Easter is a beautiful time of the year. Spring flowers are blooming, birds are singing, egg hunts abound, and there are plenty of chocolates and sweet Easter treats to choose from. Images of adorable baby chicks, bunnies, and lambs pop up in advertisements and all over social media. As a Christian, Easter symbolizes a celebration of life through Christ. In fact, Easter is one of the most important holidays to Christians because we celebrate the resurrection; however, after becoming vegan I have started to look at the symbols of Easter, and how many fail to see the not so cute side of the holiday. Let's look at five of them.
Easter, and the Easter bunny go hand in hand. The bunny is probably the most widely recognized image associated with Easter. Several of my local grocers and supermarkets have an entire section overflowing with bunny items including books, stickers, toys, and baskets that contain stuffed toy bunnies of all shapes and sizes. They look cute and fluffy, but bunnies often face immense cruelty. According to PETA, they are the third most abandoned animals in shelters.They are not Easter gifts or temporary pets to be soon discarded. They can live 10 years or longer, and people often times do not want to make that commitment. When it comes to product testing, many companies use bunnies to test their products. This includes forcing substances into bunnies stomachs, or dripping chemicals into their eyes. This despicable practice needs to stop. How can you help? Look for products with the cruelty-free symbol. There are numerous products that are both vegan and cruelty-free. You just have to do your research.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 62 million chicks are born worldwide every day. If you think that number is staggering, check out this fact: An article in Poultry Science states as of 2018, 7 billion day-old male chicks are culled worldwide each year in the egg industry. Culling is the practice of grinding up living baby male chicks in a high speed grinder because they are not profitable for the egg industry. In addition to grinding, suffocation, electrocution, and sometimes gases are also used to induce unconsciousness. There are a number of organizations fighting to prevent this atrocity that sadly continues to happen everyday. What can you do? There are numerous egg-free options at your local supermarket. Try some today!
There is a popular view that lambs are not very smart, but that is quite the contrary. Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling, states that lambs are "complex, individualistic, and social." They are extremely intelligent and capable of problem-solving. They display emotions that can be understood by studying the position of their ears. According to the global organization Four Paws, "When they experience stress or isolation, they show signs of depression similar to those that humans show by hanging their heads and avoiding positive actions."
Lambs are also a popular Easter meal. A quick online search yields recipes like "roasted Easter lamb" among many others. Over two million sheep and lambs are slaughtered for meat each year. Although sheep can live twelve years, lambs are typically slaughtered when they are 6-8 months old by being shocked with high voltage and hung upside down to have their throats slit. What can you do? Instead of opting for lamb, try some savory and delicious vegan alternatives. Companies like Gardein, Field Roast, and Tofurky make amazing plant based meats and roasts.
Did you know that Americans spend billions of dollars during Easter each year? According the the National Retail Federation, spending this Easter is expected to be the second highest in NRF history and expected to bring in $18.2 billion. Paas, the world's largest manufacturer of Easter Egg dye, is used on more than 180 million eggs a year. More than 300 million hens are used by the egg industry every year. They are literally born into a life of misery with the males being killed at birth, and the females are turned into egg producing machines crammed into tight living quarters and often never seeing the light of day. Their lives ultimately end in slaughter. What can you do? Again, look for egg alternatives and options. Millions of eggs equals millions of suffering hens and chicks.
From chocolate eggs to chocolate bunnies, Easter is a holiday known for sharing and consuming baskets filled with sweet treats. The average celebrant is expected to spend and average of $152 on baskets, candy, and decorations. About 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced each year worldwide, and over 60 percent of Americans prefer milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. In order to produce milk chocolate eggs and bunnies, you have to go to the source-a dairy cow.
The life of a dairy cow is heartbreaking. Cows produce milk the same reason humans produce milk: to nourish their babies. Instead, baby calves are taken from their mothers shortly after birth so the milk can go to humans. As I researched about the lives of dairy cows, I became increasingly troubled. I am proud to be part of Mothers Against Dairy. Mothers against dairy was founded by Ashley Capps, and according to the website it's "devoted to elevating the stories of vegan mothers for whom motherhood influenced their decision to reject dairy and go vegan, as well as reflections from mothers who were already vegan before becoming a parent, but whose mothering relationship deeply reinforced for them the injustice of dairy farming."
