Veganism for body-autonomy rights
How do we create a culture of body-autonomy, where women have the right to carry a child or not, adults have the right to consume mind-altering substances or not, and everyone has the right to get a vaccine or not?
There are many possible answers, including state-based solutions like voting, research, education, advocacy, protests, and lobbying.
There is another perhaps less thought-about and spiritual approach I’d like to highlight - going Vegan with a plant-based diet. That means no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, gelatin, honey, leather, fur or any other product that comes from an animal.
How does this create a culture of body-autonomy? Let’s look at how a modern omnivorous diet does the opposite. A vast majority of animal products consumed come from factory farms with deplorable conditions for the animals. Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated (i.e. raped) in order to lactate and produce milk for humans. Their calves are then taken (i.e. kidnapped) as soon as they are born and male cows get slaughtered (i.e. murdered) right away for veal. Then this cycle repeats with more rape, kidnapping and murder- over and over again until the female cow herself gets slaughtered for her flesh when she gets too old. Multiply this by tens of millions of cows per year!
When chicken eggs are hatched to produce more egg-laying hens, male chicks are “useless” so they are killed by being sent into conveyor belts that drop into industrial shredders. It’s hopefully a quick painless death, but it’s very brutal nonetheless.
The animals are literally slaves for their flesh, blood, milk and eggs, and have no conscious choice in being there. They are born, raised, and killed in captivity. Animals heading into the slaughter house can smell the blood of their friends and are visibly terrified in their final moments. Clearly they don’t want to be killed.
So how does this relate to human body-autonomy rights? When we partake in consuming animal products it sends a signal to our subconscious and the collective that having dominion over the bodies of sentient beings (which includes farm animals and humans) is okay. That transfers to how we think about ourselves. Every time we consume animal products it is reinforcing a culture of slavery and body-oppression. We are physically and spiritually consuming death and suffering. It’s ironic that on the recent July 4th holiday here in the United States, many people celebrate the American value of freedom by grilling the flesh of factory farm animals in a barbecue cookout. It sends out the signal that not every being deserves to be free.
Conversely, when we make the individual choice to avoid animal products, we send a signal to ourselves, each other, and the collective that it is fundamentally not okay to have dominion over the bodies of sentient beings. Our compassion for others’ wellbeing and freedom is stronger than our primal desires.
Going Vegan is a powerful tool because it is something each of us can do right now (with a little research and practice). It doesn’t depend on voting or legislation on a societal level. And perhaps going Vegan is a requirement for body-autonomy to happen on a societal level. One of the most challenging yet empowering realizations is that the outer world is a reflection of our inner world, and that changing the world starts with changing oneself.
I used to eat meat, dairy or eggs at every single meal until I was about 26 years old, and would scoff at the idea of eating only plants. But I’ve been Vegan for over 4 years now! I can attest to the fact that it gets a lot easier and less overwhelming over time. And it doesn’t have to happen all at once. It’s a process, and like any change there will more than likely be setbacks and challenges. There sure were for me. But I am so glad I persevered! And on top of the spiritual reasons for a Vegan diet, there are countless health and environmental reasons for doing so too!
To learn more about the impact of factory farms on animals I recommend MercyForAnimals.org. And if you’re ready to consider a Vegan diet, a good resource to get started is VeganSociety.com or Vegan.com! Or feel free to message me :)