Facebook Activism

Anyone who is Facebook friends with me knows that I post a couple of animal rights links or make a status update each week. I am very selective about what I post and I am always very clear about my intentions when I do post to FB or respond to a comment from someone else. My intention is only to speak for the animals, to raise awareness about the suffering of animals and to speak my truth.

I know I have been defriended by some on Facebook as these posts irritate them in some way. I am sure many others have hidden my posts from appearing on their feed, I just KNOW that these posts do make a difference and they HAVE changed people’s feelings about animals. Sometimes, it will be a blog post that I have written about my context that a fellow vegan doesn’t know about which will get some support or encouragement. Sometimes it will be a behavioral omnivore that likes a good discussion. Surprisingly for me, there are some people that will comment out of nowhere and these people would be the last people I would expect to hear from. In some cases it is people that I only knew for a very short amount of time several years ago. I am sure, for most of the people on my FB friend list, I am probably the only animal rights’ activist that they have popping up on their feed.

Sometimes my posts get no likes or comments and I used to get a bit upset about that, but I don’t now. Because I know there are people that read them, and for those people, this might be the piece of information that resonates with them and they might start to make some changes. This post is about one of these FB friends seeing stuff that I have posted. It planted a seed and if you read to the end you will see where there thinking is at now.

So… I received an email from someone I used to work with. We only worked together very briefly and I think we hardly socialised together during that short time. We became FB friends and since we no longer work together I don’t think we had any actual interactions virtual or otherwise between that time of nearly 5 years ago and now.

What follows is an email conversation that we have had over the course of several months… She originally contacted me with a couple of questions regarding diet and digestive problems. You can see over the course of the conversation how this person’s perspective changed. I think it is quite unique.

Right now, she is about to embark on a 30 Day Vegan Challenge with the intention of continuing afterwards. She is honest about the challenges she thinks she will face. I especially like the part where she calls me crazy and idealist! 🙂 Ha ha…

I have blanked out her name and other distinguishing parts for confidentiality reasons. She gave her permission for me to reproduce our conversation here.

I have not edited it, so forgive our probably rushed writing. Neither of us were intending it to be published to the interwebs.. I will write my friends in BLUE and my replies in GREEN

Hey Brighde,
It’s been a looong time! How are you? I am happy we remained FB friends since living in Hanoi. Being connected on FB has allowed me to read some of your posts on nutrition. I’m not sure if you remember or even how much I’ve shared about my living with irritable bowel syndrome. I have been suffering with many of the common symptoms of IBS for years and I have struggled with making dietary changes necessary to be healthier. I’ve recently taken a step back from making the minor changes that haven’t made a huge difference and looking closer what would be helpful to make an overall change with my health. 
I started with having a Meridian Stress test done to look at sensitivities and imbalances in my body. i have been reading the book Eat Right For Your Type. I am also researching various perspectives on grains vs not grains, vegetarianism and veganism for pros and cons. I have seen some of your posts and I wondered if cutting out some or all animal products would be something helpful for me. Then after reading the book Eat Right For Your Type, or least the section on Type O blood I found conflicting information. Type O’s thrive on a high protein hunter-gatherer diet. I realize we don’t live in ancient times any longer however, it sounds like information worth taken seriously in my pursuit for the ideal diet and lifestyle for my well being. I read some information on grains vs no grains and how gains are harsh on our digestive systems and how they are not necessary. 
There is soooo much information out there and sooo many perspectives. I plan to read a lot more and find a holistic nutritionist or naturopath to support me. I also wanted ask you about your diet, how you decided to make changes and what information you might have that could help me in my journey. I am wondering if you have thoughts on a blood type diet, grains or no grains diet, how eating a vegan diet benefits you? You seem to be a guru on veganism. I assume you got there by seeking a lot of information. I have a lot of questions so please let me know if you are open to sharing your insight, experiences and resources with me. 
Thanks, hope all is well with you.
XXXXXXX

Dear XXXXX,

So lovely to hear from you and thank you for getting in contact! This will be a very long email with lots of links. I have a lot to say about this issue.

There’s lots to say about a lot of different topic.

First of all, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am an animal advocate which means that I really want to speak for the animals because they have no voice. I believe that if we can not only survive but also thrive on a plant-based diet that causes no harm, then why shouldn’t we? From a health point of view then basically the more we move to a plant-based diet the lower risk we are of some diseases like cancer, heart disease etc. There are some doctors that I respect like Colin T Campbell, Michael Gregor, caldwell esselstein who promote no animal foods at all, some others like J Fuhrman suggest a minimum amount.