What can you do? Reach out to Mothers Against Dairy to tell your story. There are many non dairy chocolate options, and I also like making my own vegan chocolates as well.
As you are celebrating the Easter season and taking part in festivities and celebrations, let these images and this information be a reminder to you. The choice is yours. Each person can make a positive impact. Veganism is on the rise, and more and more people are demanding meat and dairy free options, including vegan Easter treats. Don't just take my word for it. Do your own research into the information provided. Wishing you a happy and thoughtful Easter!
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Hurricane Florence ravaged the Carolinas and destroyed homes, businesses, and properties and left thousands of people homeless. In the wake of the flooding the death toll continues to rise. According to Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and President, the death toll may total 600 after factoring in the six-month tail period following the storm. This period counts things like premature deaths resulting from standing water, infections, disease, and toxic mold exposure. Any loss of life is devastating, and new reports of a staggering death toll in the millions has sparked public outcry.
They Count Too
New figures released by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services state more than 4.1 million chickens and turkeys have perished during Hurricane Florence, and approximately 6,000 pigs died as well. The release of this data has resulted in a firestorm of social media posts and opinions. Some say there should be protections and evacuation plans for farm animals during natural disasters, others urge people to switch to a plant based diet to decrease the demand for meat, and some see the death of these animals as only a loss of "inventory."
The reality of the matter is that these animals were literally left behind. They were trapped with nowhere to turn. After already suffering trauma, stress, and overwhelming fear, it's hard to fathom what they were feeling as the flood waters started to rise leading them to eventually drown. The aftermath is yielding even more dire consequences.
Hog Waste Lagoons
According to the Environmental Working Group, the hog operations in North Carolina produce almost 10 billion gallons of feces a year—"enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools." Since several of the hog waste lagoons were inundated by flood waters, the waterways are now being contaminated with animal waste and carcasses, sewage and pesticides.
"Those waste materials are going to contain antibiotics, of which hogs are fed very high quantities to speed up their growth rate, in addition to the viruses and bacteria that are naturally found in hog feces," said Rachel Noble, a professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Numbers Don't Lie
Although millions of animals lost their lives in the flooding, it pales in comparison to the number of farm animals killed each year by humans. Over 70 billion animals are killed each year worldwide, and around 9 billion land animals are killed each year in the U.S. alone. That breaks down to about one million every hour according to statistics by The Humane Society of the United States.
"On a given day in the U.S., there are more than 73 million pigs on factory farms, and 121 million are killed for food each year."-Peta
Approximately 9 billion chickens are killed each year, and the vast majority spend their lives in total confinement. As Thanksgiving is almost upon us, we must remember that an estimated 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone.
A Lifetime of Suffering
If you've watched the undercover footage of abuse that happens at slaughterhouses and factory farms or read real statements given by current and former slaughterhouse and factory farm workers, then you know the pure terror and pain that these animals often face. Images of chickens stomped or kicked just for fun, scenes of turkeys packed by the thousands into dark sheds--often scratching and pecking each other to death, pigs and piglets beaten with metal rods, jabbed in the eyes with clothespins, or kicked in the face. The list goes on and on.
Imagine you have dealt with this abuse for your entire brief life—male baby chicks don't make it past a day. Since they are deemed worthless, they are usually suffocated in plastics bags or ground up alive. Broiler chickens are usually slaughtered around 5-7 weeks of age, turkeys at 4-5 months, and pigs at 5-6 months. These animals, in normal circumstances, are able to live many years, but due to the demand for meat, they suffered premature deaths by drowning instead of inevitable slaughter.
What Can I Do?
Many will express their anger at the deaths of these innocent farm animals while at the same time still consuming chicken, turkey, and bacon, but times are indeed changing. In the past few years veganism has continued to soar in the United States. More and more people are going vegan and requesting vegan options causing companies to rethink their entire way of doing things. From plant milk to ice cream, from vegan pizza to vegan burgers, there are so many plant based options available today. You can enjoy tasty food without contributing to animals being killed for it.
There is even an online vegan calculator that lets you see the impact you are making. According to my numbers (vegan for 2.7 years), I have prevented 986 animals from being eaten, saved 20,078 pounds of CO2, saved 29,585 square feet of forest, 44,377 pounds of grain, and a whopping 1,084,769 gallons of water saved. Not too bad for one person! The animals will definitely appreciate it.
