THE VEGAN MOVEMENT
BEST VEGAN MOMENT OF 2020:
JOAQUIN PHOENIX’S OSCAR SPEECH
On February 9, 2020, to a live audience of 24 million people, Joaquin Phoenix talked about the suffering cows in the dairy industry during his Oscar acceptance speech (Best Actor for Joker). And the next day, he rescued a mother cow and her calf from a slaughterhouse.
“God, I’m full of so much gratitude right now. And I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love, the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I’d be without it. But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless.
I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively. I think at times we feel, or we’re made to feel, that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.
I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world, and many of us...what we’re guilty of is an egocentric world view——the belief that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up, but human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious. And I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
Now, I have been, I have been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.
When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.’”
~ Joaquin Phoenix
February 9, 2020
The day after winning his Oscar, Joaquin Phoenix visited a slaughterhouse run by Manning Beef in Pico Rivera, California, and had a discussion with the president and CEO of the company. He went there to help animal rights group Los Angeles Animal Save liberate a cow and her newborn calf from the slaughterhouse and bring them to Farm Sanctuary. He named the mama cow Liberty, and the calf Indigo.
He said, “I never thought I’d find friendship in a slaughterhouse, but meeting Anthony and opening my heart to his, I realize we might have more in common than we do differences. Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf Indigo, would have met a terrible demise. Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them. Shaun Monson, Amy Jean Davis, and the entire LA Animal Save community, have taken their pain of bearing witness and turned it into effective, diplomatic advocacy for the voiceless. As a result, Liberty and Indigo will never experience cruelty or the touch of a rough hand. My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mom Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we’ll always remember that friendships can emerge in the most unexpected places; and no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us.”
And it wasn’t just this rescue and the Oscars. On January 19, 2020, after winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for Joker at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Joaquin skipped the swanky after-party to attend a weekly vigil with LA Animal Save at Farmer John Cloughtery Packing Co. Still in his tuxedo, he joined other animal activists to comfort pigs who were about to be slaughtered. LA Animal Save routinely hosts vigils for pigs at this slaughterhouse, providing the terrified animals water, and drawing attention to the horror these animals experience in the animal agriculture industry. The organization also hosts vigils for chickens and cows. Attending vigils like this is something Joaquin Phoenix does regularly, because as he says, “I have to be here.”
Joaquin told animal rights activist and former CNN news anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell (Jane Unchained News), “We have moral obligations to talk about it and expose it for what it really is. We are so indoctrinated with these happy images of animals on farms, on the covers of meat containers, at restaurants, and it’s a lie. I think people need to know the truth and we have an obligation to do that. Those of us that have seen it for what it really is, we have an obligation to expose it, so I have to be here.”
He further stated, “There is a change that is happening and it’s now just becoming undeniable. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there... As heartbreaking as it is when we’re here giving water to the pigs, I have a certain optimism in our community and how committed everyone is. People come down here week after week after week so I had to come here tonight and support and it’s a little antidote to what I was just given, so I’m blessed to be here.”
The mainstream media almost never mention the burgeoning vegan movement (unless in a derisive, dismissive, or disparaging way) because major sponsors of most media outlets are the meat, dairy, and egg industries, but Joaquin has forced the media to finally pay attention to these suffering animals. If they want to cover him, then they must cover the animals too.
Unfortunately, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Joaquin for TV news magazine 60 Minutes (which aired on CBS on January 12, 2020) Joaquin did speak about his activism and even took the crew to a pig vigil, but CBS chose not to air any portion of that, and didn’t even mention that Joaquin is vegan.
Because of Joaquin, major award shows went plant-based in 2020, in addition to the Academy Awards (the Oscars) pre-show party and after-party: the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Thank you, Joaquin, for using your platform to speak out for the suffering animals.
GUNDA LETS THE ANIMALS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES!
This profound and mesmerizing new film will have a major worldwide impact for the suffering animals! We’ve had many impactful documentaries over the years, but GUNDA might be the one that influences the most people to go vegan! GUNDA is poised to win many awards, including an Oscar nomination (and win) for Best Documentary. GUNDA was nominated for Best European Documentary at the European Film Awards, but it did not win.
(Look for your country under distributors.)
Critics have called this unique observation of animal life “a visionary case for veganism,” “a soul-stirring meditation,” “sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving,” “groundbreaking and wondrous for its intimacy,” “uncannily gripping,” and even “an unforgettable drama.” Executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix, GUNDA is an American-Norwegian documentary directed, written, and edited by Russian Viktor Kossakovsky, whose previous films have won more than a hundred awards all over the world.
The film stars a pig named Gunda and her piglets, and also features several cows and chickens. It is black and white, 93 minutes long, and has no dialogue or music. Joaquin Phoenix says he was “deeply moved by the film” and describes it as a “visceral meditation on existence,” which he hopes will change the way people perceive animals.
On Instagram, Joaquin Phoenix posted the trailer with this description: “GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally——and perhaps purposely——hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.”
After the closing credits of the film, there is a poignant dialogue between Joaquin Phoenix and the film’s director Viktor Kossakovsky, who says, “Cinema can show you something you don’t want to see, or you’re not able to see, or you decided not to see... Every day I am getting letters from people who watch it who say, ‘I cannot image eating meat anymore. I can’t imagine it.’ ... I’ve never been so happy in my entire life, from making [this film] because, you do feel. You feel, and you become a different person. You feel that you cannot live in the way you used to live. All my life I was vegetarian... After making it, of course I became vegan because, you see. They have souls.”
GUNDA had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020. It screened at the New York Film Festival in September, at the Adelaide Film Festival in October, and many other film festivals in 2020. GUNDA is poised for worldwide recognition, which is a major win for the animals!
Renowned American filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson raves, “GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in——it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences——pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw-dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast, and you have something more like a potion than a movie.”
“The film immerses the viewer in daily life on an idyllic farm, where, with great sensitivity, the camera follows the sow Gunda and her brood of newborn piglets at eye-level; the special 360° cameras installed in the pig barn wonderfully capture intimate and natural scenes... The engaging scenes in this minimalist and meditative monument to an impressive pig and her piglets amount to a powerful statement that clearly makes its case.”
“In GUNDA, Russian auteur Victor Kossakovsky offers a moving intervention to recalibrate our moral universe by showing us their individuality. A pig named Gunda, two ingenious cows and a scene-stealing one-legged chicken remind us of the value of life for each of our fellow creatures... Kossakovsky debunks any pretension that we are separated from them by a uniquely human capacity for emotion, consciousness or will. Immersed in their lives, lived to the full in joy and pain, just like ours, it becomes inconceivable for humankind not to swiftly undertake the major changes necessary to end mass cruelty and slaughter. GUNDA is Kossakovsky’s deeply personal attempt to renew our vision of life, a meditation on the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own.”
FINALLY, A DOCUMENTARY THAT LETS THE ANIMALS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES! Depending on what country you are in, you may be able to rent and watch GUNDA online now! Go to the website and look for your country under distributors.
GUNDA HAS GARNERED RAVE REVIEWS
GUNDA has a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and this summary: “Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly re-calibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own.”
“More experience than movie, GUNDA is a visionary case for veganism in black and white. Russian filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky’s mesmerizing achievement removes humans from the picture to magnify the small moments in the lives of various farm animals, with his eponymous pig at its center. Over the course of 90 hypnotic minutes, his roving camera observes Gunda and her piglets, a handful of chickens, and a smattering of cows simply going about their lives on an unspecified farmland. Devoid of music or any other obvious artifice, GUNDA neither aims to document animal consciousness or anthropomorphize it. Instead, Kossakovsky’s fascinating non-narrative experiment burrows into the center of his subject’s nervous system, meeting the creatures on their own terms in a remarkable plea for empathy that only implores carnivores to think twice by implication... And that’s all there is to it——until the closing minutes, a staggering turn of events that redefine everything building up to them... As Kossakovsky’s camera keeps running, the finale enacts a unique kind of tragedy... No matter how people choose to process GUNDA, the filmmaker has captured an undeniable emotional process never seen in quite such terms before... At the same time, there is an air of activist intent lurking just outside the parameters of each scene, as it builds an argument against animal cruelty that transcends the boundaries of shrill polemics. If it doesn’t convince meat-eaters to hold the bacon with their eggs——or order eggs in the first place——it might at least compel them to taste some of the pain.”
