Can You Remind Me Again... Why Demand Collective Freedom?
We sure can!
We all agree that it is wrong to cause unnecessary harm to someone, that the strong bully the weak, that no one should ever be exploited, and that the right of freedom is a right given at birth.
Yet, there is a massive murder happening every second of every day against non-human animals, who are regarded as commodity, property, food, clothing, used as entertainers, and tested on without consent. These beings are abused, separated from their family and friends, mutilated, cut up in bits, packaged and advertised to us as food, as a belt, or as a new make-up product. None of these actions constitute necessity (see our VEGANISM section to fully refresh your memory).
From cows to turkeys, from bees to foxes, from chickens to whales, from fish to humans - we all value our lives and have interests and needs that must be respected and preserved. Therefore we must righteously regard non-human animals not as commodity and property, but as individuals. And in so doing, we have no other choice but to abolish the system which exploits animals. In other words, we choose to fight to end speciesism, by challenging the system of violence through creative forms of non-violent direct action. And of course, we choose to also live vegan. For the animals, for the planet, for our community, and for ourselves.
Why Should I Change?
If you've read this far, you must know, in the back of your mind, that all this makes sense and that the next step in our collective evolution is dismantling the systems of oppression we’ve been building for thousands of years - including speciesism.
You should change because you believe in values like freedom and justice, and you know that to live up to them, you have to work towards building a world where non-human animals too have the right to live free. So don’t waste any time - join the animal rights movement!
Well, I'm Already Vegan. Why Do I Need To Do More?
Since veganism is a moral obligation, it is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. Just because you chose to no longer consume products of non-human exploitation doesn't mean you've made the world a better place. Exploitation will continue to exist until we ALL see it in all its forms. You have certainly taken a big step forward, but the journey doesn't stop here. As a community member, you must also educate your community about all that you have learned, and actively advocate for the greater good of your fellow earthlings.
What Does Speciesism Have To Do With Racism, Sexism, Ableism, Heterosexism, etc.?
Speciesism is typically not included in the list of oppressions social justice movements battle against, but it too is a form of discrimination and oppression based on an arbitrary difference (species). As such, in order to be successful activists, we must consider animal rights when we advocate for human rights, and consider human rights when we advocate for animal rights. If we don’t include other forms of oppression while advocating for our own struggle, then we are essentially feeding into the larger system of violence. For instance, when planning a campaign, we must ensure we use language that is free from terms that can be seen as ableist, sexist, speciesist, racist, etc. by members of other communities and movements. If unsure, we must reach out to those communities and work on being better allies.
What Does Speciesism Have To Do With Feminism?
Speciesism has just as much to do with human rights as it does with animal rights, and even more so with women's rights. The entire animal agriculture is based upon the control and exploitation of female reproductive systems - from the artificial breeding, to their violating impregnation, denial of motherhood yet forced lactation of "dairy" animals; to the genetically enhanced and controlled menstrual cycle of egg-"producing" hens. We are all for equal rights and reproductive freedom for women, but until we propagate the opposite, we won't achieve true reform.
Okay. I Don't Want To Be Speciesist Anymore And Treat Animals As Products. What Can I Eat?
This one is easy! You are going to eat a lot of delicious food! Anything that isn't a non-human animal or that comes from one.
Vegetables, like kale, cauliflower, spinach, chards, peppers, mushrooms, bok choy, broccoli, potatoes, squash, asparagus, etc.
Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, barley, et al.
Legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, or lentils.
Nutritious fats like, avocados, nuts, and seeds, which are abundant in Omega 3 and Omega 6. Try snacking on pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or how about a chia pudding or some flaxseed in your cereal or smoothie? Cooking with coconut oil is not only healthful, but also adds an unbeatable flavor.
Fruit which are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and lend us their anti-inflammatory properties: strawberries, blueberries, bananas, apples, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, tomatoes, etc.
All the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need you will find in a plant-based diet, no matter if you're a top athlete, aspiring bodybuilder, recreational soccer player or a sedentary office worker. Plants will feed your body, mind and soul!
Looking for some inspiration?
And to make sure you got the message, check out this video! And this one!
