Friday, December 6th, 2019

Calling All Vegetarians … Step Up!

Published on March 10, 2011 by   ·   17 Comments Pin It
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Robyn Moore calls out her veggie-ish brethren with a vegan siren call;

When the subject of my vegan diet comes up, I often hear some of the same phrases: “I don’t eat that much meat” or “I don’t eat red meat, only chicken” or “I’m a vegetarian.” If that’s true, then kudos to you for doing something—anything you can do to reduce your consumption of animal products is a step in the right direction. But the animals, particularly the hens and cows used for dairy, could use even more help. If you are truly committed to ending animal suffering and don’t want to be implicated in it personally, then please—for their sake—step up.

Veal is a direct biproduct of the dairy industry

I’ve been vegetarian for the past 20 years, but it wasn’t until just a little more than four years ago that I actually stepped up for the other, “forgotten” animals: dairy cows and egg-laying hens. I was a cheese-aholic and ate chunks of cheese like they were going out of style. I honestly didn’t see the connection between dairy and eggs and animal cruelty. I thought that eggs and milk were just byproducts obtained through nonviolent procedures—I pictured Farmer Brown milking his small herd of cows in a green pasture, sun shining overhead, and the hens all cozy in their barn just “leaving” their eggs for us to take. … But I was sorely mistaken. They are not byproducts; they are independent, multibillion-dollar industries themselves. The truth is, animals exploited for their milk and eggs are also raised in factory farms and are arguably treated much worse than the animals killed for their flesh. Egg-laying hens have their beaks seared off, and live in a space the size of a piece of paper their entire lives, unable to spread even one wing. Dairy cows are forcefully impregnated year after year to keep their milk supply flowing, and have their babies taken from them (to become veal) immediately after giving birth. In a nutshell, dairy cows and egg-laying hens live in the same miserable conditions, they’re stuffed into the same overcrowded transport trucks, and when they’re no longer useful, they’re killed in the same filthy slaughterhouses as animals killed for their flesh.

Image via Mercy For Animals

When I found out about all of this, I had no choice but to step up and make a change for those animals too, and that meant no more dairy products or eggs for me. So if you are refusing to eat meat based on ethical reasons, it’s only logical that you also extend that reasoning to include those animals abused for their milk and eggs.

Check out this short film on dairy;

And then this one on eggs;

Most vegetarians choose that diet because they love animals and don’t want to see them suffer. But when it comes to certain farm animals—dairy cows and egg-laying hens—their love wavers. Sadly, their appetite wins out over the animals’ suffering, so they end up supporting (with their dollars) industries that abuse animals in the worst ways imaginable. Remember: Just because you don’t personally confine animals in tiny cages, cut their beaks and tails off with no pain relief, hang them upside down by their legs, etc., doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible for those things happening to them. Because if you’re buying these cruel products, you are paying some else to hurt animals for you.

I don’t mean to sound harsh—and I know it’s a step that seems gigantic at first glance. But if you are vegetarian because you don’t want to be responsible for animal suffering, then common sense says that you should also give up dairy products and eggs. You will then be able to look all farm animals in the eye with a clean conscience.

Dairy cows, egg-laying hens, and others animals raised in factory farms live miserable, lonely lives, so they really need those of us who care to step up. If they can’t depend on vegetarians, then who can they depend on?

Now that you know those “other” farm animals suffer too, are you ready to make the switch to a vegan diet? If so, here are a few of my favorite dairy replacements that you can find in almost any grocery store across the country:

  • Butter: Earth Balance and Smart Balance taste exactly like butter, yet they are actually healthier. You can use them in the same way: on toast, in oatmeal, when baking, etc.

  • Milk: There are many great alternatives to milk, including soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. You will find that most are fortified with vitamins A and D, and many actually have more calcium than cow’s milk. You can even buy soy nog for the holidays.

  • Cheese: A new cheese recently came on the market that melts and can be used on pizza and in macaroni & cheese; it’s called Daiya. It has changed the playing field for vegan cheeses. But for picnics in the park when you want a baguette with cheese, the winner is, by far, Dr. Cow’s nut cheeses. I absolutely love these hard, aged cheeses, and that says a lot coming from a former cheese-aholic.

  • Ice-Cream: There are tons of delicious choices for dairy-free ice-cream, including soy, rice, and coconut ice creams. Every flavor under the sun is available, including cookie dough, mint chip, chocolate peanut butter swirl, and mocha fudge. Don’t forget to try Tofutti’s nondairy ice cream sandwiches.

You can also find vegan sour cream, cream cheese, and mayonnaise in many mainstream grocery stores.