So, regarding the blood type diet. I have to say, I don’t agree with it at all and would go so far as to say that it is a ‘fad diet.’ When I saw that I mean it is a mixture of psuedo science and mixing factual information with far-fetched assertions. I especially think the idea that we should be eating MORE protein is really terrible because, protein is not a nutrient that we need more of, in general we are having too much and that puts us at risk from all sorts of things. When you are talking about high protein hunter gatherer we are essentially talking about the Paleo Diet. This has become very popular of recent times and it is essentially a fad diet. To listen to a very good criticism of the paleo diet, then have a listen to this….

http://www.compassionatecook.com/writings/podcast-media/the-newest-diet-fad-paleo-2

The woman who produces this podcast is excellent and should you want to look more deeply at all the issues surrounding the transition to a plant-based diet then consider listening to all the podcasts which you can find on itunes. She also has an online program available very cheaply which will help you make the transition.

www.30dayveganchallenge.com

In regards to seeing a holistic doctor, hmmm…. I am not a huge fan. I am not convinced of their validity. I wasn’t always this cynical, but after I read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, I became quite critical of pseudo science. That’s my opinion. 

If you are interested in finding out more about IBS on a plant-based diet and want to speak to someone with veg friendly agenda consider this list of wellness practioners.http://www.compassionatecook.com/resources/vegan-wellness-practitioners

I don’t know much about IBS actually, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggest IBS symptoms can be relieved or disappear on a plant-based diet so I certainly think it is worth giving a really good go. Here’s some info by the excellent dr mcdougall.http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_colitis.html

If you do decide to do that, you will want some help. Cooking a plant-based diet does require climbing a learning curve and it can feel a bit scary at first as you have to relearn everything you knew about cooking. As I said, the online program is very good as is the podcast I referred to above. However, there are plenty books that have more information as well meal plans to help you make the transition. if you decide to stick with it, then you will need to relearn a few things on how to cook in a plant-based way. There are so many wonderful cookbooks and blogs these days. I assure you that eating a plant-based diet is not one of deprivation. Look at the blog post I wrote the other day..http://howtolivecompassionately.com/2012/08/24/a-victory-for-baketivism/

Basically, I won a baking contest at school against lots of accomplished bakers using regular ingredients.

Try one of these to find our more. They also have health plans and shopping lists.

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman
Anything by Dean Ornishhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=dean+ornish

Anything by Dr McDougall and Rip Esselstyn or his dad, Caldwell Esselstyn.

Watch : Forks Over Knives or Read The China Study to understand more of the research behind the benefits of a plant-based diet

I should remind you, that you can be vegan and unhealthy. French Fries are vegan! I am advocating a wholefoods plant-based diet one very rich in vegetables (especially green leafies) and the grains that you do eat should be whole grain and fantastic wholefood proteins like beans, lentils, tofu and tempeh. Those expensive vegetarian meats that you can buy in the supermarket are great for transitioning to a plant-based diet when you aren’t skilled at plant-based cooking, or as a special treat.

I hope that helps you a little bit. Please let me know if you decide to go down this road. I know this stuff inside out and can help if you have any further questions.

All the best,

Brighde

Hi Brighde!

It’s been awhile since last emailing. I have been crazy busy with starting a new position at my school year. I am back into the classroom after being out for 8 years. xxxxx has suffered huge financial cuts to education. Our majority government is trying to balance the provincial budget in an unreasonable timeframe. Yuck. It has been a lot of work to transition back into a classroom. I haven’t gotten too lost in my work that I haven’t been still thinking and reading about nutrition, diet, animal products, etc.

Oh my…I am CONSIDERING doing the 30 day Vegan Challenge…I have been going back and forth and ALL around with my thoughts on the idea of attempting to see if it possible. Damn I am hating teaching Social Studeies it mays me wanna do what I say…ha!

As well, I’ve called you crazy, idealist, and many other labels as I have been processing some of the information I’ve been listening to and reading. I’ve prided myself on being able to think and act outside the box for most of my life. I like being challenge and have always said that when you are challenged on your understanding and opinions, either you can come out stronger in your beliefs or you are able to see another perspective that has made you consider changing your thinking; therefore acting. Great…lol…again I’ve been really challenged to put my ‘money where my mouth is’. I’m up for challenging other ways of thinking/acting but this one has me struggling.

