Since living in Byron, I have been around people who choose not to eat meat or drink alcohol, and it has shown me another way of living. For the first time I began to care about what I ate, and observed how healthy and happy these people were in both mind and body. They aren't the weed smoking, 'spiritual' hippies I expected to find in any Byron, just some of the most conscious happy people I have met, enjoying life to its fullest.
Before moving there, I was definitely living unconsciously. I didn't care what I ate, aiming for two things - sugar (chocolate) and to stay skinny. I have had bad eating habits pretty much my whole life, oscillating between skipping meals and binge eating. This has stemmed from model agencies asking me to lose weight in the past and managing a major sugar addiction. I used to starve myself and then eat an entire box of chocolate seashells after being measured.
I had already begun to cut out alcohol completely, and it felt like fog was lifting from my brain. The universe works in mysterious ways, and somehow I started speaking to some amazing girls online who heavily advocate veganism. I used to just be simply unconscious of vegans, having the vague thought that if it's already going on, and the animals are already dead, we aren't going to stop it. So why bother depriving ourselves of chicken nuggets? I didn't cook meat for myself as I thought it was gross, opting for salmon or tuna instead. If I was going out for a meal I would never order a vegetarian option voluntarily, thinking it was less value for money and not a meal. That is how we have been conditioned to think by society, schools and our parents but it could actually be the opposite once we consider the health and environmental effects of eating animal products.
I started watching some of their videos, and one of them literally changed my life. I was idly watching a video by @theadventuresofjade on why she became a vegan. She recommended watching a documentary called Earthlings, a book called The Ethics of what we Eat and a book called The China Study. Out of curiosity, I started watching Earthlings as it was on YouTube and free. Within 5 minutes of watching it I was basically swearing at the laptop and in actual disgust that I have been eating that torture for my entire life. It was like a light had been turned on inside my head and I had broken free of something.
I immediately downloaded the two books and since that moment, have cut out meat and fish completely from my diet and have gone 90% vegan unless I really cannot avoid animal products. My sugar cravings, for the first time in my life completely disappeared. The moment I decided to educate myself on what I was putting in to my body was the moment I regained control over my eating. There was no need for the cycle of crash dieting, guilt and binge eating / drinking anymore because I could eat however much I wanted as I knew it was healthy, good food.
Finally, I understood that my severe mood swings stemmed from eating copious amounts of sugar over the years, feeling guilty for overeating, starving myself and then bingeing on chocolate again. It caused me severe anxiety and depression, being a vicious cycle that I've never been able to break free of, until now.
I have now finished watching Earthlings and there is no way I can ever eat meat again. What happens to the animals is too long to fit into one post, but essentially they are unnaturally reared at an alarming rate, then they are pumped with hormones. The gas and waste these excess animals produce is released into the environment (contributing to almost half of global warming), the ocean (contaminating our drinking water and killing our marine life) and spread on to fields, causing local pollution to residents. The animals mainly have sad lives, grown indoors with artificial light to encourage maximum breeding, living in crates so small that they cannot move and being crowded on top of one another resulting in cannibalism and anxiety. Then they are transported to slaughter houses, and killed in incredibly cruel methods such as slitting their throat and allowing them to bleed out whilst still conscious (as stunning often does not work), gassing or electrocution. Earthlings compares this process to the Nazi's, where we ultimately promote one species over another.
Earthlings is also great because it shows the process of what really happens to animals when they are being reared as pets (animals in the pound are often killed mercilessly), when they are being turned into leather or fur and when they are being trained as circus animals. It also demonstrates the effects of testing on animals for medical and beauty uses and how the animals are treated with little to no respect. The documentary shows that ultimately we are all beings of this earth, and just because we have the power to grow, torture, kill and consume these animals does not mean that we should.
If we knew what happens to these animals, we would not choose to eat them when there are so many other options available. If you think of eating your pet dog, it would fill you with disgust, as would going out and slaughtering your own meat before eating it. It's hard to reconcile the unrecognisable meat slathered with salt, sugar, oil and sauce with the actual animal that literally lived for your disposal, unnaturally brought into the world to live a miserable life in a crate before death.
