I gave up meat in November 2015 and the end goal for me was always to transition to a completely vegan lifestyle. But there were always some questions that made me wonder: is being vegan really necessary?

What if you really do know where your dairy, meat, and eggs come from? What if those cows really did have full, happy lives? For the majority of what comes from stores and restaurants, this is not true. Unless you’re getting your animal products from someone you know, they probably came from very unhealthy and unhappy animals.

When I moved to Hawaii for an internship on a permaculture farm I was actually confronted with the process of waking up to milk a cow. As far as I could see she was living a very normal life. Even the vegans on my farm liked to go milk the cow, she was treated like a family pet. The cow followed the bucket of feed into the milking stansion and then happily chomped away as she was milked for about 15 minutes. I wanted to believe that since we were milking cows “humanely” it would be okay to consume a little here and there.
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I would occasionally squirt some milk into my coffee in the morning and when the farm had potlucks with  homemade cheese, I couldn’t help myself. We also had free range eggs and I had a few here and there. Even though they were the most “humane” animal products I could possibly imagine, it still didn’t sit well with me to eat animal products.

During my time at the farm, I always thought to myself; why am I drinking milk that’s supposed to help a baby cow grow? The farm I was living on gave the calf half of the milk it was supposed to get each day, but a baby cow is supposed get all of it, plain and simple.  Is there any reason why I should get to enjoy milk instead of a growing baby that needs it? No, not at all, I ate it because it tasted good.

Here’s my point; it can get easy for vegetarians and people in general to compromise their values and make excuses because it is convenient and the end result of suffering tastes good. Humans like to fool themselves into thinking that if something is raised “humanely,” that it’s okay to take something that belongs to a baby, or to take a life. These rationalizations make it easier to continue on with a comfortable American diet, and ignore how it would feel to actually confront what we’re paying to do to animals. The example of, “humane slaughter,” is a great one because those two words create an oxymoron. Oxymoron meaning a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.

On the farm many of my friends would hunt and butcher their own wild pigs if they wanted meat, otherwise most of their meals were farm grown veggies and grains. This is what a diet of a person who eats meat should be. It is my personal belief that if you’re going to eat meat, you should be able to go out and kill an animal. If you can’t do that, why would you pay somebody to do it for you? There’s such a disconnect between the meat on people’s plates and the death that had to happen to get it there. It was nice to be in a place where meat eaters could say, “I know what happened for this meat to be on my plate.”

If you have the balls to go out and get your own meat, then I can respect that(even as a vegan). I think why most vegans and meat eaters don’t get along is because both sides refuse to see the logic in any opinion other than their own. I know that there will never be a day when every body on the planet decides, hey I’m going to decide to stop supporting the slaughter of billions of innocent animals a year, I know there’s some people who simply just don’t care. But the people who will see logic, and are willing to make a change in their diets, can make in enormous change.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everybody would be a vegetarian.”

-John Lennon

It’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable eating and how hard you are willing to work to choose a diet that supports the way you want animals to be treated. After moving back to Iowa where there really was no source of cheese, eggs, or dairy I would be comfortable consuming, I decided to stop altogether. I am fully committed to being a vegan, in every sense of the word.

So is being vegan or vegetarian necessary?… That’s entirely up to you.

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