I am still unsure how I may be able to maintain a vegan life. I can see the potential of become a vegetarian, however, veganism is very restrictive. I get it but because animal products are in so many foods one wouldn’t think it is very difficult. I know, that doesn’t justify continuing to act with the masses but this change requires radical change. Oh my, as I type I realize how this sounds. I seem to how found a true challenge that requires more consistent action then some of my other challenges. 30 days is not a significant amount of time so worth attempting to make a conscious change for that time. It also gives me time to either figure out how not to eat turkey at Christmas or a reason to dive into the whole turkey…lol…(maybe a bad joke to you as a vegan but humour helps me)! I guess I am trying to say that doing a trial gives me a temporary commitment with an open mind.

Ok…let’s see if I can really do this and when. Thoughts please??

From XXXXX

Hi XXXXXXX,

Thanks for your email and for thinking about this so much! There are so many things I want to say.

I know this must seem like a daunting prospect making this change. I thought exactly the same.. Giving up dairy?? I thought I could never do that yet I did.

I am detecting your motivations for trying a vegan diet have changed. Is that correct? Let me know because that will help me advise you. At first you were keen to do this for dietary reasons. is that still the case?

So…. I sense that some of your concerns is how to cope socially and also during special occasions like Christmas? IT can seems difficult at first, the solution is to replace the animal products with something else. I have a delicious nut roast with vegan gravy. I doesn’t feel like deprivation at all. I never feel sad that I am missing out on anything. It took a while though.

This podcast might help with the social situations….http://www.compassionatecook.com/writings/podcast-media/10-tips-for-eating-vegetarian-in-social-situations-2 and there is lots of information within the challenge to help you.

The reason for 30 days is it takes 30 days to change a habit.

These podcasts also by Colleen are very good.http://www.compassionatecook.com/category/writings/food-for-thought-writing It was this podcast that made me a committed vegan from a blah vegetarian.

Many people think that being vegan is extreme and it is about saying no. Yes it is extreme…. It is about extreme kindness and unlimited compassion for all sentient beings. You will probably find that you care more about many other social justice issues when you become vegan. I did…..And about vegan being about saying no? Yeah…. It is about saying no to violence. There are 3000 edible plants in the world. There’s really no shortage of amazing foods to eat. I love the quote ‘If you look for lack, that’s what you’ll find. If you look for abundance that’s what you’ll find’. regarding animal products in foods, I assume you are talking about those funny ingredients in lots of processed goods. Well, we should not really be eating those highly processed foods anyway. Don’t worry about those ingredients at first. That’s something for later.

I’d say the only time it is especially annoying or difficult is on the very rare occasions when I am travelling in a rural asian area. There’s always something (like fried rice) and I might have to eat that a few meals in a row but I always tell myself, that eating fried rice a few times is just a little boring. Nothing compared to what the animals go though. I just suck it up…. It happens rarely. For you it might mean a green salad and a tomato based spaghetti at the least veg friendly place. I never have a problem because I always go to veg restaurants that I like where I have lots of choices. All vegans do that.

The interesting thing is, I eat an incredibly varied diet much more than before I was vegan. I eat incredibly healthily and well. In Canada you have a huge selection of regular vegan stuff you can buy at the supermarket and even more that you can buy online. I rarely eat those because I have learnt the skills to cook from scratch. It took me a while to do that though but you can use these foods to start with or in case of emergencies.

You might be interested to know that there are 34 listings on Happy Cow for XXXXXX, but you can eat something anywhere.

Does that help a little? Let me know if you have some other questions. We can talk on SKYPE if you like.

Brighde

Hi Brighde,

I’ve been wanting to reply, however, life has continued to be busy, hectic and even difficult lately. I still, however, have been able to read and listen to more of the information you have suggested.

Yes, my motivations for changing my diet have morphed from being solely about my physical to becoming more about ethical choices. The information you have shared really hit me. The podcasts were awesome. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau made me laugh and cry. I related a lot to the use of language when it comes to animals. I OFTEN use the same kind of dialogue with students when it comes to discrimination and harassment in schools. Language has a lot of power, both helpful and hurtful. I also often share the historical meaning of many sayings we use in everyday that many of us don’t know or make connections to.

I really enjoyed the way Colleen presents her information. I felt like she was sitting in my living room having a chat. She is informative without preaching or casting judgement. I went away from reading and listening feeling like I made even more connections to things I already knew but didn’t connect with when it comes to animals. I peeled another layer of stupidity off me. The more I learn, the more empowered I feel about living a value based life. I must admit that at times I feel life would be easier if I lived under a rock and didn’t know anything. But mostly I am grateful to be in a place to learn and make choices on how I want to live my life. I tell my students that “when you know better, you do better”.

