Street Smart
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Street Smart

“Those Damned Vegans”

In the past few years, I have been hearing about this “vegan crowd” that seem marginalized and shout on the sides of roads with signs, telling people to “open their eyes” to what was happening right in front of them… For a long time I’d pass by and muffle “meh, whatever.”

Over the years, I have become flexible and open minded. I am now always willing to “listen” to the points made by “others” and even willing to learn and change considerably if facts and logic convince me. I am a facts-and-logic guy. Very focused on deductive reasoning, maniac about “cognitive biases” and “identification errors”, as well as “false arguments / wrong reasoning.”

Since I am open, I tend to get convinced by facts that “hit home.” When undeniable and directly observable facts challenge my typical living habits, it’s “annoying” because I must change, and that is uncomfortable and initially consumes time and energy.

I eat very well and have a generally healthy lifestyle. Up until recently, I ate lots of meat and loved it, with frequent BBQs with friends, etc. I love rock climbing and I have good friendships and family ties, and I am mentally and emotionally healthy.

Nobody in my family or social circle is vegan or vegetarian.

True to my general curiosity and open mindedness, I said “OK man, lets see what the hell these “vegans” are talking about.” I have a very strict “no bs life policy” that I apply very harshly in all my choices. No denial. So. In the spirit of my no-bs policy, I told myself I would find out “what is going on” by looking at things from all angles. Farmers making a living. Capitalism and freedom. The freedom to choose. People. Health. Ethics. Etc.

I happened to stumble upon several documentaries that were so shocking and real that I actually entered a period of shock and disbelief. It clearly showed “reality” very explicitly for the lives from birth to death of “food and clothes animals” — animals we “use” as “inputs” in the “production process” of our food and clothes, including milk and cheese and all that good stuff.

Nature is indeed “rough”, but it has one thing that we never do: wild animals are always free roaming up to the very end. I am not talking about the surreal horrors of slaughter houses, which are indeed horror houses: EVEN if the killing was super gentle and clean, the life conditions are totally atrocious and the deeper ethical considerations remain intact… and no, it’s not what you have in mind of those few cows you see calmly grazing in the sun. 95% of all meat is factory farmed and mass-slaughtered, and this has far-reaching consequences in terms of ethics… and the truth behind the veil of taboo, social norms of acceptance, and secrecy is beyond words.

Although environmental and even health considerations are not my priority regarding this specific subject, animals for meat are contributing to incredible amounts of pollution (via methane and other things) and deforestation and costly, dreadful health problems for humans. “Externalities” as we economists call these problems.

It doesn’t matter how you try to twist the facts or say that the documentaries are “cherry picking” (some may be, many are not): even what is considered “normal treatment” (i.e. regulations) of animals is a horror show that dives these animals into extreme states of desperation, fear, pain, anguish, and suffering… and NO, I am not “anthropomorphising” animals at all.

You can’t get me with weak and cheap intellectual “tricks”… I am very well read and I read a LOT on everything from pure math to finance, economics, history, ethics, and philosophy. I know desperate attempts at circumventing cognitive dissonance when I see them!

After reading and hearing MANY “industry insiders” such as stories of ex slaughterhouse workers (for example here and here) and multi-generation Texas ranchers and milk producers who became vegan, I was intrigued and I knew I had to explore this “thing” they call veganism… I explored health considerations and discovered TONS of super healthy very long term vegans, from ALL walks of life. Although I knew that animals have feelings and experience pain, suffering, anguish, desperation, anxiety, joy, and playfullness, I also saw that “officials of science” now “officially” recognise this. It was about time, people!

Cows and pigs are much like dogs and all mammals. They like to roam free, run, and they seek connection, reassurance, interaction, and social bonding. They are curious and mothers have strong bonds with their young. They are peaceful and social animals who like bonding and playing. None of this is possible in factory farming, which is 95% of all meat: they barely see the light of day ever, they are force-fed, force-inseminated, the young are forced ripped-off their crying mothers, and all are confined into small boxes in which they can’t move where they are speed-boosted to increase the speed of growth so that they are fast-ready for slaughter.

