Screw that – I’ll take the steak

28 Jan

I am rather ashamed to admit that I have failed at being a vegetarian no less than 4 times. I also lasted a full 12 hours as a vegan.

The reasons for my rather pathetic attempts at meatless living (and one day of eggless, honeyless, milkless hell) are not original at all. I felt uncomfortable and vaguely guilty for eating something that used to be someone.

This annoyed my family in general, but especially my father, to no end. I grew up on a beef farm, you see, and thus this attempted lifestyle change was like a betrayal.

It began with the reading of some book that was no doubt written by a PETA-type, telling me that all farm animals live a life of torture and disgrace and are put to death in much the same way. Bizarrely, I believed the book rather than my own eyes – I could clearly see the herds of fat and happy cows grazing about in the greenery, and they looked just fine. Sure, I have never seen the inside of a slaughterhouse, but had my father’s irate insistence that things weren’t too bad there, either.

Still, I believed the book and stopped eating meat for a couple of weeks or so at a time.

Yay... (Groan)

Yay… (Groan)

The issue kept gnawing at me for years, and so I attended a Vegan Awareness / Animal Rights Day of sorts this weekend.

I half-expected it to spark off another three weeks or so of stubborn baked beans and spinach eating, but it did the opposite: It finally made me realise that my dad was right all along – these people are quacks, and there is no problem eating meat and eggs.

Don’t get me wrong – I am still fervently opposed to cruelty to animals and try to buy products not tested on them – but I refuse to ever again feel guilty for eating them.

Among the bizarre arguments against eating meat (or any other animal products) were the following:

1. The Bible says so!

The Bible states that Thou Shalt Not Kill and to treat others like you would like yourself to be treated. This is obviously true. What’s a load of hogwash, though, is the next point: That there is nothing at the bottom of the page saying unless the object of your killing or injustice has hooves, fur, feathers or scales.

Um… Then why does the Bible prescribe sacrificial offerings of animals, and give detailed lists of what the jews could and could not eat, meatwise?

Point is, using the Bible as a starting point for veganism is pretty much retarded.

2. We were all born vegan, and only eat meat/eggs/milk/cheese because we have been forced to get used to it.

Proof: Put a toddler in a cot with an apple and rabbit. See if the toddler eats the apple or kills and eats the rabbit. (???)

This picture proves that we are herbivores

This picture proves that we are herbivores

Further proof: True omnivores and carnivores like their meat raw and rough. Given the choice, would you eat some veggies or a whole dead squirrel, fur and bones and blood and claws included? Ha! See! You only eat cooked meat because you have been unnaturally forced to do so.

3. Nope – you’re not an omnivore

We have sheep-like teeth. Our canines are only present to eat hard fruits like apples and pears. We chew sideways. Our intestines are too long to digest rotting meat. Therefore, we are not omnivores or carnivores – we are herbivores.

Um – so why did my friend Caroline start eating meat after she studied human metabolism in medical school? And why does every other source in the WORLD declare us omnivores?

4. There is no such thing as humane slaughter.

Believing that is like believing in humane rape or humane torture. The holocaust is not over – it has simply been redirected. The victims are our animal brothers and sisters.

Imagine – they say – how it must feel to know that you are but a pawn in the evil human slave master’s wicked death plan. That every day is a living torture, and that all you get at the end of it is a painful death. That, they say, is what is like to be a farm animal.

A life of depravation and sheer torture

A life of depravation and sheer torture

To that, I call BULLSHIT. As mentioned, I grew up on one of these “concentration camps”, and the reality is that farmers – at least here in South Africa – take a lot of pride in taking care of their animals.

They do NOT live in in little pens in which they can’t turn around, festering in their own faeces and being beaten at random; they live in the veld. They know space. They know sunshine. They look great.

(I am talking sheep and cattle here – I did not have daily exposure to other animals, but I doubt that it is much different).

As for their deaths, I have not personally been present, but have a hard time believing that these farmers – and animal rights laws in general – would ever allow for the sort of thing that vegans insist happen.