It seems like the question never gets old. It is the topic of many discussions online, and it is a question I am asked at least once a week, "Where do you get your protein?" These six words are now music to my ears because I have educated myself on the topic. I have done my research, and I enjoy discussing vegan protein sources with non-vegans, new vegans, and everyone in between. There are many great vegan sources of protein, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites.
Quinoa contains over eight grams of protein per serving. It is also high in fiber and considered a "complete protein" because it contains all the essential amino acids.
My burrito recipe is packed with quinoa and an abundance of protein.
Spelt contains over 10 grams of protein per serving. It boosts the immune system, builds strong bones, and it's a great wheat alternative for those with gluten sensitivities.
Spelt comes in many forms. I paired my tofu scramble recipe with delicious spelt English muffins.
Packed with almost eight grams of protein per serving, black beans have a variety of health benefits. They are high in fiber, naturally low in sodium, and the selenium content helps fight cancer.
Black beans can be used in a variety of ways. I like to use them in my cheeseburger avocado pizza recipe.
One half-cup serving of raw firm tofu contains over 10 grams of protein. Tofu is also a great source of amino acids, iron, and calcium. Just look for organic, non-GMO tofu.
Tofu is an amazingly versatile product. There are several great brands that produce quality products. I use Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick'n in my vegan chicken salad recipe. It fools non-vegans every time!
A one ounce serving of walnuts contains 4.3 grams of protein. Walnuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help fight coronary diseases. Walnuts are a great source of vitamin E and promote healthy skin as well.
My lettuce wrap recipe with "walnut meat" shows how walnuts can truly be transformed into a savory and delicious meat substitute.
The vegan plant based protein list is long. It is great to know that we can get all of our protein, vitamins, and minerals from eating a plant based diet. If someone persists in asking you about more vegan sources of protein, here are a few more things you could mention:
3. Wild Rice
4. Non-dairy milk (soy, almond, cashew, etc.)
5. Pumpkin Seeds
11. Nutritional Yeast
14. Nut butter
15. Sprouted grain bread
17. Green peas
18. Chia seeds
For over forty years, my dad worked for the U.S. Forest Service. He would often bring me pencils, books, stickers, and all kinds of neat things regarding Smokey the Bear. Sometimes he would even get to dress up and wear the Smokey the Bear costume. As a kid, I thought it was a pretty big deal. I think back to those days and recall them like it was yesterday. Today, I am bringing bears in the spotlight for a different reason. As a vegan blogger, I often write about factory farming and animal cruelty. I have written about the abuse that animals endure daily in slaughterhouses, and then I found out about the heartbreaking abuse that bears suffer in Vietnam. I definitely had to write about it.
Animals are not meant to be caged. They should be free to live, grow, and thrive in their natural habitats, but many bears in Vietnam only know life within four walls. What is it that people are after? Bear bile. Bear bile has been used for thousands of years as an elixir in Chinese medicine. It is used in products like toothpaste, shampoo, and tea. Although there are many cruelty-free alternatives with the same healing properties, it is still widely used to treat liver and gallbladder conditions, because of its high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA).
It is a multi-million dollar industry that thrives off of bears that are confined to cages the size of their bodies, bears that are often deprived of food, water, and mobility, and bears that suffer chronic pain, abuse, infection, and live with holes in their abdomens and other physical forms of trauma.
So how is bear bile extracted?
According to Animals Asia, there are five ways the bile is extracted: Latex Catheter, Metal Jacket, Metal Catheter, Free-drip, and Fake Free-drip. Each method is cruel, and brings misery to the poor animals. This is how the bile is extracted using the metal jacket method.
A rubber pipe is surgically connected to the bear’s gall bladder and attached to a fluid bag inside a metal box. To hold the box in place against the bear’s abdomen, the bear is fitted with a metal jacket weighing more than 10kg.
The global nonprofit FOUR PAWS is now looking to close all bear farms by 2020 and ensure the transfer of all remaining bears to sanctuaries. You can get involved by signing the petition to end bear farming.
