Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage. This does not include the billions of fish and other aquatic animals killed annually.

Based on 2007 statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' Global Livestock Production and Health Atlas.

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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Email Response to a Vegan-Curious

Friday, May 10th, 2013

I received an email this morning from a friend of mine. Very few of them write me about my activity on animal rights, so I thought her letter and my response was worthy of posting online.

It can be tremendously isolating to be the only vegan in your group of friends. Some will, wrongly, expect you to show up at their BBQs and throw buckets of blood on their faces. Or scream, “Meat is murder” at them as they eat their eggs even though you yourself ate meat for many years.

It’s nice when a friend writes me and is genuinely curious. It lets me know my online advocacy is not falling into a black hole.

Hello my beautiful spirited friend! I love your posts about animals and veganism!

I want to ask you: you know how I’m always teetering back and forth between vegetarianism and not. I would full-heartedly love to live the vegan life. I do not know how you do it. It seems impossible to me. Especially living with a meat eater. He’s gone a lot so scout and I stick mainly to fruits and veggies and grains and sadly dairy.

I could so live without meat. But I cannot eliminate the dairy, and you taught me that’s the worst industry.

Can you give me some inspiring words? Kudos to you and your family and for your love and devotion to animals.

 

Thank you for the kind words!  Here are some tips.  I hope they help you make some changes that make you feel better and help the animals.

The beautiful thing about being vegan is you get a chance to creatively help the animals, and make a real impact on their lives without having to ever leave your kitchen.

Milk is pretty easy to replace.  Think of how many alternative milks there are: hemp, rice, soy, almond, coconut, just off the top of my head.  Vegan butters are for sale in places like the grocery near your house.  Cheese replacements don’t taste quite the same, so that’s why I say just pull the cheese out and put something interesting in its place: avocado, cashew / basil pesto, etc.

Being vegan with a nonvegan spouse can be challenging but it’s totally doable. Think of it like trying to quit smoking while living with a smoker.

Eating vegan can seem impossible because it can be a totally new habit, but if you take one recipe at a time and put in plant-based alternatives, you’ll inch your way toward a vegan menu in no time.

I’d pick one meal a day to make vegan (breakfast is an easy one). Any recipe you have trouble making vegan, just ask me or check these sites for ideas:

 

Can Kids “Make Up Their Own Minds” About Veganism?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Short Answer

We do not allow animal abuse in our house.

Longer

This question only comes up from people in meat-eating households, because only in those households is veganism seen as trivial and flippant a “lifestyle” choice as what hobby to pursue or what color of shirt to wear.

Everyone is welcome to their opinions.  The question we must each ask ourselves is: Does my opinion result in actions that harm others?

Many people will not see eating flesh as animal abuse. Somehow, killing an animal does not count as abuse, in that mind frame.  In my household, the children will not want to harm cows or chickens any more than they want to harm cats and dogs.

Children have amazingly good bullshit detectors.  They “get” fairness.  They understand justice.  The cognitive dissonance parents cause when they tell children to love one animal and eat the flesh of another is confusing and inconsistent for completely arbitrary reasons.  A vegan diet provides a consistent, clear and truly compassionate framework built on honesty, healthy eating, love and, yes, even on justice.

Do Vegans Believe That Meat is Evil?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I overheard a friend of mine explaining to a meat-eater, “Yes, but vegans believe meat equals evil.”

This is another subtle but pervasive opinion of vegans which I take issue with.

A phrase like “vegans believe meat = evil” trivializes the belief that killing innocent beings is immoral.

“Evil,” these days, is a hard notion to take seriously. “Meat” is a faceless, tasty product that most of us in the United States grew up eating. Most importantly, I think, a phrase like this keeps the animal out of the picture and the emotionless product, meat, as the focus.

A non-vegan listening to my friend would likely construct in his head an image of a wobbly, little, pink cut of meat and a red-eyed fringe lunatic vegan screaming “evil” at it.