According to the vegans, animals are pretty much butchered alive, hung upside down and hacked to death.

According to my dad and various other sources (thanks, Roy!): Animals are stunned unconscious, and then killed via a bolt to the head. I do not doubt that the slaughterhouse must be a terrifying place, but at least here in South Africa, it sounds like it is as painless and humane as possible.

5. Animal eaters don’t think about what they are truly eating.

Some examples:

a) An egg, being the unfertilised content of the hen’s “womb”, is in fact the hen’s period. Eww. Gross. (To me, it’s the thing that makes cake dough yummy and squishy)

b) Honey, being regurgitated from a bee’s stomach, is in fact vomit. (If dogs eat their own vomit, I guess I can enjoy an insect’s vomit on my crumpets)

c) Milk is full of pus. You see, cows often get disgusting infections in their udders, and the milking machine violently yanking at their titties doesn’t know the difference between pus and milk, so every time you drink a glass of milk, please know that about a 20th of it is actually pus.

If you're drinking milk, you may as well be sucking on this toe

If you’re drinking milk, you may as well be sucking on this toe

Again – BULLSHIT. We have dairy cows as well, and though these infections do occur from time to time (in my experience, about 1 in 70 cows will have it at any one time), the cow is treated for it and NOT milked along with the rest of the cows. Newsflash: The milking machine does not automatically select cows for milking – the PEOPLE who work with the herd every day do this. Also – though I have obviously never personally tested it, the machine looks slightly uncomfortable at worst. The cows look pretty darn chilled when they get milked.

6. You can still have bacon!

Seems EVERYTHING can be artificailly soy-made. EVERYTHING – bacon, burgers, chicken wings, turkey – any meat you can think of can be made of soy . Again – ????.

7. Veganism can solve World Hunger!

Yup – apparently, a full 65% of cultivated crops are used to feed the millions of slaughter animals the world over. We should stop “filtering our food” through animals, and just eat the damn grains. If we do, there will be enough left over for the starving people in Sudan.

Um – I may be wrong, but as far as I know, the plant parts used for animal feeds are not the same ones fit for human consumption. Do you want to eat the leaves of a mealie plant? I didn’t think so…

**

Other than the speech giving the above reasons, a woman spoke about her experience as a “sea shepard”, working as an “animal rights activist” at the infamous Japanese cove where dolphins are captured and trained to perform, as well as slaughtered for meat.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen footage of what happens there and the slaughter is cruel and horrific. I do not deny that.

What annoys me, though, is that these “sea shepards” actually think they make a difference. In a boring presentation showing us pictures of their hotel and various lookout points, the woman told us how they “put pressure on the Japanese government” by basically just WATCHING the slaughter every day. They don’t actually DO anything, except “create awareness”. Please – save yourself the airfare and tell people to watch The Cove on DVD.

(To be fair – some other sea shepards did try free a dolphin or two from the training pens, and then got arrested. I have a lot of respect for these guys – they DID something. But don’t think that simply being self-righteous makes any difference.)

If I go to Japan for two weeks, does it mean I make a difference or that I'm simply self-righteous?

If I go to Japan for two weeks, does it mean I make a difference or that I’m simply self-righteous?

***

Time to rip into a juicy beef burger, and get ripped apart by vegan commentators…

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19 Responses to “Screw that – I’ll take the steak”

  1. quarteracrehome January 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Well there is actually a problem with your observations. Most of these things are presented this way for americans and deffinately NOT people in south africa. I grew up in a place where there was a butcher that we’d visit with live animals. It was one of the better ones because it was a butcher not an egg laying facility. The place was filthy and the animalas were individually housed in tiny cages.
    The truth is that in many countries and especially america food animals live horrible lives. I have seen the dairies, the egg laying facilities, the gestation crates, the toxic pig-manure sludge before. It exists. It’s awful. It is everything that PETA says. And it feeds most of america. It is what is in every grocery across the country. And often times the death is far from painless. I have read the lawsuits against egg companies throwing male chicks in a woodchipper and recieving no charges because it is a common practice for egg farms in america.
    However, I also believe that there is NO harm in eating an animal that is raised humanely, even in a pen or fence, as long as it’s a healthy, happy animal in life. And that’s where the difference lies. PETA and other animal rights groups believe all domestic animals should not exist.

