Dear Vegans of the World,
You may recognize my name and website from my immensely popular article '8 Proven Reasons Why Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Easily Ruin Your Body', or maybe it was from my (rather unpopular) YouTube video 'Why You Need To Eat Meat'.
If you have viewed either of these resources, you will know I make a rather compelling case behind the health dangers of eating a vegan-based diet.
However, this letter isn't about the health pros and cons of the vegan diet, I've said all I have to say about that and am not seeking further debates (arguments?) around that issue. What you eat or do not eat is a choice that you are free to make.
Instead, this letter is an idea, a thought, a proposal even—that may have vegans rethinking their dietary choices.
Don't worry; it's not related to health. It's related to the moral and ethical side of the vegan diet.
Before I get into the meat and gravy of this thought of mine, I want to say one thing. Please don't see this letter as an attack. As I mentioned above, I respect freedom of choice. Also, I have some vegan friends and clients. I am not against vegans of the world. I simply know that the vegan diet is not optimal for human health.
Knowing that, let us begin.
I'm going to make the assumption that if you're a vegan, you choose to be for ethical reasons, not health reasons. (If you are in the latter camp, I recommend you read this article before continuing with the letter below).
You are rightfully concerned about animal welfare.
You value animals' rights and lives.
So the last thing you want to do is exploit an animal for your own good especially if this animal has suffered for human good.
You view animals' lives as being equal to human lives. Some may even say you put animal lives above human lives, but that is a rabbit trail I don't wish to go down.
You wish animals could live a life free of pain and suffering in their natural environment—eating a natural diet and living in natural conditions.
I'm drawing this assumption based on the conversations I've had with vegans throughout my life. I know everyone has their own unique reasons, but let's hope the above is a fair assumption.
Knowing all this, you choose not to eat meat, bones, or food products that are derived from animals (such as milk and eggs).
You may even avoid products that use animal parts, such as leather shoes or fur coats.
All because you value an animal's life.
You may find this hard to believe, but I actually have similar viewpoints around animal care and cruelty.
Yes, I know I go fishing, live on a farm, drink a lot of milk and make bone broth. If you forget about diet for a moment, you will see we have a lot in common.
I also care about animal welfare. I know that a healthy animal makes a healthy product.
A chicken stuck in a small cage, pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones is not going to produce very healthy meat or eggs.
Likewise, a cow raised in a feedlot environment, devoid of natural light & grass whilst fed Roundup-laced GMO grains is not going to produce quality milk or healthy meat.
So I, too, care about the welfare, diet and environment an animal is raised in.
Like you, I even care about the way an animal is killed. Inhumane killing techniques in loud, crowded and foreign environments leads to a stressed animal. A stressed animal at the time of killing affects the chemical makeup of the meat, which not only impacts taste and flavor but also the health properties of the meat.
Like vegans, I wish more (if not all) animals were fed their natural diet and lived in environments that were (or at least mimicked) their natural habitat and were killed in a stress-free natural way.
I value these things so much that I have gone to great lengths to produce and grow my own food.
Like you, I have seen the horrors of the modern mass-produced food system and have been misled too many times from food producers making claims about their products that have turned out to be lies.
Valuing my health and high-quality food, I have turned towards a self-sufficient lifestyle. I have a large vegetable garden, an orchard and a farm with free-ranging chooks eating organic grain and grass-fed cattle on spray-free pastures.
Every day I go out and ensure my animals are in top-notch condition. The animals are well fed with plenty of grain and grass as well as mineral supplements like kelp feed and Himalayan salt. They have fresh water and access to shelters should they want to get out of the elements.
They are healthy and appear to be happy (there are no signs of stress). Also, as my neighbors keep telling me, my animals are 'very well fed'.
They are living the good life.
The animal is happy, the farmer is happy, and my family has high-quality food come dinner time.
Now it's important to remember I have a farm, not a zoo. The animals are here for one purpose—food.
Sure there is the pleasure from seeing the newborn lambs jumping around and the cuteness of the calf taking its first steps. But at the end of the day, these animals are our food.