Many vegans think killing innocent beings is immoral. Meat is a product of killing those beings, just like a black eye might be the byproduct of getting punched in the face. No one would scream that black eyes are evil, yet nearly everyone would object to an old lady receiving one (unless she works at the DMV).

In all dealings with those who think like us and with those who disagree, we absolutely cannot forget about those who, for food and entertainment, are stabbed, bludgeoned, slit open, drown alive, electrified, gassed to death, prodded with hooks, chucked with their brothers and sisters into grinders, chainsawed and even thrown into pits of despair (for “science”). At this very moment, by the thousands, all of that and worse is occurring.

If we think anything is evil, that is it. Not “meat.”

30 Ways to Make a Girl Smile

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Inspired by the currently-trending Twitter topic, #30WaysToMakeAGirlSmile.  This is slightly tongue-in-cheek for those of you with your Serious Hats on all the time.

  1. Make her feel safe by not exploiting other females for their milk. Girls get nervous when they think you’re going to steal their breastmilk.
  2. Acknowledge that enslaving female animals and forcing them to reproduce is a human feminist issue.
  3. Cook her a truly happy meal.
  4. Don’t claw her to death with the big, scary apex predator claws which you do not have.
  5. Smile at, don’t bite her with, your stubby little “canine” teeth that are cavity-prone and need braces to keep straight.
  6. Don’t force your beliefs down her throat!  Learn to kiss properly!
  7. Adopt, do not breed!
  8. Learn to count to 30.

30. Go vegan!

Comic: Pushy Vegans

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Comic: Pushy Vegans

 

Even if you still eat meat, deviating even once from the social norms is going to get you reactions like this.  If you have no interest in going vegan, then at least try eating a conspicuously vegan meal a few times in mixed company.  For instance, vegetable fajitas when everyone else is having cow in theirs, or a veggie burger at a place which servers cow burgers.  Watching people’s reactions as they try to figure out why you’re not joining in on the meat eating is fun and philosophically profitable.

You may notice the jacket looks really familiar to a certain sweater worn in another webcomic.  For my first page, I wanted to pay tribute to Penny-Arcade, who have provided me with years of chuckles and a few outright guffaws.

They Have No Interest in the Future

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Elephants mourning their dead. This must be some kind of robot-instinct acted out in a stupid, robotic, 'instincty' kind of way. Photo by Kelly Landen.

Some want to assert that because animals have “no interest in the future,” or “no concept of the future,” it is morally acceptable to enslave and kill them.

Robber Barons

We can say killing someone steals their future. Stealing from an individual, whether or not they have a sense of the loss, is still stealing from them. Just like burning someone with congenital analgesia (insensitivity to pain) is still burning them.

It is the dream of the exploiter to find a blanket statement which permits them to continue the exploitation. The more philosophical and abstract the statement, the better, it seems.

Animals Actually Do Have an Interest in the Future

Why do we remember things? In the case of stoves, we remember they may be hot even when they look inactive because, otherwise, we might get burned. Strawberries are tart and sweet. A red light means stop.

Memory serves the purpose of decision making. The hot stove is not touched and the strawberry is eaten to extract its flavor. Our most basic interests are in avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure.

We remember things because we want to change the future.

Pleasure from anticipated strawberries and pain from anticipated shock collars exist in the future. If they exist in the present, we might salivate or twitch or jump out of reflex, and reflexes are one of the few things we do without decision-making. But reflex is done without cognition, as far as we know. It need not consult memory.

When we spy the hot stove or lay our eyes on the red of a shining, freshly washed strawberry, we are contemplating the future.
One with memories is one with an interest in the future. Even interests as simple as “eat until full” and “avoid hissing cats” concern themselves with the future. And this future always includes one thing: the entity thinking about it.

Do dogs have memories? Of course they do. Pavlov’s experiments prove dogs can be conditioned. And where are they be conditioned but in their minds? The dog who salivates at the ring of a bell because she hears it every time dinner is served is thinking about the past (or, at least, considering it) and preparing her body for the future. She expects to receive food.