We Have Always Eaten Animals.
We've also always killed one another, assaulted one another and robbed one another. Just because something has a history, doesn't make it right. Just because your grandfather and your father both played loud music on their radios, doesn't mean you have to. Just because your neighborhood always votes for political party A, doesn't mean that you can't decide for yourself whether or not to vote for political party B. Traditions are wonderful in that they help us feel a sense of belonging in our communities, but traditions can and should evolve parallel to how we evolve. We are meant to change and progress, throughout our individual lives, and through the next generations - so should our habits. So no, just because our ancestors lived a certain way, doesn't mean we have to.
We Are At The Top Of The Food Chain Though.
To rise to the top of the food chain, we would need to be the best predators in Nature. That would mean that each of us would need to be fast, agile and strong enough to kill any animal on Earth and eat them right on the spot - skin, tail, bones, nails, blood and all. Not only that, but we would also need to be in a position, where the only choice we have is to kill that animal. We are not predators. A cheetah is a predator. Hunting is her only way of survival whereas most of us have choices. Those of us who don't have choices (e.g. the Inuit) represent too small of a fraction of our species to make us in any way contenders for the top of the food chain title.
God Gave Us Animals To Eat.
Regardless of which God you believe in, or whether you believe in any god at all, abusing and consuming animals is morally wrong across the belief board. If you do believe in a higher power, then you surely believe that a higher power would tend to the well-being of all creations. In Genesis 1:30, The Bible says, "And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” This means that God intended for humans to only consume plants, and it wasn't until after Adam and Eve were banished from Eden that humans began consuming animals. If you truly follow the morality of your religion, you would agree that we must strive to not cause unnecessary harm and violence. Veganism is the only possible option. (Curious to read more Bible quotes that confirm this).
If you do not believe in a higher power, then you surely believe in free will, and you are most likely a believer in science and a fan of philosophy. Science clearly proves animals' sentience, which is the ability to feel and perceive. This means that animals too have a free will, which drives them through their lives of obtaining food, shelter and pro-creating, among other activities - just like us. As a member of a free will society, you surely regard others' rights to exercise their free will. And since sentience is what causes our desire for exercising our free will, you would agree that we must strive to not cause unnecessary harm and violence that may prevent someone else from following their desire. Veganism is the only possible option.
Plants Feel Too Though, No?
No. They don’t actually. Plants (as well as fungi by the way) do not not have a central nervous system like animals do. They only have a “mechanical” system which allows them to respond to stimuli such as sunlight, rainfall, drought, etc. conditions caused by external factors. Yet they do not have the nerve fibers and organs required to feel these stimuli. In other words, plants do not feel pain, or pleasure, or desire, or anger, or any of the feelings that we and other animals are capable of feeling. The ability to feel these things is called sentience, and the dividing line between which species are sentient and which aren’t is the same line that divides the biosphere into its classified domains. The animal kingdom is sentient. The rest - plants, fungi and bacteria - are not. Let’s pretend for a moment that scientists have discovered that plants are capable of experiencing pain. If we were truly concerned about causing the least amount of harm possible we would all choose to consume these plants directly and not feed them to the 70 billion non-human land animals that are slaughtered each year. Half of the world’s crops is fed to “livestock”. If we did not artificially breed these animals, we would be able to grow enough plants to feed the whole human population, and we would be able to do it with way less land than we currently use. There is a very good reason why we have no hesitation to send our kids out to a pumpkin harvest or to an apple picking event but we would never send our kids to a slaughter house: because we know plants don’t feel pain and animals do, we know animals bleed just like us, we know that we care about animals and seeing a house of slaughter would be a nightmare one would have a hard time forgetting, especially a child.
What About Protein?
As far as protein is concerned, your simplest eating options would be tofu (non-GMO), tempeh or seitan (wheat gluten), as they are packed with protein. But not only them! Veggies also have a lot of protein. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. That’s right! One cup of boiled peas? 9 grams. And so on. We have never met a vegan who suffers from Kwashiorkor, which is the scientific term for someone who suffers from protein deficiency. Unfortunately, it mostly affects children who live in miserable conditions in very poor countries. Therefore, don’t worry, you will always be getting enough protein, no matter what your lifestyle is. \
Even If All This Is True, Vegans Aren't Muscular. They Are Weak.