Please checkout the microsite of FOUR PAWS asking “How much can you bear,” which tests the endurance of viewers and urges them to take action.
I was only able to watch for a few seconds of the raw video.
Unfortunately, the practice is legal in China. Although it is illegal in Vietnam and was outlawed in 1992, loopholes in the law and lack of enforcement of regulations have allowed thousands of bears to be illegally used for bile extraction today.
There is still hope! On July 17, 2017, the Vietnamese government agreed to a plan to finally end bear bile farming in the country.
Although the Vietnamese Government has agreed to end the horrific practice, according to FOUR PAWS, "there are still approximately 1,300 so-called "bile bears" - mainly Asiatic black bears - living under poor keeping conditions on roughly 400 bear farms."
FOUR PAWS is in the forefront of helping the Vietnamese government truly end bear bile farming and is currently working with the government and in coalition with local partners Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) in implementing a plan to end the practice by 2020.
Please sign the petition, and let your voice be heard today.
If you're looking for a location in Georgia for an animal sanctuary, please check out this amazing property.
It’s that time of year again. It’s time for another school year! As vegan parents, school lunches can sometimes be overwhelming. Often times, even at the age of four, other kids in my daughter’s class would ask her, “What is that?” or “Why do you eat that?” Kids are very inquisitive and want to know about things. Here are few tips to help prepare your kids for questions they may receive when they return to school and pop open the glorious vegan lunch you have prepared!
Tunaless Salad is a simple, quick, and nutritious lunch idea.
Simply ask your child, “Why do we eat this way?” It will spark an interesting and informative conversation, and as parents we will indeed be education by the responses we receive. It opens up an amazing dialogue about food choices and being different, not better than anyone else, but different. You can make this conversation age appropriate as well and use teachable moments often. You can also make it fun and “role play” different scenarios with your child.
Coconut Chocolate Energy Bites are a great snack to pack for any school day!
Learning About Ingredients
When shopping for food and preparing vegan meals and vegan school lunches, allow your child(ren) to participate as much as possible. At first my daughter did not like tomatoes, but when shopping at the store I asked her to help me pick out good tomatoes, and when cooking I asked her to help me mix the tomatoes into the recipe. When combined with other ingredients, she realized that they work together to make delicious meals. Now, she will pick up a slice of tomato and eat it by itself. Learning food likes and dislikes is a continuous process that travels with us into and throughout adulthood. When children help pack their own lunches, it instills a sense of pride and reinforces the fact they they can make healthy food choices. This also carries into adulthood. Studies show that food preferences are formed in early childhood and affect an individual’s eating habits for life.
Homemade Dark Chocolate Trail Mix is a wholesome energy-boosting snack.
Talk to the Teacher
Make it a point to have a thorough discussion with your child’s teacher about lunches, snacks, etc. When there is a class project, party, field trip, etc. that involves food, ask the teacher to give you plenty of notice so that you can send in a substitute or make other arrangements. Keep the lines of communication open, and it will make for a great school year.
Fresh fruit is a great immune-boosting lunch item, and there are many quality vegan bars on the market as well!
Know When to Draw the Line
There is a difference between another child asking your child about the items packed in his or her lunch and a child teasing or bullying your child about his or her lunch. This kind of behavior should never be tolerated and should be handled immediately. Often times adults have this problem more often than kids. Kids are pretty open-minded. I had an incident recently where someone offered me a food item that contained meat, and I replied, "No, thank you. I am vegan." The person replied, "Oh, I feel sorry for you." True story! I educated that person thoroughly.
Wishing everyone a great school year! If you are a parent, guardian, etc., please share your school lunch stories and vegan school lunch ideas!
Well, today is a very strange holiday. Often times I like to look at the date and search online to see which holidays fall on a certain day, and today is National Cheese Sacrifice Day. So, what does this mean? Well, it started with people buying cheese on this day and "sacrificing" it to household rodents, using cheese to snare them in traps. Today, people have given it a whole new meaning. Some "sacrifice" a little of their budget to splurge and try an expensive cheese they may not normally purchase. I propose two new meanings.
Understand who really makes a sacrifice when dairy is consumed.