    • blah blah blonde January 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Thank you for reading and posting a comment :).

      You’re right – I speak exclusively from a south african perspective here. I know that these things happen elsewhere in the world – peta mudt get the footage they have from somewhere, and the fact that this is happening is truly atrocious.

      That said, I think it’s unfair to present american arguments to a sosth african audience where we have a culture of farmers who look after their animals.

      (Apologies for typo’s – this phone is difficult :-/)

      • quarteracrehome January 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

        That is very true. But this type of farming IS spreading rapidly because of the high yields. I bet if you looked you could find a factory facility in south africa.
        But I really don’t like PETA anyhow. 😛

      • blah blah blonde January 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

        I honestly haven’t seen factory farming as far as sheep and cattle are concerned here, but I don’t know what goes on in chicken farming…

        Still – it’s a shame to generalise and villify all farming.

      • quarteracrehome January 29, 2013 at 1:31 am #

        I agree very much so. I just wanted to point out that these things very much DO take place and supply the VAST majority of grocery store shelves in many countries across the world.

      • blah blah blonde January 29, 2013 at 7:18 am #

        If so, that is terrible – but while I’m here (at least), I don’t think I’ll have another bout of vegetarianism any time soon :P.

  2. Saskia Wolfaardt January 29, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Blah blah blonde, I have to disagree on more or less everything that you have said here. I would be more than happy to send you some resources and just as happy to send you some yummy vegan food recipes which are not made up of “beans and spinach”. I would like to engage with you on these issues… when I’m not at work… if you would be willing?

    • blah blah blonde January 29, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Hi Saskia!

      I’ve heard about you – you’re Jana and Pieter’s friend?

      I’d love to have a discussion with you – as I wrote, the issue of animal product consumption has bothered me for years. The above arguments are exclusively based on a veganism talk I attended this weekend, as well as my perosnal observations on our family farm and other SA farms (beef, sheep and dairy).

      Add me on facebook and we can make a plan – caro erasmus

  3. bronxboy55 January 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    As with most controversial issues, people tend to withdraw to their respective corners, where they can’t (or won’t) hear what the other side is saying. Typically, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. I stopped eating meat, chicken, and fish more than twenty-two years ago, but I’ve never lectured anyone about their food choices or tried to make them feel guilty. (Except for my son. When he was two, he’d eat newspaper and cat food. But that’s different — the cat was getting annoyed and I usually hadn’t read the newspaper yet.) We live in eastern Canada, where there are fields of cows and sheep everywhere, and they seem to be healthy and content. I can understand how a person could look at those animals and think it’s wrong to kill them for their meat; on the other hand, if no one ate meat, the animals would have never existed in the first place. Considered that way, the choice comes down to: shortened life, or no life?

    Our rabbits lived in our house for ten years. They were in a cage that was cleaned every week, and they were fed good food and clean water. I often asked myself if rabbits should be living in a cage. But I also tried to imagine how long they’d have survived in the wild, and ten years seemed unlikely. I’m sure there are millions of farm animals enduring horrible conditions — but the crime is how they’re being treated, not that they’re farm animals being raised for food.

    This is an excellent post, and made me think. You seem to be open-minded and thoughtful, and I hope those who comment will resist the temptation to resort to reflex responses, as well as easy answers that aren’t feasible.

    • blah blah blonde January 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for such a thoughtful and complimentary comment – much appreciated :).

      As I said, this issue has been gnawing at me for years and writing this post has put me right back to square one… One of the other commentators engaged me in a very interesting discussion yesterday, and has encouraged me to watch Earthlings before making up my mind to continue being a meat eater.