Farm animals are viewed and treated as inanimate objects that require “inputs” (food and water) and produce output (excrements, food, and clothing), and they are regularly unceremoniously brutalized by stressed out staff. Even the very “standard” manipulations that any farm animal endures before the slaughterhouse is an immoral nightmare. I will not describe, as I want this post to remain readable. All this with the denial option to respond that “it all respects regulations and we do not tolerate brutality or cruelty.” If you only knew. We have a global denial “excuse” called regulations. Animals for food and clothes are treated like objects. Meat on 4 legs.

Pigs, cows, goats, sheep, and even chickens, ducks and so many others are surprizingly playful, cuddly, they seek companionship and reassurance, and they also display individual personality traits and many other interesting habits. In a word, they feel and have complex inner lives that we do not grasp, of course… yes. They really do.

They are sometimes described as “dumb” and/or “agressive” in their typical meat farm settings because they are panicked and quite often living in total desperation and depression, which makes them apathetic, completely lifeless, and/or agressive.

Producing food that “comes from” sentient animals is not compatible with the efficiency incentives of mass-market capitalism. It has gone WAY TOO FAR down the rabbit hole of “adverse selection” as we economists call this problem.

Below is just ONE (of MANY) ex meat farmers who “opened his eyes” and turned vegan several years ago, from the link above that goes to “freefromharm” website. The article dates back from 2011.

His courage and integrity are unbelievable:

“In late April of 2011, on his “humane, pasture-raised-and-grass-fed” farm’s blog, pig and sheep farmer Bob Comis posted a sobering one-sentence personal reflection, entitled “It might be wrong to eat meat:”

“This morning, as I look out the window at a pasture quickly growing full of frolicking lambs, I am feeling very much that it might be wrong to eat meat, and that I might indeed be a very bad person for killing animals for a living.”

Fifteen months later, he posted an equally anguished but more substantial entry under the header, “The Grapple of Ethics”:

“When I think about the debate surrounding the ethics of eating meat, I often wonder why it is so difficult for meat eaters to admit that killing animals (to eat their flesh) is unethical? Truly, I cannot think of one sound ethical argument in favor of slaughtering animals for their meat.”

“The simplest way to put it is that slaughtering animals for their meat is a socially permissible ethical transgression. Societal permission does not make it ethical, it just makes it acceptable. Slavery was for centuries socially permissible (in spite of the fact that there was always a minority standing firmly against it). Did that make it any less unethical? I doubt anyone today would say yes.”

“As a pig farmer, I live an unethical life, shrouded in the justificatory trappings of social acceptance. There is more, even, than simple acceptance. There is actually celebration of the way I raise the pigs. Because I give the pigs lives that are as close to natural as is possible in an unnatural system, I am honorable, I am just, I am humane, while all the while behind the shroud, I am a slaveholder and a murderer. Looking head on, you can’t see it. Humanely raising and slaughtering pigs seems perfectly normal. In order to see the truth, you have to look askance, just like a pig does when it knows you are up to no good. When you see out of the corner of your eye, in the blurry periphery of your vision, you see that meat is indeed murder.”

“…What I do is wrong, in spite of its acceptance by nearly 95% of the American population. I know it in my bones, even if I cannot yet act on it. Someday it must stop. Somehow we need to become the sort of beings who can see what we are doing when we look head on, the sort of beings who don’t weave dark, damning shrouds to sustain, with acceptance and celebration, the grossly unethical. Deeper, much deeper, we have an obligation to eat otherwise.”

Comis became vegan, converted his farm to a veganic vegetable farm, and now publishes widely on the question of eating animals. A documentary film about his transition, The Last Pig was made, by renowned filmmaker Allison Argo. You can read Comis’s critique of so-called humane slaughter here.

Here he is (below). High regards to you, Bob Comis:

Man. This guy went through a very deep transformation! A pig farmer whose entire life and habits and social circle and income revolves around meat production had the courage to change massively. Bob man, I admire you beyond words, as all the other ex producers and animal tormentors who had the strength to change, including a 5th generation rancher from Texas turned vegan.