The sound of the bell is as good as the smell of a fresh meal. Be the input through ears or nose, something is telling her food is near.
What chicken, as “dumb” as they are supposed to be, would forget the sweetest patch of land with the most worms in their pecking ground?
There is a long-held belief that birds are simply too stupid to remember coastlines and geographic landmarks, that they migrate by “pure instinct,” whatever that is. But even this is in question now, with evidence showing that some birds navigate by memory and reason.

If a creature, bird or bear or hare or fish, has a memory then that creature has self-interest and self-awareness. Why else remember anything? Why remember if not to alter the future?

Penguins mourning their dead children. This must be some kind of robot-instinct acted out in a stupid, robotic,'instincty' kind of way.

The Herd Has an Interest in Its Future

Is gassing a nursery full of infant morally acceptable? Of course not. How about gassing one of them? Again, no.

In the dreamworld where each animal “has no interest in his or her future,” it is easy to overlook the fact that animals do mourn. They need social structures, and dropping in Chimp 520 to replace Chimp 519 does not work. Animals are not machines; they are living beings. Even if the fanciful interest-in-future criteria was morally acceptable, which logic suggests it is not, removing the individuals has a profound impact upon their families and social circles.

It makes no difference that the individuals are black, white, Jewish, cows, chickens or salmon. The type of organism is irrelevant to the crime being committed against his or her group. Unlike the survival situations of lions chomping on gazelles, humans committing acts of violence and enslavement against animals is a crime because the act is completely unnecessary to our survival.

Vegans are Regular People

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Vegans are Regular People - the shirt!

It’s true. Our bowel movements are healthier and typically faster than those of meat eaters, but otherwise we are exactly the same.

Vegans are not super heroes. Although directly reducing the demand for animals to be exploited is a super thing to do, it’s easy. Veganism is a moral baseline; it’s not exactly heroic.

We do not possess superhuman willpower. If you want a demonstration, just tell a recently awakened vegan that Oreos have no animal products in them. See how long it takes before he looks like he just ate, well, a box of Oreos. We struggle with restaurant and junk food marketing like anyone does. We do have it a little easier in that area: most of the ads are targeting a different demographic.

Vegans have no keener empathic abilities than the rest of the world. We are not Cow Whisperers. We do not hear the cries of corn as it’s fed to pigs on feedlots. Vegans are not so delicate and refined that they run in terror from the company dinner table when someone orders steak. Nor do we possess the hardened, bleached souls of war criminals. Seeing graphic video footage of animal slaughter bothers us as much as it does anyone.

Like meat eaters, vegans are not necessarily eating perfectly balanced diets, either. A huge percentage of the United States suffers from Vitamin D deficiencies, despite what the dairy industry would have us believe their fortified products will do.

Vegans are Regular People

Last Screams: The Death of a Lady

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

This is a true story about a human couple who capture and ritualistically murder another living being. I’ve altered some of the details, embellishing here and omitting there, but the events are the same. At the bottom of this horrific tale is a link to the original.

Our friend James caught our neighbor, Tina, a young mother of two, and put her in a hay-lined waxed-cardboard box. She calmed down and sat quietly in the box. I sat reading in my farm’s greenhouse, waiting for Daniel to come back from a trip to the city, and Tina waited with me, her head sticking through a gap in the top of the box. She was funny, maybe even cute. I tried not to get attached.

We took her to Daniel’s parents’ house and left her in the box in the garage overnight. No hawks or foxes in there. And we’d read about imposing a 12-hour fast (advantage: a cleaner digestive tract), so no food. In the morning, she looked content. She had just menstruated and held out a wad of cash, which made me very sad. She wanted to coexist with us. To feed us, if we fed her. Daniel reminded me that in the winter, without a job, her income would probably drop significantly. I sighed. He was right.