Lastly, stop by any Barnes & Noble or Borders and pick up one of the many vegan cookbooks. Or look online. You can learn how to cook vegan soups, entrées, cookies, cakes, and anything else that your heart (and belly) desires.

Good luck on your journey to helping end animal suffering. And remember: The animals are counting on YOU!

Robyn Moore is a writer, Mother, and creator of the NYC Vegetarian and Vegan Families Meetup group. It’s a place for families to gather and exchange ideas, and where veg kids can have fun without having to worry about what they can eat or participate in. It’s a group of families who are choosing to raise their kids humanely, according to the belief that animals are not here for our use, whether it be for our food, products, entertainment, or clothing.

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Readers Comments (17)

  1. Great article! I have been vegan since May of 2005. Being an off and on vegetarian most of my life, it was so easy to go vegan once my friend pointed out the veal-dairy connection; instant vegan!

    While on tour this past fall I was shocked and horrified to see so many dairy factory farms along my travels. One farm was so amazingly huge, I recorded video and posted it to my YouTube channel – “The Factory Farm That Never Ends” is what I titled the 4 part video – http://www.youtube.com/veganrawker

    Daiya “Cheese” RULES!!!

  2. adri says:

    I appreciate your compassion for all animals. More people need to have such big hearts. I do have a few concerns. I’m a vegetarian who eats butter, yogurt, eggs and some cheese. All are free range, organic and grass fed in the case of cows. I do this because my body makeup needs the nutrients found in these natural foods. Eating processed food, such as vegan options, has wreaked havoc on my health and caused nutrient deficiencies. For others, they may do all right, but I believe most nutritionists would argue that the less processed a food is, the better. Everyone will be different and will require different foods. It’s not fair to assume that vegetarians are forgetting hens and dairy cows. There are ways to eat these products and still care for them. (buy from local organic farmers or raise hens yourself.) I love vegans, but a major concern is the health risks many might face due to nutrient deficiencies. Just something to think about – it will be different for each individual. But, something that won’t vary from individuals is that we all need to ban together and fight for humane treatment of animals and shut down factory farms – and not isolate people who don’t believe exactly as we do, but are still compassionate.

  3. Rebecca says:

    You can get all of the nutrients you need from a well-balanced vegan diet. I have been vegan for 2 years now and am a certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher and triathlete. The “free range” eggs you get are not what you think they are. The definition of “free range” is very loose and can mean that there is a patch of 2×2 ft grass outside the factory farm accessible by a door that is never open.

  4. kay says:

    “Free range” is a joke and most people think it excludes them from paying attention. “Free range” is not defined by any means and in most cases, has nothing to do with a superior way of life for hens.

    You’re a vegetarian who eats grass fed cows? I am all about supporting one another but this comment is just ignorant.

  5. Catty says:

    Kay, adri does not Eat grass fed cows, she is explaining that the dairy she consumes comes from them. She’s also asking perfectly reasonable questions that all of us “ignorant” vegetarians would like answered. Before this video, I did not know that dairy cows were forced to be pregnant and that their babies were taken away or that baby chicks were thrown out like trash. I couldn’t have imagined such awfulness. Now I know. We all want the cruelty to stop. I thank the friend that sent me this link and the author of this blog for opening my eyes.

  6. Robyn says:

    Adri- it’s not my intention at all to isolate or point the finger at vegetrians, it’s to raise awareness about these “other” farm animals and the fact that they suffer just as much (if not more) as animals raised for meat. As mentioned above, free range is a marketing tool, it doesn’t guarantee better treatment. Secondly, it seems you have some concerns about a vegan processed diet, but the two don’t go hand in hand- of course there is processed vegan junk food, but there is also processed junk food that is not vegan (a lot more of it!). Eating right is just about choosing whole foods that are healthy–veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc. On average vegans live longer than both carnivores and vegetarians and have lower rates of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, strokes, heart disease, etc. Cow’s milk is not meant for the human body (many people can’t properly digest it), it’s meant to fatten up calves quickly, so we shouldn’t be consuming it anyway. Even the American Dietetic Association—the nation’s leading group of nutrition professionals stated, “Well-planned vegan diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

    Catty- thanks for the kind words. I think most vegans started out as vegetarians (including myself), and then learned the cruelty involved in the dairy and egg industries, so took it a step further and gave those products up as well. It’s great to be a vegetarian, but I think it’s really just a first step and if our goal is to seriously end animal suffering, we should all be striving to become vegans.

  7. Stefani says:

    Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat processed foods. You can but you can also eat whole foods and be much healthier for it. If you are concerned about becoming deficient in some area I suggest you read more information about vegan nutrition which you can find in books galore and for free online. Go vegan!

