Amidst the rise of meat as a popular dietary choice around the world, the vegan revolution has also been on the rise. Here’s why we should lobby against meat.

“To partake or not to partake: That is the question”

From as early as the prehistoric man , meat was always considered a delicacy, and it was considered as a food that was essential. This narrative has carried all the way to the 21st century, with wider varieties of meat being added for people to indulge in. Amidst the rise of meat as a popular cuisine and dietary choice in countries around the world, the vegan revolution acting as a counter force to this widely accepted culture has also been on the rise.

In a nutshell, veganism encompasses the narrative than humankind should lobby the consumption of meat and dairy, while advocating for a greener diet void of links to animal cruelty. It pushes a narrative which is centric towards opening people up to being more compassionate towards animals as they are sentient beings. The consumeristic choices it speaks against ranges from consumption of meat and dairy to types of cloth such as silk and to even Palm oil. However, for the purpose of this article a greater deal of attention will be payed towards the aspect of meat consumption.

In terms of meat consumption , the major driving force behind the vegan revolution is how it fights against the horrific reality of slaughterhouses. Prior to the vegan revolution, the general public was relatively unaware of this reality. The unseen content unearthed by vegan activists ranged from the slaughter of farm animals, separation of babies from their mothers, disposing of farm animals when they aren’t profitable and the overall horrific conditions in which farm animals are forced live in; being covered in their own faeces and being jammed into small cages with little to no room to move. The fact that this is the source of our supposed “farm fresh meats” acted as a strong incentive for people to reconsider their meat based to diet.

In spite of the convincing material in regards to the everyday processes slaughterhouses, the list doesn’t stop there. The horrific reality of slaughter houses extends further. As a result of farm animals in most instances being stripped of their basic necessities such as food, they resort to acts of cannibalism in order to ease their hunger. Additionally, these very grounds have been tagged as the starting point of a variety of zoonotic diseases which evolved into pandemics. The Swine flu pandemic of 2009 resulted in the loss of 284,000 lives across the globe is a strong example of how a zoonotic disease can be destructive. However , the more pressing matter is that a zoonotic disease such as swine flu ,which had a devastating impact on the world , is only the tip of the iceberg.

The main root of this desire or drive to continue a meat based diet is pervasive advertising and social conditioning.

In spite of these pressing issues, people still choose to continue eating meat. The main root of this desire or drive to continue a meat based diet is pervasive advertising and social conditioning. The issue of social conditioning at present is linked with a broader network than meets the eye. This network extends from our perception of a fulfilling and nutritious meal to our health to traditions we hold onto devolved passed down from our peers, family and society.

In terms of the broad societal aspect of how we’ve been socially conditioned to believe meat is an absolute necessity is linked with advertising. The main source of our meat is through either large multinational corporations or local corporations. The commonality between them is a strong sense of profit. As a result, the drive to sell us their product is stronger than the drive to maintain ethics and sustainability. Hence, the main avenue utilised by corporations is using tactical framing. Tactical framing means that when corporations portray their meat products such as chicken or beef they’d only highlight a positive side of it. For example, they’d portray a farmer harmlessly milking a cow but hiding the conditions the cow must endure. Additionally, tags such as ‘farm fresh’ acts as an incentive for consumers to keep buying without worrying or questioning. Whilst consumers are happy with the false image portrayed by co-operations, the gruesome and dire reality on the flip side of the coin of advertising, is the side that consumers are delusional to, or unaware of. However, it’s the reality check that acts as the driving force for the vegan revolution.

Another aspect where consumers of meat are provided an incentive to maintain their meat based diet is in regards to health concerns. In terms of health, the vegan diet has been criticised for how it creates deficiencies, mainly in terms of protein, calcium, vitamin B-12, omega fatty acids, iron and zinc. However, the aspect of meat that’s been hidden away is the quantity of carcinogens found in meat that stems from the numerous quantities of antibiotics given to farm animals to prevent diseases and the hormones to increase production. In instances when the looming threat of carcinogens in meat is less, such as in terms of organic farms, there still remains a tendency to break the rules and to utilise antibiotics and hormones due how it’s profitable. Additionally, these deficiencies have been remedied by the emphasis of alternatives to obtain these. For example, vitamin B-12 can be obtained through fortified cereals. Subsequently, alternatives have been found and posted on vegan based websites and by vegan activists.

Animal cruelty taking place in slaughterhouses, as elucidated before, in spite of its horrific, is sustained year round because of our choice of food. Millions of farm animals are slaughtered year round due the demand we create for meat. The vegan movement acts as a driving force to protest and lobby this demand so as to reduce the quantity of farm animals being slaughtered on a daily basis. In spite of how it seems unfeasible to believe that an individual lobbying for meat amounts to anything compared to an entire population demanding meat, it does amount to something. Society overall is ruled by norms entrenched through tradition. Historically, the consumption of meat was the norm ingrained in society for eons. However, with more and more people joining the vegan revolution, a normative shift in terms of our cuisine takes place. This normative shift serves as an anchor to shift the demand from meat consumption to more plant based food.

For instance, a simple example is imagining a shop that sells vegan/plant based burgers and meat based burgers to a group of 20 people. Traditionally, 15 people bought meat based burgers while only 5 people bought the vegan/plant based burgers. As a result, the demand on meat based burgers is higher than of vegan/plant based burgers, hence the quantity of farm animals being slaughtered to supply the shop is higher. However, if majority of the people shifted to vegan/plant based burgers, and now 15 people are demanded vegan/plant based burgers while only 5 are demanded meat based burger. This shift amounts to less farm animals being slaughtered due to the lack of demand for meat based burgers.

The more people who choose to take up a vegan diet becomes a part of shifting the economy, or rather the cuisine, to a more cruelty free one.

This simple example taken in a broader context by applying it to society is an analogy that can be used to highlight how we as individuals in society amount to the number of farm animals being slaughtered on a daily basis. The more people who choose to take up a vegan diet becomes a part of shifting the economy, or rather the cuisine, to a more cruelty free one. Additionally, it gives the ability for entrepreneurs of vegan food outlets a possibility of prospering due the availability of demand for vegan products. In the long run, with an increased demand for these supplies, it means that these vegan/plant based products could be sold at cheaper rates.

Another glaring drive to lobby the consumption of meat is the existence of communities and influential speakers. Veganism has become more concrete with the existence of communities, retailers and influential speakers advocating for it. This acts as a cushion for individuals on the fence between consuming meat or going vegan to fall on by obtaining information about the intricacies of lobbying meat and turning to a vegan diet. The more people who lobby meat results in these communities and influential people being strengthened and acts as support to drive the vegan movement forward. Additionally, more people turning to meat free diets, has the likelihood of higher numbers of other people realising why they should lobby meat through relating experience and providing necessary advice.

The basic incentive to stop eating meat is simply to not be a part of the cruel treatment of animals.

Veganism has been deemed as the main avenue of maintaining a cruelty free diet. In terms of sustainability, individuals may fall short due to factors such the lack of vegan based food in their area or country or the lack of money to maintain a vegan diet. However, the main narrative to being vegan isn’t limited to the time period for which individuals lobby meat products, but it also encompasses the simple goal of reducing the consumption per day. In the long run, this choice could shift from a meat based to plant based diet in a more stable manner.

In conclusion, the basic incentive to stop eating meat is simply to not be a part of the cruel treatment of animals. Veganism serves as the alternative to maintain a cruelty free diet. In spite of the looming controversy around a vegan diet, the underlying formula to strive to become a vegan is determination.  The choice to lobby against meat is yours to make.

Article by Naika Gooneratne