Like most people, I grew up not really thinking about what I ate: If it tasted good, I ate it. Why think more about it? I have found that most people approach eating that way.
But about five years ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube video that convinced me to stop eating animals. I had met vegetarians and was somewhat aware of what food animals go through, but up to that point I thought that their suffering was just part how the world was supposed to be.
That video made me consider that I am responsible for the choices I make, that by choosing to eat meat I had been participating in terrible cruelty, and that I was collecting negative karma, which I would have to answer for. Initially, my decision to stop eating meat was motivated by fear of spiritual consequences, but right away I found that not eating meat made me feel good about myself. It increased my self-esteem, which I found so rewarding, I wanted to do more.
I began to look for new ways to cut cruelty out of my lifestyle. I stopped wearing leather, eating fish and eggs, and once I bought my first carton of almond milk, I had become a vegan. I never really thought of it as a sacrifice I was making, rather, it was more like a game I was playing to see how good I could feel about myself. At first, I thought I was just helping animals, I didn’t realize that I was actually doing something healthy for myself. I didn’t know that I was dramatically reducing my chances of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many other health problems.
Almost as soon as I went vegan, people started telling me that my skin looked great, and that I appeared younger, slimmer, and healthier. I’m convinced that of all the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle, it’s the adoption of a vegan diet that has been best for me — physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. It’s benefited every area of my life.
That’s why I narrated a new video called “What Came Before” for Farm Sanctuary, a great organization that promotes compassion for farm animals. I love the idea that by getting people to consider what these animals are going through, that many of them are likely to choose a more compassionate diet, which will improve their lives in so many ways.
“What Came Before” introduces you to three animals you will never forget — Nikki the pig, Symphony the chicken, and Fanny the cow. It points out that farm animals are emotional individuals who deserve our compassion just as much as cats and dogs. There really is no ethical difference between eating a cat or a chicken, a dog or a pig. As Dr. Jane Goodall points out:
Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined… they are individuals in their own right.
They are, to quote a great Farm Sanctuary campaign, “someone, not something.”
The video also talks about all the horrible things that happen to farm animals on modern farms, pointing out that the legal protections we grant to dogs and cats don’t apply to chickens, pigs, fish, and the other animals we eat — for no good reason.
I hope you’ll watch the video (below) and let me know what you think; you can find it at http://www.WhatCameBefore.com and then you can tell me what you think on Twitter, @SteveO. If you think it’s as important as I do, I hope you’ll also post this article on your Facebook, tweet it, and email it to friends.
There’s a lot of violence in the world, but here’s an area where all of us can make a positive difference, first in our own lives, and then in the lives of others. Together, we can spread compassion far and wide.
Watch Steve-O’s new Farm Sanctuary video:
What Came Before
So let’s adopt a new rule. If you insist on using an animal or animal byproduct in any way, you have to kill and process the being you choose to destroy, all by yourself. If you choose to have bacon with your morning eggs, you have to process (kill, clean, etc.) the pig yourself. You pick out the pig, you “process it” (kill it), and you get it to your plate without any assistance. If you want to continue buying and wearing another being’s fur, you find the animal, you kill it and skin it and then make the product you choose to wear. And when it comes to that evening’s meatloaf, well, you get the picture.
I wonder then how many people will continue to condone factory farming and the “processing” of these innocent beings? And let’s make the above rule even better. Let’s make it mandatory that you have to raise that being you choose to destroy, from its embryonic stage, all the way to its slaughter.
Yes, I realize that people who grow up on farms likely have, or continue to do these very things. They raise and kill these animals for their personal consumption all the time. But do you think the average non-farmer could do these things? Doubt it.
There are billions of people on this earth that still believe that “free range” animals and the like, freely give their lives so that we can have our hamburgers and hot dogs at the weekend barbecue. There are billions of people who probably think that those nice, neat packages of hamburger are magically harvested from some field in North Dakota, already packaged and ready to ship to market. There are billions of people on this planet who know no other way, or who willfully remain blind to the truth. And, there are many who, even knowing the truth about factory farming, believe it is their “god-given right” to hold this “dominion” over the beasts of the fields. Really?
The war to stop the killing is overwhelming at times because most people who consume animals, just don’t care about the truth. They just don’t get it. Or they get it, but think it’s all just part of the circle of life. But as for me, I’ll continue to fight until ALL animals are once again free to roam the earth as life intended. At peace. Without pain. Without fear. For their entire NATURAL lifespan.
By Lisa Baertlein
March 20 (Reuters) – Whole Foods Market Inc, Trader Joe’s and other food retailers representing more than 2,000 U.S. stores have vowed not to sell genetically engineered seafood if it is approved in the United States, a new advocacy group said on Wednesday.
The announcement from the Campaign for Genetically Engineered-Free Seafood comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears close to approving genetically engineered salmon from Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies.
If it gets final approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal to enter this country’s human food supply. The United States already is the world’s largest market for foods made with genetically altered plant ingredients.
AquaBounty says its “AquAdvantage Salmon” can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon, saving time and resources. The fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth.
Critics say such genetically modified products are not sufficiently tested for safety, carry allergy risks and should be labeled. Proponents disagree and say the products are safe.
Discount grocer Aldi, regional chains such as Marsh Supermarkets, PCC Natural Markets and co-ops in Minnesota, New York, California and Kansas also signed the commitment to avoid selling genetically-engineered fish.
“We won’t sell genetically engineered fish because we don’t believe it is sustainable or healthy,” said Trudy Bialic from PCC Natural Markets in Washington State.
Many popular processed foods – including soy milk, soup and breakfast cereal – sold in the United States are made with soybeans, corn and other biotech crops whose genetic traits have been manipulated, often to make them resistant to insects and pesticides.
Whole Foods, a 335-store organic and natural food supermarket chain, earlier this month said it will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores to carry a label by 2018 saying whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
At the same time, consumer groups are working at the state and federal level to require labels on products that contain GMOs.
Dozens of countries already have genetically modified food labeling requirements, with the European Union imposing mandatory labeling in 1997. Since then, genetically modified products and crops have virtually disappeared from many of those markets.