As a vegan, I’ve had conversations with vegetarians about why they’re not vegan, and every one of those conversations left me with a sad feeling.
Many vegetarians have some of the same ideas that vegans have. They want a healthier diet. They may share our disapproval of food industry abuse of animals.
They may consider themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians—people who consume dairy and eggs but not meat.
They may consider themselves pescatarians—people who consume fish, dairy, and eggs, but not meat.
What I try to help vegetarians and pescatarians understand is that their food comes from exploited, abused animals.
I ask them to consider the clear fact that if they became vegetarian or pescatarian because of moral concerns about animals, that only veganism fully addresses those concerns.
But I’m shocked when vegetarians and pescatarians argue vociferously to defend the exploitation and their consumption of dairy, eggs, or fish.
Pescatarians claim “fish feel no pain.”
Biologist Victoria Braithwaite has definitively shown that not only do fish feel pain, but also they’re intelligent and social animals.
Her book “Do Fish Feel Pain?” accurately and convincingly shows that from a moral and ecological perspective, fish should not be on the menu.
Dairy-consuming vegetarians claim dairy production isn’t as abusive as “meat” production.
I ask all people who consume fish, dairy, and eggs to adopt the Golden Rule of the Vegan Samurai.
This rule is as simple as it has been throughout the ages: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In the world of the vegan samurai, “others” includes all sentient beings, not just humans.
I’m sure that lacto-ovo vegetarians wouldn’t appreciate having done to them what humans do to dairy cows.
Let’s take a brief look…
First of all, dairy cows are engineered by humans through selective breeding.
Female cows are force-impregnated starting when they’re less than a year old.
Given that cows can never give explicit consent to anything humans do to them, it’s accurate to call this a form of rape or at the very least, sexual abuse.
The force-impregnated female cow carries her baby for nine months, just like a human mom!
Within a few minutes, hours, or days after the calf is born, the “dairy farmer” steals the baby calf from its mother.
This causes the mother cow and her calf serious emotional distress.
Baby cows are often kept under cruel conditions in veal crates.
They’re rarely allowed to see their mother again, and are fed processed “food” instead of the milk meant for them.
In the factory farming dairy businesses that produce the vast majority of dairy products used as milk, cheese, yogurt and other items, female cows are subjected to very rough handling of their “breasts,” aka, udders.
The most sensitive parts of a female cow’s body are subjected to gross abuse in the dairy industry, which is why many dairy cows have infected and damaged udders.
Some vegetarians talk about “humane” dairy farms where lactating female cows are treated a little better.
In rare cases on so-called humane dairy farms, baby cows are allowed to be around their mother, at least for a few weeks until they’re weaned.
Even on so-called humane dairy farms, the simple fact is that a machine or a person handles the cow’s udders, which is totally unnatural… the udders are designed by Nature to be used only by baby cows.
Lactating cows are fed a vast array of chemicals and hormones, and many are sprayed with toxic pesticides.
In factory farms, cows are kept in prison conditions, standing in stalls, separated from their young, suffering from infected udders, totally unable to live the life Nature intended for them.
And of course, dairy cows are force-impregnated over and over, until they reach the end of their productive life, after which they’re slaughtered for meat.
When vegetarians who consume dairy products are confronted with the facts about how female cows and their babies are treated, they struggle to justify their continued use of dairy.
Sometimes they get angrily defensive. The same holds true for pescatarians and people who eat eggs.
At that point, I ask the person:
If a group of cows imprisoned you, force-impregnated you, pumped you full of hormones, sprayed you with poisons, stole your baby from you at birth, and attached machines to your breasts to take milk meant for your human baby and give it to a baby cow, would that be acceptable to you?
If the person is a pescatarian I ask:
If someone put a hook in you or netted you, captured you, hit you over the head or suffocated you, and then gutted you, would that be acceptable to you?
If the person consumes eggs, I ask:
If someone reached into your ovaries and took your eggs and fried them or scrambled them, would that be ok with you?
If the person I’m speaking with is a male, I ask him to imagine these scenarios being done to his wife, sister, mother, or other female he cherishes.
The lacto-ovo vegetarian or the pescatarian quickly says it’s not acceptable for those abovementioned scenarios to happen to them.
I then ask: if it’s not ok for someone to do it to you, how is it ok for you to pay someone to do it to another animal on your behalf?
As you can imagine, there’s no answer they can give that’s consistent with moral logic, ethics, or compassion.
That’s why one of the main tenets of the Vegan Samurai code is the following, and I urge you to remember this always: