“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” - Mohandas Gandhi
To honor Gandhi's example of nonviolence, Farmed Animal Rights Movement (FARM) has chosen this day for their Fast Against Slaughter. As of yesterday morning, over 10,000 people from over 85 countries have pledged to participate. So, what's the point of this?
This particular action specifically tackles the 24-48 hours of starvation that farmed animals often go through as they are prepared for and transported to slaughter. Many (if not most) of the participants are ethical vegans. Side note: If you Google "ethical veganism," you will find a bunch of articles about how we're the worst. Because veganism isn't really a single issue movement, the day takes on different and layered purposes for each individual who participates. FARM, as an organization, is working to end the use of animals for food. We don't believe in the concept of "humane meat" and are uninterested in putting a pretty wrapping on an ugly, ugly industry. We want the practice eradicated. Follow this link to see a video that does a nice job of explaining the movement (it's not especially graphic, but there are some difficult moments).
With that, I'll tackle my own reasons for participating today. Above, you'll see my sign (the way activists are spreading the message on social media). On it, I mention that I have ethical, economical and ecological reasons for fasting (and living a vegan lifestyle in general). They're all intertwined, of course, but I'll do my best to break them down one by one.
- Ethical- I don't believe humans have the right to oppress other species just because science has so far found us to be intellectually stronger. All animals, humans and non, have the ability to suffer, feel fear, joy and form friendships. This fact should bond us together, not divide us into speciesist classifications stacked on top of one another. Nonhuman animals have a right to their life, just like humans.
- Economical- I basically covered this in my last paragraph. Because animal products are only economically viable at an enormous scale (because of subsidization), plant based nutrition is a more realistic and economically sound way to feed the world. If the American diet shifted away from animal products, we'd see a reduction in food insecurity and food deserts simply because plants require fewer resources to be produced.
- Environmental- This is usually the easiest reason (for veganism) for people to get behind. As stated previously, animal agriculture uses an immense amount of resources. Farmed animals are also responsible for a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions. The industry not only produces carbon dioxide, but methane and nitrus oxide (20 and 300 [respectively] times better at trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere than CO2). Omnivorous diets create 7 times the greenhouse emissions of vegan diets and calorie for calorie, animal protein uses 11 times the fossil fuel of plant protein.
More than 260 million acres of forest in the US alone have disappeared to make room for pastures and animal crop fields. An area the size of 7 football fields is cleared every minute. 30% of the Earth's landmass is used for farming animals and animal grazing is the leading cause of plant species endangerment (and extinction) in the US.
Sources: http://www.culinaryschools.org/yum/vegetables/, https://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-factory-farms-and-environment, https://www.downtoearth.org/blogs/2012-05/world-hunger-can-be-solved-vegetarian-diet, http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat, http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/embedded-water/
Obviously there are other reasons to go vegan (like health, for example) and there are more layers to the ones I've listed here. However, I hope this makes my choices more understandable and maybe (fingers and toes crossed) it'll move you to give up some or all animal products.
Feel free to share this and any of the #FastAgainstSlaughter photos I've posted. If you've got questions or comments, please don't be shy!