Some of you already know that both Maarten and myself are vegetarians. We both have different reasons for this such as personal health, environmental issues, being against cruelty to animals, views against factory farming, and having a love for tasty vegetables. But since traveling in Turkey we have been eating some dead animals and it has been a real moral issue for us to deal with. Yes it is our choice but in a way it is not quite our choice. I guess the reason, though I hate to admit it, is because we are speciesist… we prioritize our human relations over the lives of other earthlings, earthlings that have just as much right to life as we do. If we recognize one form of oppression then we should recognize the rest.
You see, in Turkey, especially in the small villages, it is not very common to be vegetarian. We found that some people don’t understand what the hell we are talking about. If you say you don’t eat meat they bring you chicken instead. In turkey people are very hospitable and almost every day we have been invited to someones house to eat or drink tea. It is very annoying each time this happens to first explain what we eat and don’t eat. Sometimes we don’t even get the chance to and food is brought to us by surprise. It is amazing kindness, and for me to go and refuse this kindness and say “sorry I don’t want to eat your food” when they can clearly see that im very hungry and exhausted, might give a very bad impression. Some people may even think that we don’t want to eat their food because we don’t trust them. This can be a problem. So both of us have come to the decision to prioritize our human relations over the lives of other innocent beings, and eat some dead animals while in Turkey and Iran only.
But one thing that does make me feel better about it is that most of the meat we will eat is home grown and not taken for granted, never wasted. Most of it is not produced on a factory farm where a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost using huge amounts of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides to kill of diseases (such as mad cow, and foot and mouth) that are caused by the disgustingly over crowded living conditions, then inhumanly murdered without love or respect. Physical restraints are even used to stop the animals from moving.
Farmers, as well as animals have suffered greatly from factory farming….the number of farms has decreased while the number of animals farmed and consumed each year has greatly increased, and obviously their ownership is more concentrated, making it difficult for small farmers… In the U.S. four companies produce 81 percent of cows and other livestock. These numbers are similar in other countries as well. Did you know that world wide, suicide is higher among farmers then any other profession? Do you think that has anything to do with the World Trade Organization and big agribusiness? This problem of cooperate farming and land ownership is also for vegetable farmers too, but I could be writing for a long time if I get too into it now.
I have been vegetarian for a while now and one question meat eaters always ask me is “where do I get protein from ?” I think it is a funny question really, considering almost all plants contain protein. But I suppose what they mean is where do I get essential amino acids from, since your body cant make these on its own. But the essential amino acids can also be obtained not only by eating dead animals but also from eating a variety of plant sources that provide all eight essential amino acids (e.g. brown rice and beans, or hummus and whole wheat pita. Protein in vegetarian diets is only slightly lower than in dead animal diets and can meet daily requirements for any person, including athletes, bodybuilders, and yes…even cyclists!
Ok , but what about iron? Surely iron deficiency anemia must be much more common in vegetarians then in animal eaters. Well actually that’s not true at all, anemia is rare no matter what your diet is. Iron deficiency is no more common in vegetarians than it is in dead animal eaters. Vegetarian diets usually have similar levels of iron to animal eaters, but this has lower absorption than iron from animal sources. Vegetarian foods rich in iron include black beans, cashews, hempseed, kidney beans, lentils, oatmeal, raisins, black-eyed peas, soybeans, many breakfast cereals, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, tomato juice, tempeh, molasses, thyme, and whole-wheat breads. And man, do we ever eat a lot of this stuff, especially the beans!! My mouth is already starting to water.
So as you can see it is not unhealthy to give up eating dead animal, quite the opposite really, but the meat industry has a lot of money and a tight grip on the media for feeding you its propaganda. Did you know that properly planning and eating a vegetarian diet can help with prevention and treatment of certain diseases? Did you know that heart disease is 30% lower for vegetarians then dead animal eaters? Because vegetarian diets have lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, that are causes of heart disease and higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, foliate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. I read that vegetarians have lower body fat, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less risk of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, cancers, dementias such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other disorders, and it is not hard for me to believe.
I have heard arguments against vegetarianism like ‘humans are natural omnivores’. But this has been proven to be false. Humans lack the proper canine teeth to rip and tear flesh, our digestive track is much to small properly digest meat, and our bodies alone are not capable of killing animals and ripping their limbs and bone apart. Appetites of carnivores and omnivores are turned on by the site and smell of blood and guts, what about you? Do you salivate at the site and smell of blood and dead animals or does it make you sick? I think if most people are eating a burger then see a lot of blood they will forget about eating all together. Most people would rather ignore where that burger came from, especially while they are eating it. Do you think you could eat lunch while sitting in a slaughter house with the stench of death and sounds of torture, watching cows and pigs being killed, blood gushing on the floor, and having their guts ripped out? A carnivore certainly could. We were built to eat plants and fruit.
I have heard other so called “arguments” from people in favor of eating dead animals such as ‘I do what I like, I love the taste of meat and I couldn’t imagine not eating it again…it’s so delicious…and it wont change anything if is stop eating it anyway’. For those people i just have to say…’please listen to what your saying, and stop being such a f***ing idiot’.
Do you need any other reasons?
Ok, here are some more….What about the environmental effects of meat production? Did you know that the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and todays practices of raising animals for food contributes on a massive scale to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity? Did you know that the World Bank estimated that the meat industry contributes 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions? Did you know that animals fed grain need more water than grain crops need to grow? What does this mean, well it means that “producing” animals for food is much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, seeds and fruits for our food. When you are about to bite into that juicy burger just remember that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products is directly associated with the clearing of rainforests (causing the loss of some unique plant and animal species in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, some of which could contain cures for many diseases ), resource depletion, air and water pollution (from animal shit, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics), land and economic inefficiency, species extinction, and other environmental harms. This can not be denied!
Did you know that while wars are being fought over land ownership, livestock takes up 30 percent of the land on the planet? That is a lot of land!
At the moment you may not care because maybe you haven’t yet seen that the world is in a water shortage crises. It is already very serious but i know it is only going to get worse, in ten years many more people will be dieing because of this. But did you know that despite this death threat to humanity half of all the water consumed in North America is consumed by livestock! How do you feel about that while you eat your juicy piece of animal and you know people in the world are dieing because they have nothing do drink and no way to water their crops? Soon water will be worth more to people then oil and wars will be fought over it.
Unfortunately it is up to us to learn and tell other people this information on our own. The government gets huge amounts of money from the meat industry so they will never want to tell us this information or teach it in schools so that the future is better for everyone, unless they are forced to. Instead they will tell you that dead animals are good for you and should be a part of every meal you eat. I know that’s what I learned in school.
Maybe the way humans treat other Earthlings has a direct relation to the way humans treat other humans?
Some people I talk to about being vegetarian say that all vegetarians think they can change the world (even though every decent person should want to and try to change this shitty mess, meat eaters included. When we see a problem in the world the worst thing we can say is ‘there is nothing we can do about it, that’s just the way it is’) but it is more about changing yourself, being healthy, and doing something good for the earth which gave you life. Anyway, you can’t deny that many small changes add up. I’m not thinking that I can convince everyone to stop eating dead animals, though it would be nice if I could. And I know that in some places in the world it is necessary for the people to eat some meat in order to survive, like in the Arctic and Mongolia for example. I know people will do what they want and what they think is best for themselves, but with more information maybe a spark of change will fire in some people and they will give it a shot, they may just notice that they have more energy and feel better about themselves and tell others about it. Even people choosing not to eat meat one day of the week will make a difference…meatless mondays?
These are only some of the arguments for vegetarianism… there are many more but I don’t feel like writing a whole book right now.
Man, reading over this I don’t know what happened…. I was supposed to write about an excuse for us eating some dead animals during this trip. Oops