bad enslaving them.

Some men have traditionally focussed on the purely mechanical physical differences that women have (to them) in order to see women as other than human and therefore justify controlling and using them.

As for other animals, not only do we see all the physical differences between us, but we also see them as uncivilised, base and less intelligent.

Why are we judging them by our standards when our standards leave so much to be desired?

It’s not animals that are destroying the planet. It’s not animals that have razed forests to the ground, caused air and water pollution (apart from when WE intensively farm them for ‘food’), depleted topsoil and fossil fuels, or caused droughts and ‘plastic islands’ in the oceans.

THEY only take what they need, and actually CONTRIBUTE to the planets ecosystem. We look at the ecosystem as if it revolves around humans. But did you know that if all humans died tomorrow, the earth would eventually replenish itself with all the plant-life it had lost, its atmosphere would slowly purify, and it would utterly thrive without us? By contrast, if even the tiniest creatures, like bees, or ants were to die tomorrow, the entire ecosystem would collapse.

Look at how humans kill each other on silly pretexts, then read about how ants cooperate with each other and work in unison for the best interests and health of the colony.

We’ve all seen the Youtube vids of animals who are best friends with an animal from another species (often the most unlikely ones); the cat that adopted the squirrel; the male dogs that adopt kittens (this also blasts right out of the water another two tired old stereotypes that all females – and only females – are nurturing!). By contrast, we can’t even get on with our own species. We fight and kill other humans because they believe something a bit different.

It’s not animals that get obese, lollop around malls aimlessly, and get diabetes. Look how lithe and sinewy squirrels, horses, lions and monkeys are; their bodies are perfect for the needs of their habitats.

It’s not animals that create constructs to control, reduce and diminish each other.

And look at how Zen they are; how they are always in the moment, but at the same time have insanely sharp reflexes. If you have a cat on your lap and stand up suddenly, it will always land on its feet. If you had a human on your lap and stood up suddenly, they would flop to the floor like a dead weight.

We need to dehumanise in order to oppress humans. And in the case of other animals, we have to see them as different and as inferior to humans as possible to desensitise ourselves to their suffering – so we can eat them.

The truth is they are far more similar to us than different. Exactly as people with dark skin are more similar than different to people with white skin and as women are more similar than different to men.

All oppressions are the same and need an ‘other.’ We’ve ‘otherised’ animals that are not human to such an extent we don’t even know we’re doing it.

Time to stop.

 

I Don’t Care How Trendy And Urban The New ‘Single Concept’ Restaurant Is – There Is No Sexy Meat

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I’m just gonna say it.

There IS no sexy meat…

…despite the nauseating attempts of new ‘single-dish’ restaurant businesses to make their ‘burger’ or ‘chicken’ seem exciting, cool and ‘urban.’

(I ain’t naming no names, but I know y’all know damn well the kind of places I’m talking about! The ones I particularly have in mind are in the UK, but this is a ‘thing’ that came here from the States, so US peeps – you know full well what I’m referrin’ to too!)

Using words like ‘honest,’ ‘gourmet,’ ‘real,’ ‘wholesome,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘bonafide,’ ‘farm fresh,’ natural,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘traditional,’ etc etc; this crop of new, mainly meat-based restaurants are desperate to seduce you with all these self-proclaimed qualities.

A ‘wholesome hipster’ type atmosphere is also seemingly enthusiastically encouraged, and consumers are made to feel ‘in the know,’ for patronising these places.

However, it is possibly an indicator of how big vegetarianism and veganism have become.

In the dying breaths of a meat-based culture, one that is slowly realising that meat consumption is killing the planet (and us!) it is perhaps predictable that there will be more energy than ever concentrated on attempting to give meat a sexy new resonance, to try and pull people back from the overwhelming trend in the US and western Europe of reducing meat intake.

I admit it, some of these restaurants look like great fun – the decor is usually casual and cosy. Many have a bit of a rustic-y, basic-y conceit going on which is quite enticing in its own way, I suppose. People look like they’re having fun inside. Wait staff are youthful and perky. A particular ‘single-dish’ chicken restaurant I am thinking of has buff male fitties in tight t-shirts turning the big spits the chickens are roasting on.