So we bound her feet with a rope—she was surprisingly calm—and hung her upside-down from a tree limb. We’d heated a large pot of water to 150 degrees and set it on the ground nearby. We were ready.

Daniel held her head in one hand and took a straight-edge razor to her throat. In retrospect, a knife would have been better. More leverage. With just the blade, the first cut drew blood, but it didn’t go far enough. Daniel sliced again, and a stream of blood dripped to the ground. The sources we’d consulted recommended leaving the head on at first, to prevent a surge of adrenaline that might toughen the meat.

Tina opened her eyes every minute or so, fluttered her lids, and closed them.

After three or four minutes, I broke the solemn silence: “It’s weird that she’s not flailing.” Then she did flail, but just for a few seconds. Blood splattered on my pants and on Daniel’s face, which made him, in a hooded sweatshirt, look like a murderer.

When we could no longer feel a heartbeat, we untied her, cut off her head, and submerged her in the pot. That made stripping her down easier, and we sloughed off her shorts and socks, flinging them off our cold, wet fingers. With the clothes gone, her hair remained, and we tried to pull out all of those, too. By that point, the carcass looked more or less like what you see in any depraved cannibal’s village. Clothes: living being. No clothes: food. I didn’t feel sentimental anymore.
We took Tina’s body into the kitchen, chopped off her feet and neck, and slit around her anus, the all-purpose lower hole. We followed instructions and a diagram on a laptop screen; I made a ventral T-shape cut and reached into the warm cavity to pull out the organs. (Because of the prior slit, the intestines came out with the vent attached.) The whole process reminded me of my anatomy lab in college.

Otherwise, it wasn’t so bad. I tried to feel regular, not righteous about it, especially after a friend forwarded me some quotes. One was from the founder of the Institute of Urban Homesteading: “The level of appreciation for nature and life when you slaughter your own meat creates a kind of ethic that I think is what we need to save the world.” Reese rolls her eyes; she kills a girl and calls it messy and mundane.

I hear her, but I’m still glad we did it. I confirmed my weird personal right to consume another living being, and I do feel more conscious about meat-eating in general. Dare I sound new-age? I feel more mindful. Our little neighbor girl was very much on my mind as we ate her. Nursing mothers don’t have much meat on them, but the broth and the few shreds were savory and satisfying.

Here is a link to the original story as written by the author.

What If the Whole World Went Vegan Tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

People come up with the strangest questions. It’s as if they run out of perfectly logical thoughts so, to keep the anti-compassion machine burning full steam, they dream up ridiculous scenes to fuel it. I wonder if they’re thinking, as I used to think, “Surely there’s some scenario in which eating living beings makes sense, isn’t there?” It seems any reason is acceptable even if it goes against every fiber of their core beliefs and requires tremendous amounts of twisted logic or outlandish scenarios, provided that reason permits continued consumption of animals.

Some of the questions I’ve been asked by earnest, well-meaning, and apparently very confused friends:

  • What if the whole world went vegan tomorrow? What would we do with all the animals?
  • What would you do if you were dying of hunger in the desert, surrounded by deer and nothing else edible for dozens of miles?
  • What if you went your whole life and never ate meat, then on your death bed you ate a hamburger and wished you had eaten one before? Won’t you feel foolish for missing out on all of those years of pleasure?
  • Hey, can I have some of that lasagna? It smells great. Oh, god, oh no! It doesn’t have any curdled teat milk in it. Never mind. Your plant-based lasagna is weird. It’s extreme. It’s crazy lasagna, that stuff. Get it away from me.

Except for that last example, such questions seem innocent enough, but they’re not. Let us expand their assumptions and meanings a little bit. I’ll pick on the “whole world goes vegan tomorrow” scenario.

Instant Vegan Evolution Globally (the iVeg)

Hog confinement

After iVeg, this hog confinement is history.

