It feels stupid writing this post today, almost 5,5 years have past since I’ve switched to a vegetarian diet. Later on I also went vegan. I think it took me so long to write this post because it has become so logical for me to not eat animals. In the meantime I have written a lot of posts about veganism, why I don’t consume dairy for example. But, it’s time to go back to the basics because this order of things is crazy. It’s time to start where I started 5,5 years ago. Today I am sharing the ethical reasons why I don’t eat animals*.
Not The Full Story
Before I start I want to say that this post will not be the full story about meat. Besides the ethical reasons to not eat animals I am sharing today, there are even more aspects to it. Environmental reasons to not eat animals for example, or health reasons. I will talk about those things another time because the ethical reasons alone are enough to write a very long post about. To sum up the ethical side of why we shouldn’t eat animals I have 6 main points. The following:
1 An Animal Dies
This is important. When we eat meat we don’t even think of it. Animals die, just for our food. That’s why I am not a fan of the term ‘meat’ or ‘steak’ or anything else that sounds friendly. We distance ourselves of it. We should call it as it is, a dead animal, a carcass or the ribs of a dead pig. Spareribs sound way too friendly. It’s normalized to eat animals and that’s why nobody thinks about it twice anymore. An animal dies for nothing. A living being who wants to live and who doesn’t want to die. A living being who feels pain and fear.
It’s horrible when an animal dies. However, most people who contribute to this don’t see it. They only see the flesh in the supermarket. That’s why I think people who eat meat should see footage from inside the slaughterhouses. To see what you’re doing. It’s horrible. Pigs and chickens are gassed in The Netherlands. They are shoved into a cage and then they are gassed. When you see this, you’ll be in tears. The screaming and the fear is so hard to see. Same goes for the long way towards the slaughter. Animals can sense the fear. They smell the blood and hear the screaming of other animals who are about to die. The animals are often forced inside the slaughterhouse because they simply don’t want to die.
2 All Animals are Equal
I switched to a vegetarian diet around the time when our family got a dog, Darco. I love that dog so much. I live on my own now, but I miss him. I’ve connected to an animal for the first time of my life. You then realize that they are so special. They have a character, they can sense your feelings, they have desires and fears just like us, they are silly or funny, they are smart and they can interact with other animals and with humans in some way. I then realized: I would never eat my dog. Never. Not even after he dies naturally. I couldn’t. That made me think. Why did I eat pigs and chickens but not dogs or cats?
The only difference is that I don’t have a personal connection with the animals I used to eat. But other than that, they’re the same. They too have a character and are unique. Why would I love my dog and eat a pig? It makes no sense. There is no good reason for this behavior. It’s just a social construct. Why else would they eat different kind of animals in different parts of the world? In Asia it’s normal to eat dogs and cats. In North America people eat turtles, but they love horses and would not eat those animals. In Europe we eat pigs and cows, but we love dogs and cats and would never eat those animals. Again: this makes no sense. We should not distinguish between them, there is no other reason than social norms as to why we love one animal and eat another. Some people say that intelligence is the reason to distinguish between animals. In The Netherland we eat pigs and love dogs. However, pigs are smarter than dogs. And if intelligence is a reason to eat living beings, then why don’t we eat human children or people with an intellectual disability?
3 For the People
Choosing to not eat animals is something I also do for people. First, one very specific group of people. Namely, the people who have to slaughter the animals. Most people who eat animals couldn’t kill animals. At least, I don’t believe so. I can’t, but I did eat dead animals years ago. The messed up thing is that we make someone else kill the animals. At mass scale. In 2017 1,7 million animals were slaughter every single day in The Netherlands alone. And the numbers are still rising in 2021. There are people who have to slaughter those 1,7 million animals every single day. It’s a job people usually can’t do for long (guess why?). Slaughterhouse workers usually are minorities. Migrant workers for example. In The Netherlands we have a lot of Polish people working in slaughterhouses under terrible circumstances. This once again became clear when COVID-19 hit and slaughterhouses were places where infections plummeted. The mental health of slaughterhouse workers is usually not that good. It’s not weird. If you have to kill animals all day and see them suffer, you are affected. Nobody should have to kill animals all day. There is just no need for slaughterhouses to exist.
Besides this one specific group of people, I choose not to eat animals for all humans. Why? It has been proved that if everybody worldwide at meat like we do in The Netherlands, the world is literally too small. We don’t have the room to do this. I also wrote a post about this subject, about why overpopulation is not a problem. We have enough room to feed everybody for the coming decades, even up till the peak in population which is projected. But there is a big if. We can only do that if we all eat a plant-based diet. Right now, two thirds of all agricultural land worldwide is in use for animal products. Two thirds! That’s because eating animals is incredibly inefficient. We feed the feed (often soy from places which destruct rainforests) to the animal and then we eat the animal. If we would directly eat the plants we can feed up till 20 times more people! If we leave out the middleman we have enough for everybody and people don’t have to starve. I know, right now people are starving because of capitalism and the horrible distribution of food around the world. That’s another problem, the problem of inequality. I acknowledge that we have to battle this. But if we choose to eat animals we definitely won’t succeed. Then we simply don’t have enough food to distribute.
