When animals do something noble we say they are behaving “like humans.” When humans do something disgusting we say they are behaving “like animals.” Clumsy use of the English language perpetuates the myth that animals are inferior and disposable beings.
I think ‘vegan’ is a beautiful word. It is more than just a description for our diet. I see it as a visible template for an ethical, healthy, responsible, and rational life. Because it describes our character, it says we do not take the life of another living being to satisfy our wants.
Poor countries sell their grain to the West while their own children starve in their arms. And we feed it to livestock. So we can eat a steak? Am I the only one who sees this as a crime? Every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear-stained face of a starving child. When I look into her eyes, should I be silent?
I came to the vegan world from the carnivorous world of truncated ignorance. Who would have thought that lightening would strike? I was an investment banker, specializing in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions. I received a mandate from a major conglomerate and visited their various operations, one of which turned out to be a slaughterhouse. It was the most shocking, terrifying and violent experience of my life. It was tangible proof of the abject failure of human beings to develop empathy for the suffering of other living beings. I think I now understand what Hannah Arendt meant in her work “Eichmann in Jerusalem” where she coined the term “the banality of evil”.
The sheer horror that morning affected me profoundly. I began seeing every mundane piece of daily life’s experience through the prism of animal cruelty. Passing a crowded restaurant, and knowing that it concealed a smorgasbord of murderous opportunities. Seeing an attractive woman at the ballet and being repulsed by the sight of her fur coat. Knowing that every butcher shop was a retailer of body parts from murder victims; every fast food chain, in my mind, became a gastronomic tobacconist and every bit as lethal.
So, I guess my client’s slaughterhouse made me a vegetarian on the spot. It did not occur to me that dairy was an equally vile gulag for animals. Once I saw the carnage of veal, artificial insemination of cows; the removal of bobby calves from their mothers, the cruelty of induction and the violence of killing “unviable” calves, dairy was another atrocity on the list.
We torture and kill two billion sentient living beings every week. 10,000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one species. We are now facing the 6th mass extinction in cosmological history. If any other organism did this a biologist would call them a virus.
I heard the screams of my dying father, as his body was ravaged by the cancer that killed him. And I realised I had heard those screams before: in the slaughter house, their eyes stabbed out and their tendons slashed; on the cattle ships to the Middle East; and the dying mother whale, as a harpoon explodes in her brain, as she calls out to her calf – their cries were the cries of my father, and I discovered that when we suffer, we suffer as equals.
A night very similar to this one, will be happening next year Feb 28th in Adelaide. It is a free screening of this wonderful documentary, with free vegan food an will be PERSONALLY presented by the amazing Philip Wollen.
Please If you are vegan already, bring your family and friends and if you are a meat eater, have the courage to come to this event. After all it is free.. and there is free food.. what have you got to lose? It will be an amazing night with amazing speakers and I have been looking forward to it since I heard it was happening!
Here is the event, I am unsure if you will need to book yet and will know more closer to the date!