I shall start by saying that I’ve been there, got the badge and the tee shirt. I was deceived for many years and I used to follow a vegetarian diet.
I chose my words there with care; vegetarianism is a diet and the significance of this will, I hope, become clear as you read on. Until I found out about veganism, I had a nagging but unexamined notion that my consumption of eggs and dairy had to be done in an ethical manner, so I always chose ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’. Looking back, it will always mystify me why I was able to recognise the moral significance of my victims to the extent that I realised the need to try to reduce the harm my consumer power was demanding, but I was somehow incapable of doing the tiny amount of research that it eventually took in this age of Google to realise that:
- contrary to what many believe, all ‘products’ derived from the bodies of sentient individuals result in unspeakable suffering and in their premature death;
- all dairy and egg production takes place as a result of brutal manipulation of the reproductive processes of sentient individuals;
- humans have no nutritional or other need to enslave other beings and consume or otherwise use their eggs, lactation or ‘products’ derived from these;
- labels such as ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ are marketing ploys to dupe consumers into believing their choices are ethical when in fact from the perspective of the innocent victim, they are utterly meaningless;
- there is at least as much – if not more – suffering and death involved in the production of eggs and dairy as there is in the production of flesh ‘products’;
- it is an oxymoron to contend that humans may exploit other beings in a ‘humane’ manner.
The definition of vegetarianism promotes speciesism
The situation is not helped at all by the explanation of the word ‘vegetarian’ provided by the ‘Vegetarian Society‘. This definition is unfortunately the standard which the majority of suppliers of ‘vegetarian’ food seem to follow. This is particularly true of supermarket chill or freezer cabinets where packaging will frequently announce that ‘free range’ eggs have been used, or ‘organic’ milk.
In essence, this use simply enforces and legitimises the speciesism that allows consumers to continue to perpetuate unspeakable harm and suffering upon chickens, other egg ‘providers’, cows, goats, sheep and other milk ‘providers’. It deliberately disregards the violence that is the backbone of any ‘industry’ that commodifies sentient individuals as human resources. It is particularly upsetting that these products are being sold to many who try so hard to be ethical consumers and who carefully avoid consuming the flesh of others.
I have frequently seen the contention that vegetarianism ‘is a step on the way to becoming vegan’. That may be the case, provided that the person knows about, and is transitioning to veganism. The progression is, however, by no means automatic. It’s like saying that London is on the way to New York. It is if you know about New York and are heading there, otherwise London may seem like a fine place to stop – and many do just that. They stop at vegetarianism, never realising the truth.
What veganism is – a reminder
This is the point at which it must be stressed that another element to the confusion is the perception of veganism as a diet. It is not a diet. At the risk of repeating myself, veganism is an ethical stance that rejects the use or consumption of all beings for food, clothing, entertainment, testing or any other purpose whatsoever. It is the most simple and easily understood ethic that it is possible to imagine. There are no complex rules or provisions to memorise. If a product or practice utilises or is derived from the body of a nonhuman being, a vegan rejects consumption, use or participation. What vegans eat is a consequence of their ethical stance, not the main event.
Back to dairy and eggs
As a vegan advocate, I have deliberately chosen not to explore here the health and environmental implications of ending all nonhuman use. Why? Because I promote veganism for my nonhuman friends and kin who need my voice, not for what we as humans can get out of our ceasing to exploit them. Nevertheless, the same cursory use of Google will reveal the horrific truth to any serious enquirer.
Please see below a compilation of links that most eloquently illustrate why dairy and egg use is so insidious. The suffering and anguish of these sweet and gentle mothers and their innocent babies is not ‘opinion’, it is a fact. To continue to use the results of the brutal manipulation of the reproductive processes of these helpless and vulnerable victims of human self indulgence is not a ‘choice’ because choices do not create victims.
What’s wrong with eggs?
‘A sentient being’s body and its secretions are not things for us to eat, any more than a human being’s body and its secretions are things for us to eat. Consuming eggs (even from rescued chickens), or giving them away to people who would otherwise buy eggs from battery caged hens, does not “reduce suffering”, it legitimizes suffering, it demands suffering, It perpetuates suffering by condoning the very practice of violence we are struggling to end.
The hen may not know that her suffering body, her unfreedom, her isolation, and every misery in her life is inflicted intentionally, systematically, and solely for the sensory gratification of humans, but you do.
She may not know that the fertilized egg that brought her into existence was the result of confinement and rape, or that hens like her are the product of mass infanticide, but you do. She may not know that the cost of killing male infants, “spent” breeding parents and “spent” hens is built into the price of eggs, but you do. She may not know that, if we became vegan, the horrors that she and her kind are forced to endure would end, but you do.
Act on that knowledge. Become vegan and educate others about the violence and injustice inherent in all non-vegan choices. Rescue (don’t buy) chickens and other animals, respect their lives, and please remember to always give the eggs back to the birds: They are, after all, the only rightful owners.’
I have lost count of the number of posts that I have seen, seeking to justify the use of eggs in particular, where ‘backyard’ egg production is frequently promoted. The essential thing to stress is that all use of eggs, wherever they come from, perpetuates the false notion of eggs as human ‘food’, thus ensuring the continuation of the abhorrent practice that is all egg production, with the billions of completely unnecessary annual deaths that this entails.
- A handy guide for vegan advocates discussing chickens and eggs
- What’s Wrong with Backyard Eggs
- A Hen’s Relationship with her Eggs
- Backyard Chicken Farming Leads to Abandoned Hens
- Cage-Free? Not free enough
- Backyard chickens: Expanding our understanding of ‘harm’
- 12 Egg Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
- Enriched Cages and Embodied Prisons, A Report on the EU Directive Banning Battery Cages for Egg Laying Hens
- Peaceful Prairie: The Free Range Myth
What’s wrong with dairy?
‘It is impossible to separate our use of animals as economic resources from our exploitation of their reproductive systems. After all, there would be no animal industries (whether on a small or a large scale), without ongoing breeding and birthing. When domesticated animals become mothers, their children belong to someone else, and not only are they nearly always separated from their young shortly after birth, but they have no power whatsoever over the future their child will be forced to endure. Although this is true for all animals living under the oppressive regime of human control (from ‘layer’ hens to ‘pet’ dogs), nowhere is it more apparent or more brutal than with cows being used for dairy production.’ ~ Angel Flinn
http://gentleworld.org/mothers-milk/ http://www.humanemyth.org/happycows.htm https://goveganworld.com/why-vegan/the-animals-we-use/dairy-take-babies-mothers/ http://www.peacefulprairie.org/humane-myth02.html http://www.peacefulprairie.org/outreach/grievingMother.html http://freefromharm.org/dairyfacts/ http://www.ukcows.com/holsteinUK/publicweb/Education/HUK_Edu_DairyCows.aspx?cmh
Please become vegan and live true to the values that you already hold.
Your only regret will be that it took you so long.