Most people like to think of themselves as animal lovers. We think negatively about people who say they don’t like animals. I always called myself an animal lover yet I ate animals. I wasn’t lying. I’m pretty sure that if I had to personally choose the animal that would be slaughtered for my dinner and see her killed with my own eyes, I would have opted for salad. The problem is that most of us don’t see the billions of animals that are bred, held captive and killed for our food. They are a nameless, faceless mass that are out of sight and out of mind. What happens when we stop to look and think about the animals we eat as individual beings who feel pain and joy, who love and mourn, who cherish and lose families, who die yet want to live? It might seem strange to have to convince people of reasons why any living being should be allowed to live and yet the reality is that we do. Here are just 10 of the animals we should love, not eat.
Cows are gentle animals who are affectionate, emotional and intelligent. Mahatma Gandhi described a cow as “a poem of compassion.” Cows are certainly deserving of our compassion as well as our understanding and respect. Cows are very intelligent, curious, communicative, able to think critically, problem solve and have very good memories. They are highly emotional, forming friendships and close bonds. Cows have strong maternal bonds and are attentive, protective and loving parents. When a calf is taken away, the mother will cry and bellow for hours, even days, and fall into a deep depression. Mother cows will search for their babies, visibly distressed, just as the calves cry for their mother.
Cows can live up to 20 years but cows raised for meat are slaughtered when less than two years old and calves killed for veal don’t get to live more than a few months. If you think just being meat-free is enough, think again. Dairy cows are sent to slaughter when their milk production slows, usually around the age of four. There is no reason to eat cows or their body fluids when there are so many amazing vegan meats and non-dairy milks and cheeses available. Read more in 10 Things to Love about Cows.
In the Chinese zodiac, the pig represents fortune, honesty and happiness. How appropriate for this honest, happy animal that is smart, lovable and forgiving. Scientists have determined that not only are pigs smart, they are smarter than dogs, some primates and three-year old children. They are ranked as the fourth most intelligent creature on Earth! There are some bad stereotypes out there about pigs like how they are sloppy or eat too much. None of that is true. In fact, pigs are very clean animals who can live indoors just like dogs and cats. They can be very picky eaters. They eat slowly, nibbling and savoring their food and like to eat a variety of foods. Pigs are highly social, playful and form close bonds. They are very good mothers and are anxious when separated from their babies. Pigs are compassionate, forgiving and are highly emotional beings.
However, pigs do not get to be clean, happy or raise their families. They could live 10-12 years but are slaughtered at six months old because too many people think “everything is better with bacon.” Instead, eat any of the many types of vegan bacon and learn more in 10 Phenomenal Reasons to Love Pigs.
I used to think I couldn’t live without chicken but I learned that it is the chickens who couldn’t live with me eating them. Chickens, which are descended from dinosaurs, are amazing, intelligent and affectionate animals. Chickens are intelligent animals who can solve complex problems, understand cause and effect, and anticipate and plan for the future. Chickens dream, have great memories and complex communication systems. They are also good teachers as mother hens begin to teach calls to their babies while they are still in their eggs. Hens are loving and affectionate toward their chicks and show empathy for them as well for other hens. Mama hens also defend their babies from predators.
Sadly, there are more chickens raised and killed for food than all other animals combined. In the U.S alone, over eight billion chickens are killed each year – that’s almost 300 per second! The natural life span of a chicken can be up to 10 years but chickens bred for meat are usually killed as babies at less than two months old. Egg-laying hens are slaughtered when they no longer lay enough eggs at around one to two years old. Read 10 Things to Love about Chickens while you enjoy some Crispy Tofu Nuggets and Chicken-Less Burgers.
Every year 45 million turkeys are killed in the U.S. just for Thanksgiving alone. On a holiday that is about giving thanks and being grateful, we should be celebrating life, not taking it away and that number does not include all the turkeys killed the rest of the year. Too many people think turkeys are just “dumb” birds but that is completely wrong. Turkeys are quite intelligent, good at geography and can solve problems. They are curious, inquisitive and communicate with over 20 calls. Turkeys are sensitive with good and bad moods. Turkeys are social, playful birds who have distinct personalities just like dogs and cats. The mother turkeys are protective, staying with their babies at ground-level to keep them safe and warm until they learn to fly and roost up in the trees.
Turkeys can live up to ten years, but these beautiful birds are killed when they are only a few months old. Before their deaths, they are confined to filthy, small spaced and bred to be so big, their skeletons cannot support their weight. Why not try a more compassionate option for holiday meals and eat an Unturkey Roast. Learn more about 10 Reasons to Love Turkeys and 11 Fun Facts about Turkeys you may not have known.
