Note: If you are just joining this post, the series began here where I chronicled my journey. It is a good place to start.
Ahimsa paramo dharmaha
Non-Violence is the highest ethical code
Perhaps it’s because I have been grounded in Eastern philosophy where the idea of karma and re-incarnation is central to life. In simpler words, it means what goes around comes around. If I cause someone to suffer directly or indirectly (through paying others to do it), it definitely comes back my way as well. In such a universe, the idea of consuming such animal products that comes through intense suffering is automatically repulsive.
I do not wish to bombard you with images of factory farms for meat and dairy (yes, even dairy). This isn’t about grass-fed or free-range options either. This is about why I felt personally compelled to switch and a few of the arguments I’ve seen against it.
People think of vegans as bleeding heart types who let their emotions run their lives. But let me re-frame it another way. Isn’t letting millions of living creatures suffer immeasurably for the pleasure they provide your tongue a greater example of letting emotions run one’s life?
One of the most amazing moment of cognitive dissonance is the obsession with pets in the Western world. Dogs and cats are looked after extremely well. Yet, cows, pigs, and many other animals are easily killed and just conveniently ignored. I’m not sure how people can completely ignore this. It is one thing to tune out the violence that is happening hundreds of miles away in other parts of the world. But when dead carcasses end up on your plate everyday, how can people turn a blind eye towards this obvious (for a lack of better word) hypocrisy?
So what if you could make a difference?
My Issue with Dairy
I can’t comment anymore on meat. I’ve been a lacto-vegetarian since birth, so the transition away from milk has been the most interesting one.
I think this is the part that shocks most people. As an Indian, milk has very much been part of my culture. Sweets, and most foods have some component of dairy in it. When I announce that I do not drink milk for health and ethical reasons, I’m met with a lot of resistance.
“But milk is good for you!” “How dare you go against your culture!” “Milk doesn’t hurt anyone”.
And so, here are 3 reasons why I do not wish to support the dairy industry (on top of the health and environmental reasons):
Full disclose, I am adapting this from Ethical Vegan here.
1. Cows are repeatedly beaten harshly.
All you need to do is a simple YouTube search to find this out. You’ll see the extremely common practices in North American dairy farms of using pitchforks, beating cows with heavy objects, having their tails smashed, and a lot more.
This isn’t meant to shock you. It’s meant to create understanding so you can make an informed choice regarding this. Unlike plants, all these animals are living sentient beings with central nervous systems that can feel the intense pain of this.
Every time we consume dairy, we support this system. Isn’t it worth it to find a better way of getting your calcium than this? Although to be fair, the strong-bones-from-milk argument has been thoroughly debunked.
2. Cows are repeatedly (for a lack of a better word) raped.
Basic Biology for you: A cow needs to be pregnant in order to produce milk. Cows are routinely impregnated (raped) as soon as they are capable of it, so they can produce children and keep producing milk. This is done until they cannot bear children anymore at which point they are promptly disposed (murdered).
What’s more, males are turned to veal, and excess “inventory” is killed off because there is not enough milk to spare for the mother to give to her children.
Yup, you support that when you consume dairy. No thanks. It’s not for me.
3. The cow is then executed.
Once she cannot produce any more milk, cows are stabbed in the throat left to bleed out. Or you can hang them upside down, slit their throat and let them bleed out. After being beaten, stabbed, punched, raped repeatedly, taken away from her children, and being good productive milk producers, this is their final reward.
Is cheese really worth it? The milk? The yogurt? I’m not sure.
It’s easy to tweet/instagram/post an quote on compassion and make yourself look spiritual and conscious. It’s another to actually act on it.
As Steve Pavlina puts it in his post “Prisoners”:
Caring is not intention… or emotion… or fluffy, squishy thoughts of love and oneness. Caring is action.
My lacto-vegetarian friends cannot ignore the facts above. They are indeed supporting this when you consume dairy. This series of posts is trying to prove that it is possible to survive without this. Why not do it?
Addendum: Here are some other commonly cited ethical arguments against being a vegan. I won’t attempt to address all of them here where others have done a much better job of it.
- What about plants…
- Won’t animals overrun the earth?
- Farm animals can’t survive on their own.
- Is confinement so terrible?
- Badly treated animals are less productive.
- What’s the difference? — they’re going to die anyway.
- God created animals for us to use.
- Aren’t humans natural meat-eaters?
- There’s no such thing as cruelty-free food!
- What’s wrong with eggs and milk?
- What about jobs?
- What about human problems?
- Forget about ethics.
- Also, this.
Addendum 2: How could I forget this one!
If you really truly honest to goodness curious about all the ethical side of things, take the time and watch this. I promise you that it will change your perspective on everything:
Earthlings is honestly the thing that tipped me over the edge to the cause.