Saturday, February 22, 2014

give it a try

If you've ever been curious about a vegan, or vegetarian diet, or cutting down on animal protein, or participating in "Meatless Mondays", I'm here to tell you that it's easier than you think. Whether your motivation is better health, smaller impact on the environment, or to lessen the suffering in the world, any step you take is better than no step.

Start by adding lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to the menu. Replace your milk with almond or soy milk. Find one of the thousands of available recipes to make a vegan version of your favorite dishes: chili, pizza, pasta, wraps and more. And try some of the meat substitutes available for taco filling, meatless balls, sloppy joes, etc.

While I think all of the reasons for becoming vegan are good reasons, the more I learn, the more it has become about the animals. Factory farming, or "agribusiness", has perverted the way we raise animals for our food. It has become so horrific that their lobbyists have tried get state laws passed, known as "ag-gag" which make it illegal for whistle-blowers to make public the conditions in which animals are suffering for their entire lives.

Even if you could never be convinced that we should stop using other animals for food, human compassion should compel us to ensure that pain and suffering are eliminated wherever possible. The way animals were raised for food 100 years ago was markedly more humane than today. But as farms were gobbled up by huge corporations, economy of scale took on more importance, and the lives of the animals took on less and less, until they were nothing more than production units.

Sentient beings who can feel pain, fear, and frustration are given life sentences in the worst prisons imaginable, simply because they are a different species than ours, and we've become brainwashed that it's acceptable to take their lives for a little enjoyment in ours. If you can't bear the thought of giving up cheese, can't live without meat, or eggs, at least open your eyes and see where these things come from. If you can't muster the strength to do it on your own, check back here from time to time. I'll help you.

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