In September, I started a four year joint honours foundation degree at my local university. Why, I hear people ask, do you want to go back to university as a mature student? I have a paid, full-time job – it’s true. Most of the jobs I’ve had have been ones I’ve ended up doing because they were convenient or I had some knowledge required. I’ve done them well, to the best of my abilities. However, looking back on diaries and journals I’ve kept for years, I’ve always wanted to do two things for a living, specifically (my dream job(s), you might say). These are to study Zoology and work with animals; and to write for a living about the things I’m passionate about (e.g Zoology, funnily enough).
The first lectures were nerve-wracking; the usual sweaty palms and anxiety accompanied my first couple of days. Three weeks in, I’m getting there. I feel comfortable in lectures, and happy generally. Ten years ago, I would not have been able to manage the anxiety of such a new and daunting environment and the resulting expectations placed upon me. But the last ten years have taught me some valuable lessons, and the urgency of life. If you really want to do something, do it. If you’ve always wanted to do it, do it sooner! This little, blue planet is suffering, and has been for decades.
Whilst we knew all about climate change some thirty years ago, thanks to organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth offering us urgent facts and alternatives (which our governments all quietly ignored) what has changed to prevent it? Nothing…instead, our destruction of our home and all of life on it has continued at an ever-increasing pace. More and more of us need to help put the brakes on and shake human society awake.
The motivation for me to study for a degree has come – and continues to come – from conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd, who shine a light on atrocities and injustices against ocean wildlife and intelligent animals, along with many other conservation groups. The motivation has come from watching the steady subjugation of animals, and the rapid destruction of all natural spaces. We cannot continue. I would like to be another ‘expert’ voice offering facts, education, and the inspiration to cherish and preserve our natural world and develop and adopt real, ethical ways of living sustainably.
And so for the next four years, you’ll find me in uni, learning things that are a pleasure to learn. I am in my element! Literally! Loving those carbon atoms…
Ever have days like this?
By 2020, 47% of Brits will develop a form of cancer in their lifetime, according to this article from last year, based on research by Macmillan Cancer Support. That’s shocking. Shocking stat, yes, but just as shocking is the fact that the majority of those cancers might never occur at all, if people stopped eating the products of intensive factory farming. We could stop wasting millions on pointless and ineffective cancer research, too. There is a very simple preventative medicine that works really well to help you avoid cancer completely – it’s called veganism. It’s easy, and healthy, and great for the planet. It’s cheap to live on, and it saves over 100 animal lives per year per vegan. No brainer? You’d think.
The evidence is there in ever-increasing abundance that eating a diet of meat and dairy causes cancer. Research shows it, time and again. Articles then try to pass on the wisdom of said research to the reader, e.g. ‘Diets high in meat, eggs and dairy could be as harmful to health as smoking’; ‘UN urges global move towards meat and dairy-free diet’. But I’m not sure people are paying enough attention. Instead, we wait to be sold a product that is still dairy but has had the supposedly harmful bits taken out of it, or meat from animals that have been raised ‘organically’ and ‘grass fed’ and have had all the fat bits cut off after they were slaughtered. Seriously? Are we this stupid?
Bowel cancer seems a particularly relevant and preventable case in point. I notice in the news today, George Alagiah has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. In 2010, in the UK alone over 40,000 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer. What is one of the main suggested reasons for such high incidence of bowel cancer? A diet high in processed and red meat.
The article about poor George Alagaih (who I have always respected and who I hope makes a full recovery) led me on to reading an article about the famous French chef Michel Roux – renowned for his classic French cooking, which usually involves inclusion of at least one kind of animal’s flesh in his recipes – and how he’d developed bowel cancer some years previously. Now I’m sorry, but when I read about such people falling ill or dying with cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, etc. – people who have spent years extolling the wonders of cooking up every kind of animal part, bathing it in dairy produce, then smothering it with more animal parts/dairy produce (Clarissa Dickson Wright springs to mind) – I find myself wondering why everyone is so shocked at their demise. One part of the article about Michel Roux stood out, as it should. Describing his treatment and recovery, it says: “After that, he resumed eating carefully, moderately, cutting down on meat, gluten, alcohol and dairy products, especially cow’s cheese…” Funny, that. And eating that way to begin with would have probably prevented his cancer in the first place.
I get really angry about the apparent inability of the ordinary public to reject the constant brainwashing of mega food companies pushing their meat and dairy products at us 24/7, and instead act on research (and compassion), and behave logically. It’s not difficult to cut meat out, or drop it entirely. It’s not difficult to switch from butter to dairy-free soya or sunflower spread, and I speak as a one-time butter addict. I’m pleasantly surprised at how good these spreads are and I’m never going back to butter. It’s not even that difficult to cut out cheese (ok, it’s a bit difficult, mainly because of the trace amounts of morphine in cheese – yes, really) once you’ve got over the bizarre fortnight of cheese-cravings and midnight urges for cheese. I don’t miss cheese now, not even a tiny bit, and I know my bod is grateful for the huge reduction in cruelty-laden fat in my diet. AND I BLOODY LOVE ALMOND MILK. See, it’s possible. Entirely possible for any mere mortal to quit meat and dairy forever, and not only will you live without falling over and breaking fragile bones every time you walk down the street, you’ll actually thrive.
