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More and more of our readers have been asking us what eating a plant-based diet entails. While we try our best not to be militant when talking about our food choices, we love it when people express an interest in moving away from meat, eggs and dairy. So, it gives us a ridiculous amount of pleasure to present: Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners (and Curious Omnivores). Enjoy!
What About the Animals?
Sporty and I try our damnedest not to be those hardcore vegans (you know, the ones wearing T-shirts with ‘not your mom, not your milk’ slogans or hurling red paint on models in fur coats).
It’s not that we don’t feel just as strongly about animal rights. We do.
We just don’t think that kind of in your face approach always has the desired effect. Very often it only serves to get people’s backs up, which in turn drives them even further away from the cause.
Instead, we try to walk our talk and act as an example. We’ve found most folks are more open to hearing what we have to say when they engage with us on the topic first, rather than the other way around.
But the thing is, while we’re still all about being a lighthouse as opposed to a loud hailer, after watching movies like What The Health and The True Cost (although the latter is about fast fashion and not veganism) it’s reached a point where we also believe we have a responsibility to speak out on behalf of those who can’t.
We won’t ever resort to shock tactics, but we will be making more of a concerted effort to encourage people to inform themselves. It’s no longer okay to hide behind our hands and say we can’t make a difference.
While not always easy to watch, it is incumbent upon all of us to watch these movies anyway. And make no mistake, you can make a difference. Every time you take out your wallet to make a purchase, you’re voting one way or the other.
Factory farming, pigs that can’t move, chickens cooped up in cages the size of an iPad, these things are happening every single day and they’ll continue to happen so long as there’s a market for it.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. —Mahatma Gandhi
What About Free-Range and Organic?
Of course, this raises the question of free-range and organic farming, which you’d think would be healthier and more humane.
Unfortunately the laws work in favour of the farmer and not the animal in these situations, so free range doesn’t necessarily mean romping through the meadows all day and then traipsing back to a spacious barn in the evening.
I used to assume that organic farming meant ethical farming, but sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case either. Organic simply means there are no pesticides used in making their feed, it doesn’t speak to how an organically raised animal is treated.
We need to make it our mission and responsibility to find out exactly where our food comes from and how it got to our table. The big chains aren’t going to tell us and nor are the labels on our food. We need to channel our inner Sherlock Holmes and figure it out for ourselves.
What If I Milk My Own Cows?
It’s a valid question. I mean, if you’re living off the grid in a symbiotic relationship with your cows, pigs and chickens, surely it’s okay to feast on the spoils? Well, I guess it’s better than factory-farming (heck, anything is better than factory-farming), but Sporty and I still see it as taking from another living being without their consent.
A lot of people might find our views a little extreme. After all, it’s not like you can enter into a contractual agreement with an animal (not least of all because they lack opposable thumbs). We just feel that if humans can thrive on a plant-based diet, what reason is there to eat animal products?
That being said, if we were ever to make a case for eating meat, eggs or dairy, it would only ever be in an off-the-grid situation, where you’re entirely responsible for getting the product from the animal all the way to your plate.
Going to Woolworths and piling our shopping cart high with everything from steak and lean chicken breasts to yoghurt, ice-cream, cheese and eggs simply isn’t okay. There’s no way we’re being mindful in that situation. All we’re thinking about are the dinner guests we’re going to impress, the school lunches we’ll be making and the breakfasts we’ll be whipping up.
Is There Such a Thing as Humane Slaughter?
Let’s not kid ourselves, humane slaughter is an oxymoron. When it comes to animals and their wellbeing the laws put in place to protect them are not only negligible, but barely enforced (if at all).
Humane Facts has a glut of information on the subject, do yourself a favour and visit their website to find out more about what the meat you see on supermarket shelves goes through before it actually gets there.
These things aren’t easy to learn about, but I’d urge you to put on your big girl panties (or Superman undies) and do it anyway. Think about it this way: if it’s hard for you, just imagine what it’s like for the animal.
A Case for Carnism
Have you ever wondered why you we, as humans, are perfectly happy to eat pigs and cows, yet balk at the idea of eating, say, a fluffy white kitten or a Golden Retriever? Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals.
In her TEDx talk: Beyond Carnism and Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices, Dr Melanie Joy explains why it is impossible to make our food choices freely without awareness. That awareness that she’s referring to is one of the reasons for writing this series of posts.
Animals Also Have a Right to Live a Good Life
Animals are living, breathing sentient beings with distinct personalities and complex social structures. They want to live just as much as we do. Yet, for whatever reason, we’ve decided that we’re better than them, that our life is worth more than theirs.
Somewhere along the line we lost the ability to view these creatures as anything other than our possessions. For some people, even their pets fall into this ‘stuff’ category. Dogs are forced to spend their days crated in an apartment, cats are declawed so they don’t ruin the furniture, birds are caged, fish live out their solitary lives in a tiny bowl, entirely devoid of company.
We’re the ones with the biggest brains, you’d think we’d know better. Animals are way smarter than us, perhaps it’s high time we took our cues from them.
*We’re keen to earn passive income to fund our coffee habit, but we’re definitely not going to be shifty about it. This means we’ll only ever link to something if we’ve personally used it, eaten it, read it, or whatever, and are 100% impressed. Also, it won’t cost you anything extra if you purchase something via our link. The vendor has to cough up our commission fee, not you. 😉