I’ve been working on aligning my values with my thoughts and actions in other areas of my life so this information comes at a time in my life that it fits. I ate chicken recently and it tasted like an animal rather than the food I knew it to be for many years. I remember when XXXXXXXX first put together that ‘chicken’ was actually a chicken. I remember saying “yes hunny it is a real chicken”. She cried and wondered why we were eating it. I thought something similar when I was listening to Colleen talk about eating chicken vs eating chickens. It is amazing how much disassociation we do when eating. I don’t know how I wasn’t able to make these connections before now. Maybe I can now because of all the personal growth I’ve done in therapy in the last couple of years on dealing with past baggage and moving forward to a value based life.

I was chatting with a vegetarian friend recently who doesn’t eat animal meat but does eat fish and foods with animal products. She says she doesn’t eat meat because she thinks of the animal. I wonder why people who are vegetarian continue to eating other animal products and get disgusted when thinking about eating meat. To me it seems logical that if you give up eating animals for compassionate and/or ethical reasons that you wouldn’t eat any part of an animal.

Without trying to sound hypocritical, I have been cutting more and more animal meat and products out of my diet, but not completely. I have been reading more and more labels and buying more and more products that are vegan. I do have a lot of choices in XXXX. I have been still eating things I already have in my fridge, have on my shelves and in my freezer that have animal products in them. My thinking there is related to financial reasons since I already purchased them.

I am struggling with the holidays coming and giving into family and friends but I am working on that by buying vegan recipe books. So having said all that I get the idea of transitioning. It is the best way not to fall back into old habits of eating comfort food because of disassociating from what it really is.

One thing I don’t see myself doing yet is throwing away my leather boots, shoes and jackets. I don’t see myself buying anymore leather footwear or clothing but giving up my Birkenstocks would be very hard.

I guess it’s not as cut and dry as I suggested in the beginning of this message. I do, however, see myself thinking differently about dietary choices since I first messaged you months ago.

I’ll like to take you up on a Skype chat sometime soon. It may be helpful since I have made a shift in thinking and working on the rest.

Thanks for continuing to support me on my journey.

XXXXXXX

Hi XXXXXXX,

Your message absolutely made my day!  I am so pleased you are considering making changes and that this vegan thing has resonated with you. I truly do believe that most people would make changes once they know this information. Some people cut out animal products overnight, some take a bit longer and that is absolutely fine.  I did exactly the same as you in regards to the food products in my fridge. Throwing them away doesn’t help the animals, not buying new ones does! The same goes for leather. Many vegans will wear their pre-vegan leather until it runs out. Seb gave me a lovely leather (and expensive) handbag just a couple of months before I became vegan. I didn’t want to throw it out. I thought that was wasteful. I did finally give it away when I just couldn’t handle the thought of using it anymore. Probably after about 18months. In regards to your Birkenstocks, I think there are vegan ones available. When your ones wear out, you can get vegan ones if you’d like to…http://www.birkenstock.co.uk/index.php?m=catalogue&a=vw_prodlist&pgr_pgrid=12

In regards to the upcoming holidays, yes… this can be a difficult time. I have attached a recipe for my absolutely favourite Christmas turkey substitute and gravy. It does have egg in it, but I substitute for egg replacer and it works perfectly. My family have been making this every year since I was 12 and it is a winner of a recipe. We’ve only been veganising it for the past 4 years though. The gravy is outstanding.

Colleen also just released a lovely video on a vegan thanksgiving which can also be applied for other holidays too. here’s a link…http://www.the30dayveganchallenge.com/fe/34108-thanksgiving-video

In regards to your friend who is vegetarian yet eats fish and some animal products. You are absolutely right. It is strange. I know… I was one of them for many years… I am not sure if I gave you the link to my story…. Apologies if I have… here it is…http://howtolivecompassionately.com/2011/10/29/my-story-my-awakening/

The fact was, I was vegetarian for 20 years and I just didn’t realise about the impact of livestock production on dairy cows and egg laying chickens. It was a terrible shock knowing that by drinking milk, I am contributing to the veal industry, the terrible rape racks and or course the slaughter of spent dairy cows not to mention the terrible conditions most are kept in. I honestly had no idea. Perhaps your friend is like that too.

Many vegetarians eat fish. I think people think that they do’t feel pain when they are caught. Fish are also soooo different to us, it is hard to empathise with them but once you realise they DO feel pain and that they want to live (there are over 600 studies that say that they do feel pain) then you don’t want to eat them anymore… Well, I don’t anyway… Colleen has an excellent podcast on the fishing industry and by catch you might want to recommend to your friend if the time is right.

Of course, if you have any other questions let me know… I am happy to help.

Keep listening, reading and learning XXXXXXX. I am so filled with hope! 

Would you mind if I put our emails in to a blog post? Your thinking is so unique and I think a lot of people would be interested to read it I would take out all details that could identify you. Your choice. I would never post it without your permission…..

Take care,

Brighde

Hi Brighde,

Hope you enjoyed your holidays.

I started my 30 day vegan challenge today and have registered online tonight. I don’t start receiving day 1 messages until tomorrow. December turned out to do pretty crazy and I felt that starting a completely animal free diet would have been very difficult. I am committed now for the 30 days and aiming for beyond.

I’ll keep in touch with questions and updates if you still don’t mind. I am thinking time won’t lapse as long as my previous messages with this challenge.

BTW…I don’t mind you posting our messages. I am a little curious on how my thinking is unique?

Happy New Year!

XXXXX

Hi XXXXX,

This is fantastic. I wish you all the luck with the challenge and your future intentions…. You are very welcome to contact me at any time if you have questions concerns or comments….

About your story, thank you so much! Hmmm… I guess it is unique in that it is incredibly honest. I love how your thinking is changing over the emails and how you are open to such changes and the fact you are prepared to question what you and society have done.

I will publish them to the blog making sure they are anonymous…

I applaud you for giving this a try. 

Best wishes,

Brighde

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Eid Al-Adha

It’s been a very tough day for me. An emotional rollar coaster day. I have so much going on at work, but it is hard to focus when there is so much pain and suffering. Today was one of those days. I just felt like crying all day and it kept getting worse.

It started off with buckets of tears as I watched the new film released by Animals Australia to coincide with their new campaign to ban factory farming. A fantastic video that tugs at the heart strings. It was comforting to see it shared on so many Facebook pages. I hope it opens hearts and minds and that people make changes.

A long hard day at work came to an end and as I was cycling home. I saw this fella. There was another in his place this time last year. Now, despite living in suburban Indonesia, I live in a gated community and it doesn’t look that much different from one in the US except security is tighter here. An animal like here tied up is certainly a novelty. This guy will be slaughtered on Friday to ‘celebrate’ Eid Al Adha.

I approached him. I tried to pet him, but he wouldn’t let me. He sniffed my hand and I felt his warm breath on my hand. I was welcomed by the guys there who were setting up  what I think must be a tent or a shelter. Possibly for the after slaughter party, I’m not sure. As I looked him in the eye and knew that this was a creature that would be literally fighting for his life in less than 36 hours. That he probably did not want to die. According to Wikipedia, the animal that is slaughtered is just a symbol. A symbol to represent what Abraham’s sacrifice and 100 million animals will be slaughtered over the course of 2 days. I am sure that much of this meat goes to waste. Instead of this senseless violence, can’t we just spend a few minutes thinking deeply about Abraham’s sacrifice instead of having to bring an innocent animal in to it?

In case anyone thinks I am being anti-Islamic here, I swear I am not. I have had several discussions with some behavioral omnivores who feel that this holiday is incredibly barbaric. I agree… But I find any ritual or tradition that needlessly kills an animal for the sake of tradition barbaric. The turkey that is the centre of the dinner table at Christmas and Thanksgiving, hunting for eggs at Easter time, steak on BBQ, it’s all unnecessary. The difference is in Islamic countries you look in to the animals eyes and use the knife. With turkey, someone else has been paid to do that for you. I have observed many rituals and festivals without the use of animals and the feeling that my special meal has come together without intentionally harming any living thing is so wonderful. I celebrate Christmas. Isn’t peace supposed to be a focus of Christmas? Christmas took on new meaning for me when I gave up all animal products.

To the beautiful bull with a gentle face and kind eyes not 50 metres from my house. I wish I could save you. I will just keep raising awareness so that your death was not in vein. I hope your death is swift and as painless as possible. Know that there are some people speaking for you and your kind.

The Life You Can Save – Vegans Care About Humans Too!

Last Christmas while in Australia, my sister-in-law told me about a new movement that is gaining momentum. It is based on the work of Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save. It is the idea, that all of us who are lucky enough to have / earn the money that more than fulfills our basic needs, we have a responsibility to give a proportion of our income to help those that who do NOT have their basic needs fulfilled. I decided that this was going to go on the New Year’s Resolution list. While I certainly give cash on a regular basis to some organisations. I also from time to time I will donate money to various campaigns, but if I look at the total amount I give to humanitarian causes, it is not regular or consistent. Time to change that.