      If I may ask – what were your personal reasons for becoming a vegetarian? Sounds like the Canadian cows are in a very similar place that the South African ones are, and since my justification for eating meat is pretty much “ah well, they lived well so I can enjoy my burger”, I am intrigued to hear your reasons for not eating animals who were never subjected to life in a factory facility…

      The question of “life or no life” is an interesting one – as I asked the above-mentioned commentator yesterday, would it not be better to be involved in causes campaigning to improve the lives of EXISTING animals (and still enjoy your meat) than to become vegan and save a HYPOTHETICAL 2000 animal lives in your lifetime?

      • bronxboy55 February 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

        I became a vegetarian long before we moved to Canada (we’re US citizens). But it really had nothing to do with the treatment of the animals, because I knew little or nothing about that. It was just that I found myself increasingly more uncomfortable eating meat. I even felt self-conscious buying it. When people ask now, I say that I just didn’t want it anymore, just as I don’t want cauliflower or cranberry juice. I’m not even sure it was a choice. Do we decide what we like to eat and drink? I don’t think we do.

  4. countingducks February 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    I’ve been pottering around your posts in between working, munching on biscuits and drinking coffee so I thought I’d lay my head on the block and say I pretty much sympathise with what you said. When my girls were small, I had a smallholding here in the UK, on which I kept sheep, chickens, turkeys and the odd pig. They all lived a pretty holiday camp lifestyle but, the turkeys were eaten. the lambs were slaughtered and eaten and so on. I used to, and still do, suffer from twinges of guilt about it but, all in all ,I’m happy. Of my three girls, one is a vegetarian, and failed vegan like you, and the other two are non-committal meat eaters . I certainly do not like battery , but free range is fine by me.

    • blah blah blonde February 12, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      Nice to hear from someone else who has first hand animal-rearing experience and agrees with me :).

      As mentioned in the post, I am more than happy with my choices here in South Africa, but may change my mind if I had to emigrate. Seems we will be headed to the UK for at least 5 years or so – on your side of the world, can one buy meat in good conscience?

      PS – Thank you so much for commenting and spending some time reading my posts :).

      • Saskia Wolfaardt February 13, 2013 at 9:45 am #

        I hear you, I used to feel like that too, but then I learnt the truth about animal products and now I feel like I just can’t turn back from that, you know? It’s like I cannot be myself and use animals all at the same time. I now know that there really is no way to avoid the violence which is involved in consuming animal flesh or animal excretions – “free range” or not.

        @blah blah blonde, I know I said I was going to post you some resources and I haven’t, but we are now actually working on a blog entirely devoted to this, and I will let you know as soon as it is up and running, okay? 🙂

      • blah blah blonde February 13, 2013 at 9:50 am #

        Hi Saskia,

        Great stuff – will certainly have a look. Also still trying to get hold of Earthlings…

        PS – found a pic on another blog that (I’m ashamed to say), found quite funny . Deals with animal-friendly, vegan pet food. Is that sort of thing available? As a vegan, what DOES one feed the pets?

  5. Saskia Wolfaardt February 13, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Interesting you should ask that, Ingrid and I are actually talking about it a lot lately. From the research we could find, apparently dogs can be very healthy on a balanced vegan diet (seeing that a lot of dog foods contain only like 4% animal products anyway, the rest is made up of cereal and veggies), but cats, who are obviously carnivorous cannot be healthy on a vegan diet. So, I suppose

    And I am not too sure about the details on whether actual packets of vegan pet food are available in SA, but I think we might just end up feeding our dogs much of what we are having. Google can probably provide a better answer on what to feed them instead… I need to do more research on what to feed your vegan pet. it depends on the species?

    • blah blah blonde February 13, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      Mmm – yes, apparently dogs are considered omnivores, so guess a vegetarian dog is possible.

      Can’t picture my Mufasa’s stricken and sulky feline face if I had to take away his favourite meat treats, though…
      Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

  6. Saskia Wolfaardt February 13, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Wow, that one came out funky… Let’s try that again. *So, I suppose it depends on the species?

    • Saskia June 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      Wonder how much of this has changed for you in the last few months?

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