But if I give it even one minutes thought, the fact that certain positive words are being used to manipulate consumers into believing that the food (usually meat) they are eating is associated with the way these words make them feel, makes me heave.

What the hell about a burger or roast chicken is honest? Natural? Healthy? Gourmet? Wholesome?

Let’s examine this for just a moment.

It is made a big deal of that the burgers in these restaurants are made from grass-fed beef.

We know that grass-fed animals emit even more methane than factory farmed, thereby contributing to even more climate change, and that farming this way is just as unsustainable land-wise. If everybody in the world wanted to eat grass-fed cows – we would need another coupla’ planets!

The free-range chicken these places shout about using is not any better than factory farmed chicken. Customers think their chicken roamed free on a lovely grassy farm, but in fact the label free-range is just a marketing term designed to make you THINK this is the case. We know it is not.

‘Traditional’ is another word commonly used, regarding the preparation and style of the food. I find this calculating and manipulative. When we hear this word (as any good advertiser knows) it subconsciously goes beyond the description of the food, and tends to engender a positive, warm feeling in us, and conjure up images of family and celebrations. It makes us feel we are doing something intrinsically ‘right’ and ‘good.’ Er, let’s remember that ‘traditional’ isn’t always good. FGM is traditional. Slavery was traditional.

And on the health aspect? Meat, NO MATTER ITS PROVENANCE, contains saturated fat, cholesterol and hormones. SO even though you are being given the impression that the meat in these restaurants is a healthier version than a fast-food joint might sell you – it’s not, not really.

I even prefer the idea of fast-food joints to these new honest/gourmet/real heart attack emporia. At least they’re not pretending to be something other than what they are.

The only difference really is that Real Natural Honest Meat Place has pretty, rustic distressed wood tables and benches, and the staff wear cooler T-shirts and have more upmarket accents. That’s all.

Yet I’m sure the people who frequent these places are under the impression they are eating in an establishment that cares about the environment and their health.

*Sigh*

All I can say is, don’t let a marketer decide what is healthy, honest or cool for you. And if you are vegan, don’t be downhearted about this phenomena, I’m not. It’s annoying, but I truly believe it’s part of a last-ditch attempt to entice us into buying meat before vegetarianism and veganism take an even stronger hold.

 

Don’t Call Yourself Vegan Unless You’re Doing It 100% For The Animals (Why I Think This Is Silly!)

Some vegans get very heated about those who go vegan primarily or initially for health or environmental reasons.

It’s true that the vegan diet and lifestyle (i.e. not using any animal products for clothes, footwear, accessories, sofas etc., or for our leisure, i.e. circuses and zoos) came about from the realisation that animals are sentient beings, just like us, and therefore deserve the same free, unhindered (at least by humans), safe lives that we do. Being vegan is about not being a part of cruelty and the unnecessary killing of animals, and some vegans think (not, at first glance, unreasonably) these are the only reasons one should call oneself vegan or refer to one’s diet as ‘vegan.’

They suggest that if your motivations are for health or the environment, you should call yourself ‘plant-based,’ and not vegan – the inference being that you care more about yourself than you do about animals.

I disagree with this.

Certainly, I GET this stance, and why some would feel strongly about this. I know that the original idea of a vegan diet evolved around animal rights – and OF COURSE, not eating/using animals IS the defining feature of the vegan lifestyle. It is nothing but admirable when someone decides to go vegan purely out of empathy for animals.

Several big vegan bloggers rarely blog about health or environmental issues, and have quite a large focus on delicious vegan junk food (I LOVE these blogs btw). Their reasons for being vegan are purely ethical, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for these guys.

But, if going vegan was exceptionally bad for our health and the environment – would anyone still be vegan? Really? I’m not sure I would. Does that make me a big ol’ monster?

