The majority of us are good people, we’ve just been led down a path of immoral choices by companies that only seek to gain profit, no matter the implications on both people and other beings; it’s this kind of conditioning to see the infliction of pain and suffering as a norm and part of a commodity, that I wanted to break free from. I’m not their puppet and I refuse to let my life and its convenience be deemed more important than another beings – one which has just as much will to live. These companies only ‘value’ us for financial gain – we’re just a gateway to economic success. These industries are detrimental to our health and the environment as well as the animals, but that is something they go to the ends of the earth to avoid divulging because when we (the consumers) and them (the companies) conflict, they will always choose them.
One of their favourite tricks is to spark confusion and from that breed complete myths; they have us convinced as consumers and regurgitating these myths for years, completely oblivious to their lack of truth. They could get away with the confusion alone because the difficulty causes people to throw their hands in the air and resort to whatever they please, as happened with smoking previously – but in this case they’ve actually spread so much misleading information that people are convinced their products are necessary. One example would be the infamous “you need meat for protein!!” myth – the irony in this myth being that we’re actually getting recycled protein that the animals originally got from plants. Now there is a slight bit of truth in the statement in that you obviously can get protein from meat (hence the ability to spark confusion), however it is not a necessity and can actually be detrimental. An example of how it can be detrimental is that it has been found to trigger the release of IGF-1 – this is a cancer-promoting growth hormone; “It took a study comparing meat-eaters to vegans to show that higher IGF-1 levels were only associated with animal protein intake” (source). There are so many sources of protein in a much healthier plant form, most notably: legumes, beans and nuts. But just think about how so many of us have been reiterating this myth for years, or still do: the meat industry fed us this myth and now consumers vigilantly hoist up this shield whenever anything hints at an attack towards their favourite ‘foods’. By buying this lie we’ve been defending an industry that’s harmful to us, all for the sake of avoiding change.
Another famous one is that you need dairy for calcium: as in the meat/protein scenario, there is a slight truth in that you do get calcium from dairy as we all know, but it is definitely not needed. Multiple studies have shown that there are actually higher rates of bone fractures in countries with higher intakes of dairy, which is ironic given that we’ve been told we need milk for strong bones. Furthermore, approximately 65% of the human population are lactose intolerant so it just doesn’t make sense that as a species we would need dairy. There are so many plant based forms of calcium (such as: dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, soy milk and tofu) that are not accompanied by the saturated fat, cholesterol and all the other health-inhibiting products predominantly associated with animal products.
These companies have such power they’ve managed to get us to act adversely to one of our foundational human traits: they’ve stripped away our morals – our inherent compassion which separates us from the majority of other species, the compassion that allows us to form connections between actions and ethics. They’ve desensitised us and taught us to view some animals as food and others as what they are: animals. Our physiology was not made to eat animals, our psychology was compelled into doing so. This becomes apparent when you look to other countries such as China and people become outraged that they consume dogs, when all that’s really happening, is the same desensitisation but with a different species. Consider this: if you put a baby in a cot with an apple and a chicken, what do you think it would do? Then consider the same scenario but replace the baby with a baby lion. Eating animals is not an instinctual human trait at all – it is a behaviour that has been taught to us. In fact the majority of us are repulsed by the thought of eating animals when they are presented to us in any way other than packaged and processed in a supermarket. Corpses are disguised through euphemisms such as ‘beef’ – this is just another step in the heavy conditioning that has led us to seeing these dead bodies as products. In doing this they completely rely on the consumer’s willful ignorance – we deliberately ignore any hints towards the truth because we don’t want to acknowledge that our day-to-day habits may be unethical.
Once you recognise the psychological manipulation these industries use, and the profit-oriented motivations behind it, it becomes easy to see how some of the ‘truths’ we once thought we knew may be nothing more than marketing techniques. Once this realisation sets in, we have a real opportunity to re-connect with our principal human values and act in accordance with a morality higher than our need for convenience. In most cases this will result in reward not only in the form of fulfilment, but through health benefits too: don’t let these industries trick you into thinking their products are a necessity.
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes” (source).