Tuesday, February 21

Some more thoughts on veganism

Thinking about going vegan, I have obviously been thinking about the way we treat animals and why we treat them this way.

I've been thinking about chickens, eggs, and what this means for my veganism. I don't want to consume eggs anymore because even if the chickens are treated well, are "free-range" and everything, they are still slaughtered, and slaughtered at a young age. This is why I don't want to support the egg industry anymore. It's just not right. However, what if I had my own chickens? Would I eat their eggs? Would I cook using their eggs? That wouldn't be vegan. But I know that those chickens are kept in good conditions and that they will never be slaughtered, even when they grow very old and stop laying altogether.

See, I'm not opposed to the eating of eggs, I know that wild fowl don't lay eggs everyday and that chickens have been selectively bred and manipulated by humans to produce eggs, but that's not the chickens' fault. Should I let my chickens' eggs go to waste because I don't think people have a right to manipulate other animals? It's the treatment of the chickens, but mostly the slaughter, that makes me want to stop eating eggs. But as I said, this would only be an issue with commercially farmed eggs, it would not be an issue of I had my own flock. I wouldn't be able to buy any food with eggs in it though, at restaurants or anything, because those eggs would still come from the egg industry. And no matter how progressive the restaurant or how progressive the company, it is not in an "egg grower's" interest to maintain a flock that is not at its peak production. If I only ate eggs that my chickens produced, could I still call myself a vegan though? Not really. Also, there's still the issue of roosters. Even backyard chicken farming supports the slaughter of roosters. For every hen you have, there was a rooster that the breeder killed. I don't think I'd be able to have any roosters either as most councils have made them illegal here. Even if they weren't illegal, all it takes is one neighbour to complain and you're left looking for a no-kill home for a rooster.

I've also been thinking similar thoughts about honey. I'm not opposed to stealing bees' honey, though I don't believe in taking all of it and then giving them sugar-water, which is what honey producers do. What I am opposed to, is the cruelty towards queen bees. Queen bees, as you probably know, live much longer than their children. They live for years, rather than the months that the workers live for. However, bee-keeping practice is to squash the queen bee every 6 months and replace her with a "virgin queen" - a queen that has been artificially inseminated with sperm collected from a crushed male. The virgin queens have their wings cut off (obviously without anaesthetic) so that they can't swarm, which is the natural mating behaviour for virgin queens and drones. I find these practices appalling and disgusting. Honey production is just like the factory farming of any other animal. I've looked around on the internet, thinking that surely there must be an ethical, cruelty-free, honey producer, only to find none. Bizzarely, I did find a beauty company that uses honey in all of its products and then says that all products contain "no animal ingredients". What about wild honey? I thought desperately, there must be someone going around and harvesting honey from wild bees? Nope, wild honey is honey produced by farmed bees who get to choose what flowers they go to, or ones who are put out in the bush. I've thought about keeping bees myself but the costs involved in buying all the equipment would be extrodinary and I feel that there must be some kind of reason beekeepers keep replaicing the queens, maybe if yuou just have the same queen the hive will die after a few years. Then you'd have to buy a new virgin queen who would have gone through everything previously described. Plus, I don't like honey that much to warrent having my own hive. It's easily replaceable in cooking too. The thing I do love, which I wouldn't be making, is mead. If yuou don't know what mead is it's an alcoholic drink made from honey. It's delicious and we drink heaps of it. I really like it but I know that it supports the honey industry. But I don't want to stop drinking mead.

Then there's the issue of wool. I've always thought that wool was ok because the sheep didn't get killed when they got old. However, as for most "farm" animals, life for these sheep isn't too great, especially not since mulesing is still practiced in this country.

Why isn't life black and white? It would be so much easier. Why can't life be easier?

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