Why Vegetarianism Isn’t Enough
Hello, All! It’s Veganland’s 200th post! And what better way to celebrate than by posting about food politics and veganism, two of my favorite things to write and talk about! Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the fallacy of vegetarianism. I see a lot of vegetarians at my job and just around town, and I always wonder how they can go about eating products from an industry they don’t ideologically support. When they hear that I’m vegan, I usually get a mix of “Oh that’s great!” and “I could never give up cheese!” In honor of these comments that I so often receive, today’s post is dedicated to the dairy industry, the reasons it’s not sustainable, and why just plain vegetarianism isn’t enough.
I stumbled upon this article while perusing the interwebs this morning. It’s an awesome personal story about turning someone onto veganism just by having a simple ribbon attached to your bag. This story was definitely the impetus for me to put into words a lot of things that I’ve been muddling over lately about the dairy and egg industries.
We all know that slaughter houses are terrible, inhumane, and horrific. But what about the other animals that are also exploited for the products that we humans can steal from them? Dairy cows are probably some of the most mistreated and abused animals in the world. Artificially inseminated, their calves are taken away from them at birth and the males go straight to barns where they’ll live their short lives chained to the floor so that their meat (veal) is as tender as possible. The cows are often given hormones to ensure rapid and steady milk production. Because they’re constantly producing, their lives are also much longer than cows raised for slaughter. They often stand up for their whole lives, placed in industrial barns with concrete floors that are hosed down and cleaned with chemicals.
For vegetarians who eat dairy products, this is the industry they continue to support. While eliminating the slaughter house part of the equation, they’re still saving lives, but the increase in non meat products that are still from animals is often even greater for people who don’t eat meat. They still create a demand for these products that exploit and hurt animals repeatedly and at an enormous scale.
So if you ask me, vegetarianism isn’t enough. Eliminating animal products from your diet is the only way to ensure that you don’t support these systems of inequality that exploit other beings just on the basis that they are not human. Not only are these products bad for animals, they’re also bad for people. Humans aren’t biologically designed to eat dairy products, especially after infancy. We’re designed to consume human breast milk in our baby years, not other animals’ milk for our entire lives. Many people are lactose intolerant for a reason: our bodies just aren’t meant to handle cows’ milk.
In my first couple of years at college, I lived in a suite-style dorm with 7 other women. Many of them were vegetarian, including my roommate. I was the only vegan, and I constantly had to deal with the frustration and “ew” factor of the brie cheese in my mini fridge. My roommate compensated for the lack of meat in her diet with dairy and egg products, eating them at what was likely a higher rate than most meat eaters. Not only this, but many of the animal products I saw my suite mates consuming were from large corporations who are just as bad (if not worse!) than the meat industries they were hoping to combat with vegetarianism.
This all only made my veganism a more empowering part of my life. Not only did my health flourish after becoming vegan, but I felt that every day my very existence as a healthy human being was in defiance to those big corporations who abuse and exploit animals on the basis that they’re animals who lack human voices and agency, and are easy to make money off of.
I’m hoping to post more about vegetarianism in contrast to veganism soon, so stay tuned!