This month, I finally organised this. finding an organisation that did some fantastic work to help people in need, yet still adheres to my values of compassion and nonviolence to ALL beings. The Heifer Project for example, is not something I would want to contribute to. To find out why, click here.

I decided that it would be this organisation that would be getting a proportion of my salary each month.To know that the food people would be getting would be healthy, efficient and very little waste was generated that does not harm animals gives me great comfort. Of course, I will still be donating to other things on regular basis, but to know that a certain amount will be going to an organisation that is trying to improve nutrition is really wonderful.

 

Livestock Transportation in Indonesia

Right outside my work is a busy intersection. I usually head home from work between 4 and 5 pm and as I am inevitably caught at the  traffic lights I often catch up to one of these trucks that are transporting chickens. It breaks my heart because I know where they are headed.

There is often the idea that animals for food in Asia are raised in villages and they have a lovely life, however this is simply not true. Yes, many rural families will keep a few animals for their own consumption, but I don’t see all 15 million inhabitants of Jakarta with their ‘own’ animals in their back yards. There are factory farms in Asia just like there are in the rest of the world. The problem is, that it is so much worse. In our countries we have some laws to protect animals although they are very weak, poorly punished when they are broken and rarely enforced. In Indonesia there is nothing, indeed we KNOW that animals are not treated humanely during life and at the end of it. We know this as it has been documented by Animals Australia.

The other week, I went out for dinner with my colleagues and we had to pull over for the other car to catch up with us. While I was standing there for 5 minutes, 3 of these trucks passed me by. My heart broke a little as I watched and thought how scared those animals must be and for the fate that awaited them, for this is the truth of the animal livestock industry. I have no idea whether these animals were destined for meat or for egg production, regardless though, they will end their lives violently and with terrible fear and anguish. And for no good reason other than we can.

Response to “Since Early Humans Ate Animals, We’re Justified in Continuing to Eat Them Now.”

I hear so many people use the above argument to justify their consumption of animals. Michael Pollen is one of the more famous proponents of this argument. A couple of years ago, Oprah Winfrey’s staff all went vegan for a week under encouragement by Kathy Freston.  For some reason unknown to me, they also had Michael Pollen on this show giving his opinion. As someone who is against veganism, it seems strange that he would be invited, but Michael Pollen has pretty much achieved god-like status amongst the humane meat, food writers, fois gras loving lot. At the end of the show as they were summing up and reflecting on what a wonderful week it had been, Michael Pollen said that becoming vegan is ‘an affront to our mothers’ and that eating ‘happy meat’ (the type that hardly any one can afford and is only sustainable because no one can afford it’ is natural.

Here is a response to this argument deftly argued by CPG.

“With a determination that belies an irrational attachment to animal flesh and fluids, I’ve seen otherwise sensible and sensitive people spend time and energy extolling the human history of eating and domesticating animals. Using lyrical and exalted language, they wax poetic about the virtues of animal husbandry and glorify the prehistoric hunter-gatherer, who anthropologists now assert was more likely a gatherer-hunter. Still, the argument goes something like this: since early humans ate animals, we’re justified in continuing to eat them now.

“Some contemporary food writers even charge vegetarians and vegans with turning their backs on their “evolutionary heritage,” strangely perceiving Darwinian evolution as a moral system by which we should justify our actions. By eschewing meat, they say unabashedly, we’re “sacrificing a part of our identity.” It seems to me that we have the ability and responsibility to make moral and rational decisions – not abdicate our ethics to an amoral process. Surely, our identities are defined by more than our paleontological past. And yet determined to dwell perpetually on this past, these same people even romanticize the life of “cavemen” in order to rationalize our contemporary consumption of animals. Certainly there are lessons to learn from our human predecessors, but do we really want to use Neanderthals or Paleolithic humans as the model for our ethics? Can’t we do better than that?

We often say that we want to do better than we did a generation ago, two generations ago. I presume we want to do better than we did hundreds of thousands of years ago. That’s the point of being human, isn’t it? To learn from our past and make better, more healthful, more compassionate choices once we know better, especially once we have the ability and opportunity to do so?”

C’mon…. Surely your reasons to continue eating animals must be pretty thin on the ground now.

Remember, in order to make a difference in the world, you have to do something different!