Thought the history people have believed in many things which today we laugh at or frown upon. Up until not that long ago, scientists thought babies can’t feel pain, doctors thought smoking can cure your sore throat and draining your blood cures all illness. People like you and me used to believe that the Earth is flat, that women are less intelligent and thus shouldn’t have equal rights as men, that slavery is normal, and that people of different colour were a different species. Today a minority still foster these beliefs, but we judge them and call them primitive or psychopaths.
If anything, history can teach us that 'norms' change and that, as we become more conscious and more awoken beings, some normal behaviours of today become primitive and frowned upon by the majority in the future.
The myths around the way we eat and generally treat animals are something which is slowly becoming a thing of the past. But, the upbringing and social conditioning of most cause defences to be lifted before one stops and think, so the progress is here but it is slow.
5 myths some still believe in
The protein myth
As a vegetarian for 18 and vegan for the last three years, I heard the “where do you get your protein” question one too many times. Five years ago I would do my best to explain, a few years ago I would point to the fact that some of the biggest, strongest and most enduring animals like gorillas, horses, zebras, elephants, hypos etc. are herbivores. Today I just roll my eyes. Because - google.
The truth is, the protein obsession is passé. So last century. So caveman. Today we know better. Today we know too much protein is actually bad for you. Today we know the best protein is obtained from plants. Today there are more and more plant-powered pro athletes proving this by doing what they do best - winning. No better way to put a stop to the protein myth then seeing them do their thing.
Thanks to humans like strongman Patrik Boumian, weight lifting champion Kendrick Farris, pro wrestler Austin Aires ultra runner Scott Jurek and Rich Roll, runner Morgan Mitchell, formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton, tennis legends Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams, pro surfers Tia Bianco and Alaina Blanchard NBA star Kylie Irving NFL players like Derek Morgan, Colin Kaepernick, Tom Brady and Griffin Walhen (whose dogs are also vegan), boxer David Haye, bodybuilders like Nirmai Delgado and Frank Medrano, the animal protein myth is finally debunked. Hallelujah!
The milk myth
Most of us grew up with the idea that milk healthy and important for bone health. But, is this actually true? Most of the research not funded by the dairy industry found inconclusive or no evidence. However, there is evidence pointing in the opposite direction.
Bone health? Some studies (like Harvard milk study) claim that more milk consumption in teen years led to more risk in fractures in older adults. There’s more similar research, please check my last blog for details.
Lactose - just like any other mammal, we lose the ability to break down lactose as we grow up, so lactose intolerance is very common, affecting over 65% of adult humans. Symptoms range from no symptoms to digestive problems and gas to migraines. Consuming something which we can’t break down causes inflammation in the body which leads to bigger issues like autoimmune diseases.
Casein - the protein found in dairy, called casein, has been linked with many different types of cancer, especially ovarian and prostate cancer.
Saturated fat - dairy is full of saturated, artery-clogging fats and contains cholesterol.
Environment - water use, carbon emissions, pollution, you name it. The dairy industry is right there, hand in hand with the meat industry. Cows are fed grain (not their food) which can instead feed all 795 million starving people today. This is 1 in 7 people on the planet who can be easily fed if we decide our taste buds are worth it.
Suffering - just like any other mammal, a cow needs to have a baby in order to produce milk. So in dairy farms, they forcefully inseminate them (read: rape them) and take their baby when it’s a few days old so they can take (their baby’s) milk. Cows cry for their babies for days and babies cry for their mums. Just like any other being. Baby calf gets to drink formula and will end up like her mum or, if it’s a male calf, gets killed. Just so we can have that cafe latte or enjoy the cheese. Same goes for goat and sheep. So, even if none of the health issues and environmental impact factors were true, isn’t this more than reason enough to say no to dairy?
