One thing that most of us get asked a lot is why someone should ‘go vegan’.
As this is a website, and I am not a fan of leaflets and brochures, I thought I would do my own little Why Vegan page for people to have a look at or reference if they wish.
Coming from the position that vegan education is the only thing that will stop the cattle trains/trucks, I will touch on some of the arguments that are put forward by those who are advocating a totally separate approach.
- New laws won’t protect the animals from harm, exploitation or abuse.
- Bigger cages won’t end suffering.
- Your donation won’t actually save their lives.
- Incremental reform/change doesn’t actually do anything for animals today.
- the world won’t go vegan overnight
- How to ‘go vegan’
There is a common misconception that if a new Model Code of Practice is implemented, or new laws are drafted and passed, that these will protect other animals. I am not saying that new laws won’t protect animals from misuse or abuse, what I am saying is that the interests of other animals will not be any more meaningfully protected by new laws than they have been protected by the previous 200 years of animal ‘protection’ laws.
Today, more animals are suffering in more horrific ways and dying for such trivial purposes as pleasure and convenience than at any other point in history.
There is one simple reason for this, and that is that the law regards animals as a commodity.
The unfortunate part of legislative ‘improvements’ is that any attempt to ensure that interests of other animals are better protected must somehow balance those interests against the economic and institutional interests of their owners. In this resource based system where animals are considered a commodity, even their most significant interests can be, and often are, trumped by the comparably trivial interests of profit and efficiency.
Therefore, if new laws can’t meaningfully protect the interests of other animals’, what else can we do?
To begin with, we need to recognise that other animals have interests, including an overriding interest in not being used exclusively as a means to the end of another.
We also need to recognise that the only way to respect these interests is to not use other animals as our resource.
In other words, once we recognise that animals have a right not to be classed as a commodity, we must then challenge the assumption that we are somehow justified in using animals as a commodity in the first place.
This can be done by no longer using or consuming animals and animal products ourselves, and then encouraging others to do the same.
Once we have reached the stage where enough people in society challenge the status of other animals through their words and actions, meaningful legal change for animals may finally be possible.
Like new laws, bigger cages and other incremental reforms will not and cannot end animal suffering. As long as animals are considered our resources, they will suffer.
Changing the circumstances surrounding how we use them that is, changing how they are treated, at the best only changes their ‘type’ of suffering. Moreover, because the appearance is given that these reforms do meaningfully improve the lives of those animals exploited for our benefit, they will continue to be used and they will continue to unnecessarily suffer and die, in increasing numbers every year.
All you have to do is look at how legislative reforms over the past two centuries have failed to prevent the meaningless suffering and death of billions of animals every year.
For example, “Cage-free”, “Barn Laid”, “Free To Roam” or “Free Range” eggs
Consumers are assured that these eggs are a humane alternative to eggs from hens kept in row upon row of battery cages. Yet all birds in the egg production industry suffer right from the start. Breeding hens suffer tremendously as they are forced to produce the fertilised eggs that will hatch the chicks who are then shipped out for egg production.
Regardless of the type of operation–battery cage, “cage-free”, “enriched” cage, “free range”, or even your back yard hens, they all start here. Excluding the occasional ‘sorting mistake’, only female chicks are shipped out of the hatcheries.
As male chicks don’t lay eggs, and because they are not the right breed to grow fast enough for flesh production, on average 200 million of them are ground up alive, suffocated, or tossed out in garbage bins every year.
Again, this is before we’ve even left the hatchery from which all egg-layers come.
Moving on to the rows of enormous metal sheds where hens are confined and forced to lay eggs, it’s hard to see how an uncaged bird’s life is subjectively better than a cage bird’s life at any given point in the production process.
Entering the often windowless shed, it is immediately apparent that whilst uncaged hens are not confined to a battery cage where they spend their entire lives in a space measuring approximately 550 square centimetres, she is still crammed tightly into an industrial space with thousands of other hens.
These hens have nothing else to walk on, apart from the metal grate that is meant for her waste pass through down in a pit below. The resulting powerful, toxic ammonia fumes rise back up through those grates, causing respiratory problems.