We will start by saying, did you know that the world's strongest man is vegan? That's right! His name is Patrik Baboumian. Go check him out and see how muscular he is! In 2012 he set a world record by lifting a 331.134lbs beer keg overhead. He also made an attempt at the fronthold record which involves holding a 44.0925lbs weight with straight arms in front of the body. He added 10 seconds to the world record.
In addition to the world's strongest man, we have many examples of elite athletes who are vegan. From endurance sports such as ultramarathons (check out Scott Jurek, and Fiona Oakes - even though we do not support the things Fiona says, we cannot deny her athleticism) to NBA basketball player John Salley, from the superhuman vegan king Frank Medrano, to the nearly 80-year old ageless bodybuilder Jim Morris and the charismatic, super strong IFBB Pro Jehina Malik.
The list can go on, but we think you get the picture. Will you be the next vegan super athlete?
What About Iron, Vitamin B-12, Calcium?
Let us break this down for you.
Iron: is found in food in two forms, heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron, which makes up 40% of the iron in cow, chicken, and fish; and non-heme iron, which represents 60% of the iron in non-human animal tissue and all of the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts). Because heme iron is better absorbed than non-heme iron, people tend to believe vegans have more tendencies to be anemic.
Believe not in what you hear. Studies and surveys show that anemia is no more common in vegans than it is in people who consume non-human animal-derived foods. Reason being - that vegans consume an array of foods high in vitamin C (which helps iron absorption) as well as also foods higher in iron when compared to non-human animal-derived foods.
Dark leafy green vegetables and beans are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. You would have to eat more than 1700 calories in cow's body parts - commonly known as "sirloin steak" - to get the same amount of iron found in 100 calories of spinach.
Vitamin B-12: Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Non-human animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods "contaminated" with vitamin B12, often found in soil and dirt, and only then become a "source" of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are "contaminated" by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Vegans can obtain B12 from either nutritional yeast (a delicious condiment you should start using today!) or many everyday food items that are fortified, such as veggie burger and sausage mixes, yeast extracts, vegetables stocks, margarines, breakfast cereals and soy milks.
Calcium: Nope, it does not come from COWcium. You have learned how milk is produced, where it comes from and how absurd it is for us to drink another mammal's milk (please, refer here for more info). Cow's milk in particular, as observed in studies and researches, actually depletes our bodies not only from vital benefits certain foods like chocolate, tea and berries bring us (as noted by Dr. Greger here), but also blocks the absorption of calcium itself.
Like all non-human animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which triggers a biological correction. Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer. Guess where the biggest storage of calcium in the body is? Yes, in the bones. So, the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine. The surprising net result is an actual calcium deficit. It makes sense why statistics show that countries with the lowest consumption of dairy products also have the lowest cases of osteoporosis and fracture incidents. "Dairy"-loving vegetarians, beware!
Fine, But I Only Eat Grass-Fed, Humane or Suistainble, Free-Range Products.
Please remember what we explained about the moral, environmental and health implications of consuming non-human animals.
That aside, let's demystify these slogans.
Grass-Fed: As we know, animal agriculture is the leading cause of global climate change. We have learned from the UN and World Watch that animal agriculture causes about 51% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and is the top leading cause of deforestation and ocean dead zones. Feeding cows grass instead of corn or soy is somewhat of a reduction in resources, but it does not address the issue of greenhouse gas emission. Whether these non-human animals occupy a large portion of land or are confined to a tiny space, makes no difference to greenhouse gas. In addition, "commercial cows" are bred to grow so fast that reach the period of slaughter by the age of 15 months (cows can live up to 25 years, by the way), whereas grass-fed cows are slaughtered at the age of 23 months. Those are 8 extra months of water supply, feed, land use and resources. To conclude, in order to raise grass-fed non-human animals in the U.S. alone, we would need about 4,500 acres of land to produce 80,000 lbs of body parts. Americans eat an average of 205 lbs a year. That way, only 382 people could be fed. The U.S. population is 314 million. For that amount of people we would need about 3.7 billion acres. Guess how much land we have? 1.9 billion. Meaning, only half of the population could be fed and that would imply we convert all our land to grazing.
