Monday, November 1st, is World Vegan Day. I’m going to take this opportunity to advocate veganism, in case you aren’t already eating a vegan diet. It’s difficult to completely avoid animal products in absolutely every aspect of your life, from vaccines to the leather seats in the car you purchased used. But it is easy peasy to choose vegan food at every meal. How does this relate to kitties? In my graduate student program, fellow students liked to say, “We are all connected.” The irony that they ranted against oppression and exploitation while sitting there eating a meat and cheese sandwich was lost on them; apparently the “connection” occurred only amongst those with souls, as defined by Judaeo Christian norms. So even leaving out the spiritual and ethical arguments for abstaining from flesh and fluids of other beings, there are still many solid reasons. Looking at the big picture, all species are related.
Number one may be the current global pandemic. COVID jumped the species barrier because of humans consuming animals. Global climate change has moved up on the list, since the epic fires, flooding, hurricanes, and heat waves have occurred over the past few years. Raising livestock is directly related to the killing of wildlife, loss of top soil, extreme water usage and contamination (Google manure logoon), and methane gas. Buying a Prius or Tesla, or getting rid of all your stuff and living in a tiny house won’t undo as much of your footprint as simply eating an entirely plant based diet.
Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity - many of these ailments plague mainly the countries that consume a high percentage of animal products. Look at how longevity and good health soared in populations when shortages of meat and milk occurred during wartime. Research indigenous diets of many native peoples and you will see how their health plummeted when refined food and consumption of animal products went up. If you are curious about all the health ramifications of swapping a standard American diet (SAD) for a plant based/whole food diet, seek out information written by doctors such as Dr. McDougall. They have programs with quantitative data behind them, which have helped people improve their health. Keep in mind that the printed material we often see at school cafeterias and at our health care appointments re. “a healthy diet” has been influenced by the very industries that don’t want you to stop eating meat and dairy.
Our culture embraces spoiling our companion animals, but often turns a blind eye to other animals who are just as sentient and intelligent. Pasado Safe Haven, a wonderful farmed animal sanctuary in WA, comments that 45 million turkeys will lose their lives next month for our upcoming holiday. These birds will not make it to their first birthday, yet they are bred to grow so fast and large that they cannot even mate. There are a variety of plant based roasts in stores if you want to serve a traditional meal for the holidays. Hopefully your family and friends will be respectful of your decision to leave off animal products and want to know more about your reasons. Families can have strange (and unhealthy) dynamics, but understanding good boundaries and letting go of co-dependent behaviors can go a long way to standing firm in your choice.
There have never been more resources available to motivate you; check out plant based cooking online sites/blogs and cookbooks chock full of gorgeous photos for inspiration. Vegan cheeses, cultured butters, yogurt and ice cream have come a long way since soy was the only option, so swapping these ingredients is easy now. Cooking non-processed foods such as lentils, beans and rice, along with seasonal vegetables is less expensive and these foods fill you up too. Grow a garden or purchase a farm share subscription to discover fun and local new veggies and herbs. Find a balance of what works for you; cooking quantities of basics such as grains and pulses and preparing vegetables on weekends so everything is ready for the upcoming week works for many folks.
Your kitties may not directly benefit from a plant based diet, but it may depend your bond with them and all beings. When you say you “love animals,” you can know that you aren’t contributing to animal suffering and death. That love will extend to your own body, the people you cook for, and the entire planet as well.
Lyle is, by nature, an obligate carnivore