Veganism is not about our health but theirs; it is about ethics, not food; about animal rights, not cupcakes.
Since I became vegan I have seen many more animals suffer and die than ever before; not in videos or in photographs, but in reality. I have seen thousands and thousands of chickens, cows, geese, pigs, and turkeys imprisoned, for consumption of anything from their glandular secretions to their very corpses.
Many of them were lying among their kin or in trash bins, already dead; the others doomed to be murdered. Yet I was not able to free more than a few dozen birds (mostly hens) and even fewer mammals—a raccoon from a box in an allotment garden, a cat who lived in a birdcage, a horse one day before he would have been sent to the slaughterhouse, dogs, foxes, guinea pigs, minks, rabbits, and sheep. Speciesists who regard animals as property call it larceny.
What impacted me most was a cow who was killed before my very eyes when I had only been vegan for three years, and just had started my abolitionist activism which led me to an abattoir. This traumatic event made sure that, unless subjected to a lobotomy or my brain attacked by alien brain suckers or zombies, I will always be vegan.
To replace the captive bolt gun, the slaughterhouse managing director (who happened to be the supervising veterinarian of the slaughterhouse and an animal welfarist), tried to introduce a new “animal friendly” electric stunner. They used it on several sheep, a bull, and two cows.
This cow was hanging, from a chain tied around her hind limb, seemingly unconscious. A stream of blood as thick as my wrist poured from her throat. Then she regained consciousness. She opened her eyes; opened them wide in fear and pain. Standing a few feet away at her side I looked into her left eye while she looked into mine. She raised her head for a moment and the fountain from her throat grew even thicker. It seemed like she tried to scream; a silent scream from someone whose throat was cut, which led to a death rattle. There was nothing I could do to help her. That was some twenty years ago, but these images are burned into my brain; I will never forget that glance she darted at me.