5. Lambs and Sheep
The Egyptians believed sheep were sacred and the ancient Sumerians immortalized sheep in the form of gods. In the Chinese zodiac, sheep represent righteousness, sincerity, gentleness and compassion. Sheep are intelligent, able to solve problems and almost as smart as pigs. They have good memories, recognize faces and facial expressions. Sheep are emotional and display emotions with their ears. Sheep are social and like to be in groups. Ewes are very protective and caring mothers to their lambs and form deep bonds with them. They can recognize their own lambs by the sound of their bleats.
Lambs are often taken away from their mothers, though, and used for meat, dairy, and wool. Sheep can live 12-14 years but are often killed at just 6-8 months of age. Instead of eating these adorable animals, indulge in this Vegan Irish “Lamb” Stew or this Bad Ass “Lamb” Burger and Meet the 6 Happiest Little Lambs in the World.
In the Chinese zodiac, goats represent creativity, shyness, introversion and perfectionism. If you’re a Capricorn, maybe you know that “capra” is the root of the word “capricious” which means quirky, whimsical, and fanciful which perfectly describes the cuties that are goats. Goats are highly intelligent, inquisitive and curious. They love to explore everything which is probably why people think they are such trouble-makers. Goats communicate with each other and while they are social, they don’t flock together as much as sheep do. They have great balance and coordination; they can climb trees and jump over 5 feet high! Mother goats are protective and call to their kids to keep them close. Kids love to be close to their mothers and wean after six months.
Unfortunately, the kids don’t get to reach six months or spend what little time they do have with their mothers. These kids are killed when they are babies, less than five months old, when their meat is most tender. Goat meat is common in several cuisines and goat milk has become more and more popular. Choose any non-dairy milk instead and sip a glass while watching this video of Benjamin the Orphaned Pygmy Goat Gets to Go to Work With Dad.
Everyone thinks bunnies are adorable, right? From Bugs Bunny to the Easter Bunny, we all smile when we see rabbits. Renaissance artists painted rabbits to represent purity, unquestioning faith and gentleness. In the Chinese zodiac, rabbits represent sensitivity, compassion, tenderness and kindness. They are also symbols of fertility and rebirth which makes them even more popular at Easter time. Rabbits are affectionate, social animals that enjoy being around humans as well as other rabbits. They are not shy about showing their joy as they run, jump in the air and twist their bodies. If they like you, they might say it with a low humming sound. Rabbits are more commonly being kept as companion animals. They are easy to care for but do need proper care to be happy and healthy including companionship, a good diet, exercise and indoor shelter. They also need mental stimulation and social interaction as they can get bored easily.
Rabbits can live up to 12 years but many will not be allowed to live more than 12 weeks. Rabbits are killed for meat and their fur. Many are used in experiments, tortured in labs for products we support with our dollars. Learn more about which companies use animals in testing and 5 Hopping Good Reasons to Adopt a Rescued Rabbit. Rather than buying rabbits to eat at the supermarket, check out these 5 Adorable Rock Star Rabbits.
We have all seen a gaggle or group of geese. Geese like to hang out together and work well together too. When flying, they take turns in the lead position giving each other time to rest. That honking you hear while they are flying might be the gaggle telling the geese in front to speed it up. Geese are affectionate and kind-hearted. They take care of each other when one is sick or wounded. Geese select their mates at three years old and then often mate for life. The couples live together and have baby goslings which they care for together. The males are caring and protective of their female partners and will defend them to the death. When the mother goose leaves her eggs, she covers them with sticks to protect them while the daddy goose keeps predators away. Once goslings hatch, they are taught to swim the next day and to fly at three months old. Geese have great instincts about geography and prefer to live where they were born. Geese have been known to fly 3000 miles just to return to a familiar place. That sense of home and loyalty keeps young geese with their parents even after they are independent.
Geese can live 8-15 years in the wild but many don’t get a chance to have a loving home and family and don’t live longer than 15-20 weeks. Geese are used for their eggs, plucked raw for their feathers (down) and killed for their meat. Then there is the whole issue of foie gras, the “delicacy” that has been banned in some places and fought about in others. To make foie gras which is basically chopped liver, geese are torturously force-fed multiple times each day for three weeks with a metal rod in order to fatten up their liver to 10-12 times its normal size. The geese are unable to walk or stand, kept in tiny cages and then slaughtered so people can feel snooty about eating something so expensive. Instead, make my vegan Mushroom and Walnut Pate and enjoy it while watching this video about Davina and Maisy, the Blind Goose and Dog who are BFFs!