Another thing people say is, "but, look, they just look so happy there!". How would you feel if you were born into this world and told what to do and where to be by say, a family of hippopotamuses, who, in all fairness, treated you ok, even though you were imprisoned. And then this one day, out of the blue they separated you from your friends, brought you to a room and shoved a knife in your throat. Would you say you lived a happy life?
Humane or Sustainable: The term "humane" and "sustainable" are words carefully picked by marketing specialists to play with our emotions (not our logic) and make us feel good about consuming someone who has been "fairly" treated, until - again - a knife was shoved in their throats, of course. How can we justify consuming someone who has suffered on a scale from 1-10, say 5, but we couldn't support someone who has suffered say 10. What exactly is the difference if the result is absolutely the same: slaughter. Let's picture the following scenario. For the sake of simplicity, we will use a man and a woman as examples. A man walks into a bar. He sees a woman. They exchange some flirting looks. They start to talk, they drink, they dance, they talk some more, the chemistry is great, and she invites him over. They get to her place, and she offers him another drink. He accepts it but roofies her drink. She then loses consciousness, he pulls his pants down, rapes her very gently while kissing her face and whispering, "I love you". He then puts a bullet through her head. She doesn't feel a thing. The question we want to leave you with is: would you say this was humane? We hope not. So why would you say it was be humane to put a bullet on a non-human animal's head even if they were treated "gently" up until that moment?
As far as sustainable goes, we have seen, as is the case with grass-fed, that there isn't anything sustainable about raising non-human animals for a meal.
Free-Range: Hens from the "free-range" production come from the exact same hatcheries that battery (not "free-range") hens come from. Their family members, if born male, are either killed by suffocation or ground up alive (200 million in the U.S.). If they are female, they will endure the same bodily manipulations and mutilations (bred to lay 250-300 eggs a year vs the 10-20 a year in their natural state, and debeaking with a hot-blade guillotine). As we know, the result will be the same: slaughter. In addition, the USDA requires that “free-range” animals have access to outdoor areas, but there is no further explanation on the amount of time they must spend outdoors or even how much space they must have outside. The Associated Press reported that the USDA’s regulations don’t “require the birds to actually spend time outdoors, only to have access.” Even if a farmer opened the door, let sunshine peak in for a few seconds, and shut it before any bird could go outside, they would still be able to use the free-range label, and of course, your dollar.
I'm A Vegetarian And Only I Buy Second-hand Leather, So I Don't Contribute Directly To Animal Suffering.
Actually, you do contribute. The money you spend on animal products ("dairy", eggs, etc.) goes back to the very people who sustain the institutional slavery these products come from. For as long as their salaries are paid, they will continue to exploit and torture animals.
As for second-hand leather, you are correct that you are not buying an item directly from the producer, but you are buying it the second time it's been sold, thereby increasing its gross monetary value! This now raises the demand for leather (since your item just freed up space in a store for another item), and it also affirms the economic need for the leather industry (which as we know is in a symbiotic relationship with animal agriculture). So there you have it, indirect yet effective contributions to animal suffering.
I Don't Want To Be Told What To Eat, What To Buy And What To Wear.
Neither do we! However it's not about telling you what to eat, what to buy or what to wear; it's about bringing you the awareness of the fact that eating someone's legs, limbs, breasts, buttocks, period (eggs), rape-induced secretions (milk), vomit ("honey"), mother, sister, brother, father or friend - that all this is morally unjustifiable and unnecessary; that buying products containing non-human animal suffering, blood, torture, imprisonment, and death masked in the shape of shampoo, soap or make-up is also morally unjustifiable and unnecessary; and that also wearing the skin of a being who was raised in a cage and remained in a cage until the day of their execution (which often consists of anal electrocution, gassing or being skinned alive) is by no means morally justified or necessary.
Check out our HOW FREE page for more further information.