On Wednesday 16th November 2016, I happened to tune in to James Whale‘s radio show on talkRADIO. By chance he was interviewing a member of the RSPCA over the puppy mill industry and the recent finding of 100 puppies attempting to be illegally brought into the country to be sold. If you would like to learn more about the puppy mill trade, please click here.
It is common knowledge that James Whale loves animals, especially his dogs (rescued from shelters). During the interview he even offered to home one of the puppies that had been found – he is such a lovely guy! It made me curious as to why he wasn’t vegan. So I tweeted him.
James addressed my tweet almost immediately, answering with honestly and a lot of thought. He explained that his wife was vegetarian, he believes that too much meat is consumed by everyone and that he should be vegetarian. I thought this was great, however I was taken aback when he made a clear distinction between vegetarianism and veganism and said ‘I think that being vegan is crazy’.
I was super confused about his statement. He thought that being vegetarian was an admiral choice but to be vegan was irrational and without good reason, or at least that is the impression he gave me. I must admit, during the majority of time that I was vegetarian, I saw veganism as extreme and unnecessary. So, on Friday 25th November I decided to email James. In my email I detailed the reasons why people decide to eliminate animal by-products from their diet. For obvious reasons, I focused on the life of a chicken and a cow:
Chickens: On the day a chick leaves it egg, they are put on a conveyer belt and the sex of the chick is identified. If it is a female chick, they are kept on the conveyer belt. If the chick is male, it is immediately put into a grinder (alive) and killed.
They say that the egg-laying chickens suffer the most out of all the farm animals. Their beaks are burnt off (without anaesthetic) so they are unable to peck at themselves or other chickens close by. The chickens are kept in conditions in which they will produce the most eggs. This means the farmer will manipulate their light (to control their biological clocks) and also their feed. They don’t get veterinary treatment so they die slowly in their cages or on the factory floor, through exhaustion or infection, if they are not slaughtered beforehand. There are no laws to ensure how the slaughtering of chickens must happen as there are with pigs and cows so it is at the convenience of the farmer, which is usually not the most ‘humane’.
Most chickens are still kept in wire cages on top of one another. As well as being incredibly inhumane, you can imagine these are horrible living conditions for the chickens as their feet normally curl around the wire bars and they get covered in faeces from the chickens above. There is a big push for free-range chickens and less of caged chickens nowadays which is definitely a step in the right direction but unfortunately free-range doesn’t actually mean ‘free’ at all, it is just a marketing technique. For more information on free-range please click here. It is for the reasons above that chickens probably suffer the most and why I don’t eat eggs.
Cows: The cow does not produce milk without getting pregnant, just like us humans. For the dairy farmer to get milk, he must first forcefully inseminate the cow. Just as we wouldn’t imagine forcefully inseminating a woman or even a dog (as this would be seen as rape) the same should apply to a cow, but isn’t. Once the cow gives birth, the baby is taken away. It is common knowledge that the cow will scream for her child just as any mother would. The baby is normally killed and used as veal unless the farmer decides that they would be better use as beef or for milking (depending on their sex). Then once the mother’s milk is drained and she is ready to be impregnated again, the whole process is repeated. This happens until the point that her body is exhausted and can no longer produce milk. Then she is taken to the slaughter house. For the reasons above, I stopped consuming milk, cheese and butter.
Fortunately we are living in a time where yummy vegan food is widely available, and so a vegan diet is no longer as restrictive or extreme as it once was. It’s healthy, tasty and cruelty-free and therefore not crazy. At least that’s my opinion.
I hope that mega James Whale read my email on veganism. I’ll let you know if he replies.