I’ve been a vegetarian by birth and never felt the urge to have any meat. It was never religious for me (since I’m not religious), or that my parents told me so (which in fact they never did, they told me to do whatever I want outside their house. Fair enough.). To me killing for food just felt plain wrong. More so when every nutrient I ever need can be consumed through a plant based diet. I grew up around healthy vegetarians and dint find I was missing out on anything important, since I’m not going to kill only for taste (by that logic, why stop at chicken, beef, pork, etc. why not try out all sorts of animals or insects like cockroach, lizards etc? In fact why stop at that, why not try out human meat because it might taste exquisite?).
I’ve now given up dairy too, because dairy industry is really no different than beef industry. I started reading about veganism when a former colleague of mine shared this information with me and simultaneously when my interest in green & sustainable environment increased. It was shocking when I first found out that animal farming is the biggest cause of our climate change or that world hunger could end if we use all the produce for human consumption than for feeding farm animals raised for slaughter.
I was raised on a lot of myths about milk and it took some time to let them go. I’ll elaborate on the two major reasons I kept having dairy without ever bothering to cross verify them.
Myth #1: Milk is an essential part of a balanced diet.
We think milk, we think calcium. In reality however, we can get calcium from so many other plant based sources, minus all the bad things that come with animal milk (like detergents, pus, and all that calories & fats). Human beings don’t need cow’s milk for survival. No adults of any species have milk, it’s only for infants. And no animal ever drinks milk of any species other than their own, except humans of course. There are vegan athletes, body building champions, famous celebrities, people who have reversed their diseases after giving up animal products. Turns out, human beings can thrive on a vegan diet (of course you’ll have to eat well, eating french fries all day will make you vegan but you’ll likely die sooner than most!). Milk, in fact, is a product of an industry that makes money by mercilessly exploiting milk giving animals. It is not a requirement of any kind!
Myth #2: Cows produce more milk than that needed for it’s calves. Also, cows produce milk all year round.
All cows, wild and domesticated, will only lactate in the period between their calf’s birth and weaning. Just like human females. So to keep up with the year round supply of milk, a dairy cow is artificially inseminated (read: raped) over and over again, without any resting period. Cows are also loaded up with hormones to produce large quantities of milk, more than they otherwise would if left on their own. This causes numerous diseases in the dairy cows & reduces their otherwise ~20 years of lifespan to 4-5 years.Not only the cow is raped to produce babies & babies, those babies are then separated from the mother and they are not allowed to bond. Male calves are killed for meat & leather. Female calves are hooked up with hormones and growth food to turn them into baby-making-milk-producing machines asap. Imagine the horror.
Once I knew all this & confirmed from various sources that this in fact is the industry norm and not some isolated case, I turned Vegan.
People mention that vegan food is expensive or that it will require them to plan too much for all the nutrients, which they don’t need to do with animal products. Or that they can’t give up the taste (this I find insensitive). For me it’s a no-brainer. I don’t want to be part of this unethical behavior, period.
If I see a human being on the road, bleeding from an accident, I would go & help them. However inconvenient or expensive that may be. It’s the same logic here. I know something terrible is happening, and I know the right thing is to not support it. The little I can do is to learn about my own body, my nutritional needs and what local, easily available produce fulfills that need. It’s a one time investment I’m willingly making to live a cruelty free, guilt free & healthier life and I don’t see why I shouldn’t do it.
P.S. Yes, vitamin B-12 is the one & only thing we can’t sufficiently get on a whole plant based diet. We need to consume fortified foods or supplements for it. The fact is that many vegetarians & occasional meat eaters also suffer from B-12 deficiency, so it’s something non vegan population has to take care of also.