|Apr. 22nd, 2014 10:20 am Earth Day thoughts on life and death|
Today is Earth Day. Many people celebrated this occasion over the weekend. I went to Earth Day San Francisco on Saturday. I found it pretty depressing. Instead of being in front of City Hall where there is at least some grass and trees, this year it was moved over to the asphalt lot next to the public library. The smell of fried chicken and other meats from the same food vendors that come to all outdoor SF events wafted through the air.Make notes
I went specifically to see a talk by Bob Linden of Go Vegan Radio, so I headed into the speaker's tent about 20 minutes before his scheduled talk and just stayed there. Other speakers talked about the importance of protecting the rainforest in Ecuador and biodiversity in the United States. The impact of food choices was not mentioned. A woman was taking video of the speakers and the audience. But when Bob sat down in the speaker's chair with his little dog and started speaking, plainly yet eloquently, about the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the environment, she went elsewhere, as did several members of the audience.
I know many who care deeply about the environment will never be convinced to give up animal products for ecological reasons alone. Just as many who care deeply about their health will never be convinced to go vegan for that reason. There will always be counterarguments that a diet that includes animal products can still be healthy for the Earth and for humans, it's just a matter of where and how the animals are raised and how much of their flesh, milk, and eggs are consumed.
So I've come full circle back to what convinced me back in 1992 that I needed to go vegan: The morality of life and death. Every single animal whose flesh I ate for the first 22 years of my life was killed, and eaten for no other reason than fulfilling my own pleasure and convenience. And I am convinced that every single animal whose milk or eggs I ate for the next 19 years after that was killed as well, once they stopped producing these products.
I rationalized every way I could that dairy and eggs were somehow more ethical to consume than flesh, but deep down I knew that they weren't, as the animals producing these foods would almost inevitably still be killed. I knew I didn't need to eat dairy or eggs to be healthy, and I had plentiful access to plant foods. I just didn't want to deal with the inconvenience and the social stigma. And I really liked cheese.
Fortunately, humans are very adaptable, and tastes change. Instead of cheese pizza and ice cream, my favorite foods now include oatmeal and kale. I have no cravings for dairy products. There is no temptation, no sacrifice. I am not suffering.
The animals we raise for food are suffering and dying. Over 50 billion a year are killed worldwide. It's a staggering number. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, it isn't necessary.
If one agrees that pleasure, convenience, and habit alone aren't sufficient justifications for killing and eating animals and their products, then the solution isn't to eat fewer of them or to make their living or slaughtering conditions more comfortable. The solution is to go vegan. This is the choice I made. I hope others will make this choice as well.