Dear Vegans of the World,
You may recognise 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 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.
But 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 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. And 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 go read this article before continuing with the letter below).
You are rightfully concerned about animal welfare.
You value animals rights and lives.
And 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 equally as human lives, some may even say you put animal lives above human lives but that is a rabbit hole 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, and 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 flesh and 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 animals 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 health meat or eggs.
Likewise a cow raised in a feedlot environment, devoid of natural light & grass whilst fed GMO, roundup laced grains is not going to produce quality milk or healthy meat.
So I to 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 an a stressed animal. A stressed animal at the time of killing affects the chemical makeup of the meat, which not only impacts taste and flavour, but the health properties of the meat.
Like vegans, I wish more (if not all?) animals were fed their natural diet, 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, 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 mislead too many times from food producers making claims about their products that have turned out to be lies.
Valuing my health, and quality food, I have turned towards a self sufficient lifestyle. A large vegetable garden, an orchard and a farm with free ranging chooks eating organic grain and grassfed cattle on spray free pastures.
Every day I go out and ensure my animals are in top notch condition. I have plenty of grain and grass, the animals are well fed, have fresh water, mineral supplements like kelp feed and Himalayan salt, and access to shelters should they want to get out of the elements.
They are healthy, appear to be happy (there is no signs of stress) and as my neighbours keep telling me 'very well fed'.
They are living the good life.
The animal is happy, the farmer is happy and my family has 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 pleasure from seeing the new born lambs jumping around, and the cute-ness of the calf taking it's 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 lush grass, 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 pin pointed to kill the animal instantly and humanely.
Other than hearing the gun shot from the other side of the farm, the other animals on the farm could not see or smell what happened. There was no problem 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 animals life.
It was born in a field without any human assistance.
It was up drinking milk from it's mother an hour after birth.
It grew up drinking the best milk in the world - grass fed new zealand raw milk - straight from it's mothers teat.
It's mother had access to plentiful grass - a cows natural diet - and was never stressed or starved.
The calf grew up playing with other calves it's age. Their was spring time frolicking, after noon 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, lots of space in it's natural environment, it didn't have any chemicals injected into it, and it could socialise with it's peers.
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. And when it did happen it was over without any pain or suffering.
It died instantly eating fresh grass - it's favourite food.
In my opinion, dieing unexpectedly while eating my favourite meal is not too bad of a way to go!
No doubt I've lost a lot of readers already, but those who are remaining this event lead me to 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?
And if so, would you keep eating this way if 1) it led to newfound health and vitality and 2) 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, you saw how well kept the animals were. You saw how much I cared for their wellbeing. You knew how the animals were killed. And 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 to far, then why not get your own cow, sheep, or even chicken and use the byproducts 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 to eat it's meat. You can let it die of natural causes (hopefully without any suffering, as not all natural deaths are pain free), and then 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. Unfortunatley mass produced food and the ongoing goal to create a low cost product means short cuts are taken and animals suffer.
But 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 provided you with the minerals and nutrients you could not get elsewhere, would you consume them?
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