“As intimate and up-close-and-personal as non-fiction cinema gets, Victor Kossakovsky’s GUNDA documents the life of a mother pig and her newborn brood on a farm. Beginning with those infants’ births, the film——from a startlingly close proximity that exudes tenderness and empathy——captures animal life in all its drudgery and beauty, full of struggle, nurturing, conflict, exploration and abandonment. Also fixing its gaze on a one-legged chicken cautiously trudging through tall grass, and a herd of cows whose dark, mysterious eyes gaze intently at the camera, Kossakovsky’s dialogue-free portrait conveys essential truths about survival, togetherness and love through protracted takes that creep around and alongside its four-legged subjects. The director’s striking black-and-white imagery invites investigation and rumination about these familiar creatures, whose experiences and motivations are at once uniquely beastly and poignantly relatable, the latter of which comes to the fore in a finale of confused anguish and desperation. You’ll never look at sows quite the same way again.”
“In the film’s harrowing and unusual opening shot, a hog that’s lying down and seemingly in pain is framed by a barn door. Kossakovsky’s camera closes in with a slow Kubrickian zoom, but we don’t quite understand what’s happening here until a tiny newborn piglet emerges from behind its mother. She’s been giving birth, but Kossakovsky treats this usually joyous moment as if it were a death scene. Only by the film’s end do we truly understand why... As GUNDA lurches toward its close, an impending sense of doom starts to hover over it as we begin to realize just how much these animals’ lives are directed, controlled, and circumscribed by human hands... GUNDA isn’t simply an observational documentary, but one with a message about the cruelty of livestock agriculture. Though the creatures at its center live in relatively pleasant free-range environments, a far cry from the industrial hellscapes denounced by documentaries like Food, Inc. and vividly depicted as essentially a death camp in Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, they’re ultimately objects of exploitation. The human use of animals for livestock is, the film suggests, inherently brutal. If GUNDA never subjects us to gruesome images of slaughter à la Georges Franju’s Blood of the Beasts, it nevertheless closes with a prolonged single-shot sequence that’s more heartbreaking than any depiction of the goings-on in an abattoir ever captured on film... It’s the kind of viscerally upsetting moment that...would make a stone cry... By the time the credits roll on the film, we realize we’ve been watching not so much a sketch of the lives of farm animals as a threnody for their deaths.”
“The astonishing documentary GUNDA offers another way of looking at animals. Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look——at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light. It’s outwardly simple: For most of its 93 minutes, the movie focuses on a sow and her piglets. In a short section we roam with chickens, including an impressively agile one-legged bird. In another, cows gallop into a misty field to graze, an interlude of pastoral dreaminess that invokes other representations——in novels and landscape paintings——yet is itself visually transfixing. GUNDA is a passion project of the Russian director Victor Kossakovsky... His approach was straightforward yet ingenious. Shooting in black-and-white digital, with no music, voice-over or onscreen text or people, he opens an intimate window onto the lives of animals... The results are spellbinding... Kossakovsky may not be telling an obvious story but he is communicating oceans of meaning cinematically... Kossakovsky isn’t waving any flags, but GUNDA...speaks to our unwillingness to acknowledge our abuse of other creatures and, by extension, the natural world. It is, for instance, awfully easy to eat meat; in the developed world, it requires little thought, effort or money. It’s more difficult and certainly more inconvenient to think about the violence inherent in its production, including the environmental devastation. And so, cut off from the natural world, we largely classify animals as pets or meat... Yet as Kossakovsky reminds us, even as he spares us the ghastliness of the slaughterhouse, we need to look at animals to honestly see what we have done.”
“Without visible human interaction, Kossakovsky treats common farm animals as subjects, not objects, of intense fascination and empathy: a crucial distinction in a film that sets out to challenge our society’s perception of livestock as, well, less live than stock... The absence of any narration (or, indeed, any emotionally leading music score) allows the viewer to ponder such ironies and cruelties at their own pace. Kossakovsky isn’t out to lecture or confront his audience with moral rhetoric or shock imagery, but to encourage understanding of farm animal life as it’s being lived——not just valuable at the point of death. Segments on the...underdog chicken and the cows——given a marvelous cinematic entrance in charging slow-motion as they’re set free from barn to pasture——contribute to this tapestry, though aren’t given the crisp, clean narrative clarity of Gunda’s story, which we know can’t end happily. Kossakovsky frames the inevitable with both tactful restraint——rest assured this is G-rated material throughout——and stark, quietly wrenching impact...”
“[The film], though strictly unsentimental, is intensely moving, transfixing and quite genuinely unique... A consignment of chickens arrives in a crate which they cautiously discover, one by one, that they can make their way out of. This leads to an extraordinary sequence in which the camera, at ground level, follows a group of chickens through the undergrowth of unfamiliar terrain, showing them as intrepid explorers on an adventure into the unknown... There is also an astonishing slow-motion sequence of lively cows, each of which is then photographed from low angles to resemble a series of heroic statues... Human presence is entirely absent, implicit only in buildings and objects, notably in the machine which figures at the end of the film——an initially puzzling episode, with sound figuring heavily, its full meaning at last emerging to quite devastating effect. Anyone who never thought they could imagine the feelings of an animal will have their mind changed here, in a sequence that you might see as indirectly making Gunda a figure of the human condition on four legs...”
“This extraordinary, passionate feature executive-produced by vegan Joaquin Phoenix, 46, and directed by Victor Kossakovsky, 59, is among my 2020 top 10... GUNDA documents the birth of a gargantuan porcine litter, the mother Gunda’s nudging and nurturing of her piglets, and the devastation of their separation when the market comes calling. Few films capture the intense, sticky bond between a mother and her offspring so simply and wrenchingly, without remark, or convey the knowledge that we carnivores are devouring souls with every bite of bacon... GUNDA deserves a Best Documentary nomination for its formal grace and clear-eyed, compassionate look at animal life...”
“Time flows slowly in this one-of-a-kind documentary feature, shot in luminous, almost magical-realist, black and white... These creatures are in no rush either. Watching them, you get some sense of their life rhythms while readjusting your own... The filmmaker has a great gift for helping us to see, assuming that we’re willing to stick with a 93-minute film with no plot and no dialogue... The invisible element in GUNDA is time, the unstated subject is the life these animals live——as individuals, not just animate objects——and the industrial processes that kill them. Mr. Kossakovsky’s film is ultimately political, a quiet polemic...”
“GUNDA doesn’t manufacture characters, but it does, in the end, find something like an arc for its menagerie, closing as it does with an extended final shot that communicates the harsh reality of farm life in a way arguably just as upsetting——but much less expected——than a trip to the slaughterhouse. The message comes through loud and painfully clear...”
~ AV Club
“You’ve never seen the world from the perspective of a one-legged chicken before. Kossakosky’s achingly beautiful black-and-white documentary is ground-breaking and wondrous for its intimacy, getting unbelievably up-close-and-personal with farm animals showing off their personalities. Among them are a mother pig and her litter who feed, frolic and tug at your emotions in ways you may not be able to handle.”
“There’s no dialogue; we just watch the animals go about their lives while we experience the quietly dawning recognition that these animals have real lives... It’s a recognition of animals’ creatureliness and a quiet argument for their dignity.”
“Kossokofsky’s camera, rendered in shallow focus, high-contrast black and white, keeps its gaze at the animals from ground level, framing them like you would human characters in a grand drama. The effect is uncannily gripping, GUNDA opting for a wordless approach to avoid anthropomorphizing these farm animals, challenging the viewer to see them for what they are.... GUNDA’s closing minutes [are] a moment of visceral, immediate cinema, one that immediately spikes home the exploitative nature of animal farming——applying the camera’s innate ability to humanize onto an animal we try not to think about before it hits our dinner plate.”