If we stop eating animals this makes room. Room that is now used for agricultural land. We’re desperately in need of nature. We’re destroying nature and biodiversity very rapidly. If we stopped eating animals we could undo that damage by making room for nature. Remember, only 1% of habitable land on earth is used by humans to live on (cities, rural areas etc.). 50% is used for agriculture! We’re feeding the world the wrong way.
This is a topic we can all relate to today. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, COVID-19. Most pandemics and epidemics are zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease a virus that mutates in a way that it can also infect humans. Simply said: diseases that go from animals to humans. All the very serious epidemics and pandemics we’ve seen are zoonotic diseases. Q-fever, Ebola, COVID-19, Influenza, the pest, to name a few. The chances of a pandemic are getting bigger over the centuries. Scientists have been warning our governments for decades. They have always been ignored because they say we breed too many animals in a too small space. Right now, scientists do have the attention of governments, but that’s about fighting COVID-19 today. This always happens when it’s too late and the virus has already moved to humans. When scientists plead for prevention governments have no attention for them.
The risk of pandemics like COVID-19 to occur is growing. Why? Because our relationship with animals has changed. We put them together in small spaces by the millions. The Netherlands is especially a high-risk country. We keep a lot of animals, but pigs are the number one. We breed about 25 million pigs each year. We live with about 17 million humans in the Netherlands, if you want to compare the numbers. The problem is that we put all these animals together in small spaces, it’s a heaven for viruses.
At the same time we’re destroying the natural world. As I said, because we eat animals, we need a lot of land. That’s why we’re destroying rainforests and savannas. If we’d stop eating animals we could give that land back tot the natural world. Right now, their area is decreasing and decreasing. This makes species die, but this also makes us come in contact more and more with wild animals. This increases the risk for pandemics.
5 No Justification
Instead of asking the question ‘why not?’, you could also ask ‘why eat animals?’. I honestly see no point. We simply don’t need it (not to mention the health risks, but I’ll come to that another time.) I mean, I am the living proof of it. Somehow people think you’ll die without meat? Well, I am very much alive. And I feel better than ever. Mentally ánd physically. The physical aspects are something I’ll discuss another time. Mentally it feels amazing not to contribute to the suffering and killing of others. I feel lighter and happier than ever. You’ll need to supplement one thing: vitamin B12. Why? Because vitamin B12 is fed to animals and people eat the animals. Vitamin B12 is something that we used get from the soil, but we’ve destroyed the soil with pesticides and so the industry now feeds it to animals. I just eat the vitamin B12 supplement myself, that saves a lot of suffering.
The only reason why people eat meat in my opinion is the taste. A lot of people try to mask this reason with ‘health reasons’, ‘evolutionary reasons’ or anything else. I don’t believe that anymore. People who eat animals do this because they enjoy the taste of dead flesh. I just don’t think this is a justification. Killing an animal for the pleasure of a human is wrong if you ask me. Because well, that’s what it is. It’s just pleasure. It’s selfish really. A nice taste for 15 minutes tops is just ridiculous. It is no ethically just reason to kill a living being. What I would like add is the fact that we don’t live in 1920 anymore. Meat replacements are really good, delicious! Sure, there might be some products which can’t be replaced (yet) by store bought products, like ‘spareribs’ for example. This can’t be bought vegetarian or vegan in stores yet (as far as I know). But then you just need to put in a little effort to make it yourself. The vegan recipes are out there. I mean, check this out! But for almost all products there are vegan alternatives out there in local stores. I made an entire post of the best vegan alternatives out there. Technology is so good these days that you will not taste the difference, especially if it’s something you mix in a meal, like chicken or minced meat.
I intend to live a life of compassion. I sometimes even doubt if I should change the subtitle of this blog. From an eco-positive lifestyle to a compassionate lifestyle. It’s the main value in life for me personally. I ask myself quite frequently: what do want to leave behind when I die? Sure, I want to live a life full of love and fun for myself. I doing well on that aspect haha. But I don’t want this to be at the expense of the earth or the living beings on it. The average person eats 552 animals during their lifetime!! I mean, I can’t even express how wrong that is. 552 lives just for 1 person. 552 lives thrown aways and filled with misery. And that’s only for meat. If you eat dairy, eggs or other animals products this number keep rising and rising. And for what? As I said, we don’t have to do this. We can choose not to. I can’t make up the first 16 years of my life anymore, when I did eat animals. But right now I choose not to eat them. I don’t want my life to be one of killing, destruction and pollution. I want my life to be one of compassion. I want to spread love, fun and have a positive impact.
Do you choose compassion?
*I’ve written this post for most of the population. However, I do realize that for some people it’s not possible to go vegan or to stop eating meat. People recovering from an eating disorder for example, or people with another mental disease or people who become seriously ill when they stop eating. Same goes for people who have no other choice, since their only source of food can be animals (like the Inuit). There probably are more just exceptions. I do recognize these rare exceptions. But please remember these are exceptions. I’d say that for 99% of people who now eat meat, there is no justification for it.