The animals are my why for going vegan. The health benefits are a nice perk and I appreciate how veganism is a positive for the environment too, but the reason I am vegan is because I don't believe any desire of mine outweighs the life of another sentient being.
Like many of us, I wasn't raised a vegan but my journey to veganism started long before I was even aware it was happening. I wrote a blog on my journey last year, you can read it here. I hope you do check it out, sharing stories is one of the ways we change the world.
One of the things that continues to strike me the most is just how incredibly cruel the animal agriculture industry is. These animals are viewed as nothing more than commodities, a profit to be made or lost. The animals ability to feel, to experience suffering as much as they experience joy is completely ignored. How they are housed, what they are fed, how they are treated is based solely on ensuring the lowest cost is incurred to guarantee profit. Check out this detailed but not graphic article by The Humane League for more information.
For me, it all goes back to the Jeremy Bentham quote I included in my blog on World Day for Laboratory Animals:
The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
If you share your space with a companion animal, I encourage you to observe them and really take in how they experience the world. Would you ever say that your companion couldn't feel pain? That they couldn't suffer? They can't feel joy, fear, happiness? The only difference between the animals who live with you and those whose bodies wind up on plates is simply human perception. We've been raised to believe some animals lives mean more than others and ultimately, that human lives prevail over all. Take a look at cultures other than your own, they likely eat different animals, some may even be just like those with whom you share your space.
Farm sanctuaries are another great way to start seeing non-human animals as the individuals they are. You can read their stories on the sanctuary website but being able to meet them is even more impactful. Here are a few I've either visited or with which I am familiar. If they're not nearby, follow them on social media!
Farm Sanctuary - New York & California
Iowa Farm Sanctuary - Iowa
Skylands Farm Sanctuary - New Jersey
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary - New York
Cotton Branch Sanctuary - North Carolina
Catskill Animal Sanctuary - New York
Finally, on The Vegan Stew Tonight we're talking about the hidden cruelty in animal agriculture. Join us live at 7pm ET for a meaningful conversation by clicking the video below. If you click ahead of 7pm you can set a reminder so you don't miss it! I'd love to "see" you there!