I’ve been vegetarian for more than half of my life, and recently took a step further and cut out all animal products completely from my diet. Some people have asked why, so I am writing the answer here.
When I was a kid, I thought the idea of eating something that had once been living – with blood, veins, guts and brains – was disgusting. My parents made me sit at the dinner-table until I ate the damn stuff anyway. This made my disgust even stronger. Not only did I not want to eat the stuff, but I was being forced to eat it.
When I got a bit older, I was able to dictate my own diet, and settled on a diet which was mostly meat free. I would only eat meat that was not immediately recognisable as a part of an animal. This meant that I would eat burgers, for example, but would not eat ribs. I would eat pepperoni, but not steak.
My reasoning had not yet become clear. I couldn’t justify why one type of meat was okay, and another was not. This disturbed me.
So, when I was about 16/17, I decided to make my rules clear. I would not eat anything which involved the direct killing of an animal.
It’s a very simple rule, and it’s very easy to stick to.
Even then people ask me /why/. I mean, ignoring that it’s utterly disgusting to put dead things in your mouth, why should we not eat animals?
Some of the reasons that people have given me:
1. “God put animals here for us to eat them.” Ignoring that I am an atheist, this is simply not true. In Genesis, it is made clear that herbs, fruit, etc. are for eating. Animals were simply to be taken care of.
2. “Meat tastes nice.” This is an utterly unethical thing to say. If you came across someone that was beating their kids and they said “it makes me feel good”, would you say “oh, okay”? Of course not!
3. “Meat is good for you.” No it is not.
When given the choice between killing an animal, and not killing an animal, I choose not to kill an animal. This is not hard to understand.
A few weeks ago, after 20 years of vegetarianism, I decided to re-evaluate my diet.
I was an “ovo-lacto vegetarian”, which means that I didn’t eat meat, but would eat eggs and dairy products such as cheese or butter.
I made a decision to cut out all animal products altogether. After all, being a “normal” vegetarian was easy, so how difficult could being a vegan be?
Again, there is the question of “why?”.
Milk (and its by-products) seems harmless. Advocates of milk say you should milk cows (etc) because if you don’t, you will be hurting them. Well, the milk that we are getting from cows is supposed to be drank by the cows’ babies. Why isn’t it? Because those babies are removed from their mothers almost as soon as they are born. Male calves are reared and then slaughtered for meat. Female calves are reared and become dairy cows themselves. So, by drinking milk, you continue the cycle of slaughter and general slavery.
Eggs. Battery eggs are obviously cruel. The chickens are kept in small cages where their eggs are automatically collected. What happens to male chicks? They are killed.
Even with free-range eggs, there is still the question of what happens with the roosters? Are they all killed as soon as the farmer can tell the difference between male and female? Or are they allowed to roam with the hens? If they are killed, this is obviously cruel. If they are allowed to roam, then how can you tell the difference between a fertilised egg and a non-fertilised egg?
To avoid all potential animal cruelty, I opted to avoid all animal products.