I watched the Dominion documentary last night while nursing my daughter and I am ready to commit to Veganism.
Last night I watched the Dominion documentary. I've watched other slaughter documentaries before, but I, like a typical omnivore, would feel sad for a little while, and then go back to my old ways. However, years ago I stopped buying cow milk (my husband and I switched to almond and oat milk), and we cut pig flesh out of our diets completely a couple years ago because we empathized that they suffered short miserable existences in miniscule cages, and their flesh is one of the worst things you can put in your body. Yet, I continued to eat cheeseburgers, cheese, chicken tenders, corned beef, sliced turkey, eggs, ice cream, whipped cream, and a plethora of other animal products without forethought to the carnage that made these products possible. I have grown up and continue to live around cows in pastures, and have watched as sweet calves suckled from their mothers in wide open spaces with plenty of fresh grass, and heard the cows' happy and delighted moos under a boundless blue sky. I've even seen bulls mate with cows naturally, so I could maintain the illusion that artificial insemination (aka rape) was not the norm. Anything so I could keep eating hamburgers and queso, right?
I, wrongfully, assumed that this was the status quo. I did not consider the horrific dystopian practices of dairy farms, or the fact that these happy cows I saw in the pasture would only live for a maximum few year life span (out of their potential twenty) before being sent to disgusting feed lots for the last few months or years of their life, standing in their own filth, fighting for just a bit of space before being brutishly murdered for my consumption. As for chickens and other fowl, I grew up with hens and roosters housed in nice and roomy coops with plenty of grass and the freedom to roam in search for bugs and seeds. I tended to and loved these birds with all my heart, but then grandpa told me to go inside as he wrung out sweet brown Coco's neck because she wasn't laying eggs anymore, and we had chicken and dumplings for dinner the next day.
My grandparents said a prayer to an invisible man in the sky, thanking him for my dear friend's flesh, and that was that. I could only take a couple bites before I felt sick, and tearfully refused to eat the meal. I was often told that animal sacrifice was necessary and part of the Bible. That God made these creatures so that we could consume their flesh and it was okay as long as we said a small chant to ourselves after, and then the animal did not die in vain. Seriously? It was a gross juxtaposition that I was not able to stomach eating my friends that I had taken care of all summer, but was perfectly fine with mom picking me up some Chick-Fil-A nuggets because by the time the breaded hen flesh pieces made it to my mouth, their original bird form was so far removed from my sight that I could easily maintain my cognitive dissonance on the matter.
It was shameful that I could feel a twinge of sadness at the chicken trucks stopped next to me at an intersection, see the all but lifeless birds crammed together as they headed towards their undignified demise, then continue to Raising Cane's, where the logo of a happy chicken greeted me as I ordered a six piece tender meal. Because it was sooooo addictive, and I just couldn't give that up, right?
But I cannot do this anymore. I just fucking can't.
Two summers ago, my husband and I spent a few weeks in Utah where my grandparents lived, and my grandpa drove us out to a hog farm a couple hours away because my husband and I were curious. It was the Smithfield Farm, and to say it was massive is a massive understatement. We saw hog house after hog house after hog house– it went on for miles. It took us two hours to cross the entire farm. There were giant gates and watch towers to keep the public out of the hog houses, but on more than one instance I HEARD the poor pigs cry out, all the way from the road and dozens of meters away. My grandpa was upset because this massive farm on American soil was owned by the Chinese. Yet, I was upset because I had just read about a couple of animal rights activists who faced potential YEARS IN PRISON for "stealing" a couple of baby piglets from this repuslive enterprise.
