I wanted to start today with an exercise. I’d like you to imagine that the day you were born, your entire life was already planned for you. In fact, someone else had even decided when you’d be born. They decided who your parents would be and they decided for your parents to conceive you. They decided where you would live and how old you’d be when you were taken from your mother. They decided how you would be housed and how you would be treated. They decided what you would eat and when, how much you’d get to drink. They decided when you get to go to the bathroom and where. They decided whether you get to have any friends. And they decided exactly when and how you would die.

This may sound like something that happened in a faraway land or the distant past – a remnant of human slavery. Anyone who treated people like this today would be deemed a criminal. A monster. A sadist. The world would revolt in justified outrage.

And yet, most people in this world are playing the role of the monster every single day of every single year. The only difference between our imagined scenario and the everyday reality is the identity of the victims.

When we remove the human victim and replace them with non-human animals, suddenly it’s no longer slavery, it’s rightful ownership. It’s no longer criminal, it’s protected by law. It’s not longer the works of a monster, it’s good business practice. And it’s not longer sadism, it’s what needs to be done to feed the world.

But the animals whose eyes you just briefly looked through don’t care what species they are. They just know they are terrified, confined, abused, beaten, raped, separated from their family, and murdered. And they have a desire for life and love as strong as any of us in this room. All you have to do is go to a slaughterhouse and see them fight to escape. They know what is coming. And they want no part of it. This is not a contract they’ve entered into willingly.

As Yiddish author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis singer wrote,

“What do they know—all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to [the animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.”

Hello, my name is Emily Moran Barwick. I’m an animal liberation activist, an artist, an educator and a vegan. I created the YouTube channel and accompanying website, Bite Size Vegan, where I educate people about veganism through an array of video styles and subject matters.

I want to preface this talk by saying that I’m going to be transparent with you and I’ll even tell you if I don’t know something.

Now for anyone unfamiliar with the term vegan, vegans do not eat, wear, or use anything that came from someone else’s body. We don’t eat meat, drink milk or eat cheese. We don’t consume eggs or honey. We don’t wear leather, wool, silk, or down. We don’t use products that were tested on animals or contain byproducts from their slaughter. And we don’t attend circuses, zoos, bullfights, or any other event that exploits living beings for our momentary pleasure.

Now you may think this is an extreme way of life. Many people do. But I’d like you to return to how you felt putting yourself in the place of the animals. In all honesty, seeing what they are going through for a sandwich, a beverage a purse, a coat, or any moment of human pleasure, is eating plant based foods and choosing not to pay people to perform sadistic acts on our behalf really the extreme choice here?

If this feels heavy-handed, please try to stay open minded throughout this talk. I will be addressing issues other than ethics, as well as including small and local farming, and issues specific to Portugal. [tweet this]

Believe it or not, I am not here to force you to be vegan. I won’t pretend to have that power. And no one really makes any lasting change through force anyway. I’m here to show you what is really going on every second of every day all around the world behind closed doors. I’m here to give you the opportunity to live the values you already have.

Most people don’t want to cause the suffering and death of innocent beings. There’s a reason we pay others to slaughter our food. Most people don’t want to destroy the earth for future generations. Most people want to feed the hungry people of our world. And most people want to live a long and healthy life.

Far from being extreme, veganism is simply living in a way that is already in line with all of these common values.

Before we get into specifics I’ll tell you a little about my own vegan story. It’s pretty brief, actually. My mother tells me that I started refusing to eat meat around the age of 4. If I could tell it had ever been alive I would not eat it. And that’s pretty typical of children. Activist Gary Yourofksy has often said that if you put an apple and a lamb or a calf or chicken in a child’s playpen, they’re going to eat the apple and play with the animal.

We have to be taught to consume their bodies and secretions. You don’t ever see babies pouncing on the family dog and ripping through his fur and flesh. We eat our animals cut up, cooked, spiced, glazed, and looking nothing like they did when they were alive.

Most people consider themselves animal lovers. In America we love our dogs and cats and other pets, while we eat cows, pigs and chickens. Of course which species is acceptable for consumption depends on where you are. One country will eat dogs, one holds cows sacred, one consumes pigs, another shuns their consumption. The fact that who is and is not acceptable to kill varies so greatly by geography highlights the completely arbitrary nature of our distinctions.

Before we start, I’m going to throw out some numbers to help us grasp the enormity of what we’ll be talking about.

