Beyond the holistic consideration that killing other conscious beings is wrong, the experience of animal slaughterhouses in infamous for its outstandingly cruel treatment of animals. Calves are taken from their mothers within the first day of birth so that humans can intervene to take their milk, and male calves are slaughtered as veal as they serve no further use in the dairy industry. These female cows are routinely artificially inseminated and hooked up to painful milking machines to extract their prized dairy. Dairy cows have been artificially selected to produce up to 8,500 kg of milk per year, at the expense of the cow’s health. Inspectors from CETFA (Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals) have witnessed spent cows with rotted hooves from spending their entire lives standing in their own feces, completely emaciated and calcium-depleted. Chickens, pigs, sheep and fish all experience similar deplorable conditions. Small crates stacked on top of each other, where the animals have no access to fresh air or grass, and systematic mutilation of wings, beaks, and tails are all common practices in factory farms.
Vegetarianism is firmly grounded in Hindu, Buddhist, Tao and Jain traditions. These religions are connected by the Dharmic practice of “ahimsa”, or non-violence, which recommends a vegetarian diet that allows followers avoid negative karmic effects associated with animal consumption. While most religions preach compassion towards other humans, the Dharmic faiths take this one step further to consider the lives of non-human animals to be spiritually relevant. Key elements of ethical behaviour include mercy, justice, compassion, and abstinence from torture, cruelty or general violence. If we wish to consider ourselves to be ethical, we should logically extend this treatment to creatures we share our planet with. It is estimated that a plant-based diet saves approximately 200 animals each year.
When we purchase meat, dairy, or animal products from the supermarket, we are complacent to the mass slaughter and cruelty that occurs every minute of every day in this country. Even removed from the actual action of killing an animal, our dollars spent cast a vote for the type of world we want. With such bountiful plant foods available that are also more beneficial to our health and the environment, it is unnecessary and harmful to eat foods derived from animals.