As a species, are we unique in our capacity to dream? To fall in love? To create a home or experience passion? Humans are obsessed with looking out into space and wondering whether there is intelligent life and whether we’ll find it. All the while, we knowingly disregard the most amazing life on Earth without the respect it’s due.
If a NASA explorer found a cow on the mooooooon, would that be intelligent enough for us? Or would we keep looking for something more cleverer? And if we do find life that is intelligent enough for us, what’s the chance it would want anything to do with humans? Look at how we treat other species. Based on our own logic, there are two likely scenarios for the discovery of an alien race:
1) humans take ownership of it,
2) humans get incarcerated and used for food, clothes, musical instruments, cosmetics, ink, marshmallows, glue and washing-machine-safe bank notes.
Sensitive Souls by Professor Brian J Ford investigates senses and communication in plants, animals and microbes. The first few pages of the book changed my food-habits forever. I have to accept that if I want to eat meat, then sentient beings with emotions, hopes, families, love, pain, neuroses and joy have to be murdered. I love the taste of meat. But I love myself and I want to feel good. I don’t feel good if I cause all of this pain. It’s completely unnecessary. I have the power to reduce my impact on the suffering of others and so I do.
But humans have eaten meat for thousands of years, they say. Well, we have kept slaves, raped and told the time with stone-shadows. But that doesn’t mean we should do those things tomorrow. We move forward with new information and new values as our perception, intelligence, knowledge and choices expand.
‘Plants have to die too’ said a friend of mine. And he’s completely right. In fact, I believe there’s an intelligence in the plant world, which in many ways far exceeds our own. But the suffering of an asparagus-to-plate is far less than a pig-to-plate. Anyone that argues otherwise is just silly.
At a similar time to reading Sensitive Souls, I was also reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. And it really does. She’s impeccably researched and there’s a choice when you’re confronted with such well-considered conclusions. In a world where so many of our leaders are selfish, establishment buffoons, the words of someone who genuinely cares, about things that truly matter, are worth so much. The devastating human impact on the environment through animal agriculture is also articulated convincingly in a documentary called Cowspiracy.
Allowable levels of pus in milk. Antibiotics used. Disease. Poor welfare. Systematic rape. Killing of babies. Distress. Cows crying for their stolen babies. There’s a start. But simply, when I started to process the fact that milk comes from another pregnant animal’s tits, I stopped buying milk. I mean, I wouldn’t even suck my mum’s tits these days. But cheese has lingered for me. Why? Why do I stop drinking milk immediately but somehow consider cheese to be in some other bracket? It isn’t. As long as there is a product derived from an animal, then there is animal suffering. Eggs have stuck around too. ‘They’ll not turn into chickens’ I tell myself. But they still come from a system that monetizes animal well-being. Steadily, I’m eating fewer eggs, but somehow, I’ve still considered them in a special bracket where there’s not so much pain caused. I mean, allowing a small amount of animal cruelty is ok, isn’t it? But then again, if you only kick a dog in the face once a week, you’re still kicking a dog in the face. I don’t want to kick a dog in the face.
Along with cow dairy and eggs lingering, there has also been some weird logic for me that sheep and goat cheese is somehow acceptable over cow dairy. Also, seafood? Where am I getting off? A turning point for me was learning about the problem-solving cognition of squid and octopus. How can I enjoy scoffing something that can swim, slither, imitate walking, change colour, navigate mazes, smell and taste through his fingers and head, screw lids off jars, escape from tanks, has a sense of humour, stacks rocks and learns to switch lights off? All that before the age of two. Imagine these fellas lived until they were seventy. I ordered an octopus salad in Ibiza and then felt really guilty. He can change colour for heaven’s sake. Who am I to eat him? My consumption of seafood from that point has been closely linked to my level of applied consciousness at the time.
Having a mother who carefully prepared food for me with love and educated me sensibly in nutrition was amazing. Studying Food Tech was a good progression. Having a real interest in cooking and seeking quality and integrity in ingredients and suppliers keeps presenting veganism as the best choice.
The myth that vegans don’t get the protein they need has been completely debunked. There is now a popular movement of vegan elite athletes. Through two of my favourite foods, rice and dal, I can easily and economically get all the proteins I need. For iron, I eat beans and seeds and I’ve even been making my own tofu and sucking used tampons. Oh wait. Not the tampon bit. Also, the more vitamin c you eat, the more iron your body can absorb. So by eating more fruit, I extract more iron from my food. Olives and peanuts give me omega 3 and 6 oils containing the essential fatty acids. You can even get vegan creatine if you can be arsed.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s not hard, it’s not tight, it’s not gross, I’m not weak or somehow now homosexual and you don’t have to do what other people tell you to do. You just have to change your attitude with the facts you learn. It can even help you to feel better about yourself. Pescatarianism and vegetarianism have certainly improved my own personal appreciation for nature. And what else is there? I hope the next step to veganism this month will extend the trend.
And a final point. All proteins ultimately come from plants. Why would I want to eat second-hand protein? Why would I not go straight to source?