The other day we had a birthday at work, where it was demanded that most people in the team would bring something home-baked for the morning tea. It may be presumed that because I am vegan I am an awesome cook (as well as skinny and full of energy and piercings and bright coloured hair dye) but I'm not - so I ducked over the road and bought some packet muffin mix that was vegan and gluten free (there is also a coeliac lady on the team who doesn't often get to enjoy any of these events).
Well, I spent the morning excited about my 'home-baked' muffins - do you have any idea how long it has been since I've had muffins?! That and the fact that pack only made ten and there were ten people on the team and I didn't want anyone to miss out so I didn't get to sample one prior to the morning tea. Myself and the coeliac lady had one as soon as morning tea 'started' away and of course they were lovely - well, lovely for home-baked for packet mix muffins.
But I have got to tell you, the way these people carried on was amazing. "Oh no, I won't try it" "No, the fact we're allowing you to bring it is us being supportive" "They're completely animal free - completely taste free" "Oh! No - you have to eat the rest of it. I can't eat it." "Where is the bin?" "Why don't you just have one of the cheesecakes/spring rolls/curry puffs?".
Keep in mind, I'm a compassionate vegan as opposed to a health or science minded vegan - this means that as of late I've started buying eggs from a lady at work with hens that are pets - not for farming, not cruelly treated and not eaten/sold once laying slows. This was mainly for The Hun who likes eggs on a weekend and who does not love me buying the most expensive eggs I can find for him - and now I can have eggs on a weekend if I feel like it too. This packet mix contained an egg. There was nothing different about these muffins from other packet muffins, however no amount on trying to explain this would make them listen.
And then they laid the last straw on this camels back at about 4pm.
I was sitting at my desk (without my noise-canceling headphones in for once) and overheard them over the wall telling a guy from another area to have something to eat. "There's some of these muffins left - Enny made them, they're vegan - you should try some!" and followed by a few cackles from others. I walked in and stood by the door, only to have the birthday lady spin around with a shocked look on her face as she exclaimed "I thought you were at uni!". Like that suddenly made the whole thing ok.
And I thought to myself - if I could just get these people to really think and listen for 60 seconds, what would I say?
This is where your pork, bacon and ham come from:
This is a pig. She is not pork, she is not ham and she is not bacon - she is a living creature. She will spend her life surrounded by thick, cold metal bars and living on wet, feces-caked concrete floors. When she has been artificially impregnated she will spend her pregnancy in a crate too small for her to turn around or lie comfortably - some will be tied such that they can never get a break from the suckling piglets kept in a seperate concrete area.
These piglets are taken away from mother within a month (many months earlier than they would be in nature). Whilst the mother is then forcibly impregnated again (this will continue for a few years until she is exhausted and is shipped off to slaughter) the piglets have their testicles cut out, have pieces of their ears cut out for 'identification purposes', have their tails docked and their incisor teeth cut off - all without pain relief. Each time you have a roast pork roll, fill up on breakfast bacon on your weekend away or make those ham sandwiches for your children's lunches you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
This is where your beef comes from:
While cattle and sheep are the only farmed animals allowed to do natural things like breath fresh air and feel the sun, they are branded with third degree burns from hot fire irons and males have their testicles removed and horns cut or burned off without pain relief.
After a year in the elements, the cows are crammed into trucks and shipped to auction lots and holding pens. They are fed on a diet unnatural to them that is designed to fatten them up - in many cases it also causes their innards to ulcerate and rupture as well as liver abscesses in just under 1/3rd of cattle raised for beef. The conditions they are kept in causes many to become very unwell - many of these sick cattle are pumped with human antibiotics to keep them alive until slaughter time. Each time you have steak, sausage, rissole or burgers you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
This is where your fish comes from:
The Aquaculture industry is rising three times faster than land-based agriculture. It can take five pounds of wild caught fish to produce one pound of farmed fish - these fish are packed into net or mesh cages and are rife with pollution, disease, and suffering. Up to 40% of these fish suffocate before they would be killed and packaged as food - gills are cut and they are left to bleed to death, larger fish are bashed on the head with a wooden bat and many are still alive and suffering when they cut open. Smaller fish are often left to suffocate after their water is just drained away and they are packed into ice fulling conscious, keeping them in excruciating pain for as long as 15 minutes before they die. Each time you have tuna, salmon or takeaway fish and chips you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
This is where your eggs come from:
A large portion of each hen’s beak is cut off with a burning-hot blade and no painkillers are used. They live their lives in a cage roughly 18x20 inches with between four and ten other additional hens. They are stacked tier upon tier in warehouses, the wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Many of them die the survivors are often forced to live with their dead and dying cagemates, who are left to rot.
When their egg production slows down, the so-called “spent hens” are often buried alive, thrown into trash bags to suffocate or thrown alive into high speed macerators as a cheap method of disposal. Each time you buy store bought eggs, have a vol-a-vent or omelette, or eat cake or sweets that contain eggs, you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
This is where your dairy comes from:
Cows do not produce milk naturally without being pregnant, so they undergo continual artificial insemination, producing calves that are generally taken away within the first day. Males are sent to veal crates whether they cannot turn around or lay down, and the females are sentenced to the same sentence as their mother. Dairy cows continually bellow and call for their children, the milk intended for their babies is stolen from them.
The cows produce three times as much milk as they would normally produce, due to the hormones, genetic manipulation and intensive milking, and 30 - 50% suffer from painful mastitis. A cows typical lifespan is 20 - 25 years, however the cows of the dairy industry are killed at only four or five years of age - and even by this stage almost 40% are lame due the treatment they have receives. Each time you have milk, cheese, cake or ice-cream, you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
This is where your leather comes from:
Leather comes from both cows that are raised for beef and milk, meaning they undergo the branding, castration, tail docking and horn removal as well as the confinement, injections, transport and slaughter. Investigations in India have found these animals have routinely had their tails broken as well as having chilli and tobacco rubbed in their eyes to keep them walking towards the slaughterhouse. When the animals are transported they are often injured in the overcrowded truck, starved, dehydrated and terrified through both blistering heat and freezing cold - many frozen to the sides of the trucks or the bottom by their feces and urine. Many collapse during the journey and many more are unable to walk themselves off the trucks and are instead dragged.
Tens of millions of cows each year are stunned, hung upside down, bled to death and then skinned. Whilst the law requires them to be unconscious before being hung, this is often not the case - many of these animals are skinned and dismembered while still alive, kicking and crying. Each time you purchase a leather coat, leather shoes or leather handbag, you are actively supporting this behavior and continuing this cycle of suffering.
There is so much more here that I haven't been able to touch on - lamb, wool, chicken, turkey, animal testing, fur, rennet... but I only had 60 seconds of attention, remember?
Think about this the next time you complain that my vegan tim-tam is too gritty, that you don't like the taste of beans, that I should just buy the leather shoes that are on sale and that I should just 'have a small bite of this - it tastes so good'.
Listen to your heart - you know couldn't physically do any of those things yourself - doesn't that say something to you? Each time you eat or use an animal derived product, you may as well be. It won't stop until you stop.
(Facts and images from here and here.)