The happy cow and a free range chicken myth
Unfortunately, there’s no happy cows or free-range chickens. Humans consume too much animal products for that to be possible, livestock is already taking up so much space; it is the world’s largest user of land resources. In the US for example “grazing land and cropland dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of all agricultural land. Feed crops are grown in one-third of total cropland, while the total land area occupied by pasture is equivalent to 26% of the ice-free terrestrial surface”. ~ The Guardian
Meat eaters may think vegans look down on them – but actually no one is more scornful of carnivores than the meat industry that feeds them. While frontline workers slaughter 22 million animals each day in the UK alone, teams in the back office rebrand those carcasses, packaging them up and using inventive words to hide the truth from the consumer.
“Of all their cons, the “free-range” egg is perhaps the most audacious. You’d need Disney-level imagination to believe the UK can produce more than 10bn eggs each year without inconveniencing any chickens. But by slapping “free range” on the label, and perhaps a nice pastoral scene with a few chickens roaming free, most consumers never realise how the eggs came to be in the box.” ~ The Guardian
In conclusion, your “free-range chicken” may not be crammed in a shoebox-size space, but it’s certainly not running around a large field, happy and care-free. The land is too expensive for that, just think about it.
The leather as byproduct myth
I know. You love your leather shoes, your leather bag and that cool biker jacket. So do I. And I still own and wear them, and will until I wear them out. But, since I researched and read more about the leather industry, I haven’t bought anything made of leather in years. If you’re interested why check veganuary.com explaining why there’s no such thing as ‘a leather byproduct’. Please read. Knowledge is empowering.
But, there’s good news for all fashionista’s out there as well as for animals. The vegan leather industry is growing super fast thanks to increased demand as well as some more conscious designers like Stella McCartney creating organic, quality materials which are suffering free, artificial colour free, bad ecological impact free. Basically, bad vibe free.
Today you can really get anything you like made in sustainable, breathable, high-quality materials which are better for you, the environment and, of course, don’t cost a life. It’s a win-win-win.
Also, there are cool brands like Pelechecoco offering uber cool biker jackets made out of vintage leather sourced from all over the globe.
If you’re interested these are some of my favourite items/ brands: I absolutely adore my vegan Stella Stan Smith Adidas sneakers, my Matt & Nat wallet, biker boots by Beyond skin, my Good guys don’t wear leather white sneakers and Nae Vegan Shoes black high top sneakers. Also, check out Will’s.! You can find all and more on www.avesu.eu website. All of these are European brands as I prefer to shop as locally as possible, but there’s many more.
The wool myth
When you think of wool you may think of a warm winter hat and scarf, a soft cashmere sweater or a beautiful suit. When I think of wool, I still remember my grandma sitting next to a wood stove, knitting woolly winter socks for all of us kids. Or my old designer purple sheepskin coat I used to love wearing. But now, after a video I saw during PETA wool campaign a few years ago which made me see the shadow truth of the wool industry, I also see the unnecessary suffering. With so many cruelty-free fabrics, there’s really no need to torture animals in order to wear their skin, fur or wool. (Link in a bio for a short video of Joaquin Phoenix, a long term vegan, on why he ditched wool.)
There are many things we just don’t question or think about. Nobody thinks about torture when eyeing a beautiful coat in your favourite shop window. We trust and we buy and buy and buy more. This world is designed like that, we’re blindfolded consumers trusting a voice in an ad saying something is beautiful, healthy, tasty. They don’t speak of the true cost because people would then take the blindfold off and question. And big industry doesn’t make money on those who question.
However, if we don’t buy the narrative we’re constantly being sold, we’ll force industries to change. We can still buy that beautiful coat, only it will be made from cruelty-free and ecologically sustainable material. Something which came out of suffering is not and cannot ever be beautiful. It’s just bad juju. And nobody wants that, right?
A PETA @peta investigation of more than 30 shearing sheds in the U.S. and Australia uncovered rampant abuse. “Shearers were caught punching, kicking, and stomping on sheep, in addition to hitting them in the face with electric clippers and standing on their heads, necks, and hind limbs. One shearer was seen beating a lamb in the head with a hammer. Another even used a sheep’s body to wipe the sheep’s own urine off the floor. And yet another shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it.”
The time of doing something because we like it (it's tasty, looks good, feels good etc.) is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The only question is, do you want to be a part of the past or the future? A part of the problem or the solution?