Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why Vegan and Pagan?

I can almost hear you asking “Why link Veganism and Paganism together? Can’t you have one without the other? Why go to that extreme?” Yes, you can certainly be either Vegan or Pagan/Wiccan and not also be the other. In my opinion the two fit together perfectly, just like puzzle pieces. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out.

Paganism (Or Wicca if you want to narrow down the broad field) is an earth-centered spirituality. If you are pagan, you honor the earth and all living things. Even though it’s not required, but a lot of Pagans that I have met also love animals. I know I do! If you don’t know who I am but happen to see someone over there talking to a random animal or apologizing to a group of plants for trampling them you probably found me. Don’t worry, I’m harmless. Nice to meet you! 

Anyway, I have given it a lot of thought and realized that if I eat meat or other animal products I’m really not honoring the earth or it’s living things. I won’t go into details about the commercial meat, dairy and egg industries. Instead I urge you to watch Food, Inc so you can see for yourself. But to sum it up – even though meat comes in neat, tidy little bundles that are hermetically sealed and taste good it had a face, life and a mother once. It was an animal that was raised in deplorable conditions, being fed something that it would not normally eat, and then at the end they are slaughtered (if they lived that long). By the time they reach the slaughter house, they are encrusted with feces and have alarming levels of E. Coli and other bacteria that will make us sick. And, the process of commercially raising animals causes these bacteria to run off and into the water supply and ends up in things like lettuce and other produce.

Ok, I felt you roll your eyes there. Or maybe you shrugged and thought about how you can live with that because you can’t live without steak, cheese, etc. I totally understand that because you know, I love the taste of it too. Yes, me, the vegan likes meat. But guess what I learned from watching Food, Inc? When the animals that are encrusted with feces are slaughtered, the meat gets contaminated with feces. You are eating it every time you eat meat. Oh gag, yuk, blech! You say you cook it thoroughly? I don’t care if you do, it’s still there. Think about dog poop. Would you want to mix that into your food while you’re cooking? Nope, neither would I. I actually think I’m gonna be sick.

So far we’re at exploiting innocent animals, e. coli in our produce and feces in our food. Oh that steak isn’t sounding quite as yummy right now, right? Ok, so why not be a lacto-ovo vegetarian (one who eats dairy products and eggs)? Well, I learned about that in Food, Inc too.  Chickens being commercially raised are so cramped in their living quarters that they are usually not able to move and are literally in their own waste up to their chests. They are also kept in buildings and never see the light of day. Some die of sickness, and are often left in with the live birds.

Cows that are being raised for dairy are kept in a cycle of being pregnant, and then the calfs are taken away so we can take the milk that was meant for the calf. The cows are often given hormones to increase milk production.  Also, milk contains casomorphine, which is chemically similar to morphine and causes people who drink milk or eat dairy products to become addicted to it.

Leslie and I decided to take the PETA 30 Day Vegan Challenge back in October. We were both vegetarians at the time, and had been trying a variety of vegan recipes that were all so amazingly good. It helped us to realize that food can be good without animal products in them! Before the 30 days were over, we both decided independently that we wanted to make it a permanent change in our lives. At the end of the 30 days, I was amazed just how much more energy I had and how much better I felt. I can’t say that we don’t occasionally eat something that is not vegan. It’s hard to avoid it, and we quickly realized that we had to read labels since many packaged or convenience foods contain animal products in some form. We quickly learned to not blindly trust vegetarian or soy based products, since they often contain eggs or caseins. But we both are glad that we made the change. 

You don’t have to eat animal products in order to have a delicious, filling meal. You also don’t have to give up all of your favorite meals if you decide to make the change. We’re also not trying to make anyone feel guilty for eating meat or dairy, but to urge you to use your food purchases to cast your vote for local, farm raised and free range products.


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