Because it’s really difficult for us to wrap our heads around incredibly large numbers, let’s do a quick comparison. I want to make a note that when I use the terms million, billion and trillion, I’m referring to the short scale system, which differs from the long scale. [see here]

One million seconds is 12 days. But a billion seconds is 31 YEARS. And a trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

So now that we’ve got a bit of a scale to work with, here are some figures:

Let’s see what these apply to.

The number of people who’ve died in all wars in human history is one billion.[1]

And the number of chickens killed in the US in 2015 alone is 8.8 billion.*[2]

The number of people starving in the world is 795 million.[3]

And the number of people we could feed with the food that we are currently growing is 10 billion.[4] We’ll talk more about where it’s going soon.

The number of liters of water for fracking in the United States – that’s the water-based form of drilling so controversial with environmentalists – is 265-530 billion liters.[5]

And the number of liters for animal agriculture in America is 129-288 trillion.[6] Remembering our scale that’s a huge difference. And we will be looking at global numbers as well.

The percentage of all greenhouse gas emissions from all global transportation, planes, trains automobiles is 13%.

So of course the percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture is 51%.[7]

The number of humans ever to have existed in the history of our species is 107.6 billion.[8]

Leaving the number of fish we kill globally every year at 2.8 trillion.[9]

As we can see, the impact of what we put in our mouths reaches far beyond our stomachs. As a species we are killing our planet, trillions of other beings, and ourselves. While eating animals may not be the cause of all the evils and problems in our world, it is certainly the most preventable and one that revolves around individual choice.

That’s an incredible opportunity for every single person to take their own action. You don’t need to form a union, you don’t have to petition the government. You just stop eating and using animals. It’s perhaps the single most impactful decision any one person can make.

This is why it’s vital to know the truth. So that you can make this decision with facts and not preconceptions or cultural half-truths. We all have them. And I’m not here to take away culture or religion or political affiliation. Veganism isn’t about changing who you are, it’s about changing what you do. Vegans come from as many backgrounds, races, creeds, cultures, socio-economic statuses and religions as non-vegans. All that unites us as a group is the refusal to participate in exploitation.

I’m not saying this as a badge of superiority. Like most people in this world, most vegans were raised in families and cultures where eating animals was the social norm. Many cultures have very strong ties to the meat, dairy and egg dishes of their region. We are taught it’s just a part of life, that we have to kill animals to survive, that we need the nutrition in their flesh and secretions. We’re taught they were put here for us. Maybe we’re taught that they don’t feel or are stupid.

Undoing a life-long belief is no easy task. But in order to make a decision, in order to look ourselves in the mirror and ask if we are living the values we purport to have, we must know the truth. We must educate ourselves about what is really going on, not rely on what we’ve been told. We must make decisions based on facts, not fantasy.

So let’s dive into some facts. I’ll start with the environmental aspects of animal agriculture.

I have a video on my channel that goes through a lot of numbers and figures, which is below along with a video covering the state of our oceans based on the most current research. I also highly recommend the documentary Cowspiracy.[10]

In short, we cannot sustain the way we are eating. Despite what we learn from environmental protection agencies, shorter showers, recycling paper, and riding our bikes instead of driving is not going to save the planet.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change.[11] As we saw, it’s responsible for up to 51 percent of GHG emissions compared to the 13 percent of all global transportation.[12] It uses a third of the earth’s fresh water,[13][14][15][16] up to 45 percent of the Earth’s land,[17][18] is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction with 40-80 ares [1-2 acres] cleared every second.[19][20] It is also a leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, and habitat destruction.[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

The efforts we make to recycle and take shorter showers are rather insignificant in comparison. Accounting for variation in production system, the global average water footprint for a single kilogram of beef is 15,415 liters/kg.[32][33][34] If we add in emissions, this one animal product alone is an environmental disaster. Although beef accounts for only about 30% of the industrial world’s meat consumption, it contributes 78% of meat’s GHG emissions.[35]

Methane, for example, which is produced by cows in alarming quantities, is 25-100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide[36] and has 86 times the global warming power[37]

Additionally, livestock as a whole is responsible for 65 percent of all emissions of nitrous oxide–a greenhouse gas that is 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.[38]

It’s not just cows, though, that have such an adverse effect on the environment. They are certainly one of the greatest offenders of animal agriculture, but by no means the only one.