“Few movies commune with the class of animals that are generally regarded as resources rather than sentient beings. When it comes to attitudes toward creatures who are raised for meat and, in euphemistic foodie-speak, ‘harvested,’ there’s a whole lotta compartmentalizing going on... [The] filmmaker pulls in the viewer with images of astounding beauty... GUNDA shares its artistic DNA as an expansive vision of life on this planet. With its discreet yet intimate long takes, [it] rewards patience and attentiveness in every frame. And it could very well change hearts and minds... But GUNDA is far more than a plea or argument; it’s a gorgeous, gripping series of encounters——and, finally, an unforgettable drama. [The film builds] toward a final sequence that’s as affecting as any ever put to film... The devastating final sequence is not what many viewers will expect (and fear)——not exactly. It’s both less and infinitely more, a testament to the power and cogency of Kossakovsky's storytelling. No party-line screed, GUNDA is a soul-stirring meditation on some of our most underappreciated fellow earthlings. For many viewers, it could well be life-changing too.”
THE VEGAN MOVEMENT
The great ethical struggles of our time——against slavery, for civil rights, for women’s rights, for LGBTQI+ rights——all initially encountered the same ridicule as the animal rights movement does now. Ridicule is a defense mechanism used by people to attack and deflect when someone tries to make them aware of an uncomfortable reality.
It’s difficult to accept that you have been causing and funding unspeakable suffering and violence to others. Most vegans had to face that they too were once unintentionally complicit in the horrible pain and misery that animals who are exploited and killed for human food endure. We have been there. We understand. Many of us also clamored disbelief and ridiculed vegans because we thought it was too terrible to be true, and we didn’t want to think about it or acknowledge that we were a part of it either.
But it is all true and very well-documented——and very well-hidden by the animal agriculture industry. But the vegan movement cannot be stopped because the truth cannot stay hidden.
Someday animal rights will become an accepted norm (if humanity survives long enough!) because of the ethical reasons, as well as the health and ecological reasons that we can’t continue to ignore.
It’s never too late to stop being a part of it. Do some research. Watch some videos. Talk to a vegan. Find out about all of the delicious and nutritious alternatives. The only regret most people have about becoming vegan is that they wish they had done it sooner.
ANNUAL VEGAN DOCUMENTARIES
BY PLANT BASED NEWS
Since 2015, Plant Based News has been releasing documentaries that summarize the progress of the vegan movement. The films track the rise and challenges faced by the vegan movement for each year.
Plant Based News is a global, multi-platform news, media, and entertainment company, and an excellent resource for ethical consumerism, sustainability, the plant-based lifestyle, and the burgeoning vegan movement.
Click on the images below to watch the films.
TWO AGENDAS: WHO’S LYING TO YOU?
It’s interesting that some people are very bothered by what they call the “vegan agenda.” Do the meat, dairy, and egg industries have an agenda? Yes, of course: It’s TO MAKE MONEY!
The meat, dairy, and egg sectors of the animal agricultural industry are really just one giant industry because they work together supporting each other. The dairy and egg industries sell their “nonprofitable waste” to the meat industry. The male babies who are born to egg-laying hens and dairy cows are considered “nonprofitable waste” because males cannot produce milk or eggs, which makes them “worthless” to these industries. The farmers can’t make a profit selling the bodily secretions of the males, so they either kill them shortly after they are born, or they sell them to the meat industry for slaughter.
And of course, the egg-laying hens and dairy cows themselves also become “nonprofitable waste” when their decline in milk or egg production renders them “worthless” too. All of these animals end up being slaughtered after enduring miserable lives of exploitation and suffering.
The meat/dairy/egg industry’s agenda is all about money. In contrast, the vegan agenda is to stop animal abuse, exploitation, and slaughter. Which agenda does a compassionate, ethical person support?
Most vegans were duped by the incessant corporate propaganda of the meat/dairy/egg industry...until we started questioning it. How many advertisements for slaughtered animals and their bodily secretions (dairy and eggs) did you see yesterday? Most vegans initially believed all of the advertisements and what the “experts” said about needing animal products for protein, and all of the other lies spewed by the animal agriculture industry, because we have been bombarded with this propaganda since we were young impressionable children just like you.
The animal agriculture industry makes huge campaign contributions to politicians so that they will support legislation that benefits this mercenary agenda. The animal agriculture industry also funds the media so that television, radio, internet, and all media outlets are saturated with the same lies and propaganda. The goal is to fool you into believing that animal flesh, organs, and bodily secretions are healthy, necessary, humane, and guilt-free. This insidious agenda is so pervasive that you don’t even realize that you are being deceived.
The simple truth is that humans can survive and thrive on plants alone! There is no biological or nutritional requirement for humans to consume flesh, organs, or bodily secretions. The millions of healthy vegans around the world (including many prominent vegan athletes and bodybuilders) is proof of that, as is the abundance of peer-reviewed, evidence-based scientific research and studies about a plant-based diet.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT THAT YOU BELIEVED THE LIES
The truth has been hidden from you, quite deliberately by the meat/dairy/ egg industry, as well as the government and the media, who have billions of dollars invested in animal agriculture. The government spends billions of our tax dollars promoting and subsidizing these industries, and politicians are reimbursed with campaign contributions. Is it possible that there could be some nefarious motivations involved here? All of these people are getting rich!
Of course, when an industry is motivated solely by PROFIT, that industry will use its power and influence and money, and really, ANYTHING to influence the government, the media, the education system, the healthcare industry, and anyone else who will help promote its interests, regardless of any detrimental effects to anyone else (or the environment). Isn’t that promoting an AGENDA?
WHAT MOTIVATES VEGANS?
Do you think that vegans are being paid off by the vegetable industry? No, we aren’t making a profit speaking up for the suffering animals. In fact, many of us actually spend our own money to try to further the animal rights movement. The only benefit we get is the peace knowing that we are not contributing to the pain and suffering and slaughter of these defenseless, emotional animals, and that we are trying to stop it.
If you are against animal cruelty, then once you learn the truth about what these industries do to these animals, becoming vegan is a rational, compassionate response based on your own personal values. You probably already agree that mistreating and killing others for pleasure or convenience is not an acceptable “personal choice.” It’s basic human decency not to cause unnecessary harm and violence to others. Once you learn the truth, you either hold yourself accountable, or you don’t.
Vegans are not lying to you about the horrible brutality that happens to these animals. We’ve seen the videos and films that document the standard savagery, which most people refuse to watch, and many of us have witnessed the atrocities in person. Most of these atrocities are legal because animals who are exploited and killed for food are considered property, and the meat/dairy/egg industry tries very hard to keep the abuse and violence hidden from the public. But a plethora of these videos and films are available online for those who have the courage, curiosity, and compassion to educate themselves.
Vegans are up against very powerful and wealthy foes in the animal agricultural industry who will do whatever it takes to push their “products” on the oblivious masses. Think about who has something to gain: A small (and growing) group of vegans who work hard to advocate for suffering victims by exposing the truth, or multi-billion-dollar corporations whose sole purpose is to make MONEY?
Who has the most incentive to lie to you? Who has something to gain? Who is motivated to spread false information and propaganda?
And most importantly, which of these agendas aligns with your personal values: the one for peace, compassion, and non-violence, or the one for greed, exploitation, and brutality?
IS DAIRY THE BIGGEST SCAM OF ALL TIME?
The purpose of the dairy industry is to steal mammary secretions from babies and then sell that milk (and the cows themselves) for profit. Yes, cows in the dairy industry all end up at a slaughterhouse after lives of misery.
Like all mammals, cows must have been pregnant to produce milk. Milk isn’t created without a baby to drink it. On dairy farms, baby cows are prevented from drinking their mothers’ milk, so that it can be sold to humans. Try to imagine what your life would be like if you were a dairy cow being exploited for your bodily secretions, hooked up to machines, forcibly impregnated over and over again while your babies are taken away from you, imprisoned in misery until the day that you are sold to the meat industry to be slaughtered because you stop producing milk at a profitable rate. Yes, that is the dairy industry in a nutshell.
When a calf is taken away from his or her mother, she will scream and cry for hours or even days because she wants to bond with her baby. Calves are removed almost immediately from their mothers, which is devastating for her and her baby. The separation occurs quickly because bonding would make separation even more difficult later and could affect the mother’s milk production, which is the dairy industry’s only concern——because it’s all about money.
The calves are denied their mothers’ milk and fed formula instead so that the milk product isn’t “wasted.” Cows are not milk-making machines. They are sentient beings with central nervous systems and pain receptors and brains——just like you and your companion animals——which means that they have full self-awareness and can experience emotions, and pain and suffering. Please think about these cows and ask yourself if stealing and consuming mammary secretions from babies who are slaughtered along with their mothers...is who you really are.
