By now you should realise I have been on a health kick and fitness was becoming more a way of life. I had realised that to change my body and improve my health I would have to make significant changes to my lifestyle. Some came easy and some not so.
I had been watching an abundant of running and fitness related documentaries, in a search to improve my experience and maximise performance with ultimate weight loss. These documentaries included Iron Cowboy, The mind explained (6 Episodes) Loser (8 episodes), Fittest on Earth: A decade of Fitness, as well as a few other such as Icarus, about doping. They all had something in common, they all talked about what you put into your body. Then someone mentioned that I should watch “The Game Changers”, I registered it but it was some time before I got round to it.
On this journey of discovery I had made a conscience effort to eat better quality, more healthy meals. To do this I would be vegetarian through the week and reserve meat until the weekend, for example the traditional Sunday roast. From around April to September we continued this routine, even when I went back to the City by the sea and everyone around us was eating hamburgers and chicken nuggets, I was eating vegetable burger or vegetable pizza. Having tried Vegetarian 2 years prior but only lasted 8 months, it was the Christmas period that stopped that. This meatless week diet was fitting well with our lifestyle and meat felt like a luxury. I knew where it was coming from and it was all locally sourced so I knew it was good for us.
One Saturday afternoon in October, possible the weekend after my Night Trail, I stumbled across The Game Changers documentary and proceeded to watch it on Netflix. I’m sure many of you have heard of, if not have watched it. An English guy James Wilks having become injured searched for a way to speed up recover and stumbles across how ancient civilisations had fuelled their bodies for intense performance. This creates a lot of questions about diet and performance and the documentary continues to explain the benefits of a plant-based diet. We meet several sports personalities along the way, noticeably Arnold Schwarzenegger, among some other well known names in different sporting areas such as Scott Jurek and Patrik Baboumian.The film has a number of well known producers again including Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, Pamela Anderson and Jackie Chan.
I watched it intensively. It seemed to make a lot of sense. It showed all walks of life and how meat consumption could effect health without really touching on the ethical side of the farming industry. We followed a “ranger” protecting endangered species within South Africa, who mentions the hypocrisy of caring and defending animals and then going home to eat them, but that is about the only “welfare” aspect I can recall. It touches on the climate aspect of farming agriculture but again, it is a small part of the film and really focus’ on the dietary aspects.
After it finished I mused over the possibility of whether I could manage a plant-based diet. I decided I could and mentioned it to family members who thought it might be tricky, and was I sure I wanted to do this? I said I wanted to try and continued in that vein based on the health implications.
Now, I know a lot of speculation of facts have emerged after the documentary. I have seen a lot of “debunking” videos and listened to podcasts. I want you to understand that I was open to the possibilities that it maybe factually incorrect. I followed all the evidence, I read what I could read, I watched YouTube videos from Mic the Vegan, Joe Rogan amongst others. I watched videos of so called nutritionists who said That a plant-based diet would end up making you sick as you wouldn’t be able to get the correct nutrients and then I have watched opposing videos from people who have been expressing a whole foods diet I.e no convenience foods, only raw ingredients would give you everything and more. The only time anyone seemed to agree was on B12 vitamin. Both parties said that supplements or fortified foods was the only way to ensure enough B12, what blow my mind is that it’s not only a plant-based diet with a B12 problem but can also be a problem in an omnivore diet due to the sterilisation practices. I was somewhat perplexed. I would need to study further.
I watched “What the Health”, it posed the question regarding medical care and information presented being bias in favour of the farming industries. It most instances farming organisations had sponsored support services and funded studies and articles pro-meat/dairy. It discussed why medication was used to treat the symptoms and make the conditions manageable but not to cure the sick. It was compelling. People switched out their medication and it was like divine intervention, they started to get better!
I watched Cowspiracy which dealt with the impact on the planet and how livestock was feed more grain than it would take to feed the entire population. The affects of emissions and greenhouse gases produced by agricultural farming.
Land of Hope and Glory, dealing with the British farming industry, using surveillance footage at several different factory farms and slaughterhouses. The atrocious conditions and handling of animals. I found this hard to watch as it systematically went through the different species and how they are farmed and ultimately slaughtered. There was nothing “welfare” about this.
I watched Ted talks by Moby, Ed Winters, read papers by Michael Greger. Read documentation by The World Health Organization regarding meat being Carcinogenic. I watched Forks without Knives, PETA videos. James Wilks defensive on Joe Rogan. Joey Carbstrong, Earthlinged (Ed winters) on YouTube. I watched influencers who had gone Vegan and then switched back because of dietary complaints. I watched over 4 months everything I could on why A plant- based diet was good or bad. Now, I also wanted to watch a “pro-meat” documentary. I searched and searched but all I could find was either responses to the documentaries I have already mentioned or one called Glass Walls which is a number of episodes of how farming agriculture works. They show a sterile production line of let’s call it, preparation practices. It did not bolster the claim in my eyes to eat meat.
After all was said and done, one thing screamed out to me more than anything. More than the health benefits which had initially peaked my interest. More than the effects on climate change and world hunger.
The one thing that screamed at me like a knife to the throat of a not so stunned pig. Was the suffering. The torture. The bloodshed. The unnecessary culling. It sickened me.
See I can understand that at a time we may have had no option but to eat a living being. That food may have been scarce and that fruits and vegetables may have been in short supply at certain times of the year or in difficult conditions crops may have failed. It may have meant our survival. But we would never had consumed the volume we do today. It would never have been on a mass scale like currently. And in today’s world it is no longer necessary, we grow enough grain and soya to feed the world. It’s not about survival anymore. It’s about money.
I had never made the connection. That meat came from an animal, I know that sounds strange, but wrapped up in plastic sitting in a chill cabinet, ready to purchase take home and consume, I never stopped to think about the animal. The living being. When I go running I pass several areas of grazing animals, particularly sheep and lambs. I would smile and watch them as I ran past and the sun was coming up. How sweet they looked, how happy them seem Lambs with their mothers together. Or when we lived on the coast and the field next to us was full of cows in the summer. How I would smile and be content that I had beautiful creatures around me. That evening I would have a hamburger or a kofta. The irony.
See once you make the connection that a pig is like a dog, and they are just as intelligent if not more so than a 3 year old child, it’s very had to see them as a commodity again. Moral agency – the ability to make moral judgements based on right or wrong. We as human beings are able to make moral judgements, and what might surprise you is that Studies show that animals, have the ability to understand and act with moral agency and are governed by a moral code in the same way as humans also. They live with the same basic principles as we do. They want to feel safe, protected without suffering or pain. They want to live.
I have been a vegan for just over 4 months at the time of writing this. Veganuary came and 375,000 people pledged to give it a go. I’m not sure how many will stay with it, I hope they all do, I know that is optimistic but we can hope. Food producers and restaurants are providing more Vegan alternatives than ever before. Supermarkets are stocking more vegan products than ever before. Mistakes will be made, I still make them currently. It’s a process, and eye opening to what some items actually contain. We learn and we continue to be animal friendly and cruelty free. Fires in Australia are still raging, climate change is to blame there’s no denying it. Agricultural Farming has the biggest effect of global warming than transportation. Yet, it is seldom recognised as a major factor. Just think to be Vegan could – save animal lives, reduce climate change and harmful emissions and allow us to live healthy and prosperous life’s.
Where’s the downside?