It is, and yet our dietary choices are already restricted so we never truly get free choice. You won’t for example, find the meat of a bear or the milk of a panda in your local supermarket. Nor will you find human flesh. There are good ethical reasons for our choices being curtailed here, and we understand and accept them.
But why do we feel it’s wrong to eat a bear, a panda or a parrot, and yet it’s OK to eat other animals? Already our choices seem a little illogical. For now, though, in shops and restaurants all around the world we are offered a limited choice of animal products that cause suffering to animals, damage the planet and raise the risk of us becoming ill. But we are also offered foods that are kind to us, help feed the hungry, protect the planet and all its inhabitants, and prevent the suffering of farmed animals. And we can choose what kind of world we want.
We should remember that animals don’t have the luxury of choice. The cow who is repeatedly impregnated and milked to the point of biological collapse doesn’t want to suffer any more than a panda would. And the chicken standing on broken bones, waiting to be transported to slaughter did not deserve such treatment any more than a bear.
Let’s exercise our right to choose what we eat, and what we contribute to the world around us. Let’s choose the foods our bodies thank us for, rather than picking up carcinogenic processed meats or other meats that are designated as ‘probably’ carcinogenic. Let’s use our buying power to ensure the world’s food resources are distributed wisely so that crops are not fed to animals, when they could be feeding hungry people. Let’s end the misery of animal farming. They don’t deserve to be treated that way, but they will be if we keep on buying their meat, milk or eggs.
Let’s choose the veggie burger or banger, and the plant milks. And the dairy-free cheeses, yoghurts and ice creams. We can pick up the fishless fingers, the meat-free sausage rolls, the faux ham slices, and we won’t be able to tell the difference, but these small choices will have a big impact in contributing to a kinder, fairer world.
There is a lot riding on the choices we make and it is wonderful that more people than ever are choosing to eat vegan foods.