DAIRY FARMING IS A BABY-KILLING ENTERPRISE. The male calves obviously can’t produce milk, which is why the dairy farmers kill them right away, or they shackle these babies inside crates all alone, where they will spend a few months until they are slaughtered for veal.
The female calves are destined to become tortured milking machines themselves, which usually entails about four years of misery, during which they are forcibly impregnated over and over again to keep the milk flowing. They give birth, lose calves over and over again, and are hooked up to machines, until eventually, their worn-out bodies collapse, and then they are sent to be slaughtered. These are the simple facts of the dairy industry.
WHAT IS MILK? Milk is maternal lactating secretion produced by the mammary glands of mammals who have given birth. Milk, quite simply, is a short-term nutrient for newborns. All mammals produce milk when they have babies. The milk is biologically designed for babies of specific species. For example, dog milk is for baby dogs, rat milk is for baby rats, elephant milk is for baby elephants, and cow milk is for... humans? Huh?!
Milk is baby growth formula, and contains hormones, proteins, fats, minerals, etc. for an infant of a particular species. Cow milk is perfectly designed to turn a 100-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow. Like all mothers’ milk, it is filled with hormones, proteins, growth factors, fat, and cholesterol. Additionally, cow milk contains millions of pus cells, blood, steroids, bacteria, pathogens, and acidic proteins (which leech minerals and calcium from human bones). Over 80% of the protein in cow milk is casein, which is also used as an ingredient in paint and glue. Seriously! Look it up for yourself.
WHY DO HUMANS CONSUME COW MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS? Because they’ve been told that they must! Dairy farmers, the animal agriculture industry, the mainstream media, the government, and even the healthcare industry have successfully used propaganda to convince most humans that stealing and consuming bovine mammary secretions is healthy, necessary, natural, and completely normal behavior—because there is MONEY to be made by exploiting, torturing, and killing cows. Yes, it’s all about money.
Would you drink cat milk? Giraffe milk? Orangutan milk? That’s crazy, right?! Would you drink human breast milk if a lactating woman squeezed you a glass? Would you eat cheese or ice cream made from human breast milk? Gross, right?! But... think about that: You won’t consume the milk of your own species, but you think it’s totally normal to consume bovine bodily fluids?
Drinking the mammary secretions of another species is not natural or normal. Mammary secretions are intended for the babies of specific animals. Perhaps you believe that this behavior is normal because you’ve been duped by corporate propaganda since you were a child? Why would an intelligent, rational human adult consume bovine mammary secretions, paying the dairy industry to exploit, torture, and ultimately slaughter cows? Why are you still breastfeeding? And from a different species? Please, THINK!!
The dairy industry floods our schools with propaganda, saturates the media with deceptive ads, and pays off politicians with campaign contributions (which results in taxpayer subsidies and very little oversight of what happens to these animals). Aren’t you irritated that you’ve been duped all of these years by corporate propaganda to engage in a behavior as bizarre as consuming another species’ mammary secretions—bovine growth formula stolen from baby cows? You are literally consuming bodily secretions intended for a baby, and you think that is completely normal and natural?!
Today there are many nutritious and delicious alternatives to dairy that don’t come from suffering and slaughter. Please think about your food choices and ask yourself if you are being ethical and compassionate, and if causing pain and misery to animals... is who you really are. There is no biological or nutritional requirement for humans to consume the flesh and organs of animals, or their bodily secretions (dairy and eggs). Plant-based alternatives are everywhere now. It just takes a little extra time to look for plant-based ice cream, beverages, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.
The choice to continue supporting the dairy industry is a conscious decision to harm, exploit, and kill animals. Going vegan is simply about choosing peace and compassion, instead of suffering and violence. Please say NO to dairy!
COVID-19 CAME FROM ANIMAL AGRICULTURE!
I accepted years ago that most human beings simply don’t care about the horrendous pain and suffering that animals who are exploited and killed for food endure, because taste pleasure and convenience are more important to them. I’ve been begging people for years to stop this violent insanity. But now, are they really too selfish and willfully ignorant to accept that the reason we are experiencing this deadly coronavirus pandemic is because of humanity’s disgusting desire to consume flesh, veins, muscles, tendons, and bodily secretions (dairy and eggs) of tortured animals who are slaughtered?
Even with the irrefutable fact that COVID-19 (and many more pandemic and endemic viral diseases that have plagued us) are of zoonotic origin, which means that they started in animals and jumped to humans, this voracious desire to consume tortured and slaughtered animals...is still dominant, so much so that in the United States during the pandemic, the animal agriculture industry has been declared essential, and slaughterhouses, factory farms, and processing plants have been mandated to keep operating at full capacity, endangering the lives of the humans who work in those facilities. Many of them have died, but a potential shortage of animal products is more important?!
Seriously, how dumb, deranged, and depraved are we as a species? If viruses, bacteria, and parasites could tell us about their ideal environments, they would describe the conditions of the facilities and marketplaces of the animal agriculture industry. How many more deadly diseases and pandemics caused by animal agriculture do we need before humans wake up?
There is no nutritional or biological requirement for humans to consume animals or their bodily secretions. The millions of healthy vegans around the world are proof of that, as is the abundance of peer-reviewed, evidence-based research and scientific studies about a plant-based diet. We even have many athletes and bodybuilders who tell us that a plant-based diet enhances their performance: Many report that being solely powered by plants enhances their overall health, increases their rate of recovery during and after training sessions and workouts, decreases inflammation, and makes them more powerful than ever before.
And then there's climate change. Animal agriculture is a primary cause of climate change and the leading contributor to global greenhouse gasses——more than the entire worldwide transportation sector combined.
It's not difficult to live vegan! Plant-based products and services are more widely available and more easily accessible than ever before! There are many affordable, delicious, and healthy plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs that taste exactly the same! You won’t be able to tell the difference. But you don’t care about that...
Okay...so you don’t care about the suffering animals, or better health, or the employees who work in the animal agriculture industry, or the availability of plant-based alternatives, or what the scientists and athletes report, or climate change, or all of the other reasons to stop supporting animal agriculture, such as deforestation (clearing land and destroying forests to grow food for farmed animals, which not only lessens the amount of carbon that can be stored, but also releases carbon dioxide into the air when trees die); habitat destruction (due to deforestation); species extinction (destroying wild animals that lose their habitats because of deforestation); air pollution; water wastage and water pollution (due to animal feces runoff); topsoil erosion (the removal of the fertile top layer of soil faster than the soil forming processes can replace it, due to overgrazing, over-cultivation, forest clearing, etc.); desertification (fertile land becoming desert due to topsoil erosion and depletion of plant life); antibiotic resistance (80% of antibiotics are fed to animals, causing bacteria and other microorganisms to resist the effects of antibiotics that they were once defenseless against); ocean dead zones (areas in the world’s oceans that don’t have enough oxygen to support marine life in bottom and near-bottom water); and worldwide human hunger and starvation (if we stopped intensively breeding animals by the billions for incredibly inefficient food sources that humans don’t need——especially in poor countries populated with starving humans——and instead used that land to grow plants for humans to eat directly, we could easily feed every human on the planet with healthy and affordable food)...
I understand that you don’t care about any of that, but DO YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR OWN LIFE?! OR THE LIVES OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS?! The fleeting taste sensations of flesh and bodily secretions are more important to you than anything else? Seriously?!!
I was really hoping that this pandemic would force people to wake up, finally. But apparently not. Sadly, humanity deserves this. The next pandemic is coming soon, from a wet market, factory farm, or slaughterhouse near you... sponsored by YOU! And it will be much worse.
WET MARKETS VERSUS SLAUGHTERHOUSES
The scientific consensus is that COVID-19 developed in a “wet market.” What is a wet market, and how is it different from a slaughterhouse? A wet market is an open marketplace where animals are slaughtered to provide food for humans. They are called “wet” markets because of the blood and guts of the tortured animals. A slaughterhouse is a closed facility where animals are slaughtered to provide food for humans. A wet market is just a public slaughterhouse. The only difference is whether or not the slaughter of the animals is public or hidden. Is there really any practical or ethical difference between a wet market and a slaughterhouse?