The question is, “What would we do with all the animals if everyone went vegan tomorrow?” Your curious friend wants, rephrased a little, your Official Vegan Ambassador seal on a solution. But not just any solution. A foolproof, easily-summarized response to a radical, global shift of consciousness, agriculture, eating habits, ethics, restaurant menus, animal welfare, law and circuses. Oh, and don’t take too long responding, because he has a conference call in a few minutes with Dave from accounting.

We’ll call the global awakening he has dreamed up the Instant Vegan Evolution Globally, or the iVeg for short.

Does your friend think you are qualified to answer such a question? Do you often provide bulletproof strategies for radical, world-changing shifts that occur overnight? Of course not. At least, not without a few beers in you, right?

Your friend doesn’t want a sincere answer. He might think he does, but he doesn’t. How can you be expected to give a sincere answer to an insincere or misleading question? Can the iVeg ever occur? Overnight?

What does he want, then? I can’t speak for all of your friends, or all the people who ask questions like this, but I can analyze this particular example.

It’s not a question at all. Rather, it’s a collection of statements and assumptions bundled and tucked into what your friend probably considers an innocent thought experiment. The real statements behind the question are:

  • Having fifty six billion animals released into the wild would probably result in a lot of starving and suffering (of animals). That is bad and wrong.
  • Killing all ofthe animals instead of releasing them is not something a vegan could advocate because vegans state killing is bad and wrong.
  • Therefore, since the imaginary scenario could not “work,” all tenets of a compassionate, plant-based diet must be invalid and rejected.
  • (Robot voice) Drop your veganism. You have 15 seconds to comply.

What could a vegan do to answer this question? For starters, don’t answer it. It’s outlandish. Do you really think the entire world is going to drop meat and dairy from their diets over night? That restaurants are going to replace their seven pages of pig, chicken, lamb, goose, bison, turkey, fish and cow selections with pepper, potato, bean, cauliflower, broccoli, yam, carrot, rice and greens? Hey, and while they’re at it, all the restaurants will cut back on portion sizes to help prevent gorging and obesity, right?

Some might assert that far-fetched questions like this have purposes besides trolling and taunting. Besides descending into an exercise in creative reduction-to-absurdity, I cannot imagine any other use. One might as well ask, “What if the whole world except three men went vegan tomorrow? How could those men eat all of the remaining delicious, cancer-causing hot dogs?” This question is just as pointless.

The Accidental Troll

Animal welfarists would have us believe this contraption is humane, because it's padded, and we're playing classical music in the background.

Here comes the compassion!

Here’s the easy part: Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this particular fantastic what-if scenario?” You’ll realize there is none. It’s just trolling. We are not talking about a journalist asking you questions as you deliver your groundbreaking twenty-year research results. We are talking about everyday conversation.

Here’s the hard part: breaking it to your friends that they’re trolling you when they probably didn’t even mean to.

If you’re like me, you’re thrilled that a meat-eater even wants to discuss a reduction in meat, much less veganism. A lady at work once borrowed a vegetarian cookbook, and I was so happy I nearly multi-grain pooped myself on the spot. However, when someone invents a topic like this, they might as well be asking, “Well, what if… I don’t know… what if real, live jackals took over the government? And we had to kill their natural enemies, the noble and gracious lions, in order to get jobs? And to secure land? What would you do then, smarty vegan pants? I saw The Lion King. I know what goes on.”

Dreaming up scenarios like the iVeg sounds a lot like the jackal scenario in my head. It’s ridiculous. It follows the same kind of talk as, “You want to drive a car? What if a piece of the moon breaks off at just the right angle, flies down and crushes your car? Don’t look at me like that, young man, it’s possible the moon could do that. Therefore, driving is unsustainable. Stay home and eat your meat. Oh, you want to write a magazine article about sport cars, instead? What if a driver reads it instead of paying attention to the road, then wrecks and dies? Don’t you even care about your fellow man? Here you are, passive-aggressively trying to kill motorists with your articles. For shame!”