Still, none of these experiences converted me to Veganism. When you grow up your whole life seeing happy animals in nature, but never the dark side of their exploitation and murder, and are then inundated with images of droll dairy cows and egg laying hens as you buy certified organic cheese and eggs, it is all too easy to compartmentalize their suffering as separate from the animal products you consume. It is all too easy to rationalize, "Well, Coco that grandpa killed just had one bad day. And she was old anyway, so it's okay." Or, "this cheese says it's organic and that the cows are fed only grass and not corn, so I'm not contributing to animal suffering. The cows have to be milked anyway or they'll get engorged!" These non sequiturs are easy to make a part of your life, even if you're an otherwise kind and animal loving person. The reality is that there are no happy dairy cows, and lactose intolerance exists because I, as a primate, was not made to consume cow breast milk in any form. Hundreds of millions of hens have been horrifically bred to produce hundreds of eggs a year and are kept in dark, dank, and cramped quarters for their entire miserable lives so that I can have eggs for my pancakes or omelets. The idea that hens lay eggs anyway so it isn't cruel is another false ideal that the factory farming industry has so many omnivores and vegetarians believing, or at least conveniently ignoring like I did for all my life.
I know I am preaching to the choir here, but I need to get my thoughts out because I do not want to knowingly contribute to animal suffering anymore.
The final straw for me was the Dominion documentary. By the time I got to the cow section my heart was already broken, but what followed was completely heart wrenching, and I cannot get these images out of my mind.
Here I sat, breastfeeding my own three-month-old daughter, seeing her eyes light up at me as I fed her the way I feel nature intended, just as I watched a female cow be brutally inseminated and raped, only for the next scene to show her screaming in agony as her baby was dragged away from her. She never even got to nurse her baby once. Humans and cows gestate for the same amount of time, roughly 280 days. This mother, who was made a mother through artificial rape, still had a biological love for her calf, and I saw myself in this mother who hollered until she was hoarse for the calf she would never see again. I could not imagine my child being taken from me after carrying her in my womb for nine months as soon as I gave birth to her (and these cows are brutalized even while laboring), only for them to hook me up to machines to force milk me and then doing it all over and over again until my body is spent and they slaughter me for my flesh. These cows are repeatedly raped and forced to carry babies that they never get to nurture, to the point where they cannot walk anymore. Their babies, if they are are boys, are killed unceremoniously or force fed and turned into veal. Their daughters are kept isolated and suffer the same fate as their mothers. I cannot imagine a more horrific existence.
Hell is real, it's on earth, and its unholy sigils are found in the dairy aisle. What gives me the fucking right to consume cheese? Milk? Any animal products that come from the milk meant to nourish their babies? At this point in the film I was sobbing, my tears landing on my infant daughter's head as she suckled from me what millions of cows never get to do for their babies. I cannot go on living the way I have anymore, and I detest that it has taken me this long to truly see the error of my ways. Of course, my human selfishness can only feel empathy for another sentient creature once I have experienced what they never get to do. But I am 24-years-old and I'm starting today.
So, this is where I am now. I ordered a beginner's Vegan guide from PETA, and it will be here in a couple weeks. My husband will consume the rest of the animal products in our home so that they do not go to waste, because to me that would be the absolute worst way I could pay tribute to these sentient creatures, and he is at the very least ready to give up dairy and cow flesh with me, but not chicken or eggs yet.
Furthermore, anyone who believes animals sacrifice their lives for us is deceiving themselves. Sacrifice implies that these animals know what they're doing and give up their milk and flesh willingly. No, they're murdered and forced to exist (I say exist instead of live because they are NOT living fruitful lives) for meaningless and gluttonous consumption that directly causes heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer anyway. Humans have souls and animals do not? Give me a break, I've seen what humans do to other humans, much less other animals, and there is nothing compassionate about that.
My tastebuds do not fucking matter, and they will adapt with time. I refuse to raise my daughter with the same cognitive dissonance that I grew up with.
I know this was a huge word dump. It isn't the most informed, but I wanted to share my feelings with you all because I know you understand. I feel like a light just went off in my head. Every time I read a comment from someone who disagrees with Veganism "for ethical reasons", I am floored with disbelief. Everyone who is not Vegan is taking crazy pills and brainwashed by the agricultural industry. Meat is murder. Dairy is murder. Eating plants isn't perfect; we know the palm oil industry and all monocultures harm wildlife, but bar living on my own land and subsistence farming, it is the most ethical choice I can make for my health, the environment, my family, and most importantly for the billions of sentient creatures who wanted to LIVE.
Thank you for reading if you did, and your support as a newbie to Veganism is invaluable to me. I know going forward that practicing Veganism is a daily commitment, and I am ready to take the plunge.