This intense confinement disturbs the hens’ innate pecking order, which encourages cannibalistic behaviour. This is why most layer hens have the tips of their beaks seared off. A procedure that is done with a hot blade, without pain relief and when they are still chicks.
Regardless of whether the hen lives her life confined in a cage or ‘uncaged’, they are forced to lay an unnatural number of eggs. Approximately 300 per year, which also causes all sorts of health problems. These hens suffer painful prolapses and calcium depletion, which weakens their bones and leaves uncaged birds particularly prone to leg breaks. An injury that sentences them to death by starvation and thirst once they cannot reach their feeders.
Once a bird is injured in a shed of tens of thousands, all producing eggs, it simply makes no economic sense to tend to her medical needs. Those who have died are typically gathered up and tossed on to a pile of other dead birds, occasionally birds who are not quite dead end up discarded on this pile too.
Both battery cage and “cage-free” egg production facilities, layer hens are typically considered “spent” at only 18 months of age. This means that, they are unable to produce enough eggs to make it ‘commercially viable to keep them’. This is after only one full laying cycle, and some forced “molting” to fool the birds into producing more eggs.
From there they are then roughly gathered up by workers who toss them into packed trucks bound for the slaughterhouse. Once again, their well-being is hardly a consideration, given their final destination.
At the slaughterhouse, “cage-free,” “free range,” and battery caged hens all handled and killed the same way.
Please excuse the brutality of this, and it isn’t meant to make you feel hopeless. Whilst there are better ways in which you can make a difference. Donations are simply not one of them.
Other animals will continue to be killed and harmed for trivial reasons as long as they are human property.
Any donations you make to the leading “animal protection organisations” are typically used to campaign for the sorts of reforms and regulations mentioned above, along with rent and other overheads, you are probably better off saving your money.
This isn’t to make you feel that you cannot directly support animals in need, such as those at no-kill shelters, farmed animal sanctuaries, and so on, or that you shouldn’t support the efforts of those individuals or organisations that promote a message that challenges the property status of animals.
Do your research before committing your time or money to an organisation to make sure that their mission, materials, and activities are consistent with rejecting the reformist approach and with openly promoting the end of animal exploitation, regardless of how deceptively named that organisation may be.
Those who are in favour of regulation and reform will tell you that supporting them is the only thing that can be done to help the plight of other animals today. Though how true is that really?
First of all, the biggest problem with incremental reform/change via legislation is that all that is being done is creating a law that defines how particular animals should be used. As legislation is based on the whim/will of government, they can easily be overturned or withdrawn when the next government comes into power.
This is exactly what happened with the use of exotic animals on public land ‘ban’ that was over turned by Gold Coast City Council this year.
The next thing to consider is that these types of reforms usually have an extremely long phase in time before the new reform is fully implemented. This phase in can also be reduced or even cancelled on the whim of the government of the day.
If this phase in is over a 10 year period, there will be 10 years where the animals will still be able to be legally kept in conditions that were so unacceptable that they needed to be changed. This could easily be 10’s of, possible 100’s of thousands, or even millions of animals that are kept in this manner.
So much for helping the animals today.
Remember what happened in Tasmania in 2012?
In May the Tasmanian government is being applauded for promising to ban battery hen farms and sow stalls, then a few months later in November, they decided that sows will be allowed to stay in the ‘sow stalls’ for 10 days.
The world won’t stop war and armed conflicts over night, yet that doesn’t stop groups from advocating for their end.
Whilst this piece has gone some way towards highlighting for you reform and new laws don’t help other animals, and may even be harmful, along with some of the reason why giving money to most animal advocacy groups isn’t the solution either.
You can make the choice right now to avoid participating in the unnecessary killing of sentient animals – by choosing to become vegan.
Vegans avoid using and consuming animals for any purpose, including food, clothing, and entertainment. After all, the only way to end the unnecessary suffering and killing of animals is to stop using them in the first place.
When make the decision to no longer be part of the exploitive system of animal property, you show your support for the belief that other animals have a basic right not to be used as property. In doing so you can live consistently with your belief that it’s wrong to harm animals unnecessarily.
Because social change starts with each individual making that change within him or herself, you will also be contributing to a growing movement to end unnecessary harm to animals.