What strength. What courage. Inspiring people.

I think I can’t complain about “adapting” my eating and lifestyle a bit… or a lot… If multi generation ranchers and farmers whose entire income, life, social circle, traditions, and culture revolve around meat can see that “something is seriously wrong” and change massively, I have no excuse!

I started by cutting “commercial meat” and found a meat place that is local and has verifiable ethical living and killing conditions of all animals. I then decided to stop eating all mammals. I ate chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, etc…

Short story: If you “face the reality” and stick your head out of the sand totally and you really do the process “in good faith” and without resisting the facts, it is obvious that those annoying vegans “have a point.” A very strong one. And it’s not all tree hugging bs. And actually it’s not even about “those damned tree huggers” being right or wrong. It’s about what is happening every single day to animals all around the world in life conditions you can barely imagine, while humans play and fight and argue and chill and watch Netflix and take selfies and go to work and “can’t be bothered” because of their busy schedule.

Many vegans are enraged and annoying and depressive not because of their eating, but because they are exasperated of the ongoing apathy in the face of clear atrocities on an unreal scale, all with institutional support and legality.

Many vegans are healthy and many are not. Many thrive like you can’t believe and others do not. Some eat only pasta and chips, while others have a truly balanced and healthy nutrition and are thus very healthy. Some are agressive, some are open, others are rigid, some are overweight, some are thin, some are top level athletes, some are politicians and pop stars and top level executives and academics and scientists and artists and bodybuilders, some are very ordinary everyday people, some are mean (I am sure some are), some are criminals (I guess), and so on. None are perfect. All contribute to less brutality in the world.

The general principle is to minimize suffering in the world and maximize health and well-being.

When suffering and desperation are avoidable by simply choosing other available options, it is indeed logical and optimal to do so. The best we can do in our day-to-day lives is a vegan lifestyle, which directly eliminates animal suffering, indirectly minimizes plant death (because a vegan world would consume far less plants than giving “plants” to animals and then eating the animals as we do now), and significantly reduces environmental damage.

Keeping this in mind, I explored and learned… One thing I can say is that it is totally possible to never eat meat and thrive very long term, provided you have the knowledge and follow responsible eating habits. This requires personal responsibility. If you don’t want this to be true, you will “find” examples, texts, and videos that will convince you and comfort you in your bias and belief. There is LOTS of disinformation out there. I recommend you watch videos of serious, nuanced, knowledgeable long term vegans such as here, here and many many others. I also recommend you explore all the links in this text and simply ponder this text and all that you will read and see and think for yourself, and take a slow, gradual, open-minded approach.

Dogmatic vegans are actually harming their own “cause” and, more importantly, animals, the health of people, and the environment… because they put the bar so high right from the start that most people see it as impossible and don’t even bother pondering the lives of the animals they eat and wear, or the health and environmental considerations of meat.

My only reason for the massive changes I have done up to now is 100% ethics. I liked meat a lot and ate mammals or fish or poultry every day. Some vegans do it for health, some for “the environment”… For me, the one undeniable fact is that EVEN what is considered “normal” treatment of these poor creatures is nothing less than a life of fear, terror, and horror that does not need to be. And just so you know, perhaps the worse off of all are milk cows that give milk, cheese, and all those goodies… but honestly it’s just one huge horror show. They are in a total apocalypse, we are the tormentors, and it doesn’t have to be that way... and nobody seems to give a shit. It takes a LOT of courage to 1) acknowledge reality completely and 2) change accordingly. It is a transformational process for sure!

