Q & A with a Vegan: Recent Questions

they have families too, that's why we don't eat animalsThis week I have been asked several interesting questions from different people regarding my ethical position about different topics as a vegan:

1. Do you take medicine or other pharmaceuticals (regarding routine drug testing on animals)?

2. If raising livestock is a waste of land and resources. how do you feel about coffee plantations which could also be considered wasteful because coffee has zero calories and contains caffeine, which is a drug?

3. Are you anti-pet?

4. How to do you feel about euthanizing animals?

 

I love being asked questions because it shows that people are interested in what I have to say and they are thinking critically about the information that I am presenting them. Also, their questions challenge me. I hadn’t needed to give any of the questions previous thought because the topic never came up. I discovered that while I had vague beliefs about each question, I didn’t specifically know how to respond on the spot. So here are my more thoughtful, deliberate responses to each question!

My opinion on medicines and pharmaceuticals:

I already make a conscious effort to only use pharmaceutical drugs when I really need them. I’m not one to pop an Advil for every little ache or pain. When I am sick or injured I like to look for a natural remedy first. Usually, natural remedies that are sold over the counter at health-conscious grocery stores are cruelty-free. Remember to double check and make sure!

mouse cancer research cruelty

Source: PETA “8 Reasons Why Animal Testing Doesn’t Help Humans”, July 17, 2013.

I will continue to advocate for animal rights and support cruelty free companies by using their products. I won’t be getting unnecessary vaccines (no flu shot for me!) and I will continue to do my best to prevent disease by taking care of myself naturally. There’s no better cure for disease than a healthy, plant-based diet of whole fruits and vegetables. Add in daily exercise to keep your brain sharp, lungs clear, and heart pumping strong!

One of the biggest reasons that drug testing on animals is cruel and unnecessary is that animals make poor models for humans. The findings of a drug trial conducted on animals means nothing of significance  because rats, rabbits, monkeys, etc. are not human beings! The only reason we test pharmaceutical on animals first is because companies and scientists believe the drug is not safe and will cause harm, and so they believe that it is okay to harm animals. They conduct these experiments with the intention of causing pain and suffering. Not to mention terror in these poor creatures who cannot understand why this is happening to them.

“Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research.” – George Bernard Shaw

My thoughts on COFFEE:

coffee if you are not shaking

I love coffee. I know that many high carb low fat vegans abhor caffeine and other adrenal system stimulants because they can damage your body. Caffeine is a drug, you can become physically addicted to it, build a tolerance, and suffer withdrawal symptoms that include fatigue, headache, increased or decreased appetite, etc. I have experienced quitting coffee for two months, and that first week was rough!

I am an addict though…and I’m back on the sauce 🙂

In all seriousness, I know that coffee is not a necessity, it is a luxury. Planting acres of land to grow something that provides no energy (calories) and little nutrients is not the most efficient use of agricultural land. But does it compare to the millions of acres of land and gallons of water that are used for animal agriculture?

Hell no.

Traditionally, coffee was shade-grown. This innocuous method of agriculture involved growing coffee under the canopy of trees that preserved the habitats of other plants and insects as well as served as a natural fertilizer and prevented the erosion of topsoil. Unfortunately, modern methods of coffee growing are not as symbiotic.*

Sun-cultivated coffee grown on plantations have replaced the old ways. This method produces a greater yield of coffee for the  four large, multi- national companies that dominate the industry but is unsustainable.**

Coffee grown on plantations requires additional fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide application which results in chemical run-off and pollution of groundwater. Deforestation and loss of biodiversity occurs as rainforests are cleared to be planted to coffee, especially because the tropical regions that coffee flourishes in are the most bio-diverse areas of the world. 2.5 million acres of forests in South America have been cleared for coffee plantations.* Planting mono-crops (like coffee) lessens the vitality of the soil and can eventually cause the soil to lose viability.

The coffee industry also adversely affects the coffee growers, who get the short end of the deal. Most coffee farmers live in poverty and struggle to make a living growing coffee. On average, the coffee growers only receive 5-10% of the retail price. If your 20 oz. cup of Starbucks drip coffee costs $2.25, the coffee grower earned ~20 cents.

I’ve been to coffee plantations in Guatemala, and I tried to pick hand-pick enough coffee beans to fill a medium colander, and it was hard. In 30 minutes, I only managed to pick several handfuls. Consider that it takes 70 roasted coffee beans to produce 1 cup of coffee. For this one cup, 40g of fresh coffee cherries are needed because during the roasting process, the beans lose 20% of their weight in moisture.*** I would not be able to hand pick enough coffee beans on a regular basis to even supply myself with enough coffee to give me the boost I needed to pick my beans…

BUT….environmental destruction, deforestation, pollution, water waste, etc. are all greater with animal agriculture. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts about Cowspiracy for more information!

  • Deforestation: 136 million acres of rainforest land have been cleared to make room for livestock grazing and for growing feed.
  • Water waste: 2500 gallons of water is needed to produce 1 pound of beef, which might only feed a family of four for dinner. Annually, animal agriculture consumes 34-76 trillion gallons of water.

 

I’m no saint, I wish I always checked if my coffee was fair trade certified, organic, and ethical but I don’t. However, my philosophy is to know better and do better. Now that my friend brought this issue to my attention, I should make some strides toward becoming a more ethical coffee consumer.

Am I anti-pet?no difference vegan

No! I LOVE pets! A couple of years ago, I lost my childhood dog to cancer and it was an extremely, painfully sad experience. She was my little four-legged sister (although she became a three-legged trooper at the end of her life). I believe that having pets as a child fosters that innate compassion that all people are born with. In fact it would be interesting to find out if it is more common for pet owners to be vegan than non-pet owners…hmmm…

Being able to love a pet like a member of the family teaches people how much animals are capable of love and how intelligent they are. There is no difference between the dog or cat that you love and the pig that you eat, they are all animals who deserve to know only kindness from the hands of man.

I believe in responsible pet ownership. Owning a pet means making a commitment to love and care for the animal until the end of it’s life, pets are not tools for amusement that can be dumped at a shelter at will! My heart goes out to dogs that I see chained up outside, who never know kindness from a loving family 😦

really want to have a dog in my life right now, but I know that I could not provide for it. I can barely afford to feed myself, let alone pay for quality dog food and veterinarian bills. But one day I will rescue a cat, a dog, and a pig and we will be an unconventional, happy family!

Euthanasia, my opinion…

This is my just my opinion, coming from a person who also supports right to die laws (which are allowed in Oregon). I have also experienced my childhood dog being put to sleep to end her suffering with cancer, which came back even after she had surgery to remove her hind leg and tumors. I support mercy killing of any type for any creature who is suffering and for whom death would be a relief and blessing. It is crueler to keep a person or an animal alive simply because someone (family or otherwise) is unable to let them go, selfishly prolonging their suffering.

However, I DO NOT support kill shelters. Unnecessary murder of any type goes against my values, and this includes killing animals simply because they have been unwanted. This should be a consistent belief among vegans, who seek to avoid the unnecessary and unnatural slaughter of creatures through their vegan lifestyle.

real vegan difficulty

go-vegan-I-think

Sources:

*Moore, Victoria. Sustainable Business ToolkitWhat’s your coffee costing the planet? – Environmental impact of the coffee trade“, Jan. 2014.

**Consumewithcare.org “Spilling the Beans on the Coffee Industry“, May 2014.

***Upscale Coffee “How many Beans does it take to make a cup of coffee?

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