The Food System
It's hard to remember that "Once upon a time all food was organic". Farming or homesteading was a way of life for most people including my own grandparents. Now many of us live separated from our food sources. We don't know where it comes from, how it is cared for or even if it was sick when they slaughtered it.
There is little to no oversight done on the industrial farming industry, besides routine inspections in which the farm in question can be fully prepared to put on their best face so avoid any possible fines so production can keep moving forward at full speed.
The truth is we have become so desensitized or disconnected from the food system many of us have become physically sickened by it because of how the animals are kept and treated. Some of it is just ignorance, and some of it is willful blindness.
MEAT: Cows, Pigs, Sheep and Chickens
The reality of the meat industry is very serious and shocking, so much so that BIG-AG has created legislation just to keep people away from reporting the horrible conditions that animals have to endure on these mega-farms. Some of them housing hundreds of thousands of animals, all cramped into the tightest spaces possible and given the cheapest GMO food available, regardless of dietary needs. Then fillers are added to the feed to increase growth and mass. Rushed to a merciless death via electroshock, cutting or a bolt to the head. Many of them do not die due to the negligence of the oversight in these facilities and they are moved ahead to be processed into meat regardless.
Videos have revealed its not just the terrible treatment or conditions of the animals that are so disturbing but also the mentality of cruelty that is tolerated. Many of the people who work in these facilities become drug addicts because of what they are forced to do everyday just to provide for their own families.
Unfortunately everyone involved in the industry just looks the other way and ignores all these massive issues in favor of whatever profits they can get. In every area of every industrial farming compound there is room to improve conditions for animals, there is the ability to have supervisors ensure that the animals are not being abused. That animals are not given unnecessary medications because they would rather let them live in filth then care to clean them or give them an appropriate diet.
These are just some of the reasons I went vegan. The best thing we can do as consumers is vote with your dollars. I am voting every-time I go to the store. I buy organic, I buy gluten-free, I buy GMO-free, I buy vegan and eat plant-based and I ask about why certain healthy brands still haven't gone GMO-free. I am also supporting the big companies like BEYOND MEAT whom are trying to get their products into more restaurants so people have the option to buy something else then meat.
Most people think of the egg industry is generally not harming to the chickens. Sadly though this is not true. Unless you are buying eggs on a family farm you really can't be sure what you are getting. We hope that pasture raised hens and free-range chickens are doing the best for those birds but we cannot be sure. Many times these chickens will be discarded after their peak egg laying years, which is usually only 2 years old. Male chicks are shredded or suffocated in plastic garbage bags once they realize they are not hens. Many chickens have their beaks cut off to avoid them fighting the other chickens due to over crowding.
Chickens that are treated like a product and discarded like trash doesn't make for a particularly appealing image for breakfast but that is often what is happening. Until we can determine gender of eggs before they hatch and treat these animals like living beings. By appreciating them and allowing them to live comfortable natural lives then we are just using and abusing them.
If you really enjoy eggs, try to find and support a local farmer that loves their hens or do your best to buy pasture raised or free-range if you can afford it. The rest of the eggs we find in the supermarket come from huge industrial farms where those chickens never see the light of day. They live in cages and in unsanitary conditions. You can also look into egg alternatives. JUST now creates an egg scramble substitute which I personally think is quite close to the real thing. At the end of the day its easy to leave eggs off your plate and use egg substitutes for cooking. I love having fruit for breakfast, oatmeal or a nice sourdough toast with plant butter. There are also great breakfast meat alternatives from many different companies to make a smoother transition to being plant-based.
THE DAIRY INDUSTRY:
Many vegetarians continue to eat dairy in various forms and other people don't realize the harm that comes to cows on most dairy farms. I wish it wasn't true as I used to love different cheese and dairy products like sour cream despite not being able to drink the cows milk.
Unfortunately for the cows they live a life filled with trauma. Instead of natural reproduction methods most dairy farms instead choose to artificially inseminate every cow each time they are able to become pregnant. While you might be picturing something not very unpleasant the reality of it is not gentle or comfortable for the cows. It is akin to sexual abuse and I won't go into graphic details, you can always google if you want to discover more about how they do this. Is it necessary? No. Just another forceful way of cutting corners in the industrialized food chain. Having a bull around to impregnate cows would save alot of stress and molestation for these animals but the industry does not want to feed or house a bull not making them an obvious profit.
Then there is what happens when the cows give birth. Unfortunately almost immediately after they become Mothers the babies are ripped from their care. This is again to try and keep most of the milk for consumers rather than for the babies it is meant for. This part of the process also seems quite cruel. Would it really effect production so significantly to keep the babies with their mothers while the farm also gets milk. A baby cow only needs less then 1/5 of what a cow is expected to produce daily so it seems this is done out of cruelty and greed rather then necessity. They might even get better production with a baby to encourage their supply.
