By John Carbonaro
(The opinions expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the position of ARAUNY).
Often when people converse with vegans they attempt to find variations on how to use animals more “nicely”. We often respond that if you put a person in that “humane” situation, would it still be acceptable? This is a reasonable question because the animals that we use as resources are connected to the world in many of the same ways we are. Yet so often a connection is not made between us and them. We have attached to and have empathy only for the animals in our lives that society has conditioned us to regard. Yet with a little knowledge of what animals go through, our personal encounters may act as a catalyst to become a narrative that is shared with other beings. One that reveals the foundation that all earthlings stand on- the right to live our lives in the short time we have in this universe. Free to love and be loved. Free from unnecessary harm and subjugation by another. Below is an account from Brook Nicole Murray and how she reached, through trial and tribulation, the “purity” of the vegan ethic:
Almost 5 years ago I became vegetarian. That switch was simple– after connecting my dinner to an animal’s life I had no desire for meat anymore. I realized an animal had to die for me to have meat, and that was not something I wanted to be a part of.
I had tried to be vegan many times over the past years, always ending up unsuccessful. I would slip and have some pizza, I would cave and have ice cream- I just never made a connection to animal products until this past year when my son was born.
I conceived a child, held him while he was growing inside of me for nine months until I went into labor. Nine months of pregnancy, seven hours of labor and my son was born. Because he was born with Gastroschisis he was taken from me before I could see him, before I could hear him cry, my son was gone, rushed to surgery. It wasn’t until almost an entire day later I was able to see him, not able to touch him because he was on so many medications, and breathing tubes and cords, it was a week before I could hold my child.
I finally had something to connect to, except I got my child back- mother cows in the dairy industry carry their calf for the entire pregnancy, deliver it, and the calf is taken from the mother usually within minutes of it being born. The mother never gets to be a mother, she is used for milk and the baby is sold for veal, or to be raised for dairy. For 77 days while he was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), I was unable to be a mother; I was unable to fulfill any natural mother instincts including: feeding my child, holding my child, or even putting my child in his crib. I cannot imagine being a dairy cow and losing a child every few years.
Also relating to dairy; because Finn was unable to eat for 77 days, I had to hook myself to a machine that would pull/pump the milk out of me to keep my production up. Every 4 hours I would attach myself to a machine for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (depending on how full I was) and let it take my milk that was made for my son. I had mastitis three times because I had such a high milk volume, mastitis is extremely painful, it is miserable and takes a long time to be cured and through the pain you just have to keep pumping. I was on medication and it eventually subsided, but dairy cows go months at a time, some even their entire lives, with mastitis.
I compared our NICU life to egg production in a chicken’s life too, although theirs is much more extreme. Every day for hours on end Finn and I were stuck in a 4×4 space- he was only able to move as far as the cord would reach (about 2 feet) from his table/bed. He was unable to have any sort of comfort, toys blankets, clothes… And to stay with him I stayed at his bedside cramped in this NICU pod with all of the other mothers and all of the other babies, all while being exposed to other babies having procedures done. I had to watch daily my son have needles poked inside of him, tubes being put in and out of his nose and down his throat, having him be held down while he was being examined, or having blood work done, being tested on, or having a pic line placed and there was nothing I could do. The life of an animal in a factory farm/animal testing facility is unimaginably even worse.
How could I support that now? How could I pay someone to put another being though that amount of suffering because I want ice cream or cheese?
Today, September 1st, is my first month of being officially strictly vegan after making those connections.