If you consume animal flesh, organs, and/or bodily secretions from a wet market, a factory farm, or a slaughterhouse, then you are actively participating in the development of the next deadly virus and pandemic,
INFECTIOUS DISEASES, PANDEMICS, AND ANIMALS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that more than six out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and that three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.*
The World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the World Organization for Animal Health state that increased demand for animal protein is one of the main risk factors of a pandemic.**
BILL MAHER EXPLAINS WHY WE HAVE THIS CORONAVIRUS
“...Torturing animals is what got us into this mess. That’s the lesson we keep refusing to learn——that you can’t trash the environment, INCLUDING ANIMALS, and not have it come back and kill you. Two weeks ago, I called out China for re-opening their wet markets, and miraculously, people from both sides of the aisle reached out to say, ‘Good for you for saying that!’ Well, here’s another hot take that may not be as popular.
America’s factory farming is just as despicable as a wet market, and just as problematic for our health. Factory farms have a lot more lobbyists, but ecological timebombs tick the same. Americans should not get too high and mighty about wet markets while we are doing this.
Most, if not all, infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they start in animals and jump to humans. AIDS likely came from primates. Someone butchered a monkey, or f*cked one, or something they shouldn’t have been doing with a monkey. Mad cow came from cattle eating cattle, which is like feeding a chicken an omelet. Just two weeks ago, a fatal strain of bird flu was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in South Carolina.
Now, to thwart the coronavirus, we’ve been told to create distance, avoid others who are sick, lower stress, and exercise. Are you surprised that diseases flourish among animals when they’re forced to live in conditions that are the complete opposite of all of that? They’re on top of each other. They can’t move. They’re their stressed out. I’ve seen airports treat luggage better than we treat animals. Egg-laying hens are starved and given no water for weeks to shock their bodies into molting. Beaks of chickens are removed. I could go on... Have you ever driven by a high-density feedlot? To get relief from the stench, you have to stick your nose in an egg salad sandwich.
If you think the market in Wuhan is gross, you should visit one of our giant poultry processing factories. But, of course, you can’t because we have ag-gag laws that make it a crime to report the crime. And it is a crime of animal abuse that goes on in our food industry.
You’re worried that the mailman has coronavirus? Eighty percent of pigs have pneumonia when they’re slaughtered because we make them live in conditions that would make a zombie vomit. And then, so they don’t die before we kill them, we pump them full of antibiotics, that in turn, get passed on to humans, that in turn leads to antibiotic-resistant diseases, that in turn leads to us dying from ever-evolving contagions. It’s six degrees of tainted bacon.
We’re on the cusp of returning to a pre-antibiotic era, where strep throat was a death sentence. Let me put it as basically as I can: If we keep producing food the way we do, you’re going to get sick with something medicine cannot fix.
You don’t have to care for the sake of the animals. I wouldn’t want to mess with anyone’s reputation as a heartless asshole. But do it because animal cruelty leads to human catastrophe. Do it because barbecue is why you’ve been masturbating for a month.
And get the f*ck away from me with Tiger King. I don’t care that he sees the light at the end. So did Darth Vader. There’s no such thing as keeping a wild animal pent up, but treating them well. Just ask Siegfried and what remains of Roy. Joe Exotic is in prison partly for killing five endangered tigers, which are endangered because of people like him. I don’t get why the ‘woke left’ loves this show so much, and isn’t on this guy like pink sequins.
People should take their meandering outrage and focus it on this issue. You keep animals in cages, be they tigers or turkeys, and look who winds up being the prisoner.”
HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher - April 24, 2020
LIVE YOUR VALUES THROUGH YOUR CHOICES
You may not be vegan, but your values probably are. Are you against animal cruelty and violence?
For example, when you hear about people eating dogs and cats, do you become upset? What about videos in which people torture animals for fun? Could you watch a video of an animal being brutalized? Could you watch such horror in person? Have you ever watched a slaughterhouse video of cats or dogs? What about slaughterhouse videos of chickens, cows, pigs, or turkeys?
How can it be wrong to harm certain animals for pleasure and profit in some cases, but not others?
To make an informed choice, you need all of the available information. We all make countless decisions every day, and we don’t even think about many of our choices because they have become ingrained as part of our daily routines. But sometimes our choices conflict with our values, and we don’t even realize it.
Are you a paying customer of meat, dairy, and eggs? Do you ever wonder what happens to those animals? Is the pain and suffering of chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys somehow different from the pain and suffering of dogs and cats?
Could you slaughter an animal yourself? Is there an ethical or practical difference between committing an act of violence yourself and paying someone else to do it for you?
If you are against animal cruelty, then please do some research and learn the truth about what happens to the animals who are exploited and slaughtered to become and create your food.
Over 98% of humanity’s harm to animals is a result of our food choices. And every day, we have the opportunity to live our values through our food choices. If we value kindness over violence, if we value being compassionate over causing unnecessary harm, and if we have access to plant-based food, then living vegan is a consistent expression of our values.
If you are paying for it, then you are supporting it. If you think of yourself as an animal lover, then going vegan is a mindful decision to live in accordance with your values.
Simply put, vegans are encouraging you to broaden your moral perspective to include chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, and all animals as part of your own values about animal cruelty and violence. You just have to do a little online research to discover the truth for yourself. Just take a few minutes to do internet searches of the words “slaughterhouse,” “factory farms,” “dairy industry,” and “egg industry,” and see what you find. If you are reluctant to do this, then think about why you feel that way.
Once you learn and accept the truth about what happens to the animals whose flesh, organs, and bodily secretions you consume, then becoming vegan is a rational, compassionate response based on your own personal values.
And if you need help figuring out what to eat and how to live vegan, simply ask a vegan! We’ve all been through this process. We will help you! We want to help you, not just because we care about the animals, but also because we care about YOU. We know that you don’t want to be contributing to the suffering and violence of animals. That’s not who you are because you are an animal lover! JUST REACH OUT TO A VEGAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA, even if it’s someone you don’t know personally. We will help you!
Dear (name withheld),
What if, as part of my daily life, I killed kittens...for pleasure? What if I repeatedly killed kittens just because I liked doing it? Would you sustain a relationship with me, after you begged me for years and years to stop killing kittens, and I kept doing it anyway? Would you consider me unethical or cruel? Could you have any respect for me, someone who kills kittens for pleasure? What if I decreased the number of kittens I killed? Would you applaud me for reducing the number of kittens who suffered and died for my enjoyment?
You are doing the exact same thing with piglets, calves, chicks, or fish or whatever animals suffer and die for your violent and unnecessary dietary choices——for your TASTE PLEASURE. (And this applies to eggs and dairy, because those animals experience misery and suffering while being exploited for their bodily secretions, and are eventually slaughtered.)
You know all of this, because I’ve been telling you about it for years, but you continue to willfully cause horrendous suffering and violence. I just don’t get it. And you claim to be an ethical, compassionate person. I’m sorry that it’s come to this, but I don’t want to be friends with you anymore. Please let me know when you decide to stop harming, exploiting, and killing animals, and I will be delighted to rekindle our friendship.
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS YOUR PERCEPTION
It’s shocking when people say with clarity and conviction: “Some animals are pets and some animals are food. It’s that simple!” Really? Anyone who has ever gotten to know a chicken, pig, cow, sheep, duck, turkey, or goat knows that they are no different from a dog, cat, parrot, horse, or any so-called “traditional companion animal.”
All of these animals (and many more) are sentient and socially-complex beings, with feelings and a strong sense that they are individuals. They want to live, and to avoid suffering and death. They will fight for their lives just like a dog or cat would (and just like we would!) if someone tried to harm or kill them. Furthermore, they all have central nervous systems and can therefore experience pain and suffering. All of them are emotional beings with the ability to experience pleasure, agony, and fear.
There is no moral justification for treating what you consider a “food” animal any differently than you treat what you consider a “pet.” If you don’t want dogs or cats to suffer (and of course, you would never eat a dog or cat!), then is it ethically consistent for you to contribute to the pain and suffering and slaughter of other animals——for nothing more than taste pleasure or convenience or tradition? Is that who you really are?