Cards on the table. If you’ve read my ‘About’ page, you’ll know I went vegan as a late teen, predominantly for health/vanity reasons (so I wasn’t St Francis of Assisi as a teen; if you were – great! We need more people like you in the world, but I was pretty self-absorbed). After a while however, I evolved (thank goodness!). I also stopped wearing animal products, and buying them for non-food reasons. Now, the knowledge that my way of eating harms no-one, benefits my health, and treads the lightest on the planet, thrills me equally on all three counts.

I fully believe that those who embrace a vegan diet, even if initially it’s more for personal health or environmental reasons; are very likely to discover more and more information on all the other reasons, the more they progress and learn.

The viewpoint that they shouldn’t call themselves ‘vegan,’ for me feels like narrow thinking. It’s a little simplistic and reductive. I also don’t believe Donald Watson (inventor of the word vegan) would sue me for feeling this, and here’s why:

There are two main points that this viewpoint fails to take into account.

1. Humans are animals too.

2. The utter interconnectedness of ALL life.

 

Humans are animals too

It’s not complicated. We are animals. There are three categories of, er, stuff, in the world –   animal, vegetable, mineral. The last time I looked it wasn’t – human, animal, vegetable, mineral.

If you MUST distinguish, then it’s human animals and non-human animals.

If you say you’re ‘going vegan for the animals’ you are inferring that you’re NOT an animal. You’re separating yourself from non-human animals.

If we look after ourselves, then we ARE looking after all other animals. If we are healthy and well, we can better be present for the needs of ALL OTHER human and non-human animals. If we are sick, fatigued, depressed and aching due to poor diet and habits – we are no good to anyone. If we are vibrant, happy and radiating joy and light, we are a positive influence on every being we come across.

It is NOT shallow or superficial to prioritise your health.

If OUR wellness needs are met we become happier, and can be more empathetic to the suffering of others, and more ready to serve and help them.

 

The interconnectedness of all things

Is it just a happy coincidence that going vegan (providing it’s a well-balanced, varied diet of course) is one of the best things we can do for our physical, mental and spiritual health, AND for non-human animals AND the health of the planet? Isn’t it good that the health and environmental benefits may give us added motivation to go and stay vegan?

I believe these three things are completely interconnected. If I am healthy and happy, I am able to spread light and be present for everyone I come into contact with. And if I’m improving the environment – who benefits? ONLY EVERYONE! That’s every non-human and human animal that lives now and will live in the future.

An environmental concern caused by livestock farming is habitat loss. When jungles, forests, and other wild landscapes are razed to the ground to make way for grazing or growing feed crops, so wild animals lose their habitats, and thus, often, their lives as a consequence.

Again – going vegan benefits ALL animals, not just the ones bred for food.

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Previous famous vegetarians and vegans seem to have known that the ethical and general ‘wellness of the world’ elements go hand in hand. For example, clever old Albert Einstein said:

‘I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience.’

This suggests he is very much concerned with the morality of eating meat.

Yet he also says:

‘It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.’

And:

‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’

He does not separate the benefits that a vegetarian/vegan diet bestows – they are all linked.

Romantic English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a piece in the nineteenth century promoting an animal-free diet called ‘A Vindication Of Natural Diet‘ (worth a read if you have a spare half an hour).

In it, he says

‘the ardent devotee of truth and virtue…it will be a contemplation full of horror and disappointment to his mind, that beings capable of the gentlest and most admirable sympathies, should take delight in the death-pangs and last convulsions of dying animals.’

From this we know he is horrified by animal cruelty.

He goes on:

‘The most valuable lives are daily destroyed by diseases, that it is dangerous to palliate and impossible to cure by medicine. How much longer will man continue to pimp for the gluttony of death, his most insidious, implacable, and eternal foe? The proselyte to a simple and natural diet, who desires health, must from the moment of his conversion attend to these rules— Never take any substance into the stomach that once had life. Drink no liquid but water restored to its original purity by distillation.’

He got it.

It’s true that there are a few ex-vegans out there (who are, unfortunately, very vocal on the internet) who went vegan for weight/health issues, couldn’t make it work, and then made a big noise about how their body needed animal products again (which is highly unlikely).