Pig farming creates what are called lagoons. They are lakes of stagnant feces and urine. The ammonia emissions from these lagoons create what’s called fine particle pollution in the air and pose a serious health threat to neighboring communities, including decreased lung function, cardiovascular ailments and even premature death.[39] The waste contains disease-causing pathogens and increases antibiotic resistance, and can seep into the ground water, contaminating local supplies.[40][see further citations in the linked review]

If we look again at water usage, a kg of eggs has a global average water footprint of 3,265 liters/kg, meaning a single 60 gram egg takes about 200 liters to produce.[41][42][43] And the average footprint for milk is 1,020 liters/kg, with dairy cattle accounting for 19% of the total water footprint of animal production in the world from 1996-2005. In the same time range, layer hens accounted for 7% of the footprint, and beef cattle accounted for a full third.[44][45]

We can see here that without fail those food products with the smallest water footprints based on weight are plant-based.[46][47][48] But weight doesn’t necessarily mean sustenance. Still, global averages show that “when viewed from a caloric standpoint, the water footprint of animal products is larger than for crop products” with “the average water footprint per calorie for beef [being] twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots.”[49] And with protein one of the greatest nutrition concerns for people considering veganism, it’s worth noting that “the water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken meat is about 1.5 times larger than for pulses” [50][51][52] with beef’s being 6 times larger. Leading to the conclusion that “it is more efficient to obtain calories, protein and fat through crop products than animal products.” [53][54][55]

But we don’t really need studies to tell us that eating animals requires more energy input and creates more waste than eating plants. How can it not?

Eating animals is incredibly inefficient. We are filtering our nutrients, our water, our resources, through someone else’s body. Globally, we’re feeding close to 40% of our grain to our food animals.[56] How can that not be worse for the environment than simply eating the plants ourselves? The United States alone could feed 800 million people with the grain we feed to our livestock. That’s more than the estimated 795 million people going hungry in the world today.[57][58] 98% of the massive water footprint for animal agriculture we just covered goes to growing feed crops for the animals we eat.[59]

I’m not suggesting that a global shift to veganism will automatically result in the proper redistribution of our crops to those in need, but it’s the only way we can have the food to feed everyone, especially if we don’t want factory farming and industrial agriculture.

When it comes to this environmental and resource toll, many people point to small farms, sustainable practices. Like grass fed beef. Or free-range eggs.

The thing is, we don’t have the land. There’s simply no land for the number of animals we eat every year. The amount of land that it takes to produce 37,000 pounds [16,782 kg] of plant-based foods will only yield 375 pounds [170kg] of meat.[60][61][62]

The land required to feed 1 vegan for 1 year is 0.07 hectares [1/6th acre]. It takes 3 times as much for a vegetarian, meaning someone who consumes dairy and eggs but no meat, and 18 times as much for a meat-eater.[63][64]

You can grow 15 times more protein on any given area of land with plants versus animals. On top of all of that, studies show that pasture-raised cows emit 40-60% more greenhouse gases than grain-fed.[65]

I could talk about the environmental cost of animal agriculture all day and we would only just be scratching the surface.

I did want to speak briefly to fishing and ocean health before moving on. I published a 17-minute video report encompassing the most recent research on the state of our oceans, which will also be on your research page, so I’ll try to summarize some main takeaways.

Whether you eat fish and marine life or not, this matter impacts all of us. The ocean, or rather the phytoplankton within the ocean, provides somewhere between 50 and 80% of our oxygen[66][67][68] and the oceans ecosystems store carbon in massive quantities.[69]

Since we tend to go for the biggest fish first, only 10% of predatory fish species remain,[70] which could leave the unchecked species to feed on the ocean’s vegetation releasing the stored carbon. If we lost just 1% of these blue carbon ecosystems, it would be equivalent to releasing the annual greenhouse gas emissions of Australia.[71][72]

We pull 90-100 million tonnes[73] of fish from our oceans each year[74][75] with some sources even estimating 150 million tonnes.[76] There is no way for the marine populations to replenish themselves.

Our industrial fishing methods are incredibly inefficient, with some operations throwing 98% of their catches overboard, dead,[77][78] because they weren’t the target species.

As I said earlier, land-based animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones, which are areas in the ocean starved of oxygen such that marine life suffocates and dies.

So the animals we are raising for food on land are killing the animals we are ripping from the ocean. And to add a further layer of perversity, we are feeding the fish we catch to the cows, pigs, chicken, and other land animals and to the fish we farm.

