Last week, a friend of mine asked if I’ve seen the documentary Earthlings. I told her I hadn’t because the trailer had made me sob. After watching it last weekend, she told me, both her and her husband had decided that their family would go vegan. Just like that, they committed to no longer consuming animal products and being more conscious of non-food products they purchase that may contain animal products.
Over the past week, I went back and forth as to whether or not I would watch the documentary. I’m already a vegan after all and the idea of watching animals suffer makes me want to cry just thinking of it. But, because it was such a powerful and life changing experience for friend and her family, I knew I wanted to share it with others. I feel that it is important that I have watched it before suggesting to others that they too watch it.
I must warn you, this is graphic…but it is real and the suffering is on a massive scale. What does this say about our own humanity if we continue to turn our heads and let this happen in our own nation? I watched the video in sections because I honestly could not take it all at once. I cried throughout most of it and felt like I’d be sick to my stomach several times. Josh was reading in the other room and several times he looked at me concerned as if I was going to puke on the computer…it’s that gross (and I’m that pregnant).
Why would you watch such a horrid thing? Because knowledge is the first step to making changes. Yes, they are animals and in so many ways different from us. But they are also so much like us. If you’ve ever snuggled with a puppy, let a piglet nestle against your hand, or watched a cow nursing her calf, you know that they are not just objects but living beings with physical and psychological needs–they feel pain and experience emotions.
In the past few years of eating vegan, it has become more and more apparent to me that our well being as humans is intimately tied to the well being of animals and the environment. When I refuse to eat a food because it contains a small amount of animal products, I am not doing so to be annoying or because I think an ity-bity amount of dairy will give me cancer. I do so because if I do not stand by my convictions that the practices used to make the food were both cruel and unhealthy for the animal, the environment, and myself then I am not being true to myself. I’m not trying to be “high and mighty” but rather just trying to live in a way that allows me to sleep at night. Over a chai last week in Arizona, my friend said to me something like this…”Every decision we make brings us either closer to who we really are or further away…” I say ‘no thanks’ because I want to move closer to who I am and what I believe.
This film is sad and hard to watch. It is likely to leave you with unpleasant feelings. The rainbow of hope is that we each make a stance against this type of cruelty when we refuse to purchase food and items derived from such practices. A leather purse, no matter how cute, just doesn’t seem worth the pain. A cheap chicken breast/burger/pork chop/filet just doesn’t taste as good when you acknowledge the pain and suffering that it caused. In India, many of the Hindu’s I discussed this avoidance of eating flesh with spoke of “not ingesting” suffering. I often think of that when I am faced with the choice to accept food with animal products or to refuse and risk insulting someone or maybe going hungry for a while.
Please take the time to watch it. It’s free.