James Aspey is an Australian animal rights activist and lecturer. He is known for remaining silent for an entire year to raise awareness on animal cruelties. Read here about him and the ‘vegan revolution’.
“To many people, veganism can seem like an extreme, challenging, unsatisfying and unnecessary lifestyle choice. I’ve been vegan for nearly four years and I can tell you that being vegan is one of the most life-enriching, positive, health-enhancing and important things I’ve ever done in my life. In fact, you'd hard-pressed to find a vegan who doesn’t agree it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done!
"But how could it be? You’re sacrificing your favourite foods! Where do you get protein? How can you live without cheese? How can you enjoy a meal without meat?” I can relate to these questions. For the longest time, I couldn’t even imagine a day without eating meat, let alone a lifetime!
The shift began when I learned how much healthier we can be when we stop eating animal products. I thought that humans needed to eat meat to survive. In fact, it's quite the opposite! We drastically reduce our chances of developing many serious health issues including heart disease, cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis and many more by simply choosing foods from the plant kingdom. In fact, a plant based diet is the only diet ever proven to reverse heart disease (our number one killer!) in the majority of patients. Surely this fact alone should make this our default way of eating!
Yes, there are many benefits for us, but once you realise we can be healthy without eating animals, naturally it leads you to more questions. The most important one that I asked myself, was this. “If we don’t need to kill and eat animals to survive and thrive... Why do we do it?”
Well, it’s just what we do. It’s normal. We’ve been doing it for a long, long time. But does the length of time we’ve been doing something determine whether it’s a good thing to continue or not? We’ve been going to war for a long time, does that mean we should not try to stop war?
In a very real way, we have waged a war against the animals we share this planet with. We pay to have other people forcibly impregnate, confine, mutilate, torture and kill them. What are the best justifications we’ve got for this? Taste, habit, tradition and convenience.
Is there any taste so good that is worth killing for? Think of it this way... You probably like money, yeah? But you don’t go around shooting people in the head and stealing their wallets. Why not? Because you having a bit more money in your pocket does not justify murdering someone. And so it goes for meat. A fleeting taste sensation does not justify the killing of an animal.
Some people wrongly believe eating meat is a personal choice. It's not. Personal choices involve only you. Eating meat involves another living being and they become the victim of violence because of your choice to eat their bodies. Actually, it’s not just meat I'm talking about here. It’s all animal products. All animal products come from use, abuse and almost always, their death. Even free-range, organic, grass-fed, “humanely” slaughtered animals all end up at the same slaughterhouse. It’s our use of animals that is the issue. It’s our commonly shared but incorrect belief that other animals are here for us to use and abuse as we see fit for foods and products that we could easily do without. The meat industry is as cruel as the dairy industry, is as cruel as the egg industry is as cruel as the leather industry. And this is why being vegan (not vegetarian) is so important.
Being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible. It’s the Golden Rule in action. How is this seen as the extreme choice? When did it become extreme to want to stop harming animals? Isn’t it far more extreme to say you love animals and are against animal cruelty but then go and pay someone to stab an animal in the throat for a snack when you could of easily eaten something else?
Isn’t it twisted to be patting your dog, while getting outraged over hearing about the hunter who shot Cecil the Lion, while you eat a cheese (coagulated baby cow growth fluid) and bacon (processed pig flesh) burger from animals who were tortured and killed and highly likely suffered far more than Cecil ever did?
Anyone can be vegan. You don’t have to be an animal lover. You don’t have to care about your health. You don't have to be a particular religion. You don’t have to like eating tofu. The only thing have to agree with one thing to be vegan, is this... Causing unnecessary harm to animals is wrong!
If you agree with that, then you already have vegansim in your heart. The only thing left to do is to align your actions with your beliefs. And how important that you do, because if you don’t, you are going against your most fundamental core values of respect, compassion, non-violence and justice. Going against those beliefs leaves behind you a trail of victims that are treated worst than the worst offenders on this planet. And what have the animals done wrong to deserve it? Absolutely nothing.
Animals are sentient beings, just like us. In fact, humans are animals too. We are just one species of millions. Non-human animals also experience a rich emotional life, care for their families, have friends, communities, ways of communicating, unique talents, their own hearts and their own brains. They want to live and don’t want to die. In all the ways that matter, we are the same.
So why veganism? Because anything less is causing unnecessary and easily avoidable harm to innocent beings. Because it’s the least we should do. Because it is the path to a world with more peace, compassion and respect, and less suffering, violence and killing.
It’s something we can do and have total control over! How empowering is that! This happens to them because of us and it can come to an end because of us. If we want a better world, we have to model better behaviour. If not you, who? If not now, when? Be the change you wish to see in the world and treat others the way you’d want to be treated. That’s what being vegan is all about! “
Article by James Aspey: http://www.jamesaspey.com.au/
To learn more about Ere Perez, click here.
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