9. Fish and Sea Animals
Fish and sea animals are the animals that people seem to care the least about. They are the only animals that are shown being killed on TV cooking shows. People talk about fishing like it’s a sport and not killing innocent lives. Maybe it’s because fish are not soft and cuddly, or that we don’t interact much with them, or that they can’t cry and scream that makes us feel less kind toward them. Fish are actually intelligent animals with good memory and recall and ability to solve problems. Fish communicate with each other and speak with sounds humans can only hear with special instruments. They like physical contact with other fish and rub up against each other. Fish flirt and woo potential partners. They are sensitive and have personalities. Fish know pleasure and they feel pain. According to Vegan Peace, lobsters “have a sophisticated nervous system that allow them to sense actions that will cause them harm and feel pain. Lobsters don’t have an autonomic nervous system that puts them into a state of shock when they are harmed. For this reason, they will feel pain until their nervous system is completely destroyed.”
According to ADAPTT (animals deserve absolute protection today and tomorrow), an estimate of 90 BILLION marine animals are killed each year. Free From Harm estimates 500,000,000,000 fish die a painful death every year to feed humans food we don’t need. Fish are subjected to factory farming just like other animals and if you think eating fish is healthy, you might want to think again. These six fish can tell you why. Read 7 Great Reasons Why You Should Skip Fish at Your Next Meal and then Learn How to Make Vegan Seafood Dishes at Home without the Fish.
10. Dogs and Cats
Are you surprised to see dogs and cats on this list? I’m sure I don’t have to write all the reasons we should love dogs and cats rather than eat them. We all know they are intelligent, loving, loyal animals who love their babies and feel pleasure, joy, happiness, pain, sorrow and fear. Many of us consider our dogs and cats family and celebrate their birthdays and adoption days. Most of us would not ever contemplate eating them.
However, there are many countries that do kill dogs and cats for their fur and their meat. Consumption of dogs and cats is legal in some countries including most states in the U.S. Other countries are trying to make it legal to cull privately-owned animals while protesters run “Say No to Dog and Cat Meat” campaigns in countries across the globe. Hopefully, attitudes toward eating dogs and cats will change toward compassion.
Showing Compassion for all Living Beings
These are just 10 of the many animals that are killed for food; there are many more like ducks, deer, frogs and alligators. We all rejoice when animals are saved from being killed for meat in other countries or when an individual cow or pig escapes slaughter, probably while we are eating a burger or chicken wings. Hopefully, this article will make you see that there are similarities between the animals we eat and call dinner and those we love and call family. Every living being deserves to live in peace and happiness and be loved, not eaten.
Lead Image Source: What We Can Learn About Parenting From Farm Animals
Ingrid Newkirk’s unique will details the PETA founder and president’s final will and testament. Unlike most wills, Newkirk’s does not dwell on money or property. It does designate the bestowing of gifts to others, albeit in rather gruesome, unexpected, and pointed ways.
Newkirk wants to continue her fight for animals even in death. Her instructions call attention to the suffering of animals in a number of areas, including in the meat industry, in the skins trade, in laboratories, and in circuses, hunts, and other forms of animal-based “entertainment.” If Newkirk’s plans for her remains seem gross to you, it’s time to realize how disgusting it is to do such things to other animals—and it’s time to go vegan.
1. Carve out and sear some of my flesh for a human barbecue.
Newkirk always says that when it comes to feelings, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” If you wouldn’t carve out a chunk of a person’s flesh and throw it on the grill, why would you do the same to any other living being
2. Peel off my skin for the first voluntary lizard-skin purse.
No animal has ever willingly given his or her skin for a leather handbag, so Newkirk and her lizard-skin tattoo could be the first—and hopefully the last, considering the number of vegan leather options available.
As a child, Newkirk encountered a number of elephant-foot ornaments and tiger rugs in Delhi. It’s creepy and wrong to use body parts as household decorations.
When it comes to animal testing, the EPA has been one of the worst offenders. Newkirk wants to keep her eye on the agency until it gives up its cruel practices and chooses to use the range of more accurate non-animal methods available.
Foie gras is a nasty business where grain is forcibly pumped down ducks’ and geese’s throats several times a day in order to fatten their livers. Newkirk wants to appeal to French shoppers to stop supporting this cruelty.