I heard ALL the reasons from “anti vegans” like “we always did it” (no: we hunted free animals in nature for most of human history, and “doing something in the past” is not an assurance it is right or optimal… but whatever, it’s a long story), meat is good for you, meat makes you manly, Hitler was a vegetarian (not true, but even if he was: what exactly is your point?!), wolves and lions eat meat so I can too, we are designed to eat meat (utterly false, as proved by our teeth, jaw structure, stomach acid, long intestines, and closest “relatives” chimpanzees who get 97% of their calories in fruits and plants and insects), where will all these animals go, they are made for this, farm animals are stupid, they don’t really suffer, the economy needs all this industry (clearly you failed macro 101 and the part on creative destruction), the land needs all these animals, plants have feelings too, animals are also killed by plant agriculture and it would be worse if the world was vegan, or… “It’s life”… no, this is actually NOT “life” at all, it’s hate and anger and fear and extreme violence and desperation and sadness, and so much more awfullness…it’s not sane or required or anywhere near acceptable, and the poor stressed out farmers stuck in this hell have the highest suicide rate of all professions… and ON AND ON AND ON (hundreds)… I heard them ALL.

NONE hold ground when confronted with proper deductive reasoning, facts, having some empathy, and the appropriate knowledge and good faith. NONE.

This is specifically why vegans annoy the shit out of the world population… they are right. Period. There is no grey zone here. Denial will eventually become impossible. You can huff and puff all you want. If you are thinking in good faith, face the facts totally, and do some deep soul searching, you will concede it to them.

But again, it’s not about some “moral high ground” and about who is “right” or vegans being more “advanced” or about arguing over measurements of the more fuzzy and debate-prone issues of “the environment” and “climate.” Oh no. It’s very real, incredibly clear, very documented, explained in detail by insiders such as long time ranchers, farmers, slaughterhouse workers, and others. It was also captured by brave “animal rights activists” who had the courage to go find out and start exposing it all… If it’s all OK, why all the secrecy, hey? It’s wrong. Period.

It’s funny because conspiracy theorists always complain that “the truth” is hidden and they want to know, yet never find real proof… with meat it’s exactly reversed: we KNOW what is going on and the scale, and we don’t want to know! Selective denial of real atrocities.

No, I am not an over sensitive tree hugger. I am a “manly” guy who likes rock climbing and road trips and beer, loves his sexy gf, believes in free markets and personal initiative, is a competent economist, and loves UFC and hockey. I used to eat BBQ 4 times per week every Summer, chicken, beef, bacon, and all other meats all the time… but these “products” come from an animal that is just like any cute and cuddly dog that seeks togetherness and security and can experience fear, anguish, desperation, depression, and confusion about why he is treated badly… and they are put through a life of daily horrors until an apocalyptic end… and I must admit those damned vegans have a point.

I saw documentaries that make your spine chill and plunge you in despair and confusion about ethics and human nature… a good dozen… I also read a good hundred articles of all angles and opinions, plus books… If I may suggest “soft” documentaries (not hard to watch), here are a few that are OK:

  1. Food Choices. (Netflix)
  2. Forks Over Knives. (Netflix)
  3. Cowspiracy. (Netflix)
  4. Vegucated. (YouTube)

From freefromharm, Michelle worked 15 years on a dairy farm after which she decided to go vegan:

“It is a deceptive place. Only the ones who are inside really know that. I am not talking about a one hour visit to the farm… Whoever is really inside, knows what kind of place it is. It’s hell. There is terrible suffering there…”

Food for thought.

If you want information about animals in our food and clothes supply, brace yourself to discover “the Truth” and watch the docs below. Warning: once you “know”, you can’t “unknow” it… and the truth is hard to discover… but necessary… be warned: these are hard to watch… they show the unfiltered truth of what lies behind the food we eat…

  1. Farm to Fridge.
  2. Lucent.
  3. Meet Your Meat.
  4. Death on a Factory Farm.

Last but not least, there is the controversial “Earthlings” documentary, which has caused quite a stir, but the facts shown in there are undeniable… and are incredibly hard to see, as many other such documentaries.

There are TONS others… unfortunately… Ponder all this.

The meat and dairy lobbies are among the most powerful in the world and influence directly or indirectly opinions, research, regulations, and social network exchanges. They stand to lose everything and they hate the rise of veganism. Keep it in mind.

I’ll keep you posted on my discoveries as I go along the process, as well as continue writing posts on economics, finance, and investments. Share the insights and comment if you want.

Pascal Bedard

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Pascal Bedard

Sharing thoughts on economics, finance, business, trading, and life lessons. Founder of www.PascalBedard.com