I’m excited today to have a guest post written by my sister, Jill McCullough! She and I, along with our two younger brothers, grew up on ranches where we lived very closely with nature and with our animals (goats, ducks, chickens, etc.). While we all loved our animals, I’d have to say that Jill was more involved with them than any of us. She wanted to be a vet for many years, and in her desire to pursue that career, she put herself on the frontline, so to speak, experiencing joys and tragedies that the rest of us shied away from.
In our early twenties, we both read Diet for a New America, which changed our lives. We could not believe what was described in those books, especially having had the experience of raising animals. We couldn’t fathom the inhumane treatment endured by the animals on factory farms. We both became vegans, in protest of these practices. My diet has changed over the years (I’m a vegetarian at this point, but have more to say on this subject in future posts), but Jill has remained a vegan all these years.
She is currently trying to raise money for a great organization called Vegan Outreach. VO focuses on education to make a difference, which I think is awesome – it’s not like some other organizations that use shock tactics or sexualized propaganda to push their agenda. VO simply helps people make informed decisions about what they eat, and stands up for the rights of the animals imprisoned on factory farms. I will talk more about this in future posts – how to make compassionate dietary choices whether you are a vegan or an omnivore. But for now, here’s my awesome sis!
What if I told you that something horrific was happening every day– something terrible that no one talks about?
What if I told you that you could do something to stop it?
Unfortunately, I AM telling you that something horrific is happening every day. It is happening in factory farms and slaughterhouses all over the world. The food that we eat and the demand we have created for such food has given birth to an industry of cruelty and animal commodification that defies our inherent, natural loving impulses. It doesn’t make sense that another sentient being, of any species, should be forcibly removed from their own natural processes and subjected to the torture and abuse that takes place on factory farms every single day– all so that we can have a certain cut of desired meat on our plate.
There are endless amounts of shocking and disturbing videos, photographs, and statistics all over the Internet detailing the horrors of which I am speaking. If you have yet to educate yourself on this topic, I highly recommend checking out websites for Compassion Over Killing, Mercy For Animals, and Vegan Outreach. [Note from Five Seed: Please be assured that clicking on these links will not take you to disturbing videos/pictures. These are simply the main pages of these organizations that will allow you to navigate through their websites.] It is one thing to hear about an innocent calf being torn from its mother and confined to a tiny crate for the duration of its short life in order to produce veal, and another to actually see it. Laying hens are stuffed in tiny cages and stacked on top of each other for their short, miserable lives. Many often die of asphyxiation because of the cramped quarters and induced immobilization. Farm conditions for these animals (chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys, for example) are deplorable. When it is time to go to the slaughterhouse, these animals face even more suffering in transit, including extreme temperatures, standing in their own excrement, lack of ventilation, and abuse. According to Vegan Outreach, 200,000 pigs fail to survive the trip and are found dead upon arrival. Some might say these are the lucky ones. Slaughterhouses are places of terror, fear, abuse, and horror. In the name of almighty profit, animals are denied a humane death, as well as a very basic sense of compassion, decency, and mercy.
I know these facts are unpleasant to hear. But our denial doesn’t make them untrue; in fact, it only ensures that the violent atrocities that are occurring on our watch will continue to take place every single day.
When I first read the book “Diet for a New America” by John Robbins, I was indescribably stunned. I didn’t know before I had read that book what a factory farm was or how industrialized farming practices had transformed animal agriculture into a mechanized system of torture and cruelty. I cried while reading the descriptions of the unendurable suffering these animals experience in their brief lives that ultimately culminate in a brutal slaughter that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy.
As a culture, we hide what we don’t want to see and what we don’t want to acknowledge. But awareness and truth are some of the most healing powers in the universe, and as we expose ourselves to the realities of animal suffering, we are empowered to create change and make a difference in the lives of all living beings everywhere. By arming ourselves with information about these issues, we can take direct and powerful action, and create a collective culture that is based on peace, love, and compassion, instead of denial, violence, and cruelty.
We have the power every day to make more compassionate choices and thus perpetuate that energy on the planet. If the idea of giving up meat seems foreign or intimidating to you, start with having one vegetarian meal a week. Continue to educate yourself, learn about new, healthful plant-based foods, and make gradual changes to support long-term growth. Kathy Freston has written two excellent books on this subject that I would highly recommend titled “Quantum Wellness” and “Veganist.”
Another great action that you can take today is to donate money to an organization that is working hard to spread the message of compassion! As mentioned earlier, Vegan Outreach is one such organization that disseminates a lot of wonderful information regarding the destructive nature of animal agriculture and the benefits of a plant-based diet. VO is currently staging a campaign called “Team Vegan” to raise money for continued outreach and education. I am on the team, and I need your help to reach my goal! Your contribution will go directly to Vegan Outreach and can be made anonymously if you so choose. Check out my team profile if you would like to learn more and/ or make a contribution (which you can do directly through my page – please put my name, Jill McCullough in the comment box). I thank you in advance for any and all assistance you send through me. My current goal is to raise $200 by the end of June, but I secretly hope to exceed that goal as much as possible!
We all have so much more power than we even realize. We make so many choices every single day that either enhance or diminish life on this planet for ourselves and all beings. All it takes is a willingness to become more aware, and our positive process of empowerment will begin to unfold before our very eyes. Compassion is a choice that we can make each time we sit down to have a meal. We can contribute to a more peaceful world… one meal at a time!
Thank you so much for reading this. Peace and compassion to all!