In 1988 I took an Environmental Science class as a sophomore at Penn State. From films, we learned about soil degradation, water pollution and destruction of the rain forest as consequences of animal agriculture. I don’t know if the professor was a vegetarian, but I made the switch rapidly that semester to a meat-free diet. It was purely for the environment and had nothing to do with animal welfare in any regard.
Four years later, I worked for an animal shelter in rural Oregon. I saw a hand-made flier entitled, “Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: A Free Series of Videos on Alternate Thursdays.” Since “I loved animals,” I thought my boyfriend and I should go. It was November and just before Thanksgiving. Off we went to this perfect stranger’s house with no idea what was in store for us. I’m not even sure I knew what “Animal Rights” meant.
In Ron and Peggy’s living room, we watched, “The Animals Film” and learned about intensive-confinement animal agriculture, the clear connection between milk and veal and that roosters have no place in egg production. It was hard to watch. I have a crisp memory of the drive home through trailer parks and orchards, both of us sitting in stunned silence. Someone said, “Well, I’ll never eat that again.”
We didn’t, and for the most part, we have never looked back (he’s now my husband). Yes, we have made occasional allowances for wedding cake and if grated cheese finds it’s way onto our plates, we make do, but for the most part, we haven’t missed these things that were the foundation every meal, every day for over twenty years. And it’s not
because of the incredible array of delicious, animal-free foods available, of which there were and are many. It’s because of the unforgettable footage of the routine practices of animal agriculture.
Today, when I speak up about the cruelties of animal farming, I’m told, “Oh, I know all about that.” Really? I doubt it because I believe the vast majority of reasonable people would find the routine practices of animal agriculture abhorrent, if only they would bother to take a serious look.
So, if you know of someone who says they simply can’t resist animal products or they say they believe stories about animal agriculture to be false, exaggerations, or atypical occurrences, ask them to watch, “Earthlings” or “Meet Your Meat” or another of the video’s available online. These are not easy to watch, to be sure. But if we demand animals endure deplorable conditions in which death is their only relief, can’t we take enough responsibility to watch? Once we become
completely informed, the decision of what to eat takes care of itself.
~Susan in Pacifica, CA