Recently we killed one of our cows for food. We had a local home-kill professional booked in for a date and time.
I separated the cow from the herd and moved her out of sight, smell and sound from the rest of the animals. I moved her into a paddock with lots of fresh grass and plenty of space.
The home-kill professional drove his truck into the paddock, and a moment later, the cow had been shot through the head and was dead. This happened in a split second.
I watched this entire event and what I noticed was this—the cow was happily grazing on lush grass when it looked up to see what this new object was in the paddock and then it was all over.
There was no panic, no look of terror and (because of the experience of the home-kill professional) the shot was pinpointed to kill the animal instantly and humanely.
Other than hearing the gunshot from the other side of the farm, the other animals on the farm could not see or smell what happened. There was no panic anywhere.
Later that night, after doing a blessing for the food we were about to eat, I took a moment to reflect on that animal's life.
It was born in a field without any human assistance.
It was up drinking milk from its mother an hour after birth.
It grew up drinking the best milk in the world—grass-fed New Zealand raw milk—straight from its mother's teat.
Its mother had access to plentiful grass—a cow's natural diet—and was never stressed or starved.
The calf grew up playing with other calves its age. There was springtime frolicking, afternoon naps in the sun and the occasional chase of sheep when they got into a paddock they shouldn't have.
The calf matured into a fully grown cow and continued to eat fresh grass, drink spring water, be sheltered from severe weather and get the occasional pat from the farmer.
It lived a good life with plentiful food and lots of space in its natural environment. It didn't have any chemicals injected into it, and it could socialize with its peers.
It enjoyed a happy life, something a human may be envious of!
When it came to the end, the animal had no idea as to what was about to happen. So when it did happen, it was over without any pain or suffering.
It died instantly eating fresh grass—its favorite food.
In my opinion, dying unexpectedly, while eating my favorite meal is not too bad of a way to go!
No doubt I've lost a lot of readers already, but for those who are remaining, this event led me to do a lot of thinking.
I know that our particular cow lived a great, happy, healthy life and died humanely without suffering.
And this one animal is going to provide enough meat for my family for an entire year.
One animal—one death—will fuel our family for 12 months.
Not only that, but the flesh and bones from this one animal will provide our bodies with the nutrients and minerals that our garden produce does not offer.
So here is my question for vegans.
Would you consider eating an animal that had lived a happy, healthy life and was killed instantly in a humane way?
If so, would you keep eating this way if it led to newfound health and vitality and only one animal had to die every 12–24 months to feed you?
I guess what I'm asking is this: If you came to my farm and you saw how well kept the animals were. You saw how much I cared for their well-being. You knew how the animals were killed. Also, you knew the health benefits of eating meat. Would you then have a bite of a meat-based dish that I had made?
If so, then I propose that you seek out a farmer in your area that cares for their animals the way you would and that kills the animal as humanely as possible. Then, ask if you can buy their meat.
If this is a stretch too far, then why not get your own cow, sheep or even chicken and use the by-products from this animal—the milk, the eggs or the wool.
If you are caring for the animal, you can treat it how you wish all animals to be treated. You don't even have to go so far as to eat its meat. You can let it die of natural causes. (Hopefully, without any suffering. Not all natural deaths are pain-free.) And then you can bury it in your backyard.
If you wouldn't take a bite of the non-vegan dish I made for you, then my question for you is simple—why not?
The meat you would be eating was from a healthy, happy animal that was killed in a humane way. What other reasons are there to stop you from eating this meal?
I am curious.
Anyway, that is all I have to say on the matter.
I'm not trying to talk you out of your dietary choices. Instead, I'm just hoping to show you that your moral reasons do not have to limit you from eating animals or animal products.
Sure, if you took the approach I outlined above, I appreciate that you would still avoid most meat and animal products in the market. Unfortunately, mass-produced food and the ongoing goal to create a low-cost product means shortcuts are taken, and animals suffer.
However, if you had access to animal products that you knew for a fact were raised with love and care, were killed in a humane way and in turn, they provided you with the minerals and nutrients you could not get elsewhere, would you consume them?
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is a ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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