The animals who are bred, raised, imprisoned, exploited, and slaughtered for food are just as sensitive, communicative, and unique as the animals you consider pets. They all seek attention and affection, bond with other animals, care about their babies, feel emotions, can experience pain, and want to live. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS YOUR PERCEPTION! Being vegan means treating all animals the way most people treat their companion animals——not as objects or food sources, but with love and respect.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: WHY YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY CAN’T SEEM TO GO VEGAN
There’s a psychological phenomenon that explains why intelligent, compassionate, self-proclaimed “animal lovers” continue to consume animals and animal products, even though they are aware of the pain and suffering and violence that the animals endure. It’s COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, the uncomfortable tension that people experience when they try to maintain two contradictory core beliefs or values at the same time.
Most people grew up consuming animals and animal products, and have continued to do so for their entire lives because of family traditions, ingrained cultural habits, convenience, and sensory pleasures.
However, most people also sustain a core value that harming and killing animals for taste pleasure (or for any kind of trivial gratification) is wrong. Abundant evidence exists that the animal agriculture industry inflicts horrendous, prolonged pain and misery on these animals, but from childhood most of us have been duped by relentless propaganda from the meat, dairy, and egg industries, which has manipulated us into ignoring what happens to the sentient beings who suffer and die to create and become “food.”
Furthermore, when we were children, adults we loved and respected told us that consuming flesh, organs, and bodily secretions (dairy and eggs) was not just acceptable, but also healthy, necessary, humane, and guilt-free. We believed them, and we learned to block out the suffering of the animals, even though we maintain that we are animal lovers. At a very young age, harming, exploiting, and killing animals became a habitual part of life for most people, which is sustained because of the deceptive and devious marketing that constantly bombards us every day. And all of this happens because our brains are actually hard-wired to prevent us from focusing on what causes the paradoxical discord of cognitive dissonance.
A BUILT-IN DEFENSE MECHANISM FOR MORAL DILEMMAS
American psychologist Leon Festinger proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance in the 1950s. Research shows that when people have a core belief or value, and they are then presented with new information that conflicts with that core belief or value, they tend to reject the new information and cling to their original core belief or value—even if the new information is rational, readily available, irrefutably backed up by concrete evidence, and right in front of their eyes!
For most people, it is too problematic to make the connection between the living, emotional animals who suffered, and the objectified “food,” the neatly packaged and prepared flesh, organs, and bodily secretions of those animals who endured misery and torture before they were killed. Cognitive dissonance is a defense mechanism that prevents people from thinking about the animals at all. They subconsciously convince themselves that the “food” is an object rather than something derived from an emotional individual with a central nervous system and full self-awareness, who suffered immensely and then was slaughtered.
To avoid the moral dilemma of accepting responsibility for the suffering and slaughter of sentient beings, people will instinctively disassociate themselves from any emotional connection to the chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, fish, sheep, ducks, and other animals, in order to reduce the intrinsic value of these animals, and to eliminate any ethical concern.
But, of course, these animals who are exploited and killed for food are fundamentally no different from the dogs, cats, horses, parrots, and other traditional companion animals we choose to value and love. All of these animals seek attention and affection, form bonds with friends, care about their babies, feel emotions, can experience pain, and want to live.
A CEREBRAL TUG-OF-WAR
Cognitive dissonance causes people to compartmentalize their ethics, as they desperately try to protect their original core belief or value (on a subconscious level). They rationalize, deny, disregard, and attack. The mental game is to convince themselves that there is actually no conflict at all, in order to remain comfortable rather than change their behavior to align with their genuine ethical beliefs.
This cerebral tug-of-war can cause a lot of internal guilt, which propels people go to extreme lengths in order to avoid facing that their food choices are not in accordance with their values.
Simply put, it’s easier for people to dismiss and avoid processing the new information rather than face their complicity and responsibility in the suffering and violence. Some people viciously attack or attempt to discredit the source who presents the new conflicting information. When people become irate and hateful toward vegans, it’s usually because they know that they are causing pain and suffering to animals, which clashes with their core value that animal cruelty is wrong—but they lash out at the vegans rather than deal with the cognitive dissonance and consider changing their behavior.
FACING THE GRUESOME REALITY VERSUS DEFLECTING WITH IRRATIONAL DEFENSES
Some people rely on bizarre justifications for their consumption of animals and animal products, such as “Plants feel pain,” “Lions kill animals,” “Humans have canine teeth,” or “I need protein,” to name a few common excuses. Despite abundant scientific evidence that plants lack central nervous systems to generate pain responses; that unlike humans, lions are wild carnivorous animals lacking the capacity to think rationally and behave morally; that human canine teeth are rounded and designed for grinding rather than tearing through raw flesh; and that the building blocks of protein (amino acids) can all be derived directly from consuming plants, which is how all animals get their protein; people will still cling to these illogical, groundless excuses rather than examine the plausibility and absurdity of what they are saying.
Acknowledging that food we consume comes from suffering and violence means accepting that we indirectly caused the suffering and violence, that we were misinformed by people we loved and respected, that we were deceived by corporate propaganda and lies, and that we fiercely defended our choices and denied anything contrary—for our entire lives. Of course, this process involves facing hardcore truths about what we have been unknowingly supporting, which will make us feel terrible about ourselves.
And this is what makes considering veganism very difficult for most people, even though overwhelming scientific evidence shows that there is no biological or nutritional requirement for humans to consume animals or animal products. Furthermore, it is very well-documented that animal agriculture has a major destructive impact on climate change, widespread air and water pollution, water wastage and water scarcity, deforestation, land degradation, topsoil erosion, species extinction, habitat destruction, desertification, ocean dead zones, worldwide human hunger and starvation, antibiotic resistance, and the development of zoonotic diseases that become deadly pandemics. But to accept all of this new information, most people must first understand and eliminate what is blocking them.
OVERCOMING THIS OBSTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL PHENOMENON
Cognitive dissonance is a major obstacle to ending a person’s support of the standard suffering and slaughter inflicted on animals by the meat, dairy, and egg industries, because it involves an emotional detoxification process that is extremely hard and uncomfortable for people who have been consuming animals and animal products for their entire lives.
Obviously, people don’t want to cope with the appalling realization of what they have been supporting since childhood: lifelong pain, misery, and terror inflicted on gentle, harmless animals, for nothing more than trivial taste pleasure. They will feel tremendous guilt and regret when they take responsibility for all of this unnecessary violence. And that is what triggers cognitive dissonance. But pretending that the pain and suffering isn’t happening doesn’t mean that they aren’t causing it. In fact, they are the reason for the pain and suffering until they make the intentional decision to stop being a part of it.
Hopefully, understanding that this psychological phenomenon exists and that it is hard-wired in our brains will help those of us who are trying to present the vegan message to our friends and family who are resistant and adamantly opposed to hearing it. When people become aware of what happens to these animals, and then are brave enough to deal with the cognitive dissonance that they experience, they will finally make compassionate, ethical choices that are consistent with who they really are.
OPPRESSION AND VIOLENCE
As long as humanity continues to promote violence and oppression with our food choices, we will continue to have a violent and oppressive world. Most people don’t even think about the pain and suffering and slaughter that animals endure because...they value the taste of flesh, organs, and bodily secretions like eggs and dairy...over peace and kindness toward our fellow creatures? Animals who are exploited and killed for food are considered property, despite the fact that they are conscious individuals with full self-awareness, perception abilities, and central nervous systems, which means that they can experience pain and suffering and a wide range of emotions.
VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE. OPPRESSION IS OPPRESSION. Those animals are needlessly subjected to prolonged misery and torture, and then they are butchered, terrified and wanting mercy...all hidden away.
Humans have the capacity to have empathy, to make ethical choices, and to think rationally. Please have compassion for these animals. Please stop paying for oppression and violence. Please decide what your morals are (what you personally believe is right and wrong), and then apply those morals to everyone. If you believe that oppression and violence are wrong, then why wouldn’t you apply that standard to all sentient beings? Not just to other humans, nor to only specific animals such as dogs and cats. EVERYONE!
Most people actively promote violence and oppression with their food choices, and then they don’t understand why we live in a world of violence and oppression. There are now delicious, affordable, and healthy plant-based alternatives to all animal products. And there is no nutritional or biological requirement for humans to consume animals or animal products. The choice to continue supporting the meat, dairy, and egg industries is a cognizant, deliberate decision to support oppression and violence.
