Isn’t being vegan is going too far?

On World Vegan Day it’s an opportunity to consider what is involved in veganism, why the difference between this and vegetarianism is important and if veganism really is extreme or going “too far”. I actually remember saying this when I was vegetarian. Milk and eggs come out of animals, so what’s the harm in using them? Then the facts started to trickle into my life and my conscience and I could not ignore them.
Aside from the obvious uses of dairy, milk is added to so many products as whey powder as a cheap filler and used in cakes, sweets, chocolate and processed foods where it’s presence is not even noticeable. As there is so much that could be highlighted with dairy, I’m going to bullet point the shit out of just some of the facts about cows used for their milk. Really try considering whether swapping cows milk for any of the widely available alternatives really is going too far, when this is the reality for the animals:
  • We ain’t baby cows! A mummy cow, just like a human, only produces milk to feed her baby. Within a day however, the baby is taken; a process know to be horrifically stressful for both mother a calf. Cows can even become violent when their baby is removed. I must say, I don’t find this video “hilarious” as the mother is clearly distressed. But at least she had a chance to defend her baby, most do not.
  • Babies are shot or may be kept for a short time in the UK before being killed for veal or exported abroad to suffer even worse conditions, severely confined on veal farms.
  • Cows are usually milked by machinery, their grossly oversized udders (a result of breeding selection) suffering mastitis. This very common inflammation of the nipples and udders is painful and due to a build up of bacteria.
  • They will be repeatedly artificially impregnated by human hands and repeatedly suffer the removal of babies until they are no longer productive enough, or become too sick to continue.
  • At around 5 years of age and they are slaughtered. This is a tiny proportion of their potential 25 year life span. Considered mere products, if they are no longer economically viable, they are not worth keeping.
  • Many cows in the UK and on intensive farms around the world endure “zero grazing” – they never step a foot on grass or see the sky, until they step out of the shed where they spent their whole lives, onto the truck to the slaughterhouse.
So how about eggs? Surely there’s no suffering – it is natural for hens to produce them, so why not use them?Maybe you feel like you are doing your bit by buying free range eggs, but what about the eggs in cake, mayonnaise, pastries and other products purchased, who’s egg credentials you can’s account for? Let’s see if replacing scrambled egg on toast, with scrambled tofu or making your own egg-less cakes is really so extreme. Again, just a few of the facts:
  • Whether free range, confined to a barn or caged, all laying hens come from hatcheries which produce millions of eggs a year. When these are hatched, they are almost immediately sexed as they wizz along on a conveyor belt. Boy chicks will be thrown either straight in a grinder, live, or they are gassed to death in a box. Around 40 million males a year are hatched and killed in the UK alone.
  • Hens are still kept in cages which are too small to allow a full range of natural behaviours such as fully stretching their wings. Eggs used as an ingredient in processed foods and cakes are often from caged hens.
  • Due to cramped conditions hens may peck and pluck feathers and injure their cage mates. The egg industry’s answer to this is to de-beak the animals, which involves slicing off the end of the sensitive beak with a hot blade.
  • Once hens are deemed to be unproductive, they are sent to slaughter at only a few years old. Chickens can live over ten years.IMG_3566-2

So, when you weigh up the reality of lives for animals kept and used for their excretions and secretions, what is so
extreme about choosing alternatives to their milk and eggs? A main part of being vegan is about considering how your choices impact on animals. By choosing foods with animal products in, the demand for these products continues and so does the reason for the dairy and egg industries to continue to exploit animals kill them by the million.

The most incredible thing about being vegan is that you are empowered with choice that the animals don’t have and you can choose for them. Choose not to be part of systems which are a constant cause of suffering and sadness in sentient animals. At the same time, you can stuff your face with fantastic food and show others that a lifestyle based on compassion for those with no voice is full of enjoyment and joy! Just as the lives of all animals should be.



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