Everything but the baa? Everything but the moo? I don’t think so, because even those sounds can be turned into ringtones!
With sheep, you might think primarily of fiber — and rightfully so. A majority of sheep breeds must be sheared, but not all breeds have the high quality wool we may think of with the fine Merino sweaters or socks. Many other breeds (Suffolk, Hampshire, or Dorset come to mind) are used in home insulation, carpet, rugs, and other textiles.
It’s not as easy as it may seem to avoid exploiting animals and their byproducts in some way.
OK, but what about food? You can still follow a vegan diet right?
Well, not exactly. Even meat alternatives sometimes start with livestock cells. And when plants are harvested, millions of insects and animals are harmed or killed in the process. We just can’t have it all. Animals eat animals everyday, it is nature and the circle of life. Make no mistake, a vegan diet does not come without fault.
You see, fertilizer in vegan food also often comes from livestock manure or other animal byproducts like blood, bone, fish parts, eggshells, fat and other other “natural and organic” animal sources. And that’s what a lot of people want, right? Organic and natural? Well, there’s a good chance that the fertilizer — used in organic systems especially — comes straight from the cow’s behind.
And there’s nothing wrong with that because recycling is cool and good, right? Another point to be made is that all livestock emissions account for 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, and no part of an animal goes to waste. Well, that 4 percent sure does a lot for us, wouldn’t you agree? Moreover, agriculture looks to reduce that every year to the point of being carbon neutral or better by the year 2050 (in dairy as one example.)
Sometimes vegan animal rights activists online state that they can be vegan because a lot of products can now be made with animal alternatives. There’s some truth to that, sure, but at the end of the day it’s animal research that got us there. Even vegan food products like breads, desserts, and doughs use animal byproducts to create different food textures — and there really is no such thing as “vegan,” at least not to the full extent that people who claim to be vegan would like it to mean. If you walk (on cement or carpet), drive a car or take a train, (concrete or brakes), drink a beer (filtration), eat your veggies (fertilizer), use sheets, a towel or wear clothing, play sports or a musical instrument (concerts and entertainment? Thank you, cows and pigs), live in a home (insulation, carpet, rugs), or go to the doctor for medicine, you have used animal byproducts.
Basically if you’re alive right now, you have the almighty animal to thank for it.
Might as well just eat the damn burger, too. [Editor’s Note: I think I’ll still stick to the vege-burger, thank you very much!]
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is a farmer, public speaker and writer who has worked for years with row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.