And people think veganism is extreme? When humanity is decimating habitats, consuming land and resources, polluting the oceans, destroying the rainforest, driving species after species into extinction, feeding plants that we could eat to animals and feeding other animals to animals that aren’t supposed to eat animals, all so that we can eventually eat the animals ourselves, all the time leaving an astronomical wake of destruction behind us. But of course as a consumer, we don’t see the trail. We see the pretty packages and sleek advertising. We find comfort in the fact that most people eat the way we do; that most people don’t seem to be concerned. And we continue to believe that this is the way it’s supposed to be.

But here’s a takeaway from the environmental reasoning for veganism: We have reached the point beyond personal choice, beyond “you eat how you want to eat and I’ll eat how I want to eat.” This is a global crisis and it’s not about you or me anymore. We say that children are our future but what future can they have when we are eating the planet to death? The world cannot sustain meat, dairy and egg production. It simply can’t.

We’ve seen that grass-fed beef consumes more land and produces more GHG than industrial or factory farms. But a lesser-discussed aspect of this idyllic farming method is consumer cost.

A study that interviewed dairy farmers in the north of Portugal asked them to comment upon a picture of pasture raised cows and cows living indoors. The farmers agreed that the pasture dairy cows were ideal but not feasible. Some stated that they wouldn’t have the land, as we already discussed, while others brought up the point that while consumers would prefer pasture-raised, they wouldn’t want to pay the extra cost. A quote from one farmer, sums it up perfectly. He said that it “isn’t about telling people ‘what is it that you want?’ this is about ‘how much are you willing to pay?’’[79]

Consumers want their animal products to be humane, they want them to be environmentally friendly and they want them to be affordable. But this is not possible. And farmers’ primary motivation, just like the larger agribusiness, is money. Industrial agriculture and factory farming are taking over for a reason. Intensive farming makes production faster, larger and cheaper. It also by default, makes the lives and deaths of the animals even more horrific.

However, I would like to emphasize that from an ethical perspective, the type of farming- whether small and family run or an industrial factory farm – is not important. For the cow, the pig, the chicken, duck, turkey, for the lamb or sheep, they don’t know the name of the company or person enslaving them. They don’t know what size the farm is or what country. They are just as robbed of their rights and their lives regardless of location or farm size or country.

Let’s go over some of the industry standards for animals. Some of the details may vary from country to country even location to location, but maybe not as much as you may think. Farm animals are usually labeled or marked in some way so that farmers can keep track of them and clearly mark ownership.

They may be branded with hot irons or have their skin frozen off. They may be tattooed and tagged or even have electronic transponders injected under their skin or strapped to their neck or ankle.[80] The important thing is that they are clearly property. And they are treated as such.

We breed and manipulate their genetics to grow bigger faster, until every animal we eat is still a baby.

If their bodies don’t conform to their owner’s desire, they are altered at will. Baby pigs have their teeth cut out, their ears notched, their tails cut off and their testicles ripped out, all without anesthetic. Chickens, turkeys and other birds in the meat and egg industries have their sensitive beaks cut or seared off. Cows have their horns cut or burned off and are also castrated without anesthetic.

We say this is for their own good because if we don’t clip their teeth or cut their beaks or slice off their tails, they’ll attack and chew on each other. Of course we fail to mention that these behaviors are stress responses to overly confined, insanity-inducing conditions. If we didn’t put them in these conditions, they wouldn’t react the way they do.

One of the most heartbreaking industries is dairy. Most of us grow up thinking that cows are made to be milked. We may even think they have a constant supply of milk – an anomaly among mammals. But cows are just like us. The carry their babies for 9 months just like we do and lactate to feed their baby just like we do, and then they stop, just like we do.

So to get cow’s milk, cows have to be repeatedly inseminated, which is a nice word for raped. The restraining apparatus used to secure the cows is literally referred to within the dairy industry, at least in America, as a “rape rack,” so this isn’t a term dreamed up by vegans activists. Once a cow gives birth, her baby is taken away from her and if he is a male, he is sent to a veal farm.

He is tied down unable to move or locked in a cage where he cannot turn around before being slaughtered when only weeks old. Veal wouldn’t exist without dairy.   Every cup of yogurt, every scoop of ice cream is tied to the death of those baby calves.

