I would become a vegan, but…

It’s probably fairly obvious, but I love animals.  And I don’t just mean cute furry ones.

I believe humans have a responsibility to treat animals humanely.  Okay, maybe I’m iffy on snakes and fish, but still, no animal deserves to suffer, whether they are being abused or being killed for food.

I watched a clip of the documentary Food, Inc. yesterday in class and was reminded of how uncomfortable I am with eating animal products.

I’m not to the stage that I’m ready to become a vegan (mostly because I’m so fussy my diet is already quite limited) and yet I am concerned where my meat comes from and how humanely the animal was treated prior to death.  (In case you don’t know, vegans don’t eat any animal products including eggs or milk.)

I wish meat came with information about how the animal was raised and where and how it was processed.  I think the easiest way to do this would be to have a label (similar to organic ratings) that identifies humane meat.  It would be like buying shampoo  (I really like shampoo that hasn’t been tested on animals even though it’s far too rare!)

Even though I’m not quite to the point I avoid meat and animal products, I keep trying to become a better consumer by

  • Refusing to eat lobster even though it’s a Maritime staple.   Something about dropping a live creature in boiling water makes me nauseated.
  • Avoiding lamb and veal.  There’s something wrong about eating babies.  (However, considering all the milk I drink, there’s something ironic about not eating veal.  After all, where do the boy calves go?  They don’t give milk, so what happens to them on dairy farms?  They go for veal.)
  • Sticking with beef, pork, fish, chicken, and turkey because I can’t handle eating any more species.
  • Buying local products, which are less likely to be raised in inhumane conditions.  This avoids the whole factory farm issue.
  • Eating less meat.  The Canada Food Guide tells us we don’t need much meat anyway.  Most North Americans overload on protein.
  • Avoiding fur and using less leather (I only allow leather shoes.)  I think fur is repulsive and nothing more than a status symbol in the western world; we have so many faux versions now.
  • And for my benefit only, not eating food that resembles animals including fish still containing the head.  This doesn’t help the animals, though; it’s just something to make me feel better.

However, there’s still lots of things I can do to make myself more responsible and humane.

Someday, for example, I’d like my own chickens so I can have free range eggs.  This will probably be a fairly inefficient venture as I won’t want to kill any of the animals once they stop laying eggs.  I’m still not sure what I’ll do with the boy chicks since you can only have so many roosters.

Buy sides of meat from local farmers so that I know exactly where each cut comes from.  It’s also a great way to support local agriculture!

Buy all beauty products from companies that do not test on animals.  There’s still a few brands from multi-national companies that I use because they work and are inexpensive.  It makes me uncomfortable, though, that animals may have been hurt in the making of a certain shampoo or soap.

Avoid fast food and chain restaurants.  Not only will this improve my health, it will mean I’m no longer a participant in the slaughter and mass production of animals to make McFood.  There’s something to be said for local cooking and restaurants!

Cut back on milk and cheese, perhaps even switching to soy products.  This one will be the hardest to do, because I love milk.  I seriously can’t get enough of it.  And cheese.  Oh, how I love cheese!  And yogurt!

Animal welfare should be a concern of all responsible consumers who eat meat and use animal products.  Realistically, most of us won’t make it to veganism or vegetarianism, but even making small changes can make a difference.

How do you think you could cut back?

All animals deserve to be treated humanely, even to the point of having their own bench.