The Ethics of what we Eat is essentially a book format of Earthlings, describing in detail the authors' discoveries about America food suppliers. They examine the diets of three different families and source what actually happens to the animals they are eating, highlighting what little care is required to call eggs 'Animal Care Certified' or what high quality meat entails. It takes our every day beliefs of eating animals (for example, one family does not feel bad eating fish because they cannot 'look them in the eye like an animal can') and shows how they are illusions.
We can't rely on animals or animal produce being labelled as 'organic', 'certified' or 'free range', because there is no way of knowing this is true. This isn't even to mention the fact that you cannot humanely kill something that does not want to die. There isn't a 'right' way to take a fellow being's babies, milk or skin.
The China Study is a large book detailing the largest ever experiment on human beings, comparing American and Chinese diets. Although very science heavy, I became determined to read it after learning so much this week, so I read it on my 14 hour flight. The scientists found direct links between animal protein and heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They found out that in the Western world we grow at alarmingly fast rates ourselves, with the average age of puberty of a meat eating girl beginning at 11 compared to age 15-19 in rural plant based diet China. This exposes us up to an extra ten years of reproductivity, and increased levels of estrogen which has been linked directly to breast cancer. If you think about it, it isn't actually surprising considering that the animals we eat are full of growth and fertility inducing hormones.
They found that such diseases can actually be reversed or prevented in their tracks if a whole grain, plant based diet is adopted. Of the patients with serious heart disease who adopted a plant based diet, they had hardly any future incidents in the next eleven years unlike the 5 patients who dropped out and had ten heart related incidents in that time. The former patients' clogged arteries actually expanded which is incredible when you consider that heart surgery serves to only push the plaque to the sides, providing only a temporary solution.
Cows milk was found to be directly related to diabetes, especially if given it as a child. The book breaks down our body's processes and how we consume food. The author, who grew up on a farm eating meat, advocates a plant based diet and proves that animal protein is actually bad for us. He learns that plants are full of antibodies, which they share with us helping to prevent disease. The fibre in plants is necessary for digestion and to ensure the body runs smoothly. The relatively lower percentage of protein is actually better digested by our bodies.
This isn't even to mention the deadly diseases that rearing animals in such close proximity, so quickly poses. Mad Cow Disease was from cows eating the left overs of sheep slaughterhouses, which were diseased. Bird flu stemmed from the bids in captivity becoming infected either by infestations of mice, wild bird droppings or each other. Currently the death rate is low, but if the virus mutilates into something that can be passed between humans, we are in even more serious trouble.
The book highlights why this knowledge is deemed unbelievable. It is because of our ingrained views from society, essentially being brainwashed since a child to believe that we 'need' to eat animals to survive. I watched a great video by @bonnyrebecca exposing all of the truths behind such ideas, such as the fact that humans are designed or meant to eat meat. She rightly informs us that our teeth are of a herbivore design, we do not have protein receptors on our tongues unlike carnivores do and most of us could not actually go out and catch our own meat, kill it and eat it ourselves with our bare hands. Bonny busts the myths of not having enough vitamins in vegan food, which I found super helpful.
It is also the fact that there are so many contradicting opinions out there. One day carbs are good, the next they are the enemy. One day we should eat eggs, the next their high levels of cholesterol are exposed. The only thing we do know for certain is that plant based, whole grain diets occur naturally without any cruelty to living beings. We know they are produced in abundance, and it does not hurt the plants when we consume them. There is no blood shed, no slaughter houses, just a natural cycle of life. We can have no idea what is actually in that steak on your plate, other than for sure it is an animal that was murdered.
There is SO much to learn about this industry, and such a supportive network helping others educate themselves. @Emmamayes has been great at recommending documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health on Netflix which are both amazing. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.
So, I've found a good reason to cut out chicken nuggets even though they are already dead and I thought I couldn't make a difference overall. But I can, and so can you, because if my life was changed from watching one video your life can be changed and ultimately if we stop buying the animal produce we vote no to animal cruelty. We put our health first, choosing not to ingest the torture an animal has gone through, contribute to the rapidly declining state of our environment or support the brainwashing industries who encourage this.