Like most people, I never used to question where my food came from. I trusted the system and believed what I was taught — as little as that was — about nutrition. Animals were kept on Old McDonald’s Farm, where they ran around on the grass and basked in the sun. Calcium came from a healthy glass of milk and protein from a good, lean cut of meat.
Then, five years ago, my husband called me over to the computer to show me a video of animals on today’s factory farms. I couldn’t believe what I saw: images of cows in filthy slaughterhouses, pigs imprisoned in gestation crates and chickens crammed into tiny cages, the living mixed with the dead. Those few moments of witnessing undercover footage became a defining watershed in my life.
Seeing the faces of the helpless and scared animals, I asked myself: What is the difference between these animals and the dogs and cats that I’ve lived with? How could I care so much about some animals while ignoring the plight of others? That day I made the best decision of my life: I became a vegan.
Every hour around the clock in America, more than a million animals are killed for food. Think about that: more than a million. Every single hour. It’s simply unimaginable. And prior to slaughter, these animals are treated in ways so horrible few people would ever want to bear witness to the process. If done to cats or dogs, the actions would be illegal. The people doing this bloody work live awful lives themselves, steeped in violence and, often, abject poverty. That is why the slaughterhouse industry has a 100 percent turnover rate — because no one can endure making a living by killing.
Add to this the findings of T. Colin Campbell. In his book “The China Study,” Campbell discusses his life’s work: the longest peer-reviewed study ever conducted on human nutrition, spanning 30 years. During that time, Campbell discovered that many of the diseases that plague western countries — heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes — are directly correlated to the consumption of animal protein, and we’re now seeing these diseases emerge in younger and younger people.
The U.N. also cites meat production as the number one cause of climate change.
All of this is why, as an alum, I’m especially proud of Ithaca College for being one of the
nation’s leaders in its participation in the national Meatless Monday campaign in campus dining halls, helping to reduce violence and suffering for both animals and humans.
If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take part and try a vegetarian option every Monday. If you’re not on a meal plan, you can sign up to get great and easy vegetarian recipes via email each Friday at www.humanesociety.org/meatfree or peruse a huge selection at http://www.chooseveg.com/vegan-recipes.asp.
The college participates in Meatless Mondays every week in all dining halls on campus. To learn more about Meatless Mondays, visit meatlessmonday.com or ithacadiningservices.com/dining.html.
Mikko Alanne ’97 is a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.