Abandoned Slaughterhouse

The only sustainable slaughterhouse is an abandoned slaughterhouse.

The Real Answer

I said I would not provide a sincere answer to the iVeg, but I will anyway. Here is an easy solution to the questions, “What if the whole world went vegan tomorrow? What would we do with all the animals?”

Since we’re dealing in imaginary, far-flung scenarios, we can simply feed the animals forever on the free Infinity Food space aliens drop off for us. Problem solved. Oh, and we’ll use shrink rays so those pesky animals don’t take up too much space any more.

What? Your friend won’t like that answer? Okay, okay. You want to keep your friends, not alienate them. Fine, I’ll give you a real answer. But before I do, please dwell for a moment on the difference between a meat-eater being able to ask asinine questions and expect to be treated like a deep thinker, worthy of serious responses, while the “crazy” vegan would be judged for answering in a similar fashion.

The serious answer is that we would kill all, or at least most, of the pitiful last generation of food animals. Gasp! Did some vegan guy just recommend we slaughter the last vestiges of our captive, thinking, feeling animals? Isn’t that hypocritical?

Yes, I did and no, it’s not. In the iVeg scenario, no one has room, food or water for the animals. They are, I gather, either killed this week or released into parking lots and grade school playgrounds across the world. In imaginary world that is the iVeg scenario, either all of the animals are “dealt with” or the iVeg cannot happen.

Let’s get some numbers for this scenario, and why I recommend killing all of those in the last generation of victims. Fifty six billion animals are killed each year for their flesh, secretions and other pieces. Some lazy math, for the sake of argument, spreads out the average lifespans, slaughter ages, and such. The number we arrive at is one billion animals enslaved and ready for execution on the day of iVeg. If this number doesn’t work for you, pick another. The exact amount is irrelevant, imaginary, and subject to change based on which bearded expert you query this week.

Here we are, at the dilemma your friend wanted. Either we release one billion animals into the wild or (gasp!) kill them. These animals were going to be (gasp!) killed anyway, so what’s wrong with them being killed now? Seriously. This is one final, the final, swing of the glutton’s ax.

If the iVeg never occurred, those animals would be killed anyway. But it wouldn’t end there, would it? No. There is a cycle of rape (how do you think cows are bred? Through courtship?), abortion, veal crates, genetic manipulation, accelerated growth into salable weight, and eventual slaughter.

This cycle is what must end. When it ends, and whether it ends in an iVeg moment or over the course of fifty years is less important. We must acknowledge: the cycle must end. One way or another, we cannot sustain animal agriculture and continue to grow the human race.

If you spread the iVeg out so it is not an instantaneous transition, but rather one that takes a couple of hundred years, then you have a couple of hundred years of tapering death counts. That’s a long, long tail. It adds up to many more than one billion animals.

From a utilitarian approach, the iVeg which culminates in slaughter by the billions is a heck of a lot better than the slow weaning from blood and milk. A gradual transition to global veganism forces exponentially more animals to die in hopeless, lightless captivity where the only sounds are those of their fellow inmates bleating, moaning, and being skinned alive.

The gradual transition is what is occurring right now. People are waking up from the meat-is-necessary-and-or-ethical illusion. Sure, as countries and regions gain affluence they also increase their meat consumption. But that is the way things are in human history at this time. All societies have some threshold at which point they will no longer increase their meat consumption. Once that threshold is met, demand for meat drops off and will eventually taper down to the civilized, enlightened level of zero.

My answer is probably not the one a meat-eater would expect from a vegan. The image of vegans is that we all want to dance in daisy fields and hold hands and that none of us have any grasp on “reality.” (Somehow the people who cannot connect drinking milk to the veal industry have a tighter grip on “reality” than vegans do.) It may be difficult to imagine a guy such as myself who won’t even eat Chex Mix, due to the milk in it, advising that we slaughter all of the animals in one fell swoop.

City of Bone

Mass Grave

A mass grave.