And mother cows experience a horrific agony of their own. Cows bond intensely with their calves and will cry for days when they are taken. A former cattle rancher friend of mine turned vegan when she witnessed her cows chasing the trailer as it took their children away. She says they cried for days and only stopped when they lost their voices. This is not anthropomorphizing. It is a mother’s grief and it’s utterly heartbreaking to watch.

After being forced into pregnancy after pregnancy, having their children violently taken and getting infections from frequent milkings, the mothers of the dairy industry finally give out at age 4 or 5 and are termed “spent.” Allowed to live free of this exploitation, cows can live over 20 years. But when their bodies give out decades before their time, dairy cows are slaughtered for cheap meat and pet food.

On a lighter note, it’s rather absurd when you think about it. What made a human one day decide that it was time to return to nursing? And why did they choose a cow? With all the mammals in the world they decided that a 700+ kg animal was the one to nestle up to? It’s a bizarre concept when you look at it outside of societal custom.

But this is what humans have done. We’ve made commodities and products out of individuals. When we’ve sufficiently altered them to fit our needs, we shove them in cramped cages or sheds. We deprive them of sunlight. We manipulate temperature and light cycles so they lay more eggs, or keep them confined and unable to move so their flesh is more tender. And if they don’t serve a purpose or make a profit, we throw them away like garbage.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the egg industry. Chickens bred for laying eggs are different than those bred for their flesh. This is another human-created specialization. Because of this, the egg industry produces millions if not a billion unwanted male baby chicks every year. Males can’t lay eggs so they’re of no use.

To “dispose of,” as they say, these baby chicks, they are either painfully gassed, slowly suffocated in plastic bags, or they are ground up alive. We’re talking about the cute fluffy yellow baby chicks.

This is common practice in the industry and the European Union specifies maceration, meaning the live grinding, as the method of dispatching of chicks. They have to be less than 72 hours old – not even three days of life.[81]

Now as far as I can tell Derovo Group is the largest egg producer in Portugal. The Pombal factory processes about 1.8 million eggs/day and their Mieres factory has a 3 million egg/day capacity.[82]

Egg-laying hens are often kept in battery cages with barely enough room to move. We’ve bred them to produce eggs in unnatural quantities and alter their environment to promote even higher production. Hens lose vital nutrients every time their body forms an egg. These high production numbers coupled with cramped and filthy conditions leads to early mortality rates. But luckily, all of the female chicks whose brothers were thrown in the grinder are there to take their mothers’ places.

Of course nowadays we have free-range and cage-free facilities. But in truth, they aren’t much better, with birds crammed into sheds rather than tiny cages.

The Council of the European Union set a directive in 1999 that banned all “barren battery cages” to be replaced by “colony” cages, by 2012.[83]

In 2012, France, and eight other countries, including Portugal, told the European Commission that their farmers will not be ready to fully implement the new rules. Another four countries, said they were unlikely to be ready.[84]

The new regulations allow 750 cm2 cage area per hen compared to 550 cm2 in conventional battery cages.[85] They had over 12 years to add 200 square centimeters.

Humane regulation doesn’t equal humane conditions. Not only because of the industry’s noncompliance, but because there is no way to keep someone captive against their will in a kind manner. There is no way to take what isn’t ours humanely. And there is certainly no way to humanely slaughter.

Even the welfare of animals in the industry is in the interest of humans. The Portuguese dairy farmers in the study I mentioned did express that animal welfare was important. However, this was “often expressed in terms such as animals which are not faring well are not producing well. The importance of good animal health and welfare was also mentioned in the context of the farmer’s own situation, with reference to that problems with animal health and welfare make the farmer’s life difficult.”[86]

As the farmers said, while they recognize that pasture raising their herds is a more ideal environment, they cannot do so and make a profit. And profit is always above the safety, comfort, and even the very lives of these animals. It has to be. That’s what happens when we make products out of living beings. Money takes priority over life.

You may be thinking that sure, large-scale animal agriculture is a problem. And no one wants animals to suffer the way they do in all the undercover videos we see. But that’s in America, right? Or China. Or some far away land. It’s not here. Here we have higher standards. Better regulations. Well let’s take a look at the regulations, shall we? [tweet this]

We’ve already gone over the laying hen accommodations. The EU also has stipulations for slaughter and supplemental studies, like the one that found that over 2.1 million of the 25 million cows slaughtered in the EU in 2012 were killed without any form of stunning.[87]

If you read enough of the council regulations from the EU, there’s a level of absurdity with how much time, energy, detail, government money, and paperwork goes into finding just the right way to kill.