PETA will send one of Newkirk’s ears to the Canadian Parliament to encourage its members to hear the screams of animals who are skinned alive for the fur trade. Her other ear will go to the Deonar slaughterhouse in Mumbai to remind the world that the animals’ blood-curdling screams don’t stop at the slaughterhouse walls.
Newkirk wills her thumbs-up award to the greatest champion of animal rights in the year following her death.
Conversely, Newkirk wants her thumbs-down awarded to whoever most egregiously frightens or harms animals in the year after her death. Animal abusers beware.
Newkirk is a huge fan of Formula 1 racing and in particular of Michael Schumacher, who helped write letters for PETA campaigns in the past. Schumacher is a racer with a heart for animals, and Newkirk would like a piece of her heart buried at the track where this multiple world champion won the 1995 German Grand Prix.
11. PETA can use the rest of my body in ANY way that draws attention to animal suffering.
Newkirk wants PETA to use her additional body parts however it can to raise awareness of cruelty to animals. At the end of the day, it should be no worse to watch a human body go through these processes than to watch a suffering animal. We’re all animals, but humans have the ability prevent the unnecessary deaths of other animals just by making kind choices.
“It’s too complicated for a short sentence,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, told me when asked about PETA euthanizing animals at all. “That is what is happening, people want a soundbite and they reduce it to kill shelter or no kill.”
In Newkirk’s own words:
“We weigh the situation from the animal’s perspective as best we can, as you would in any situation where you’re trying to help and abate suffering. Every animal we evaluate. If it’s an animal that is unlikely to be adopted, given that most people want small, fluffy, house-broken, and pleasant animals, or if the animal is crushed in an accident, or kept in a way that has made the animal unsocial or aggressive, or if the animal is on his or her last legs, or the time has just come, then euthanasia is a godsend. It’s a blessing. It’s a way to provide the most peaceful, traumaless exit. It’s a privilege to be able to give it to them.”
PETA, of course, did not cause the animal overpopulation problem. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in 2013, the total number of animals who entered VA shelters was 242,087, with 64,727 euthanized and 4,417 unassisted deaths. An unassisted death is the epitome of euphemism: these are animals under the care and custody of shelters they depend on to keep them from suffering and dying slowly, in pain. PETA’s spay/neuter program has serviced over 112,000 local animals over the past 10 years. Do some simple math and you realize that PETA has kept millions of animals off of our streets, out of our shelters, and never setting paw in clinics where euthanizing, sadly, must occur.
“If we’re fighting so hard to stop needless killing of even mice, why on earth would we wish to see anything but happiness and a loving home for any dog, or cat, or bird?” asked Newkirk. “It’s thoughtlessness that plays a role, and the nastiness and absolute bulling. Our poor girls who are out there helping out in the snow in the frigid weather… if people could see what they were doing, they’d be ashamed.”
Amanda Kyle, a field worker for PETA, was holding Soup, a Maltese mix who had been adopted from the Humane Society in Portsmouth, then two years later given up with the arrival of a new baby. When Soup was passed on to PETA she suffered from kidney disease, horribly matted-over genitals, urinary tract infection, fleas, ear and nasal infections, and rotten teeth (all but 3 teeth had to be removed). Like many animals left for PETA to take care of, without a miracle, there would be no happy ending for the likes of Soup. Soup settled into Kyle’s lap. One of the lucky ones, Kyle had adopted her.”The vet gave her three months. I wanted her to feel joy,” Kyle said. “She was thrown away on Christmas eve. And this dog had been adopted and then abandoned, a ‘happy’ number for the shelter (whose priority is adoption statistics.)”The relationship between PETA and local shelters is a complicated one.
“It is always possible to wake someone from sleep, but there is no amount of noise that will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep,” wrote Jonathan Safran Foer in his spellbinding book, Eating Animals.
“Those animals stay with me. I have memories, and nightmares,” Brown said. “We’re there speaking for all of them.”
All the anger toward PETA, and the “kill vs. no kill debate,” is also a nightmare. The solutions to this problem are every pet being spayed or neutered; in no one ever getting a pet from a breeder or pet store as long as there are animals in shelters; in a sea change of compassion that recognizes the humanity of these animals–all animals–who love us so damn much.
“If all of the energy targeted toward PETA was put toward solving the crisis…” said Nachminovitch, “it’s the animals who would actually benefit.”
On the tip of one my K2 Apache Outlaw skis is a sticker of a skull and crossbones with the shocking statement, “Go Vegan or Die.” That sentiment might seem mean-spirited unless taken as fair warning about the very real health risks associated with eating meat—such as the greatly increased risk of cancer.