The natural follow-up troll question to the iVeg scenario is, “What would we do with all the corpses? If everyone is vegan, no one would eat them.” Since vegans are tasked with solving all of the world’s problems, my answer to that is also easy:

We’d feed the flesh to our pets and back to the wild.

With the bones, we’d build a horrific city out of them. We’d decorate alleys and buildings and street corners with skulls, hip bones, horns and beaks. To each corpse we would attach a little sound system playing the heart-breaking, bloody squeals of their final moments. Billions of little music players bleating, mewing and gagging over red-stained tile. Video screens would loop high definition footage of the final days of slaughter. It would show calves watching their mothers die of starvation and disease, wallowing in the feces-soaked mud, while in the distance a river of blood gushes from the slaughterhouse on the hill and pumps into our soil, seeping into our water supply.

The city of bones would be a testament to the greed and unfathomable depths of denial of which humans are capable. Who knows? Maybe we could turn it into an 8th wonder of the iVeg world, and use the proceeds to fund a compassionate education.

Sound grotesque? It may be. What is more harrowing and disturbing, though? Forming a reminder of the killings of the past or continuing to eat animals, silently hiding our consciousness from reality. To me, refusing to admit to ourselves that we are creating cities of bone many times over, and hiding from that fact, is more disgusting.

What Kind of Man is Afraid to Look at the Consequences of His Actions?

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Why does it matter to honestly reflect on your food? Contrasting bond-building with meat-eating.

The food on our plates radiates information upward and, if the message can make it through the thick, pink, mind-controlling layers of our tongues, it may very well lodge in our brains (likely into a wrinkle next to the Indiana Jones theme song).

What messages are your meals radiating?

Think of Valentine’s Day on Snargleplexon. The buttered corpse of the Gerber Baby mouths an organic apple crammed in his maw. Two green aliens coo over each other while, on their plates, the ribs of other human babies lay steaming, slathered in barbecue sauce.

Silly, isn’t it? Grotesque, even. Certainly not romantic.

Yet plenty of human couples renew their bonds over steak, veal and chicken dinners on anniversaries, during first dates, on holidays, and in celebration of other major events such as graduation, retirement, births and even, maybe as the ultimate in irony, at funerals where we grieve the loss of a loved one.

How is a “traditional” steak dinner any less disturbing or comical than the Snargleplexonians munching on human infants? The charred remains of a raped and murdered mother send a strong message, but is anyone listening when that mother is “just a cow?” It would pain us to contemplate the misery she endured.

So what do most of us do? Most of us block out those thoughts. There we sit, in love, holding hands and misquoting bad poetry while below us the salty, pink pools of diluted blood leak across our plates.

Why It Matters

We are not machines. Thoughts are not compartmentalized units of cogitation. They do not sit neatly in one activity, cleanly boxed-in with no spill-over into the next. Consciousness is messy and defies entrapment. Thoughts wander. Feelings simmer for hours, weeks, years. We fall into habits, and through habits we reinforce whatever stokes them.

Turning a blind eye to the suffering of the weak, to those most vulnerable, means becoming callous and indifferent in other areas as well. Rehearsing a state of mind multiple times per day makes it easier to enter that state. Denying and repressing thoughts of the suffering your culinary whims are causing will spill into other parts of your life.

The result of training is reflexive action. You cannot control your reflexes. Why would you train yourself to reflexively deny and repress feelings of compassion? Compassion aside, why would you train yourself to ignore the truth? What kind of man is afraid to look at the consequences of his actions?

If thinking about your dinner disturbs you, and you eat it anyway, something is very wrong.

What does it say about us if we are afraid to contemplate the origins of that which give us the greatest pleasure?

Kick the animal bits off your plate and replace them with tasty plant alternatives. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s fun to eat something new and different.

Romance, friendship, family bonds, and the meals over which they all blossom, must be an expression of joy – all the way to their sources. When you eat vegan meals, you are free.