There is an image that I will never forget. It was the Fourth of July, and several dairy farmers posted photos of baby cows in chains with the captions "Let Freedom Ring" and "Happy Fourth of July" among other things. These sad images are are constant reminder of the ones who make the true sacrifices for the sake of dairy products like cheese. The dairy cows sacrifice their milk unwillingly so that it may go to the millions of people across the world who say they cannot live without it. The babies are taken away from their mothers, and many dairy mothers actually defend this practice. According to Modern Day Farm Chick, since "cows aren't humans" it is perfectly fine to separate them. She goes on to say that it must be done "to provide the best care for the cow and calf.” Ultimately, dairy cows sacrifice their lives. When they are unable to produce the expected amount of milk, they are slaughtered and end up on someone's plate.
Sacrifice eating cheese on this day, instead of consuming it.
We've all heard of Meatless Monday. Well, this holiday could be a day, just one day, out of the year where dairy cheese lovers could forego eating cheese. There are a long list of benefits that arise from eliminating dairy all together. Many studies and research show the dangers of consuming dairy products. Dr. Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says the average American consumes more than 33 pounds of cheese per year.
He says cheese is both fattening and addictive because of the dairy protein called casein. He describes how it has opiate molecules built in and says when babies nurse, they are getting dosed with a mild drug. According to Barnard, "Milk contains opiates that reward a baby for nursing."
There are countless non-dairy cheese products and nut cheeses on the market as well. These high quality products provide amazing health benefits while providing the taste, texture, and flavor of dairy cheese products without the harmful effects. They can be used for pizza, quesadillas, and much more! So, instead of consuming dairy cheese, try a non-dairy option. Your body will thank you, and so will the dairy cows across the world.
Maybe I have food allergies and have no idea. Maybe it's because I have only been vegan for a year and a half and consumed a lot of dairy products leading up to the start of my vegan journey. I am not sure the reason, but frequently I have been waking up with nasal congestion and throat congestion. In another blog I talked about digestion problems and a skin rash that I had all the way up until I became vegan. After I became vegan, they both cleared up within a matter of weeks and never returned, but the nasal and throat congestion has been a lingering and aggravating nuisance. Several studies show that wheat or gluten can cause the congestion a well.
One of the major components of Dr. Sebi's plan is eliminating mucus from the body. He states, "Mucus is the cause of every disease." He also discusses how eating too many acidic and not enough alkaline foods causes the production of mucus in the body. So, I carefully studied his list, and started my seven day plan to see if I would notice a difference in my system.
During the seven days, my diet mostly consisted of peaches, melons, walnuts, lettuce, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes.These are all on the list, and on the first day, I made a large amount of walnut "meat" and guacamole and ate this on lettuce wraps for several days. It is a delicious and simple vegan recipe. When I was not eating the wraps, I was eating bowls of fruit, homemade guacamole and cucumbers, or snacking on walnuts.
I also started every morning with a cup of warm water and lime juice. This is said to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, and it also alkalizes the body and helps maintain a higher pH balance.
On day three I was more congested than usual. It was like my body was trying to eliminate in overdrive, and I really felt it. I had to keep a box of kleenex on hand throughout the day, and this was very frustrating. I was wondering if it would go away, but on day four I woke up with very little congestion at all. I kept eating my meals and snacks, drank plenty of water, and I really started feeling a huge difference. One of my go-to snacks was homemade guacamole and sliced cucumbers. I also enjoyed mango with cucumber slices as well.
Days five through seven were smooth sailing. On day five, I did deviate from the plan and had some raw pumpkin seed bars with my peaches. My daughter loves them, and I ended up buying a few of them for myself when I was getting some for her.
Overall, I have to say that after day three the congestion was minimal. I do think I need to take an allergy test just to see if I am unknowingly causing all this stuff that could easily be prevented. I do know that I am going to be more mindful about trying to make sure I include more alkaline than acidic foods in my diet and in the family meals I prepare. Will I stick solely to Dr. Sebi's plan? No. However, I will incorporate many of his principles into my lifestyle and continue to enjoy my vegan journey!
My vegan journey has been quite remarkable. When I reflect back on the time when I was just like many Americans, buying and consuming animal products without even thinking about it, it seems so surreal. Day after day animals across the world pay the ultimate price so that people can have a glass of milk with breakfast, a steak or chicken dinner, and keep slaughterhouses and factory farms in business. In this vicious cycle of animal cruelty, people often forget (or don't even think ) that animals are brilliant creatures that experience feelings and emotions, too. Here's how...