Like the anti-smoking campaign slogan, “Quit Smoking or Die,” “Go Vegan or Die” is simply good advice for people seeking longevity. (Stone-age meat-eaters seldom lived past 30, after all.)
There’s also a less-charitable motive for the slogan on the sticker. Anybody who has been the victim of thoughtless mockery from a meat-eater for the selfless act of eschewing animal flesh would be tempted to use the slogan, “Go Vegan or Die,” as would anyone frustrated by the results of their futile attempts to help others see that animal slaughter is cruelty and humans can live quite happily on a plant-based diet—sans the complicity in causing animal suffering.
Indeed, “Go Vegan or Die” could be a message to Homo sapiens that if they don’t want to exceed their carrying capacity, and ultimately join the list of species headed for extinction, they must change their murderous ways.
Displayed on the left-hand column of the home page of my wildlife photography site, “Animals in the Wild,” is a kill counter that continually adds to the ever-growing list of animals slaughtered for the sake of human hedonism.
If you ever need a starkly chilling reminder of why someone might utter the shocking slogan, “Go Vegan or Die,” stop in for a visit and watch how fast the numbers fly…
Number of animals killed in the world by the fishing, meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage.
1,516,838 marine animals
4,921 cows / calves
1,062 pigeons / other birds
51 donkeys and mules
34 camels / camelids
View in real-time here.
This article brings up a lot of great points, but I would argue that it isn’t just the vegans, it’s the animals themselves, who are the last fair game for socially-acceptable persecution…
The environment doesn’t appreciate our meat obsession.
The average meat-eater in the U.S. is responsible for almost twice as much global warming as the average vegetarian, and close to three times that of the average vegan, according to a study (pdf) published this month in the journal Climatic Change.
The study, which was carried out at Oxford University, surveyed the diets of some 60,000 individuals (more than 2,000 vegans, 15,000 vegetarians, 8,000 fish-eaters, and nearly 30,000 meat-eaters). Heavy meat-eaters were defined as those who consume more than 3.5 ounces of meat per day—making the average American meat-eater (who consumes roughly four ounces per day) a heavy meat-eater. Low meat-eaters were those who eat fewer than 1.76 ounces. And medium meat-eaters were those whose consumption fell somewhere in between.
The difference found in diet-driven carbon footprints was significant. Halve your meat intake, and you could cut your carbon footprint by more than 35 percent; stick to fish, and you could cut it by nearer to 50 percent; go vegan, and the difference could be 60%.
The variations were so drastic that the study’s authors suggested that countries should consider revising their definition of a sustainable diet. “National governments that are considering an update of dietary recommendations in order to define a ‘healthy, sustainable diet’ must incorporate the recommendation to lower the consumption of animal-based products,” the study says.
The livestock industry is responsible for roughly 15 percent of global carbon emissions. And the resources necessary to produce even the smallest amounts of market ready meat—like, say, a quarter pound hamburger—are staggering.
The good news is that while Americans might still eat more meat than mother nature would prefer, they are scaling back, and especially so with the most environmentally unfriendly kind—per capita beef consumption has fallen by 36 percent since its peak in 1976, according to data from the USDA. The bad news is that the rest of the world appears to be headed in the opposite direction. Global demand for meat is expected to grow by more than 70 percent by 2050, largely driven by burgeoning middle classes in the developing world.
…it is always wrong and misguided and thoughtless and cruel.” – Susie Duncan
Three Stories and a Great Quote from Susie Duncan
1) Unlikely friendship of a dog and an owl … Okay! So, why can’t humans simmer down and be nice and stop eating other species? AND stop warring with one another? AND stop worrying and start being happy and looking out for each other? These photographs at the above link are exceptional – enjoy! LIFE as it was meant to be lived…by all!
Don’t eat any animals under any circumstances; it is always wrong and misguided and thoughtless and cruel.
2) Urgent: Ask Indiana Legislators to Oppose ‘Canned Hunting’ Bill! This state has gone so damned low that it is not to be believe; they may have already voted as they are running crazy, mean-spirited legislation through like crazy!
3) ODD HEADLINE? “American gored by bull in Spain out of intensive care“: not just a double preposition, but also sounds like the bull gave a bit of a gore to a rotten person just to teach a lesson in humane-ness, doing so from that spirit of concerned “intensive care” for the brat’s soul?????? Like a parental swat? Where is Jay Leno when we need him?