Beyond meat and dairy

I’m currently reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Last night I read the chapter on vegetarianism. As I understand it, the story goes like this. Almost all farmed animals suffer (there are virtually no exceptions). Choosing to purchase and eat the flesh of dead animals and products made from their milk is direct and practical support of farming. This, in turn, equals direct support of animal suffering. Therefore, choosing not to eat meat and dairy is the only sensible action possible. Boycott the suffering of animals.

I’ve held the view that animals have the right to be free for some time. I’ve also, for 6 or 7 years, been reducing my dairy intake. Today, I have taken the next logical step. I am no longer willing to consume meat or dairy products. In exceptional circumstances, if I can be certain the animal lived free and suffered minimally during slaughter, I will eat meat. I am ethically comfortable with the consumption of other species.

But for all practical purposes, I will no longer eat meat or dairy. Goodbye pizza, goodbye hamburgers, fish and chips, etc.

One notable exception to complete veganism is eggs. I will continue to eat eggs, so long as I can be sure they come from hens that live mostly free lives outdoors, are well treated, and appear to be generally happy and comfortable. I believe I can find eggs that meet these requirements from the farmer’s market, and I will take steps to do so.

In order to mark this occasion, and to remind me of my new commitment, I purchased a Remington HC-5550, and for the first time in nearly 18 months, cut my hair. This is what all that hair looks like on the bathroom floor.

Finally, this is what I look like, post hair cutting.

Will you join me? Will you give up meat and dairy? If you choose to eat meat and dairy, please be under no illusions, you are directly and personally responsible for the needless suffering of animals. Animals will feel pain, fear and stress for the purpose of your dietary preference. That’s the choice you make every time you buy meat or put the dead flesh of an animal into your mouth.

I look forward to expanding my culinary horizons and the discovery of fabulous new plant based foods. Exciting times. ๐Ÿ™‚

18 thoughts on “Beyond meat and dairy”

    1. Good luck in your decision making. When I really thought about it, I realised that only my own learned behaviour and fear kept me eating meat. I have known it is not ethical for some time, but yesterday I stopped and asked myself why I have not yet stopped supporting animal cruelty. I didn’t have a satisfactory answer.

  1. Proud of you Callum! for the meat and dairy thing! Ive been off it for a while now and I think you will surprise your self with how much you dont miss it, I dont. I’m wondering If you’ve seen the documentary Earthlings? Its free on the web and definitely worth a look, I doubt Ill ever go back to meat after watching it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks for your kind words Jess. I’ve heard of the film, but I don’t think I’ve seen it. I’ve read other books that talk about factory farming, so I feel like I know a little about that. The principle of hunting and killing an animal for food seems acceptable to me, and I think a little meat is a good thing in the diet (maybe a few hundred grams a month). But farming as it is widely practised today is not cool.

      1. I’ve been reading about this stuff all day, and found this “the issue to focus on is not whether there are some circumstances in which it could be right to eat meat, but on what we can do to avoid contributing to this immense amount of animal suffering.
        The answer is to boycott all meat and eggs produced by large-scale commercial methods of animal production, and encourage others to do the same. ” Quoted from http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/singer05.htm

        So rather than just choosing not eating meat & dairy, wouldn’t it be better to seek out & support those small scale local producers, who are raising free range, organic and healthy produce?

        To quote you above “If you choose to eat meat and dairy, please be under no illusions, you are directly and personally responsible for the needless suffering of animals. Animals will feel pain, fear and stress for the purpose of your dietary preference.”

        This is true of factory farming, but is it still true of those animals who are allowed to roam free and humanly killed? What about keeping your own chickens for eggs? I found this pig farm, from a link on the Edinburgh Farmers Market website – http://www.ballencrieffrppigs.co.uk/index.php

        Surely hunting an animal would cause it stress?

        1. This is a difficult one to answer. I have two beliefs that affect this. Firstly, I believe animals have the right to be free. Secondly, I agree with Peter Singer that causing animals to suffer is immoral. Defining exactly what “free” means is difficult. For example, I’m willing to eat eggs from chickens that are not absolutely free, but probably have every practical freedom offered to them. I believe this to be a less than completely enlightened choice, but a compromise I’m willing to make. If there is a local source of meat that meets the same conditions, personally, I’d be willing to eat it.

