True peace begins on our plates

Our very existence as humans is directly responsible for egregious violence committed against innocent beings — animals.

Editor: As we lament over the loss of 26 innocent lives in Newtown, Connecticut, as well as other deaths throughout the world, it is easy to blame our violence-obsessed cultures that permeate most populations. We need only pay attention to international news to learn of all the bloodshed and carnage, the tragic suicides at home due to bullying, and the gang violence due to drug wars, to recognize that violence and death seem ubiquitous.

We can attribute this to the availability of guns, the breakdown of societies, the violence in video games, films and music, and a general insensitivity to the value of life itself.

But I would like to propose that we examine our own desensitization of death in our everyday actions, something as innocuous as our eating habits. Ninety-nine percent of the human population consumes meat and dairy in varying degrees every day, several times a day.

How can we as a species expect peace in the world when our very existence is directly responsible for egregious violence committed against innocent beings to the tune of 64 billion farmed land animals worldwide per year, and one to three trillion sea animals annually?

We are responsible for the confinement, enslavement, exploitation, torture, rape, inhumane living conditions and deaths of 64 billion land animals per year — and that’s just in the name of food. There are also animal beings we exploit, torture, and subject to abject misery in the name of fur, scientific experimentation, entertainment, and vivisection. The majority of land farmed animals we eat are still babies, killed in the early weeks or months of their natural life spans of one to two decades.

The less than one percent of vegans worldwide are extreme — but only in the sense that we are extremely reverent of life regardless of the species. We believe that all species have the same inherent right to live their own lives on this earth we all share, without being exploited by humans.

How can we expect peace on earth when humans inflict such unnecessary violence routinely on other innocent beings every time we consume meat and dairy?

Particularly in this season of  ‘Peace on Earth,’ regularly and sincerely expressed by those who profess this through their religious affiliations, I would urge all to reflect upon the most basic of our actions in order to change society’s values from the inside — from within each individual human being.

If we put ourselves for a moment in the animals’ perspective — those animals raised in Holocaust-like environments to simply please our palettes and killed so violently and inhumanely, we can see how the human species can be construed as the most evil of all enemies. But we have the ability to create true and lasting peace in the world — and that change begins with each of us. Let me suggest that peace begins on our plates.

Patricia Tallman,