Over the course of the last several years I have been fighting a battle within my own body. I have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which means my cholestorel is high, my triglycerides are high, my good cholesterol is low and my glucose level is high. I have dieted, exercised and currently take five different medications just to keep those levels a little bit above normal. So in an effort to truly make a change in my life I switched to a vegan diet.
For me this was difficult. I ate meat and animal products for every meal. Steak, sausage, cheese, chicken, butter, whole milk, bacon, pork roll, scrapple, fish, shrimp, alligator, ostrich, buffalo were just some of the things included in my diet. I mean if it breathed and took in air I ate it. For years, I jokingly mocked my brother, who was a vegetarian. “Hey, one day I’m gonna tie you down to a chair and force feed you a cheeseburger,” was just one of the taunts I would nail him with. But, my brother took it in stride and he eventually took the step from vegetarian to vegan. I thought this was extreme until he started to explain to me the various health benefits from his dietary change.
So despite that fact that I always thought of vegetarians and vegans as the bleeding-heart-hippie-types who thought it was terrible to eat meat, wear fur or own leather wallets, I converted to veganism as well. At first, when I would tell people I would say it like I had some horrible social disease, “I’m vegan now,” I would whisper. Followed quickly with an explanation, “I’m just going vegan for health reasons, not moral or ethical reasons. I have no problem with killing animals for food.” I tried my best to dissociate myself from those “radicals” who felt it was immoral to kill animals for food. “We’re omnivores,” was always my response this argument.
Since I’ve become a vegan, my brother and I have been talking to one another about this lifestyle a great deal. Recently, he turned me on to a movie produced by Nation Earth entitled Earthlings. When my brother first brought the movie to my attention my first instinct was to ignore it. Why should I watch this? I thought. I mean people have been eating meat and killing animals for centuries, who cares? I’m just doing this for health reasons. But after some time, I watched Earthlings. Now, I know that sometimes groups and organizations, in an effort to support their own cause or agenda will seek out the information that best supports their viewpoint. However, even if the footage I saw in this film represents nothing more than a small fraction of the “animal” industry then it is still something that warrants careful thought.
So that is exactly what I did, I thought. Then I realized that it’s not just the killing of animals that I found so repulsive. Realistically, we are humans, animals, and by nature, omnivores. Other animals hunt kill and eat their prey so why can’t we? We are and always have been part of the food chain.
But are we really? Sure, at one time, humans would physically go out and hunt animals for the purpose of nourishment, clothing and maybe even shelter. However these humans showed respect to the animals they killed. They realized the animals were necessary for their survival and that these animals could not just be slaughtered into extinction. The people took from nature only what they needed to survive not unlike the other animals on the planet. Now though, we as humans glut ourselves on the flesh of animals with little or no respect to the beasts slaughtered for our benefit. To us, these animals do not have a face, or feelings.
So, that to me became the deciding factor. Are these animals being respected? After watching videos of slaughter house workers laughing while they were stomping on chickens, trying to kill pigs with a plumber’s wrench and cursing and beating animals into submission, I realized there is no respect. No longer do we view our relationship with the animal kingdom as a symbiotic one. Instead, we raise animals in captivity, slaughter them en masse, package them up neatly in cellophane containers and pretty boxes never thinking twice about the animals that were slaughtered for our benefit or how they were slaughtered. We have removed ourselves from the food chain and turned our backs on the treatment of animals.
I have always held a firm belief in not preaching to people and telling them what to believe. So, I will hold true to that here and not tell people what to believe. I only ask that those people reading this take the time to watch Earthlings. Take an uncensored view of the various animal industries with an open mind. The video is graphic and at least for me, difficult to watch at times, but consider this, if you can’t watch the animals being slaughtered, if you are disgusted by their living conditions, if you are appalled by the treatment of these animals, then maybe you should re-think your own choices. Please take the ninety minutes and watch the video, then decide for yourself.
In a few weeks, I will get the results of my latest blood test. My hope is that my health problems have started to correct themselves. And even though I entered into veganism due to my own sense of self-preservation, I realize there are other positive reasons to be a vegan.
After watching Earthlings, I can’t promise I will never eat meat again. I can’t promise I will never again clothe my body in the skins of animals. I can’t promise I will never own a pet or watch animals perform for my amusement, but after watching Earthlings, the one thing I can be sure of is that before I do any of those things, I will think. That’s the least any of us can do.