          One significant thing I took from Animal Liberation was the point that “traditionally” farmed animals are not free from suffering. They certainly suffer less than intensively farmed animals, but their lives are not without suffering. We could take a trip to Ballencrief and check it out? ๐Ÿ™‚

          The argument about supporting “free range” producers is somewhat linked. In an ideal world, I don’t think we have any need to eat the flesh of dead animals. I believe that humanity can, and one day will, sustain itself entirely on non-animal food. So I don’t feel compelled to support “better farming” of animals.

          Hunting an animal may cause stress. In principle, I’m happy not to eat meat at all. At this point, I don’t feel confident in being able to achieve a completely healthy and balanced diet without any animal products whatsoever. Perhaps I’ll reach that point in the future with experience. But in the meantime, I’m willing to hunt and kill animals to eat on the basis that this is endemic in the natural world.

  2. You know me… contentious to the end ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s my take for the purposes of debate: alternatively, those animals will go through their existence regardless of your preferences, and to not consume them would be to make that existence a wasted one. That is, the bacon will be produced regardless of whether you (or Joe Bloggs) eat it, and at the extreme there’ll simply be surplus bacon and pigs that died needlessly. Ergo, the answer to life, the universe and everything… is a bacon bap.

    1. I believe this is a deductive fallacy. The number of animals being “farmed” is directly related to the willingness of consumers to purchase their dead flesh. I found an interesting paper (PDF) that discusses this fallacy in great detail. Bottom line, the answer is not a bacon bap. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I have thought long and hard too. Mixed farming is an essential part of how past, less so present in UK but will be more so in future our agricultural system will work effectively. Low external inputs. We have to close those loops.

    It’s all about rational use of resources. Most people eat far too much meat. Road kill, wild meat, humanely reared pigs and chickens are they way to go. Plus some grazing beasts on marginal land.

    see you soon.

    BTW how do you get your site, presume a wordpress blog to have http://www.callum etc?

    1. It sounds like you’re approaching the issue from a different angle. Animal suffering is not related to external inputs or not. If it were possible to have a minimal external input farming system where animals suffered immensely, that is not a justifiable situation. The rights and considerations of animals and their suffering is separate from any “system” that we might place them within.

      The site is running WordPress on a web server I rent. Simplest way to get started is wordpress.com/signup, that way they take care of all the technology for you. If the site grows and you want greater control, I think the export / import feature works pretty well to move from wordpress.com onto your own server.

  4. this is so weird that you decided this today…
    the meditation retreat I was at also holds the same view under the noble truths that eating meat attracts bad karma condoning murder… it even goes as far as stepping on spiders and killing mosquitoes…
    I’ve been thinking alot about this too – well done for you!
    Sending you positive thoughts of love, peace and joy (Metta)

    1. I accept that as the highest possible position. I think that ethics and morality has three areas, negative, neutral and positive. It’s an idea I have not fully refined yet. But in principle, I think killing other animals is morally neutral. It’s definitely not enlightened, but it is inherent in the natural world. On the other hand, having other animals suffer needlessly is morally negative. Bottom line, I think that the “commit no harm” position is the absolute truth. It has some very, very deep ramifications though… ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Wow, big commitment! very hard to keep dairy away especially in Western countries, unless you prepare food yourself all the times. cheese, toffee, milk, cream, butter, all baked pastry…and do you drink tea just on its own? Not eating meat is good , especially beef, we Chinese believe eating beef would create bad karma ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Yeah, the baked stuff will be the biggest, I hadn’t thought about that. Oh well, lots of exciting new things to discover instead… ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I stopped eating meat, fish and dairy today, because I thought a lot about what you said and found it to be true.
    Also, had many discussions with my best friend who is a chef in a restaurant which only serves ‘biological’ meats and dairy but how her boss sometimes chooses to not do so when he feels it is financially more beneficial for him to serve people fake biological meat.
    Thanks for inspiring me Callum!
    PS Hummous on rice cakes is awesome!

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