It’s become easy to blur reality from fiction, to believe the false narratives that are often pushed onto us. We live in a world where to find and understand the truth of something requires us to do our own work and through that work come to our logical, not emotional, truths. Blogs, social media, traditional media have become tools used by industries to push their agenda which is higher profits, not health.
I want to use a recent example to highlight my point. This should show how we as people react emotionally instead of logically when someone challenges, even subtlely, our long-held beliefs.
If you watched the Oscars and stayed up late enough to catch the acceptance speech for best actor in a movie you would have seen Joaquin Pheonix lay out some truths. In my opinion, he very eloquently explained how we as a species are exploiting other species, and each other, because we have become disconnected from the natural world and tend to live in an egocentric world. We believe we are the centre of the universe and we have the right to plunder the natural world for its resources. We fear the idea of personal change because we think we may need to sacrifice something.
Joaquin used those words along with words explaining how we do this with cows because we think we need their milk. It wasn’t a speech where he condemned people who use dairy, harshly condemns the farmers who work in the industry, no, he very passionately explained that we do these things not because we have to but because we continue to unnecessarily put ourselves first, no matter what the cost. It was very much a speech highlighting our innate attitude that we have this belief that we have the right to dominate others, use and control another with impunity. We do this with people but people have the ability to talk back and challenge us. The animals we exploit don’t have a voice, don’t have a way to stand up for themselves. They are helpless to act against these things we do to them.
His words were delivered very calmly, well-articulated and without ego. Yet the responses were quick and filled with vitriol, hate, malice. Ad hominem attacks from farmers instead of providing evidence contrary to what was said. Facts were presented such as cows are artificially inseminated so we can drink their milk, calves are separated from their moms so we can drink their milk. Mom cows cry in pain and anguish when this happens yet none of the farmers denied this or provided evidence stating otherwise. Because they couldn’t so they resorted to attacking the person who gave the message. An Op Ed piece in the New York Post branded him a disgrace. Here’s what one rancher, The Meat Lady, had to say: “I think Joaquin Phoenix is a pompous, entitled, first-world, out of touch, value signaling troll, and rewearing a suit and throwing shade at cows shouldn’t make him an environmental expert.” And this from Bryn Davies, who shared a video of himself drinking a glass of milk, captioning it: “Let’s raise our glass to the biggest flog on twitter [flog is Australian slang for a contemptible, often arrogant person].”
Again, no rebuttal using facts but instead attacking someone’s character.
If you really take in what was said, it is social commentary more so than an attack on farming. I’ve taken part of the speech that is being criticized to show this:
“I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.
I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.“
I believe if you are honest with yourself and look at what it is we do as a society today, and historically, you cannot help but agree with this. We do this in many ways animal agriculture is one of them. It is said someone’s character can be measured on how they treat those who can’t speak up for themselves, those who don’t have a voice and of course those they believe to be below themselves.
And the sad thing is there is no need to continue to do these things. Many, many, many studies show that we can thrive healthily without consuming animal products. Many people are doing this too. Joaquin himself has been doing this since age 3.
If we are compassionate people, if we care about those around us no matter what species, then we need to show this through our actions. No one is asking people to drastically change their lives, but to make changes that have an impact and are manageable. In fact, here is the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
As far as possible and practicable. It’s important to understand that. It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your world upside down to have an impact. Want to make a change? Instead of reaching out and grabbing the box of cows milk, move your hand 8 feet in the other direction and grab the Almond, Soy, Oat milk. Trust me, you won’t notice a difference, really.
If we are not able to treat the most vulnerable with compassion, how can we do that with others?
Lastly, if you have doubts about what are the practices in the dairy industry, watch this. WARNING: it’s very upsetting.
Yours in health,