And you only have to make it to the end of a paragraph before you find exclusions. Very often poultry, rabbits and hares are excluded. If you’re killing an animal yourself for private consumption, or for a cultural event, or a tradition, there are exclusions. Fish aren’t even considered. Reptiles and amphibians are excluded. If it’s a religious killing, no stunning is required and regulations are relaxed. If the slaughterhouse is a small operation, it’s not required to have an animal welfare officer.

The document recognizes the need to phase out the use of carbon dioxide for pigs and waterbath stunners for poultry but does not included that in the Regulation “because the impact assessment revealed that such recommendations were not economically viable at present in the EU.”[88]

Again, money prevails.

You can pour through this document for all of the legal speak on how to make taking the life of a living being acceptable. I mean it really is absurd when we step back and think about it. Do we have manuals on how to humanely rape? Or how to compassionately kidnap? Or ethically rob? Of course not because those are oxymorons. They cannot coexist. But when it comes to killing animals, we will bend over backwards and create massive paper trails of regulations to feel good about what we are doing.

Again, I must ask, is veganism really the extreme choice here?

Incredibly the regulation states that, “There is sufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate that vertebrate animals are sentient beings.” And that, “Many killing methods are painful for animals. Killing animals may induce pain, distress, fear or other forms of suffering to the animals even under the best available technical conditions.”[89]

And later “Other stunning methods may not lead to death and the animals may recover their consciousness or sensibility during subsequent painful procedures.” [90]

They are quick to add that stunning methods, which do not result in instantaneous death will be “hereinafter referred to as simple stunning.” [91] Which is a lovely euphemism.

Now I’m not trying to pick on the European Union or Portugal. My country has nothing to be proud of. We are just as cruel and just as convoluted in our attempts at justification. We just do it on a much larger scale. America provides many countries with an easy dismissal when confronted with undercover footage. I’ve heard “that only happens in America” more times than I can count. But I’ll tell you something. Americans do the exact same thing. Pointing the finger is defensive tactic that crosses all cultures and creeds. It unites us in our humanity, in a way.

It’s either an isolated incident, or in some other country, or from decades ago before there were better regulations. It’s never what’s happening in our own backyards.

[At this point in the speech I play a video of worldwide undercover footage with the following lead-in]:

I’m going to play a video now. The portions of the footage where the location is known will be labeled as such. But it doesn’t mean that the same thing isn’t happening in other parts of the world. I trimmed down hours of footage into a 4-minute clip.

I apologize that parts of the video will be low resolution as that was how the footage was presented. It will not be pleasant, but I’d implore you to watch anyway. You can’t make an informed decision without having all the facts. If you feel you must turn away, I’d just ask you to think on the question,

“If I can’t watch process, do I have a right to eat the product?”

[the footage can be seen at 37:03 in the video at the top of this post. What follows is the continuation of my speech after the footage has concluded]

In my years of being vegan and speaking with many, many non-vegans, I have yet to ever hear one reason that even comes close to justifying putting a sentient being through what we just saw. Not one.

You cannot watch that and say that the animals we kill for our food don’t know any better. That they die peacefully and humanely. They can sense the fear. They can smell the blood. And they fight. They fight to the end.

And you can’t say that it’s happening in some far away place because it’s happening all over the world. The CO2 chambers you saw – those were the medieval devices lowering pigs to an extraordinarily painful death of burning from the inside out – that is seen as the most humane method of slaughtering pigs.

And it is used here in Portugal.[92]

The pig we say in the traditional backyard slaughter here in Portugal wanted to live just as badly as those in the factory farms.

And the pig we saw in the traditional backyard slaughter here in Portugal wanted to live just as badly as those in the Portuguese and American industrial farms.

Our traditions do not alleviate their suffering. And our customs do not dictate the value of someone else’s life. Traditions can be wrong. And customs can be cruel. [tweet this] There are many atrocities in the history of humanity that we now look upon with disgust and disbelief at what used to be commonplace.

Whether it’s bullfighting or the circus, animals are not here to be enslaved, abused and tortured for our entertainment. They did not enter willingly into this contract.

The most absurd thing of all is that we don’t even need to eat animals. We benefit in every conceivable way from not eating them. I didn’t get in depth with the health aspects of veganism, but you can find resources on the page I’ll be leaving you with.