Pigs are amazingly intelligent. Studies show that they have long term memories, great problems solving skills, and are able to learn complex combinations of symbols for actions and objects.
They also feel empathy toward their pen mates. They feel fear, sadness, and happiness just like humans. They love to socialize and conversate, and mother pigs develop strong bonds with their babies. That's why it saddens me to think about the torture they endure at slaughterhouses. According to the USDA's number of Estimated Daily Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection, 2,179,000 hogs were slaughtered just last week.
The road to slaughter is gut wrenching. In natural settings, pigs can live up to fifteen years. Factory farmed pigs are sent to slaughter around six or seven months of life. They are packed tightly into 18-wheelers, and millions often die on the road to slaughter. Typical slaughterhouses kill over 1,000 pigs per hour. In May 2015, a Compassion Over Killing investigation uncovered severe abuse of pigs. Investigators saw “conscious pigs being dragged, improperly stunned (i.e. ineffectively stunned and double stunned), abused with electric prods, maliciously beaten, pushed, kicked and otherwise severely mistreated.”
There are many organizations and sanctuaries that fight daily to rescue and eliminate the suffering of pigs. Wallow in the Woods pig sanctuary in Metter, Georgia rescues and cares for unwanted or neglected pot belly pigs. Pigs Peace Sanctuary also does phenomenal work.
There are hundreds of breeds of chickens worldwide. Studies show that chickens have distinct personalities, great memory skills, and complex communication. They are also able to experience fear, anticipation and anxiety. Mother hens are very caring and bond with their chicks, but that bond is broken too often. According to United Poultry Concerns, "In the U.S., each year, 9 billion “broiler” (baby) chickens, both males and females, are raised and killed for food. Worldwide over 50 billion chickens are now being slaughtered every year."
Factory farmed chickens often never see the light of day. Instead, they are cramped by the thousands in sheds, and baby chicks raised on factory farms are not allowed contact with his or her parents, let alone be raised by them, and the abuse chickens are subjected to is disgraceful. Thankfully, there are many organizations that rescue chickens from abuse.
Cows are so fascinating! A 2004 study conducted by Cambridge University showed that young heifers exhibit behavioral expressions of excitement when they solve a problem, and they also take pleasure in their own learning achievements. While working on her PhD at Northampton University, Krista McLennan discovered that cows have best friends and become stressed when they are separated. Unfortunately, separation, sadness, and and stress are part of the life cycle of many cows. Dairy cows know this all too well.
Babies are taken from their mothers shortly after birth. Male calves are taken away to be raised for beef and females for milk. Once females are no longer able to produce milk, they are also sent to slaughter.
There are many organizations that provide sanctuaries and save the lives of cows. The Cow Sanctuary in Bridgeton, NJ provides lifelong care and rehabilitation to cows, emus, horses, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, and other animals as well. Many of the animals were rescued from cruelty and neglect.
Rowdy Girl Sanctuary is located in Angleton, TX. The story behind this sanctuary is remarkable. They provide lifelong, compassionate care to many animals whose lives usually end in brutal death.
There are hundreds of organizations across the country that fight each and every day for the freedom, rights and protection of animals. Each and every day another person makes the life changing decision to join the ranks of the millions of vegans across America to become vegan and embrace an ethical lifestyle that defends and advocates for animals-beautiful, intelligent, amazing creatures that all deserve to live a full and happy life-and for that I am very happy!
A report released May 19, 2017, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveals some startling facts about milk production and consumption. Basically, dairy cows produce massive amounts of milk on a regular basis to keep up with the insatiable demand of Americans. In fact, the report states that "milk production in the United States during April totaled 18.3 billion pounds, up 2.0 percent from April 2016," and "the number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.39 million head, 69,000 head more than April 2016, and 8,000 head more than March 2017."
In this blur of milk production and distribution, one voice is often silenced. If dairy cows had a voice, there are three things that they would want us to know.
The milking machines are physically exhausting. I am sometimes milked for 10 months out of the year, including the time I get pregnant. I am milked two to three times a day, seven days a week, and continuously attached to milking machines. I develop mastitis in my mammary glands. I have watched friends die from this disease. After milking, I am returned to my lonely, cramped, concrete stall to wait for my next milking. That is my life.
"Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,967 pounds for April, 20 pounds above April 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of April since the 23 State series began in 2003." (USDA 2017)
I miss my baby. I didn't get to bond with my baby. I didn't get to nurture my baby. When my precious baby was born, something terrible happened shortly thereafter. I was nursing my beautiful calf, and then someone took her. They ripped her away from me. I tried to call for her, but it did no good. No one listened. No one cared. My life is stressful. I know that one day she will be artificially inseminated and begin the vicious cycle that I currently endure. I had no time to mourn though. I was quickly put back to intensive milk production.
"Abrupt and early weaning, such as occurs on the typical dairy farm, appears to be distressing for both calf and cow," says Weary. "The calves will engage in repetitive crying and become more active," he says, "and sometimes you'll see a decline in their willingness to eat solid food."-Daniel Weary, an applied animal biologist at the University of British Columbia. The Emotional Lives of Dairy Cows, Mary Bates
My days are numbered. I would normally live 20-25 years, but I will only survive three to five years because of this intense, cruel life. I look around, and each and every day I see faces disappear. I know one day it will happen to me when I can no longer keep up and produce the high level of milk demanded of me. One day I will be packed onto a crowded truck to be transported to that place. It's called a slaughterhouse. The truck was here just yesterday. It was a sad day. After the hard life of servitude that I have endured, knowing I will one day end up as food on someone's plate is just too much to comprehend.
There is a ray of hope. There are many organizations out there that speak for me. Organizations like Free from Harm, Milk Hurts, Mothers Against Dairy, and Occupy for Animals, tell my story. There are countless others as well. They are my voice and the voices of many. I hope you listen to their messages. I hope my story inspires you to start your vegan journey. What is my life worth to you?
Recently, James Aspey, world renowned vegan and animal rights activist, got into a heated discussion with a Christian man while James was speaking at an event. The whole argument that the man kept trying to make was that animals were created for his use. Often times when James presented the man with a sound response, the man would change his own argument, agree with James on many points, and then go right back to saying animals were created for his needs and nourishment. The whole exchange was interesting to me because I am a Christian, and I totally disagree with the man for several reasons.
Humans DO Not Need Animals for Nourishment
Everything we need, including protein, can be achieved by eating a plant based diet. There have been countless studies that show that by adopting a plant based diet people live longer, are healthier, happier, and less disease stricken. Research published by The National Center for Biotechnology concluded that "vegan diets seem to provide some added protection against obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes; and cardiovascular mortality."
In the Beginning
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food. And it was so." Genesis 1: 29-30 (NIV).
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God commanded that they eat seeded fruit and green plants. Those were His words.
To me, this says that this was God's original design, but after the fall of man, death and destruction became part of the natural life cycle. Predators killed prey, and the life of one living thing depended on the death of another. I believe veganism is closer to God's original plan and design.
Factory Farming and Slaughterhouses
It seems like every day there are countless stories, images, and articles about animal abuse and torture. Whistleblowers often record first hand accounts of the relentless abuse that animals endure for the sake of being food for humans. In a recent Compassion Over Killing (COK) undercover investigation at Mason Dixon Farms, gentle mother cows were violently abused.
Uncover footages shows: cows being kicked in the face, punched in their udders, continuously shocked with an electric prod, jabbed with pens and elbows, and having their tails painfully twisted or bent by workers. Because of their hazardous living conditions, they were also repeatedly getting stuck on water troughs or inside stalls.
People can continue to make the argument of "animals were put here for our use" all they want, but use does not equal abuse. I think it is great when I see seeing eye dogs being eyes for their owners, or pets providing therapy and making people's lives better by bringing happiness and joy to families.
I certainly don't think the God whom I love and in whom I believe, the God of love and compassion, is pleased with animal cruelty, slaughterhouses, or factory farming where these types of atrocities occur every day behind closed doors. These animals are living, breathing creatures with feelings and emotions. They experience joy and pain. They have families, but sadly often times they don't have a voice.
"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Proverb 12:10 (NIV)
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About Tabatha James
Tabatha James is a wife, mom, and children's book author navigating her way through a vegan way of life!