As long as humans support animal agriculture industries, which exploit, harm, and kill sentient beings, we will continue to experience oppression and violence, simply because we haven’t learned how to treat our planet’s most defenseless and vulnerable inhabitants with compassion.
EVERYONE BELIEVED THAT CIGARETTES WERE HEALTHY!
Several decades ago, our governments and politicians and the media and even healthcare professionals told us that smoking cigarettes was totally healthy, even during pregnancy. And the tobacco industry bombarded the public with relentless propaganda encouraging everyone to smoke cigarettes. The vast majority of people smoked cigarettes, and the tobacco industry made a lot of money.
But then people started getting sick and dying. Despite numerous published studies from universities and even the tobacco industry itself, it took decades before medical professionals finally admitted that cigarettes are detrimental to human health. Then, eventually, governments and the media followed suit when the truth became so blatantly obvious that it was impossible to deny.
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
First, people ridiculed the idea that cigarettes were dangerous. Then, people became angrily opposed to the fact that cigarettes are indeed unhealthy and dangerous. Now, it is widely accepted that cigarettes are in fact detrimental to human health.
This is exactly what is happening with the meat, dairy, and egg industries. And animal agriculture causes far more damage than cigarettes. Animal agriculture has a major impact on climate change, widespread air and water pollution, water wastage and water scarcity, deforestation, land degradation, topsoil erosion, species extinction, habitat destruction, desertification, ocean dead zones, worldwide human hunger and starvation, antibiotic resistance, and of course, the development of zoonotic diseases that become deadly pandemics!
When an industry is motivated solely by PROFIT, that industry will use its power and influence and money and really, anything to dupe the government, the media, medical professionals, and anyone else who will help promote its agenda, regardless of any detrimental effects. In this regard, the animal agriculture industry is no different than the tobacco industry.
When I first became vegan, I was ridiculed relentlessly and knew very few vegans. Now I and my many vegan friends are more often viciously attacked than ridiculed, for speaking up for animals and telling the truth about the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Soon, as more and more people wake up to the abundance of mounting evidence about the animal agriculture industry, the truth that consuming animals and their bodily secretions is unhealthy, cruel, totally unnecessary, and destroying us all...will be blatantly obvious to most rational, ethical, and compassionate people.
Hang in there. The final stage of truth is right around the corner.
WHO IS FORCING THEIR BELIEFS ON OTHERS?
Vegans should stop trying to force their beliefs on you? If you consume meat, dairy, and eggs, then you are literally forcing others to suffer and die for your beliefs. If that’s not forcing your beliefs on others, then what is?
When asking questions and presenting factual information, vegans are often accused of judging and forcing their beliefs on people who aren’t vegan. “Stop judging me!” “Stop attacking me!” “Stop trying to force your beliefs on me!” But vegans are merely speaking up for the animals, who are the suffering victims of unnecessary choices.
If you feel judged and attacked by a vegan, then perhaps you should ask yourself WHY you feel that way (perhaps GUILT...because you know exactly what happens to the animals who suffer and die to create and become your food?).
The irony is that YOU are the one who is actually forcing your beliefs on others because you are deliberately choosing to pay for others to be exploited, harmed, and slaughtered for your personal taste pleasure. You think that’s ridiculous? Then why don’t you eat dogs or cats? Why don’t you consume canine or feline bodily secretions?
You are making a judgment about specific species. You are deciding who should suffer and die: According to you, dogs and cats deserve to live free and happy, but chickens, cows, and pigs deserve to be exploited and killed. You are making judgments based on nothing more than your personal preferences. You are forcing your beliefs on specific species who are then forced to endure pain and suffering and slaughter...for what? Just for your pleasure, convenience, traditions, and cultural habits?
Vegans believe that we are not superior to others, which is why we do not force anyone to suffer and die for us. In fact, we KNOW that we are not superior. We have no right to cause pain and suffering to others, or to take away anything from anyone, especially peace or freedom——or life itself.
DO YOU HAVE AN INFORMED OPINION?
That “meat” you ate was a conscious, emotional individual who was brought into this world to suffer and die for your taste pleasure. She was a mother who cared about her babies. She had a central nervous system and pain receptors and a brain, which means that she experienced pain and fear and misery. She wanted to live.
Are the fleeting taste sensations of flesh, organs, and bodily secretions really that important to you, when there are so many nutritious and delicious alternatives that don’t come from the suffering and slaughter of sentient beings?
There is abundant research proving that humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need to consume animals or animal products, and that a vegan diet provides significant health benefits, can prevent and treat chronic diseases, and is best for overall health.
If you are unaware of the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting a vegan diet, that may be because...well, guess who doesn’t want you to know the truth! The animal agriculture industry, as well as the media, the government, and the healthcare industry, because they all accept funding from the animal agriculture industry. That’s right: It’s all about money for all of these corporate entities—not about the animals, not about the planet, and not about your health! Please really think about that. IF YOU ARE UNAWARE OF THE SCIENCE, THEN YOU DO NOT HAVE AN INFORMED OPINION.
Please also think about your food choices and ask yourself if you are being an ethical and compassionate person, and if causing pain and suffering and slaughter for nothing more than momentary, trivial taste pleasure...is who you really are. Yes, of course what you eat is your choice. But why would you choose pain and suffering and violence when you can choose peace and love and compassion? Your opinion doesn’t make you an ethical person. Your actions do.
WHO IS JUDGING?
When presenting factual information, vegans are often accused of JUDGING non-vegans. Facts are not judgment. When you present facts to people who then say, “Stop judging me,” simply tell them that facts are not judgment, and that if they feel judged, then perhaps they should ask themselves why they feel that way.
Here are examples of some facts:
Animals have central nervous systems; plants do not.
The building blocks of protein (amino acids) are all found in plants.
There is no biological or nutritional requirement for humans to consume animals or their bodily secretions.
Vegan food is grown and harvested, not born and slaughtered.
Dairy cows and egg-laying hens are sold to the meat industry when their milk or egg production declines.
And it goes on and on... They may choose to disagree with the facts that you present, but that doesn’t mean that you are JUDGING them.
When they say that a vegan is judging them, they mean that the vegan is forming a negative opinion about them based on thoughts, feelings, and observed behavior.
And ironically, JUDGING is exactly what they are doing with regard to chickens, pigs, cows, etc., as exemplified in this comic by Vegan Sidekick (below). To prove that point, simply ask them if they eat dogs or cats, or if they consume canine or feline mammary secretions. They are making judgments about specific species. In their estimation, dogs and cats deserve to live happy and free, but cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are nothing more than “food” animals. Those animals exist for exploitation and slaughter by humans. That is a judgment.
Call them out on how THEY are actually doing the JUDGING when they accuse you of judging them!
And emphasize that all you have done is given them factual information; therefore, if they feel judged by you, then there must be a reason they feel that way——perhaps it’s GUILT...because they know exactly what happens to the animals who suffer and die to create and become their food.
“SHOOTING THE MESSENGER”
Isn’t it frustrating when people want to focus on their dislike of vegans rather than focus on the animals, who are the suffering victims of their choices? Don’t let them get away with deflecting. Keep bringing the focus back to the animals. They say that they dislike vegans, but do they agree with the message that animal cruelty is wrong? Don’t let them dismiss the message and ignore the suffering animals by focusing on their dislike of vegans. That’s called “shooting the messenger.”
Ask them, “If someone told you that cruelty to dogs is wrong, would you dismiss that message just because you didn’t like the person or the way the person was presenting the message?” No, of course they would still agree that cruelty to dogs is not ethical or compassionate, so why don’t they broaden their perspective to include chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals as part of their values that animal cruelty is wrong?
Are these “food” animals somehow different from dogs? There is no moral justification for treating them any differently than we would treat a traditional companion animal or another human. They are all sentient beings with central nervous systems, which means that they have full self-awareness and can experience emotions, and pain and suffering. All of these animals seek attention and affection, form bonds with friends, care about their babies, feel emotions, can experience pain, and want to live.
There is no biological requirement for humans to consume animals or their bodily secretions. The millions of healthy vegans around the world are proof of that, as is the abundance of peer-reviewed, evidence-based research and studies about a vegan diet. Causing pain and suffering and slaughter for nothing more than taste pleasure is not ethically defensible, but most people who participate in such behavior claim to be ethical, which is why we must keep the focus on the suffering animals.
