“Keep your food choices off my plate. It’s my choice to eat meat or not, so mind your own business!”
I wish I had a dime for every time I heard or read statements like this. Mostly I wish it were true – that other people’s consumption of animal products really was their own business. Unfortunately, the choice to eat animals is a lot like the choice to smoke. Those who smoke, do inflict harm on everyone and everything around them. They don’t do it with malicious intent, and for many years, people weren’t even aware that they were harming others. It’s good that we know now, I believe that many people are healthier for this knowledge.
Likewise, those who consume eggs, meat, and dairy are usually unaware of the harm they support. Not only to the 14 billion animals consumed annually in the US, but to free-living animals, who are displaced from their habitat by livestock and feed crops. Animal farming pollutes the air, and makes inefficient use of a finite supply of water and land that we all share. It requires yet more land for crops that feed all those billions of livestock animals – crops which are often genetically modified and/or laden with pesticides, creating an even larger toll on the environment and its inhabitants.
Additionally, swine flu & avian flu are both products of animal agriculture. Do I want a flu because other people like bacon or demand cheap chicken? No. Is it fair that I have to be worried about drug resistant e. coli in my sprouts and spinach, because of others’ taste for hamburger? Of course not.
I think if you look into what animal agribusiness is doing to everyone else, you will probably agree, it’s not actually a personal choice at all. Our choices are all connected, and it’s fair to believe that many people will be healthier for this knowledge too.
Who’s Telling Whom What to Eat?
Face it, everyone is told what to eat every day, many times a day – and not by vegans. Watch TV for an hour – you’ll see at least 4 commercials telling you (and your children) what to eat. Commute a few miles to work, and there are billboards directing your appetite. In the 45 seconds or so it took us to walk through Costco’s electronics section today, we were told – on multiple large screen TVs, to eat pizza. On the way out, there were numerous signs for their ready made food – “Enjoy a beef hot dog!” and “Try our chicken!”
Furthermore, the government tells the whole nation what to eat. Since 1943, we have been told that the 4 food groups are “milk, meats, breads, and fruits & vegetables.” Most people were raised to believe that consuming animal products is necessary for good health – but that simply isn’t true.
No one seems to object to money-making entities telling them what to eat. And although many people question past and present government leaders, they rarely question the fact that we are being told to eat the most profitable, subsidized, inefficient – and unhealthy – food possible. We are no longer subsidizing meat and dairy because people need them for nutrition – we are telling people to eat these products because they are overproduced and inexpensive, thanks to federal subsidies.
Indeed, my tax money makes your cow’s milk cheaper than my soy milk. Like 60% of Americans, I can’t consume lactose, even if I wanted to. I am also funding other activities I oppose, such as the trapping, killing, and rounding up of wild animals in order to graze cattle (which I don’t eat) on public lands, and protect the interests of livestock ranchers. Clearly, these uses of tax revenue are my business too – not just the business of whose who consume the products.
But let one vegan suggest a plant-based diet… and the fireworks begin. We are called bossy, self-righteous food nazis, who just want to take away everyone’s choices and tell them what to do. The truth is, we all have a responsibility to make choices that respect the other living beings on the planet – not to waste and destroy the finite resources that we all share.
For More Information:
Meat: Now It’s Not Personal
But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet.