Friday, July 18, 2008


People like to ask vegans all sorts of ethical/moral questions about what they eat. I totally understand and usually I assume people are just trying to understand what it really means to be "vegan". For some vegans it is a diet, for some it is a moral/ethical way of living which includes what they wear, what they ingest, and pretty much every decision they make in their lives, for others it is something in between. So, the questions come up...

"If a hamburger (or whatever non-vegan "food" you want to come up with) fell off a truck and you didn't actually pay for it, thus you haven't added to the suffering of animals because it will just go to waste anyway, would you eat it?"

No, I wouldn't. I don't miss 99.9% (I can't think of anything I miss right now, but it is possible someone could come up with something) non-vegan "foods" so I don't feel like I'm deprived. On top of this, I don't believe that animal products are good for humans to consume.

"At the animal sanctuary, did you eat the eggs from the chickens?"

No, we didn't. Again, I felt no desire to eat something that "shoots right outta chicken's ass" (couldn't help but quote Fried Green Tomatoes there). When I was volunteering at an animal sanctuary in Maryland, we put the eggs out (away from where the chickens) to be eaten by wild animals. Yes, the chickens were treated very well, but I still had no interest in eating their eggs.

Oh so many questions. They usually degrade to the "What would you do if you were in a plane crash over Antarctica and there was nothing vegan to eat? Would you die of starvation before eating something non-vegan?" and the like.

But, this post is really about addressing a serious question vegans often hear...

"What about humanely raised animals? Would you eat meat, eggs, dairy, if the animals were treated well before they were killed, eggs were taken away, milked?" I think this is a harder one for a lot of people to understand than shunning all products from "factory farms" which I think the majority of people agree are not healthy for anyone. With the "humane" animal products becoming more popular (yeah! for people caring about where their food is coming from and how it was treated), it is harder for people to understand why someone wouldn't just buy "grass-fed beef" and eat "organic milk/eggs". I am glad I now have a place to send people who are interested in the topic. Check out this site for information on the myths behind "humane".


Misc said...

I say to each his/her own. I have plenty of friends who are either vegan or vegetarian and I've never thought to question why they chose to not eat meat (or dairy or animal-based products). Myself? I could do w/o meat but am married to a dedicated carnivore.

Loretta said...

Linda, Thanks for sharing this site. Now that I've been off dairy for a while, we're finding more and more vegan recipes that we really enjoy. In fact, since I started preparing only vegan food, David has told me I've become a much better chef. :) Just the other day I mentioned maybe becoming a vegan family to D. and he said "if by vegan you mean free-range and organic eggs and cheese, I'm up for it." Ummm, no that was not what I meant.

I'll definitely be showing him this site, and I'm sure we'll be discussing this further. I think ideally, we both would like to buy milk and eggs from a local farmer where we "know" the animals who are providing those products really do live good and happy lives. I guess we have just been those duped consumers they refer to in the slideshows who think "free-range" means what it used to mean 100 years ago. :(

Susan said...

I just perused the site you posted. Wow. Sigh. Thanks for sharing it, Linda. I think I will also show it to dh and hope it sparks a nice discussion and hopefully it will help him to give me more support as I venture into more vegetarian/vegan cooking, and also strengthen his willingness to give it a try.

VeganLinda said...

One of the people quoted on the site, Terry Cummings really opened my eyes to the cruelty which happens on small family farms. I volunteered regularly for several years at the sanctuary in Maryland which she co-founded with her Dave Hoerauf. At that time, most of the animals rescued were from smaller farms, not larger "factory farms". I was already vegan at the time, but getting to know the animals, seeing the situations they came from, and being friends with Dave and Terry really changed my life.

My father grew up on a family farm where his dad (my grandpa) sprayed DDT on the dairy cows to keep the flies away and put DDT in the whitewash on the barns (again to keep the insects down) which the cows would lick off the walls because they liked the taste so much. My grandpa was a good person, but I shudder to think of how that may have affected the milk which was consumed by his family and many others. My father still tears up when he thinks of the male calves being taken away for veal.