This Sunday we welcome back Dave Wise to Malta's athletic events, this time for the Gozo Marathon held on the 28th of April. Dave is running the Gozo Marathon to help collect funds for the MSPCA for the second year running. If you missed it the first time here's that blog.
I never in a million years would have beleived you if you told me, that I would be going vegan, right up till last week. You see, just like smoking despite the many known health risks, the ethical and moral pitfalls of eating meat, dairy, and other animal products is not manifest to you while you are shopping or eating. It is so far removed from visibility that the mouth-watering aroma can easily hijack your free will. While I was preparing this blog and the content for our #DontEatCruelty campaign however it all took position in the front row center seat.
When I say that all the behind the scenes stuff is nowhere to be seen, I mean it literally and it is not only in the case of animal products. Here is how. If you want to look for ethically and morally sourced food you have to look for some mark or stamp of approval. By default that means that every item in our supermarkets that has none of these marks, comes from a standard factory farming type of establishment where as long as the food is handled in a way that is safe for human consumption almost anything goes. The whole system is built around making it harder for ethical farms to compete because they have to invest heavily to receive certification and have to unfairly compete with products that should have labels such as "misery caged" but don't.
I pulled this label guide for pork from https://farmsnotfactories.org/resources/labelling/
4 different labels and therefore expensive certifications needed to reach a modicum of ethically sourced and sustainable food. 1 label tells you there is assurance that it is has a certain food standard. Everything else? Well no label means you have to immediately admit you know nothing about it and when you know nothing about it then my question is...WHY THE HELL ARE WE EATING IT AT ALL?
Why isn't the ethical and sustainable model the standard rather then the aberration?
Why are cruel factory farmed foods not the ones with a marring stamp? Why do I need to rummage a whole supermarket to find the bare essentials with positive labels?
The answer is BECAUSE YOU ARE STILL BUYING THEIR POISON.
Each and every one of us needs to eat and while one person cannot change the world alone, together we can change EVERYTHING. I don't expect you to join me on my journey to go vegan. I don't expect you either to change anything about what you eat without providing you with valid arguments. Here are the arguments.
1) Greenhouse Gas Methane
Unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard of global warming. Greenhouse gases absorb heat from the Sun trapping it in the atmosphere which is warming the Earth's temperature. As the temperature rises and the oceans warm up, the oxygen dissolved in them will evaporate immediately killing everything in our seas that depends on oxygen. The increasing temperatures will also continue melting the icecaps which has two effects. a) There will be less white on the planet's surface to reflect the heat back into space thus accelerating this warming effect and b) the knob that regulated the oceans' salinity will turn to a dangerous setting that disrupts the flow of currents on the oceans totally upsetting our climate. It is already happening even though the US President's Twitterfeed makes a joke of it. You will continue seeing more extreme weather the more this carries on. Methane is produced in some volcanic or geological activity but the most prolific source is the bowels of ruminants. Methane from enteric fermentation in the bowels of dairy cows now accounts for 28% of global warming even though there is 200 times more CO2, because methane has global warming potential (GWP) 104 times greater than CO2. To make matters worse, dairy farming clears large swaths of land to produce animal feed which would have otherwise hosted trees, sustained biodiversity and provided public open spaces for enjoyment.
2) Unsustainable Factory Farming Will Starve the People of Tomorrow
When I was growing up people still had dreams about tomorrow. I remember documentaries telling you about the technology of tomorrow, the homes of tomorrow, the transport of tomorrow. Where is all that now? Well, at this rate it is pointless to dream of tomorrow because there won't be a tomorrow. Paired with unchecked unsustainable development, something we are witnessing all too much of here in Malta, we will have stripped the soil of the nutrients it needs to grow stuff on it, and won't have anywhere to grow our food. Go back to the first people that colonized our tiny rock some 60,000 years ago. While the first inhabitants were able to survive for a long period of time (1,500 years; a rare long stretch for anyone at the time), they ultimately had to downscale radically when the conditions became too difficult. Their destructive farming methods had a catastrophic impact on the soil so eventually it all came crashing down. At this time there was also climate change going on and much of the land was turning into desert. The same stuff is happening today...just faster and on a larger scale. If you are reading this and you have children, aren't you worried about their future food security?
3) Stress Hormones in Your Food
Animals is factory farming are crammed into small spaces to increase the profit per square meter of farms. Now they're even building upwards in animal farming so these poor animals won't even know what it is like to go outside. The stress of not being able to behave the way nature intended (grazing, moving in herds, playing) which is protected by law only in writing and not in practice, raises the levels of stress hormone cortisol in the animal. This sticks around in your dairy and meat when you eat it and it will have the same effect on you that it has on the animal. It will weaken your immune system. It means that you are getting sick more often than you should but it also means that the animals you eat are getting sick more often than they should. Additionally, their exposure to disease is higher just because they are packed so close together that disease exposure is high. That is my segway into the next point.
4) Antibiotic Resistance
Since the conditions created the perfect storm for the factory farmed animals to get sick, farmers pump them with antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. This also gets passed down to you in your food. This only works for a while. 24th November 1959, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is published sending ripples in the scientific and religious community. Every attempt to disprove it since has only managed to confirm the theory of evolution. What we know now is that this type of use of antibiotics selects for the diseases that are resistant to them. If famine won't kill us, a super-bug will.
It is already mapped out above that it is likely healthier for you to avoid factory farmed animal products but it also is healthy to avoid, or reduce, consumption of meats and animal products simply because your diet is more balanced without them, meaning you are less likely to develop and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity.
6) Animal Sentience
We know this and the law recognizes this. Animals suffer physically and emotionally. Besides the emotional stress of factory farming conditions, slaughterhouses stress the f*&^ out of animals before they finally kill them. I argue it would probably be more humane to let them out one by one on a field and shooting them from a distance because they wouldn't be screaming and pleading for mercy. They have all this wonderful biology that nature engineered to to keep them safe from predators yet we don't even afford them the illusion of safety before they die. Off they go on a restricted space so the guy has an easier time shooting a bole in their skull.
7) Funding Cruelty and Unsustainable Farming
Every time you buy their poison you are rewarding cruelty and environmental erosion and you are also funding it to carry on, at the expense of the small scale farmer that cannot compete with the giants that cut all these corners to turn a quick buck. I am sure that when you are breaking your back at work earning a living, you do not plan that effort to be channeled into supporting animals cruelty, the next superbug and global warming. Before you hand over the cash thing hard of th sacrifices you made to earn it and think again about using it to fund cruelty and the destruction of the planet your children live on.
Visit our #DontEatCruelty campign page for regularly updated content from all sources that can keep you motivated to reduce your dependency on factory farmed animal products, and recipes of vegan and vegetarian meals. If you are doing this with us then use the #DontEatCruelty in your social media posts to spread the word.