The babies are not treated kindly, kept secluded in small pens with a plastic cowhouse for shelter if they are lucky. Many male calves are killed immediately rather then deal with their expense. Others are sent off to become veal and often the females are kept to become dairy cows. If they don't take to the bottle initially they are often neglected until they die or killed from abusive handling.
Then after the farm determines the cows are getting past their prime they are sent off to become burgers just like beef cows.
So they might get to live an extra year or so over the life of a beef cow but in the end they all go the same way.
Slaughterhouses are not a nice place to work, and its even worse if the animal doesn't get stunned or killed with the first blow. They just keep on with the production cycle and skin them alive. There is no slowing down the death machines.
Then there is the waste by products. Many farms do not even care enough to do anything with the calves they rip away from their mothers and simply starve and discard them like trash. Keeping bins for "casualty calves" where they just leave the dead bodies to rot. They do a similar thing with the cows if they determine they are too spent to become ground beef.
It is impossible to keep these places "clean". The nature of this business has become blood, gore, puss and copious amount of feces which many places just leave there as long as possible. Which is why they have to "Ultra-pasteurize" the milk to make it safe.
Often times these mega-farms have huge lakes of animal waste which is a toxic bio-hazard. If anything disturbs these pools it creates environmental havoc and many communities surrounding these places have reported a variety of cancer and serious medical problems as a result. Nothing is done to protect the towns at a potential disadvantage due to proximity of these farms. People many times mention they can smell the farm anytime its windy even if they can never see it. Even when they have medical tests done indicating elevated levels of the toxins created from these farms nothing is done about it.
Good news is, people are being informed and choosing plant milks instead. This year two of the largest dairy producers are shutting down. Dean foods has gone bankrupt and the largest dairy in California is converting to plant milks because they can no longer make a profit.
Now there are so many different plant milks and every year more dairy free cheese is being developed so soon the convenience of plant cheeses will be commonplace enough that it will be just as easy to not have dairy when we go out and eat. Personally I am going to learn to make my own plant cheeses since it is not that difficult with just a little bit of learning.
It's an exciting time to be living the change we want to see in the world.
What was once an abundant resource, has now become severely depleted due to over-fishing and lax regulations. People still are acting like there are many fish in the sea but it's just not true. There was once HUGE fish in the sea monster fish but that was because those fish were allowed to live well into their age. Fishermen just don't find those kind of fish anymore. With the use of trawler nets which scoop up acres of sealife the size of football fields and discard up to 20% of whats in the nets as "by-catch" that includes dolphins, whales, turtles and ANYTHING else that gets trapped in the net that they don't want. In the end they cut the plastic nets and throw them in the ocean and then dump their trash in there too.
Now almost all fish have levels of heavy metals due to pollution and if they are from the pacific ocean a high probability of radiation due to the constant leak from Fukushima never being plugged up. Most fish also have micro-plastics inside of them due to the amount of plastic waste in the oceans
Factory fish farming isn't much better, especially if it originates from Asia where there is no regulations regarding what they can feed the fish or shrimp. They are feeding it feces of the other fish to get rid of that waste.They have also found to be feeding salmon GMO corn meal and soy based feed. Its just not the right foods to be feeding these creatures.
There is not a great amount of fish-like plant based alternatives but every year vegan chefs are coming up with very close substitutes. You would be amazed how much an oyster mushroom fried tastes like a clam or heart of palm can become like a clam chowder. Its just so much healthier but I do think there is room to improve this area with more plant-based food products.
We have unfortunately destroyed the sources of food that is meant to keep us healthy by cutting all possible corners to save money and make more.
We have been treating the oceans like a toilet and the animals that are meant to be nourishing us like products that have no feeling or emotions but we know they certainly do.
There is nothing like the sound of a mother cow screaming because they have just taken her baby away from her just as she was starting to love it.
Mother pigs can't even nurture their babies because they live in steel gestation crates where they cannot even move.
Chickens no longer even have babies unless they live on a family farm.
Those are just the main examples. There are many other stories of extreme cruelty like the YULIN DOG MEAT FESTIVAL where they torture the dogs before ripping them apart alive or where it is a "cultural" habit to be killing whales or eating cats, horses, wolves, dolphins or even endangered species like elephants.
While I have no issue with people who live off the land or are native people's who would otherwise struggle to survive without other sources of food because of the climates they live in. Those people tend to respect their food sources and never take more then they need.
That is not the case with 95% of the world.
For the rest of us, its just not necessary to be killing everything and consuming it just because we can. We are destroying the whole world because we are deforesting it to grow GMO soy and corn just to feed these animals!! So instead of having enough oxygen and rain we are getting forest fires and hotter summers. It is a snowball effect that can kill us all if we don't care enough to do better.
I hope you are brave enough to make a difference.
Every little bit counts.