Look at this dude if you don’t believe me – Patrik Baboumian, Vegan Strongman. There are countless more like him.
The protein argument is a long-standing myth, borne of ignorance, misinformation, and brainwashing by those good old meat and dairy industry people. Plant proteins are simply better than meat proteins. There, I said it. After all, where do you think all the animals whose meat you eat get their protein? Plants, obviously. Humans are grazers (look at your teeth – those aren’t carnivore teeth, they’re grazer’s flattened and widened teeth); we are not designed to eat meat in the quantities that we do today.
Too many cancers are entirely preventable. To prevent them is to save countless lives, and not just the human ones. I can’t help think that those who fall ill due to high meat and dairy consumption are suffering the fallout for the hundreds of lives they took (yes, you took those lives – supply and demand, baby). Animals are begging to live right at this very minute as they are led ever-closer to death in a slaughterhouse somewhere in the world, often beaten, stabbed and abused for a laugh, while pushed to their deaths. More than 150 billion animals are slaughtered every year for human consumption alone. It’s unsustainable. It’s utterly inhumane. It’s sanctioned murder, in all its various abusive and horrific forms. If we humans suffer the painful results of increased rates of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and strokes as a result of all of that tragic and unnecessary killing, should we be surprised, or should we stop and radically re-think?
To those who whine that vegans have an agenda: some of us do, some of us made a radical choice and simply and quietly live by that. But a vegan’s agenda is a good agenda; it is unselfish and acts as a voice for those who have no voice.
A meat eater’s agenda is selfish and ignorant in the extreme. Too many times I hear, “I eat meat because it tastes good…”, “I don’t care how it got to my plate…”, “Animals are put here for us to eat them”, “If we didn’t eat animals, we’d be over run by them”, “You need meat for protein”, “You’ll get ill and die if you don’t eat meat”. And so on.
Firstly, that’s shocking ignorance. Get a clue; use a brain cell. Think it through. We’ll be over run with farm animals? Erm, no. What we will find is that we suddenly have an amazing abundance of…FOOD! Grain, which can feed all those starving kids around the world. Funny, that. Rainforests wouldn’t be so appealing to cattle farmers and they would leave them alone instead of ripping them out to rear cattle for your burgers. That’s a good thing, remember? There are so many good outcomes from us not rearing animals for meat that expose the utter absurdity of the fact that we do, and on such a large scale.
Secondly, who gave you the right to kill animals and eat them? I thought killing things was generally accepted as a bad thing in a moral and decent world? Somewhere along the way we forgot to include everything except humans in that moral code?
Killing animals is unacceptable. Would you kill it yourself? In the majority of cases, the answer is no. If you wouldn’t kill it yourself, don’t eat it. It’s pure hypocrisy.
Nature dictates that animals kill other animals to survive. The key word there is SURVIVE. There is no reason in this world for humans to eat other animals, and most definitely not on the scale of consumption that we do. That huge scale, brought about by greed and profit, has led to a sick and perverted system of factory farming of animals as if they were commodities, objects, foodstuff to be used and abused. No wonder there is so much shocking abuse and barbaric treatment of animals within farming. Theyre seen as ‘things’. It’s sick and WRONG. Why would you want to be a part of something so wrong? Because it tastes good? Your reasoning is confused at best and, frankly, pathetic.
The meat industry’s agenda is all-pervasive and insidious, using misinformation and lies, subterfuge and legal loopholes to smear and hide horrific abuse and the truth. If you eat meat, you fuel this industry of suffering, abuse and lies. Why would you want to do that? Because it tastes good? Is that really an acceptable reason?
I’m so disheartened by the selfishness of human beings. You tuck into your meat-laden and dairy meal, without a thought or care in the world how it got there; without one second’s consideration for the animals who suffer in their BILLIONS every day to fill your plate, clog your arteries, bind your gut with rotting meat and cloud your feeble brain with ‘feel good’ hormones.
I choose to think about what I’m eating. And it was in those first few seconds of thinking, at the age of 11, that I made the very obvious, logical and simple connection between an animal begging for its life – with every right to keep that life – and what was on my plate, and made the easy choice not to eat meat. What’s so difficult about using your brain cells to make the connection and the correct moral choice to cease fueling a world where animals are objects and life is cheap? The only obstacle is your own selfish arrogance.
If we create a world where life is no longer cherished and respected, we get what we deserve. If you choose to be a thoughtless, greedy, selfish uncaring consumer, may you get all that you deserve on life’s plate, and so much more.