  8. Christina says:

    Every single body is different. There are people who, unfortunately, do need the nutrients from animal products for health reasons. I think that taking the time to really know where those animal products come from, how they are treated, etc, is extremely valuable and noble; it is taking responsibility over your food, your body, your actions.
    I’m sorry but I think it is disrespectful to tell a vegetarian that she is ignorant. Clearly she is a veggie for a reason, and she is doing everything possible to stay healthy and animal conscious. We should be sticking together, trying to spread the word against animal cruelty, not pointing fingers at each other.
    That being said- thank you for writing such an informative blog- these animals are overlooked and it is crucial that this information be made more available. (and also thank you for all your yummy vegan food tips!!)

  9. adri says:

    First, I do realize that “free range” is just a marketing ploy and is in no way regulated, just like “all natural.” However, when I buy from local, organic farmers or raise hens myself, then that changes things. And I don’t drink milk. With the vegan alternatives to butter, cheese, cream based condiments, fake meats – they are all processed. Take earth balance for example – i used it for quite some time. But, if you look at the ingredients it’s soy (and many women are very sensitive to soy)(unless you get soy free) and vegetable oils which are high in omega 6’s and not healthy for you as you will get plenty of them from nuts, avocados and anything else that is processed. We can all agree that it’s better to eat whole foods and foods that are closer to their natural state. Not only is this better for longevity, health, the environment, but of course the animals. Even though some may do well on a vegan diet, I am not one of those and I’m not alone. But just because I’m not vegan, doesn’t mean I don’t care about how these precious animals are treated. So, I just ask that you think about that before calling vegetarians names. That doesn’t help anyone.

  10. Chloé Jo says:

    All I have to say is… http://www.humanemyth.org
    You may be raising your own hens, but 99.9% of the world is not. And slaughter is innately violent and unnecessary.

    “All the arguments to prove man’s superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”
    Peter Singer

  11. Robyn says:

    I think Kay meant that the comment was ignorant, not you. But either way, name calling doesn’t help our ultimate goal. Animals have so few advocates as it is, that those of us who recognize their suffering and are taking steps to alleviate it, need to stick together…that means vegetarians, vegans and even those just choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products.

  12. Betsy says:

    Thank you Robyn, this is a beautifully put together article. I have a few people I’m going to mention it to.

  13. Chrissie Eden Di Bianco says:

    Earth Balance is not the vegan savior it seems to be, nor is its production free of harm to animals–including humans. When it comes to cruelty free consumerism there are other factors involved, I feel, above and beyond whether or not the product contains any directly derived animal products. Almost every vegan baking recipe I see calls for Earth Balance (by name), and all I hear are its praises, but what of this?:

    http://www.ran.org/content/problem-palm-oil
    http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2010/05/rumble-in-the-jungle-activists-vs-palm-oil/56473/
    http://veganacious.com/2009/11/27/cruel-oil-earth-in-balance/
    http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6059
    http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/07/hsbc-indonesian-palm-oil/
    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-13-possible-breakthrough-indonesian-palm-oil-giant-pledges-zero

    There are TONS of links about the deforestation and destruction of natural habitats for orangutans, rhinos & tigers, biodiversity, and the vast human toll involved in palm farming in Indonesia and Malaysia. I’d like to see those elements of this widely used and much touted product get attention as much as dairy farming does because while we’re widely aware of the evils of factory farming (esp at home) what of the production costs of foods we tend to think are “safe” whose sources come from abroad?

    Animal cruelty as a part of the machinations of the food industry that uses animals directly for food sources are bad enough, but this kind of insidious green washing of a product is just outrageous.

    I’m not giving Earth Balance MY $ to destroy rain forests, biodiversity, and endangered animals’ habitat while they try to sell me on being a more “compassionate” choice.

  14. tricia says:

    i was surprised to learn recently that Smart Balance is not vegan. it has whey in it. here is the link:
    http://www.smartbalance.com/products/buttery-spread/smart-balance-buttery-spread-original-0

  15. Chloé Jo says:

    Tricia:

    Yep, don’t get fooled by smart balance. Only buy Earth Balance.

    And Chrissie:

    If that Palm Oil so upsets you, I suggest using coconut, olive, veggie oils in your cooking and baking, and making your own spreads for toast. ALSO: I know EB is working on a palm oil free blend.

  16. Allison Tray says:

    I applaud all those vegetarians and vegans for making a difference and for creating awareness about our animal friends. I became first, vegetarian because of reading GirlieGirl Army and now, almost vegan. I have eaten 4 eggs in the past year from my friends chickens who are her pets and not ever going to be slaughtered. The alternatives that Chloe Jo mentions are all amazing. Steve’s is ice cream made here in NY in small batches. They offer coconut milk based flavors using cacao and mint. I think we should all understand and accept that we can all make a difference in our own way.




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