Today I read a letter in my local newspaper slamming animal rights protesters for being too vocal. Here is my full response (I had to attempt to shorten it to 250 words). It made sense to tie this in with the amazing news that same-sex marriage is now legal in the whole of the United States, may the spirit of equality for all continue! Love wins.
Reading through the letters from last week, I felt compelled to give some feedback to the ‘Animal protesters off the mark’ contribution. Although some of the animal rights protests that take place may seem extreme, I felt the need to provide a balance to this very one-sided argument.
The comment was made, ‘Where is their logic?’ I have been a vegetarian for twelve years and a vegan for the last year and a half, and I do take part in the occasional peaceful protest. My reason for this passion and for adopting a meat-free diet is completely ethical; I do not condone the killing of animals for food. However, by using the word ‘their’, this implies that people that have adopted a plant-based diet are to be categorised into one group, so I would like to explain the other popular reasons that a growing number of people are choosing not to support the meat industry, and are in turn choosing to use their voice to express this.
Firstly, for health reasons. Harvard University found that a diet high in red meat raised the risk of breast cancer for women by 22%, whilst the same diet has one third higher risk of bowel cancer, not to mention strong links to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Secondly, the environment. A staggering 51% or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. The land used to grow animals to be killed for food makes this system highly inefficient; it takes ten pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. This is without even considering the ocean, scientists predict that by continuing our current eating habits, there will be nothing left in the ocean within the next forty years.
Finally to reiterate my own ethical choices for choosing a plant-based diet; as an animal lover from a very young age, after enlightening myself to the world of factory farms – vegan was the natural choice. For anyone that does not ‘believe animals should be mistreated or abused’, it may be of some surprise to learn that factory farming today is the cruelest treatment of animals happening on the planet. In the words of Sir Paul McCartney, ‘If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.’
As an animal advocate I would like to put the ‘few brain cells (I) seem to possess’ into good use to list some of the most influential personalities in history that lived completely meat-free including Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci to name but a few. With plant-based diets becoming increasingly popular, with a little help from current celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Beyonce, I would suggest looking into the wide selection of recipes online to find out how a growing number of people are thriving on a vegan diet.
Although it may seem that some animal rights protests are quite hard-hitting, I think it may be worth considering why people are feeling the need to give a voice to the voiceless in the first place, and perhaps enlighten ourselves to the reality of the meat industry as it stands today. Rather than accepting that ‘this is how the real world is’, I would like to draw attention to the fact that today (26/06/2015) marks the day that same-sex marriage is now legal everywhere in the U.S. Changes are happening all the time, and I hope that this will continue.