My mother adopted a 7-month old Yorkie a few years ago and I instantly fell in love with her. Before my mom brought this playful, cuddly, little fluff ball into our home, I had made previous attempts to become vegan. Of all the handful of times I went vegan, it never lasted more than one week. It wasn’t until I was playing with my dog one day that I started asking myself questions and made a deep connection.
How is my dog any different from any other animal out there in the ways that matter? She doesn’t communicate the way humans do, yet it’s clear she experiences joy, sadness and physical pain. So what makes her, along with other domesticated animals in our society, so different from the animals we choose to eat? The answer is nothing.
There is absolutely no justifiable reason for why we choose to eat pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys, fish and other factory-farmed animals over non-food animals. I couldn’t imagine my puppy enduring the literal hell that farm animals suffer through every single day of their lives. That was the moment I decided to give veganism another shot, but this time I had more determination than ever to actually stick with it.
One of the biggest issues of our modern animal agriculture system is the psychological disconnect between the once-living animals and the final dead product that ends up on our dinner plates. What I have realized is that we are given the luxury of not having to be constantly reminded of the horrendous life these animals endure every day until their inevitable death. This is not just a coincidence either.
The factory farming industry makes so much money and has so much control over what people put into their mouths every day that they actually have laws that protect their facilities from being exposed to the public. It’s this “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking that perpetuates this merciless system and results in decent, caring human beings contributing to it.
Compassion toward animals is not some sort of entitlement for animals; it’s actually an obligation of humans. Animals in factory farms are denied even the most basic freedoms. For example, factory farms have designed broiler chickens to grow so large at such a fast rate that their body frames can’t physically support their substantial growth. As a result, their legs give out, forcing them to lie in constant pain in their own waste. Dairy cows spend their short lives impregnated by artificial insemination machines, forcing them to constantly produce milk from their severely overworked udders that their own offspring don’t get to drink because it goes to humans to consume. It’s more important for us to enjoy cheese than it is for a mother to nourish her baby with her own milk.
Every single time we consume a meat or dairy product, we are taking a stance — whether we realize it or not — and we are making a conscious decision that affects our world.
I have been vegan for two years and I have to give credit to my little dog who helped me change the way I think about food. It doesn’t even take having a pet for rational human beings to know what is right and what is so clearly wrong. It may be unrealistic to expect the entire world to become vegan, but right now the majority of human civilization is living off a violent system — and that is something that can’t be ignored.