Vegans are simply explaining that there is a healthier, smarter, and more compassionate way to live. It’s about the animals, who are the suffering victims of unnecessary choices, not about us.
WHAT IS A SOCIOPATH?
A sociopath doesn’t try to understand the feelings of others. Sociopaths make decisions without feeling guilty for the harm they cause. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), a sociopath consistently shows a lack of regard for others’ feelings or rights. Sociopaths don’t feel guilt or remorse for causing harm or mistreating or killing others. Hmmmm....
YOUR CHOICES REVEAL WHO YOU REALLY ARE
You may not be vegan, but being vegan is probably an expression of who you really are. Do you believe in COMPASSION and NON-VIOLENCE? Do you believe that it is wrong to harm, exploit, and kill others for taste pleasure, or for any kind of enjoyment or gratification, especially when there are alternatives available?
Being vegan isn’t about being perfect or judgmental. It’s simply about making kind and ethical choices. Being vegan isn’t difficult. It’s simply about doing what you can to reduce pain and suffering, and these days it only takes a little effort because plant-based food and products are widely available.
Why do you think it’s wrong to abuse and slaughter dogs, cats, and horses, but not chickens, pigs, and cows? How are these animals different? Do they experience pain and suffering differently? Are they less deserving of kindness and respect? Do they taste different? From a moral standpoint, how do you decide which animals deserve to suffer and die to produce and become your food and products?
Every day, we have the opportunity to live our values through our choices. Just make the simple decision, “No, I’m not going to eat that or wear that or purchase that because I know those animals suffered, and I don’t want to be the reason for that pain and misery and violence.”
If we value compassion over violence, then making the effort to find plant-based food and products is a simple expression of who we really are. Please be ethically consistent. Please manifest the kind and ethical person you claim to be through your daily choices. Please go vegan.
HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE?
An eagle represents American freedom, but millions of Americans will celebrate their freedom today by eating birds and other animals who were imprisoned, tortured, and slaughtered. July 4th is Independence Day for the United States of America, but most Americans will celebrate by consuming the flesh, organs, and bodily secretions (dairy and eggs) of others who had no freedom or independence at all. These other sentient beings are considered property and commodities, despite the fact that they are emotional individuals with full self-awareness, perception abilities, and central nervous systems, which means that they have the capacity to experience pain and suffering.
Chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep, fish, and other animals are no different from dogs, cats, horses, elephants, and humans. We all seek attention and affection, form bonds with friends, care about our babies, feel emotions, can experience pain, cherish freedom, and want to live.
But many humans don’t want to think beyond the “food” in front of them. They ignore that the flesh, organs, eggs, and mammary secretions that they glibly consume came from suffering, slaughtered individuals.
Please think about what freedom means.
Please have empathy and compassion.
Please stop harming and killing others.
Please do a little research and educate yourself.
Please make choices that are consistent with who you really are.
Please decide what your morals are, and apply them to everyone.
The good news is that there are delicious, affordable, and healthy plant-based alternatives to animal products, and that you don’t need to consume animals or their bodily secretions in order to be happy and healthy. The bottom line is that humans can behave morally, think rationally, and live happy and healthy lives without consuming animals or their bodily secretions.
Please think about how grateful you are that you can celebrate being free and independent, and then open your heart to others.
‘80S MUSIC AND VEGANISM?!
In 2015, I decided that I needed to come up with a unique and creative way to reach people with the vegan message, and I knew that somehow I would use ‘80s music to help the suffering animals. I had been very unsuccessful in my personal life reaching friends and family with the vegan message. The people I cared about the most didn’t care about all of the pain and suffering and violence that they cause. I thought...if I could come up with something fun and interesting, making ‘80s music a part of it, then maybe people would be more open to the vegan message.
I’ve always loved ‘80s music. And I knew that Bryan Adams was vegan, and of course Morrissey. Then I found out that Def Leppard’s guitarist Phil Collen was vegan. These three world-famous musicians whose music I loved as a teenager were speaking publicly about the animals and being vegan! And people love rock stars! I started searching for other ‘80s artists who were vegan. Richard Marx was vegan! Poison’s drummer Rikki Rockett was vegan! Stevie Wonder was vegan! I found many vegan quotes from all of these guys. And I knew that I had something.
I started this do-it-yourself website, having no experience and no idea what I was doing. I decided that I wouldn’t try to sell anything, or use any advertisements, or ask for any money because it had to be all about the animals. I came up with “80s pop animals” because it was the only succinct phrase that I could think of which incorporated the animals and ‘80s music. I started writing about every vegan topic I could think of...while gathering data to compile a list of the best songs from the ‘80s. Everyone I knew loved ‘80s music. If I could come up with a definitive list of the top 500 pop songs of the ‘80s, maybe people would be interested in that, and then I could create images of the ‘80s artists and their quotes, and post them on Facebook, and hope that people would come to my website to learn about the animals and veganism. I had to try something, and I had always heard “follow your passion,” so that’s what I did.
I gathered lots of data to compile the Top 500 Pop Songs of the ‘80s. It took forever. But I knew that it had to be perfect if I were to have any credibility with a list like this. I put the list on this website along with lots of images and essays. Friends with technical skills helped me with logos and other graphics. I created a Facebook page and thought it would be great if I got just 100 followers. I posted the songs and the images, and hoped for the best.
When I started my little vegan project masquerading as an ‘80s music project, I knew of only six vegan ‘80s music artists, and now that number has doubled, as you can see in this image (above). Now, an average of 141 unique users visit this website every day. My Facebook page now has well over 4,400 followers. These may seem like insignificant numbers, but for me and my “small potatoes” project, these numbers are astronomical. People visit my website, and I can see that they look at the pages about the animals in addition to the music pages. Some of my posts on Facebook get hundreds of shares, and a few have even gotten thousands of shares. I have received dozens of messages from people who have gone vegan because of what they learned on my website or in my social media posts. This project is a success for the animals.
Regarding the ‘80s music artists in this image... Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Morrissey (The Smiths), Stevie Wonder, Rikki Rockett (Poison), Grace Slick (Starship), Terri Nunn (Berlin), Annabella Lwin (the Original Bow Wow Wow), Rick Allen (Def Leppard), Brian May (Queen), and Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins)...
I know that we have been disappointed over and over again by fake vegan celebrities who were never vegan at all, but I feel very confident that we can trust this wonderful dozen. The only ones I am not 100% confident about are Stevie Wonder, Grace Slick, and Rick Allen, because they aren’t as vocal about the animals when speaking about being vegan. But the other nine are very committed to veganism and the animals. And of all celebrities——even athletes and actors——people listen to musicians the most.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of this project, I thought that there were eight vegan ‘80s musicians, when there were only six. I had included two who were not vegan, which was my mistake for misunderstanding their actual quotations, and trusting specious sources. I assumed that people who claim to love all animals, who speak emphatically against animal suffering and violence, and who are proclaimed vegan by vegan organizations and publications...are actually vegan! I was wrong. Those two are Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders). I apologize to the vegan community, and more importantly, to the animals, for promoting them as vegans. I fervently cling to the hope that they will go vegan soon.
Of course, there are other ‘80s music artists who “ain’t quite vegan,” but know that they should be. We have the world’s most famous vegetarian, Paul McCartney. And those who claim to know about the horrible suffering and violence, but can’t seem to make the connection (or admit publicly that they are vegan): Belinda Carlisle, Howard Jones, Mick Jones (The Clash), Tom Scholz (Boston), and Kate Bush. Chaka Khan went plant-based for health reasons to lose weight. Prince was plant-based for a few years (but called it vegan). John Lennon spoke in defense of animals, but never actually went vegan. And finally, the lying Boy George, who claims to be both vegan and not vegan. I do have all of these artists (except Boy George) on this website because their quotes for the animals and veganism are important and influential, even if they can’t seem to stop exploiting, harming, and killing animals.
I have made hundreds of wonderful vegan friends during the past six years while working on this project on Facebook. Many have supported this project from the beginning. I can’t thank any of you enough for supporting my vegan ‘80s music project. We have made a difference. Who would have thought that ‘80s music could help spread the vegan message and help the animals? It’s happening.