Almost a year ago I undertook a distance learning animal welfare course from Edinburgh University via Coursera. It was during this course that I discovered some of the industry’s “best practice” for our food supply. I learned about how cows are monitored for diseases and conditions such as mastitis etc. How chickens get enriched cages, what free range actually means, pig welfare, as well as pet animals and zoo animal welfare to include stimulation etc. The course was delivered in such a way to be simply practical, nothing more, no emotion, it is not the courses function to do anything more than present information. Seeing some of these best practices I became uneasy about how we were treating animals in the food supply chain, all the while still not thinking about the ultimate fate that awaited every single creature that enters this supply chain. This was to be the first course of many, my plan was to work with dogs, to help with assistance dogs, or to rehabilitate reactive or aggressive dogs, to save them from being put down.
I work in IT, I am a manager,
I am a “respectable”
member of society,
I drive a family car etc.
I started to discuss what I had seen with my better half Natasha, or as many of you will know her as “Mammybot”. She was more than happy to help me to survive becoming vegetarian, she had managed some how to survive until then, so I figured it was a safe bet to take her advice! After I had decided to become vegetarian an old friend from school contacted me and asked what was my motivation. I explained that I had completed the course and I was uneasy about it. He mentioned to me that he was Vegan, I had never given much thought to this word, other than to think that all Vegans were tree hugging, dread having, weed smoking, layabouts with nothing better to do than protest roads being built etc, not that there is anything wrong with that, I just didn’t see myself doing that. I work in IT, I am a manager, I am a “respectable” member of society, I drive a family car etc. We got talking about how crazy it was how we treat animals, again all the while I was thinking that, Dairy is fine, cows need to get milked, they probably like it, it must be relaxing for them. I never even thought about leather, feathers, gelatine etc, these are all just by-products of people eating meat so it would be a shame to let them go to waste! I was righteous in my thought process, all the time thinking what I was doing was the right thing to do. Plus we NEED to drink milk, them bones need it for calcium and to make you strong, nothing else has protein now that I have decided to cut out meat and eggs.
Paul (old school friend) had mentioned to have a look at earthlings on you tube, ” it will change how you see the world” he said, he was not wrong.
why should anyone
care about these little pigs?
Why should they let us in?
I decided this was something that I should do alone as I did not want to be influenced by anyone else’s thoughts. I mean, I was never going to be a Vegan! I could just about handle being one of them weirdo vegetarians. While watching this documentary I wanted to stop many times , I shed several tears, I lost my faith in humanity, how can we do these disgraceful things to these creatures? From mutilating days old piglets by castration, ear clipping, teeth clipping (yes teeth) tail docking all without anesthetic to experiments and testing beauty and cleaning products. Slaughtering animals for sport, bull fighting, dog fighting, hare coursing, fox hunting, big game hunting.
Did I get a membership card? where do I apply?
We humans really are a plague on this planet.There is so much more to it than even the things I have listed. As I became aware of these things, things that I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, it was wrong all along, pushed deep down, because, we are the masters of this world and we have a right to it, why should anyone care about these little pigs? Why should they let us in? After all, we are the wolves at the door!
After witnessing all the sadness, torture, inhumanity and death I would no longer consume or use anything that came from an animal, was tested on an animal or in anyway supported animal cruelty, to the best of my ability I was going to stop my part of these disgusting practices. So, it looks like I had “drank the coolaid” I was now a Vegan. Did I get a membership card? where do I apply? when do I get my hemp sack and start growing my dreads? Surely there is some type of support group that can help me with the joint rolling and sign making! I mean, what type of club doesn’t have these supports in place for new recruits!! But that was just the thing, there is no club, no cult, no secret handshake or symbol. I, We, were on our own! Again I went to Natasha and told her what I had witnessed, I explained that I could not be part of that machine any more.
No question was ever ridiculed,
I was never talked down.
What had I done to my kids, I had indoctrinated them into this system of death and destruction. Now it was time to break free from it. But how could I do that to my kids? Kids need milk! Kids need meat! All the while the answer was sitting across the table from me, with kind eyes, there she was, this beautiful creature who had made it through her childhood without things that were “vital” to survive. She is an amazing example of the female of our species, perfect in every way, kind, fair, fit, healthy and beautiful. If I can raise my children to be like her, to have compassion and to really care about the world and people and animals in it I would die a happy man. So now it was time to do some research, can I raise my kids Vegan? Thankfully there are a number of groups online with families raising their own children as Vegans. To be honest, they are probably some of the nicest people I have ever met, well virtually met. No question was ever ridiculed, I was never talked down.
I continued my education, next up was canine emotion and cognition from Duke University, again via coursera. During this course I learned about how dogs learn, what motivates them and what will get the best results in training etc. But this got me thinking, what about “food” animals, what about how their minds work? How smart are Pigs? Well it turns out they are quite smart, smarter, some would say, than your dog. So this brings me back to how we keep these animals. When dogs are kept in conditions where they are confined and have no stimuli they become destructive, restless, they exhibit compulsive behaviours such as pacing, wall running. If pigs are as smart as dogs and capable of the emotion that this intelligence affords them, keeping them in the prison like conditions is akin to torture. Not to mention the toll the housing takes on their bodies.
I have, since becoming Vegan been told I have “gone strange”, become ” A fag”, I have been goaded by friends and colleagues alike. I have had people try to pick holes in my reasoning and logic, I am still waiting on a valid reason why I should return to the comfort of the carnist society. But here is the thing, I am not doing this for their approval, I am not doing this for your approval, I am doing this for the animals. Everything after that is just a bonus, health, environmental issues, all just icing on the delicious Vegan cake. Why not try a slice, the little pigs love it!