by Kj Steier
It was a Friday night, probably a Saturday morning when I was talking on the phone with a friend of mine. He was going off on thoughts of the purpose of life and our meaning here, which in turn got me thinking about the food chain and the lunch meat I ate that day: the sandwich that contained part of a turkey and a little dairy from a cow all on a whole wheat piece of bread. It’s life sliced up from a meat slicer for my convenience in a sandwich. I felt lazy and dirty at the idea of a life being taken for some convenience of another earthling. I thought about how there is no other species in the world that functions off of convenience. Because of that conversation, I’ve eaten a vegetarian/vegan diet from that day on. It is our job here on earth to take care of our home that we share with other beings. We as conscious and abstract thought human beings shouldn’t be taking the lives of other earthlings just for the necessity or convenience of the human lifestyle.
Throughout our lives here on earth every living being is categorized as “earthlings”. We share everything that is produced here on this planet. In the movie “Earthlings” Shaun Monson says, “since we all inhabit the earth, we are all considered earthlings. There is no sexism, racism, or species-ism in the term ‘earthling’. It encompasses each and every one of us: warm- or cold-blooded, mammal, vertebrate or invertebrate, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and human alike” (Monson). The food chain is included in these things shared, however the ways we have been attaining our food as humans is not natural or even safe anymore. Doreen Virtue and Becky Prelitz quoted a Buddhist monk at the beginning of their book: “if one is trying to practice meditation and is still eating meat, he would be like a man closing his ears and shouting loudly, and then asserting that he heard nothing.”
We are slaughtering animals mercilessly for food. Meats and dairies are produced in masses, meaning we are over killing and using these poor animals for our personal gain. Name another species of animal that drinks another animal’s milk. There are none, so why is it “natural” or “normal” for us to do it? David Kirby said in his book: Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment: “But the cows at the new milk factories were nothing like that. Instead, thousands of manure-smeared animals were jammed into strictly confined tracts of land. Whatever grass had sprouted in these “feeding pens” was quickly shredded under constant hoof pounding, leaving behind open stretches of dirt and feces” (Kirby 7). We have been taught through generation evolution that calcium and protein can be obtained from these meats and dairies.
Humans have become accustomed to herding large amounts of animals into farms for slaughter. There are pesticides and hormones that animals are fed to “enhance” their growth. For example the “meat” at McDonald’s, like Michael Pollan explained in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is something other than meat. “The chemicals packed into the “chicken nuggets” make the nugget a form of food by itself. Chickens are sprayed with pesticides and chemicals before and after slaughter and production to “ensure freshness”. Pollan continues, “Chickens are forced into small box like cages in dimmed florescent lit chambers and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting. A natural process that replaces old feathers with new ones, 5 to 10 percent of these chickens die in this process prematurely” (57). This is what we are deciding to put in our bodies, with no thought or remorse.
We as conscious and abstract thinking humans must put into account other species equal rights to live comfortably and happily if we are to continue to use them for personal use. We virtually are equals to every living thing that roams and resides on this earth because we share the same home. Just because we have a higher level of thinking shouldn’t make us believe we have the right to harm or cause discomfort to those species that don’t. Respect and love is key to living on this earth happily and wholly. If we as humans throughout history have demanded equal rights with slavery, women’s suffrage, and gay rights why don’t animals deserve the same rights to live peacefully here on earth, the planet we share.
Kirby, David. Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011. 512. Print.
Monson, Shaun, dir. Earthlings. Prod. Libra Max, Maggie Q, Nicole Visram, and Persia White. Nation Earth , 2005. Film. 10 Feb 2014.
Pollan, Michael. “An Animal’s Place.” New York Times 10 Nov. 2002, n. pag. Print. Pollan, Michael. “The Meal: Fast Food.” Trans. From The Heartland. Plymouth: Hayden Mcneil Publishing, 2011. 494. Print.
Virtue, Doreen, and Becky Prelitz. Eating in the Light: Making the Switch to Veganism on Your Spiritual Path. Hay House, Inc., 2013. 168. Print.