Monday, April 4, 2016

Vegetarianism is dead

I used to think that you become a better person when you embrace vegetarianism. Of course I was wrong. No ism will ever make you a better person – in fact, nothing will make you a better person, or a worse one for that matter. There are only actions, good ones and bad ones, done by different people. At any given moment, a saint can commit murder and a murderer can save a life.

Vegetarianism... I tried it, several times. Not a big deal really, after all there's plenty of other delicious and nutritious food around which isn't meat or fish. But I always ended up making occasional exceptions, usually in social gatherings with some dead animal as the main course. “Okay, I'll have a piece of lamb, why not?” Let's be flexible, right? There's even a word for it: Flexitarian.

My bad conscience remained though. Every time that I ate meat or fish I felt bad. Well, not totally bad because when meat tastes good it's obviously a very pleasurable experience. But there was this guilt hovering over my shoulder, nagging at me...'you're the reason why this animal was killed – unnecessarily!'
Luckily all this changed when one day, a year ago or so, a friend told me the following: “Eating a steak is, ethically speaking, better than drinking a glass of milk. Because the cow who provided the steak is at least dead, while the milk cow keeps suffering.” In other words, I can eat dead animals and be less of an arsehole than the preaching veggie from next door who lives on cheese and yoghurt. Great!

I looked into veganism (= no animal products whatsoever) and have started to eat more and more vegan food. And I must say, I've never eaten healthier in my life and I keep discovering amazing stuff that I didn't even know existed (popped amaranth, hazelnut milk or, the latest, marinated tempeh!). The ethical reasons for a vegan diet are plentiful: no animal torture, greatly reduced CO² emissions, less rainforest destruction, etc. To sum it up: If most of the world switched to a predominantly vegan diet, many environmental problems would be greatly reduced. And all those lovely videos about the violent animal industry would disappear as well. Like this one. Or this one. Or here, my recent favourite: DAIRY IS F**KING SCARY (highly recommended!)

So yes, I think vegetarianism is dead. If you care for animals and the planet and you really want to make a difference, the only logical step is to start with a vegan diet. Period.

Now, you're probably feeling already the urge to defend your beloved eating habits and to turn away from these weird vegan people who might be trying to brainwash you into some kind of cult. Here are a couple of things to consider:

1) I feel the wording is quite important: It's ' start with a vegan diet', and not ' become a vegan'. That's right, you can eat vegan food without being a vegan! It's don't have to become a Buddhist if you want to meditate. Or if you see the benefits of cleaning the kitchen regularly, well, you don't have to become an official 'cleaner'. You just do it while continuing being you. No identifying needed, no worshipping, just pure common sense. Like, you don't have to be a socialist to vote Bernie Sanders – you vote him because this man is perhaps the only hope this world has left. Same with veganism.

2) It would be amazing if everybody was able to change completely from one day to the next but this ain't gonna happen. I can't do it myself and it looks like most others can't do it either. Fine, that's just the way it is for now. However, it is possible to make small changes and then sooner or later, as long as you keep going, these small changes will lead to a big change. Creating a better world one moment at a time! So, eat as much vegan food as possible. Try it! Two days per week, three, four or five – any day is better than no day.

I believe that the future will be at least 90% vegan – or else there won't be a future (for us humans). This is not fiction, we're heading for a huge environmental disaster on many levels and animal farming is one of the biggest causes of this problem. Find out for yourself and enjoy the facts!

Furthermore, I believe that evolution has not only brought us sensational advances such as smartphones and plastic surgery, but also a certain amount of responsibility. And for me, a big part of this responsibility is to respect all life – not because we ought to, but because we are able to. And you know, it really can be done. It has actually never been easier for a human being to live a healthy and happy life without harming other living beings. So if we can do it without torture and killing, why don't we?

I'm not a vegan. But when I eat mainly plant-based food, as local and organic as possible, it always makes me feel really good. Like more connected with everything, in a positive way. There's less abuse and more respect in my life, less selfishness and more kindness. There's a feeling of hope because I can see how my actions are contributing to less death and suffering and to more peace in the world. And that's something to strive for, isn't it?


  1. Spot on Claus.

    As we've already established, I just use the 'vegan' label for myself because it fits at least 99% of the time and I can't be bothered to go into long-winded conversations about why I fail to hit 100% in any given year. I'm not massively bothered about my missing 0.5% commitment to the cause, because 99% or so is good enough for me, until such time as the rest of the world is at least 20% vegan. Or maybe 50%.

    Unfortunately, there are definitely vegans out there who prefer to focus on the 0.5% than the 99%, but for every one of those, there are plenty of others who are more likely to offer encouragement than criticism.

    I also would rather eat a steak than anything made from or containing milk. That's not really because there is less suffering in a steak, it's just a purely personal taste issue I guess, but I think you're right - there probably IS less suffering in beef than in milk. A cow has to be killed to produce beef - but *several* male calves have to be killed for a cow to keep producing milk.

    Vegetarianism is a good stepping stone to a vegan (or mostly vegan) diet, and that's all it is, but seeing as most people go through a phase of vegetarianism before going further towards veganism, it should always be encouraged as a path - not a final destination to aim for. Same goes for flexitarianism.

    The ultimate aim should always be the best possible outcome, which is veganism. Pretty difficult to construct a logical argument against that. But, just because you have an ultimate aim in sight doesn't mean that you should be constantly disheartened that you haven't got there yet. Even the best darts players don't get 180 scores every time.

  2. Claus,
    I also feel best when I eat mostly vegan, but when that time of the month comes I crave heavy milky substances and I follow my desires without resistance. I am thankful for every sip, thankful for the cow, who in not all cases is suffering, though also knowing that one day my milk with be shared and my body offered to the Earth for new growth.
    I appreciate your shared words. The way large companies are treating animals for our overindulging culture is not okay, it is harming the earth thus harming us. I feel the best way to heal this wound is to wake people up! I mean make them live life a-live = consciously. This way they have the conscious choice and eyes to see what is really happening and the connection of it all, including our own destruction and suffering. Please take time to read something I just recently wrote, seems there is some alignment there. I would love to hear feedback. Thank you. And yes to Bernie ;)!Word-Rage-Binge/cmbz/5704b8940cf27cb8ad1ad158

    1. Hey Claire, thanks for your words. I really enjoyed your rage binge! And I agree, there is certainly some alignment there... I love that anorexic woman offering fasts for yogis! And union can be found anywhere, indeed! I always feel that about meditation too - it doesn't have to be sitting crosslegged in front of a stone buddha statue. It can be sitting by the sea, or digging in the earth or, my personal favourite, juggling! Regarding the reconnection: yes, gardening is such a powerful tool. I just started again, preparing abundant growth for the summer. Apart from the food it gives you and the time spent outdoors, it is exactly this RECONNECTION which is probably the greatest gift of the garden. Oh, and butter. Why the fuck is it so good?