But don’t let these people spoil it for the rest of us. And know that it’s okay that a person’s motivations for being vegan are informed by several issues.

Eating healthily for ourselves and sustainably for the environment IS great for animals too.

 

What’s Wrong With Eggs? They Are Good For You And Chickens Don’t Need Them!

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A couple of years ago, somewhere in the southern states of America, (it could have been Chattanooga) I got talking to a lady who owned a second hand book and bric-a-brac store. We had a perfectly lovely conversation until she asked me what I was writing about (I’d mentioned I was writing a book). When I told her it was about how a standard diet negatively impacts our health, the environment and animals, and how a vegan diet was the antidote to this, she got very animated.

She got the most worked up about eggs, saying she didn’t understand how I didn’t eat them, telling me how they were the most healthy food you could eat, and she went as far as to say that eggs are ‘God’s own protein,’ whatever the feckin’ heck that meant.

Firstly, she was most decidedly not the best advertisement for her health claims regarding eggs. I don’t want to snark (ok I do, but I shan’t), let’s just say she was very evidently NOT healthy.

Secondly, I haven’t eaten eggs for 23 years, and I am still here and thriving – not a shrivelled pile of protein-deprived fatigue, convulsing on the floor. I do not believe I am missing the so-called protein of God.

I didn’t want to continue the conversation, so I just wrapped it up politely and left. I intuited that she would not have been open to receiving any actual facts on eggs, as invested as she clearly was in what were probably lifelong, myth-based beliefs, so I let it go. Although I believe in advocating when possible, it’s also important to know when to conserve your energy for better opportunities!

In case YOU have questions about eggs, or in case you get asked questions by curious friends – who you feel may be more receptive to facts than my book-store lady; here are some of the common egg myths dispelled.

 

Eggs are good for you

Uh-uh.

Yes, eggs do contain protein. But they are also very high in cholesterol, and like all animal products, they contain destructive saturated fat.  Just consider this for a hot second: Eggs have inside them the wherewithal to grow ONE cell into a baby chick in a relatively short space of time. They actually contain the most concentrated form of protein (second only to animal brains). This is excessive for humans – ‘too much of a good thing,’ if you will. We have been led to believe that the more protein the better, and some people eat egg whites believing them to be the healthiest and most protein-filled part of the egg, but this is just not a balanced form of protein for humans to be ingesting.

Because of this, consumption of eggs is very closely linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

You do not need eggs for health. You can meet ALL your protein needs with plants.

 

How is the egg industry cruel? The chickens aren’t killed or anything…

Ok, so I don’t need to go into why battery hen farming is cruel – that’s obvious.

Cage-free, free-range and organic are just great labels to make you feel you are doing something good for the hens when you buy eggs. BUT, in terms of hen suffering, they mean nothing. And all across the board, baby male chicks are gassed, ground alive or suffocated, being of no profit to the egg industry.

All that farmers need in order to classify their eggs as free range, is a tiny ‘door’ hole in a barn, so they can say that chickens have access to fresh air. These barns are normally crammed with so many thousands of hens, and hens are hierarchical, so only a very few will see the fresh air. Most will live in very cramped conditions, walking around (as much as they can walk) in their own pee and poop. Many grow deformed or die and aren’t discovered for ages. They are also debeaked without anaesthetic, just like battery hens.

 

What if I have chickens in my back garden and I treat them well? Surely it’s ok to take their eggs?

This article very nicely explains the ethical stance regarding backyard chickens that are kept for eggs.

Also, the reason hens KEEP laying eggs is because their eggs KEEP getting taken away. They would only normally lay enough to fill their nest.

Laying so many eggs takes up a lot of energy, and so lots of chickens eat their own eggs to replenish the nutrients they’ve lost in this effort. Lots of backyard hens are rescues from the egg industry, so they will often do this, as they are attempting to restore a lifetimes worth of nutrient loss.

If you’re wondering whether you can eat the eggs that backyard hens don’t eat that might otherwise go to waste? Weeell, you could…but first, reread about the health dangers of eating eggs!