Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are you REALLY an animal-lover?

Would you say that you love animals? I've always called myself an animal lover. I even loved eating them. I especially loved cold, thick-cut roast beef, seasoned simply with salt. Juicy burgers, spicy pepperoni, salty ham salad . . . yum! Sure, if I took a minute to consider what I was consuming, I felt bad ... for a minute ... and then ate them anyway. I would justify this by telling myself that "chickens are stupid" (seriously!) and that I needed the complete protein that beef provides. Well, guess what the most complete protein for us humans is? According to T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study it's human flesh. Yep, you read it right - HUMAN FLESH. Its protein has just the right amount of the amino acids that we need. Since most of us aren't cannibalistic, we get the next "best" protein by eating other animals. (More on the differences between animal and plant proteins coming soon to a blog read by YOU.)

I had heard that animals are treated badly at slaughter, but I didn't know the details and really did not want to know. That all changed in August of 2008. I decided that it was time to take responsibility for what I was eating and looked into it. I started with Skinny Bitch. (See Skinny Bitch, Why yes, thank you! posted on 2/24 by Vegetarian Vixen) Wham! Those skinny bitches tell it like it is! I laughed out loud and sobbed like an over-tired toddler while reading that book. Don't read the chapter titled You Are What You Eat before bed unless you want to cry yourself to sleep. Do read the chapter titled Pooping if you need a laugh. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin are great about giving all sorts of resources for further learning. They list numerous books, magazines, cookbooks, restaurant guides, informational websites, merchandise websites and food websites. They also list their favorite vegan products. Their writing style and language are not for everyone, but still, their book was my launching pad.

My next step was to follow the bitches' advice and order the vegetarian starter kit at http://www.goveg.com/. It's nothing more than a publication with vegetarian information such as recipes, testimonials from famous vegetarians, and the story of a downed cow, abused and destined slaughter, but it was convincing and inspiring. I began getting emails from PETA and forced myself to watch their videos of horrific, sadistic treatment of pigs, rabbits, and turkeys. The images that those videos painfully seared into my mind are enough to make me never eat flesh again. I also checked out some of the websites, especially the recipe-focused ones! I read one of their recommended books, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (great book, review also coming soon). I'm currently reading The China Study, THE most comprehesive scientific study ever done on the correlation between diet and disease. I truly believe that every single health professional has an obligation to read this book and that everybody else should, too. But wait, this is supposed to be about the animals, right? Well, I'm also reading Mad Cowboy, written by Howard Lyman, fourth generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher turned vegan. Finally, I try to get a few pages in each week of Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin, Ph.D, an animal scientist and autistic woman who sees the world the way animals see it and has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She focuses on more humane handling of these animals, making the path to their inevitible gruesome end less stressful and horrifying for them.

I still call myself an animal lover, but I also know that I am a hypocrite. Although I have severely cut the amount of dairy that I consume, I still eat some vegetarian cheese (see Diver or Incher), and some organic cream, cream cheese, and sour cream, but they are less and less appealing all the time. I never EVER thought I'd say that. I also eat eggs, but I buy them fresh, from one of my students, and the chickens are happy, relatively free and are never killed for food or any other reason. I don't know what happens to the cows who (yes "who", not "that") supply the milk for the cheese and cream that eat, but it can't end well for them, and for that I have much guilt. Some day . . .

If you think you're an animal lover, you owe it to the animals that you're eating to find out what they endure while being turned into your food. There is no shortage of information. If you have an hour and a half, you could start with the documentarty Earthlings linked on this site or read any of our "Rave Reads" or other books listed in this post. Seriously, what's stopping you?

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