The good news is being vegan doesn’t mean giving up taste or even giving up our favorite foods. These days there exist vegan alternatives for virtually every meat, cheese, dairy creation, even eggs. And you can find recipes online for making your own versions if the readymade alternatives aren’t available in your area or are too expensive.

Veganism is the most powerful tool we have for our saving planet, for improving our health when we eat health-consciously, and for regaining our compassion- for becoming the people we believe ourselves to be: Good people.

And good people don’t destroy the planet, leaving our children futureless. Good people don’t kill newborn babies in grinders. Good people don’t tear day old babies away from their mothers. Good people don’t rape, torture and murder. Yet “good people” everywhere are doing all of these things with every bite.

Our treatment of animals is a global issue. Cruelty knows no culture. It respects no country’s borders. But neither does compassion. [tweet this]

We have the power to stop all of this. That’s the beauty of veganism. It happens on an individual basis. You are the change. You decide what goes into your body. You decide whether you want to continue to have others kill for you. You decide whether you want to continue consuming death, terror, and heartbreak. You have the information at you feet. The responsibility now lies in your hands. You decide. And my hope is, you’ll decide to go vegan.


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The Nicest Way To Die (more on “humane” slaughter) [or on YouTube]

Open Your Eyes (non-graphic) [or on YouTube]

How Many Animals Do We Kill [or on YouTube]

Expectation Vs. Reality – Pork [or on YouTube]

Holocaust Survivors Speak [or on YouTube]

Through The Eyes Of The Animals (Draw My Life) [or on YouTube]

More on EGGS [or on YouTube]

➣Videos on Wool [or on YouTube], Honey (this version was made for kids)[or on YouTube], Milk (kids version | drawn version)[kids version on YouTube | drawn version on YouTube], Silk [or on YouTube]

The Most Important Videos I’ve Made [opens on YouTube Playlist]

Recommended Videos For Non-Vegans [opens on YouTube Playlist]

Additional Website & Inspiring Speaker:
Gary Yourofsky of ADAPTT.org


Everything Wrong With Environmentalism in 11 Minutes Or Less [or on YouTube]



Nutrition Concerns Series With Dr. Michael Greger [or on YouTube]

The Real Dietary Killers [or on YouTube]

How Not To Die [or on YouTube] [or get the book]



PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
Dr. John McDougall

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn [Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease]


Easy Egg Substitutes

How To Be Vegan On A Budget


Associação Vegetariana Portuguesa (just be aware some dishes/advice may be vegetarian [no meat] but can easily be adapted to vegan [no meat, eggs, dairy, honey])

ANIMAL (animal rights organization – site under construction as of 12/3/16)

Full-Length Undercover Video by ANIMAL

Palestra de Galactolatria – Mau deleite com Dra. Sônia T. Felipe – no Instituto Avalon UPDATED version: Palestra na OAB de Brasília

Ética e Direitos Animais – Sônia T. Felipe

➤You can also explore my content on this page or search my channel on YouTube or see the playlists

CITATIONS [bibliography below citations]

[1] Chris Hedges, “‘What Every Person Should Know About War,’” The New York Times, July 6, 2003.

[2] USDA. “Poultry Slaughter 2015 Summary,” February 2016. *NOTE: in the talk I used the figure of 8.6 billion from this report: USDA, “Poultry Slaughter 2013 Summary,” February 2014, but have since found the updated statistics.

[3]Hunger Statistics | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide,” accessed March 14, 2016.

[4] Eric Holt-Giménez, “We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People… and Still Can’t End Hunger,Common Dreams, May 8, 2012.

[5]Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” (United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, February 2011).

[6] David Pimentel et al., “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues,BioScience 54, no. 10 (October 1, 2004): 909–18, doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0909:WRAAEI]2.0.CO;2.

[7]Livestock and Climate Change | Worldwatch Institute,” accessed March 14, 2016.

[8] Carl Haub and Population Reference Bureau, “How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?,” accessed February 29, 2016.

[9] A Mood and P Brooke, “Estimating the Number of Fish Caught in Global Fishing Each Year (2012 Version),” 2012.

[10]Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret,” COWSPIRACY, accessed March 12, 2016.

[11] R. Anhang Goodland, “Livestock and Climate Change: What If the Key Actors in Climate Change Were Pigs, Chickens and Cows?” (Worldwatch Institute, December 2009).

[12]Livestock and Climate Change | Worldwatch Institute,” accessed March 12, 2016.

[13] Mario Herrero et al., “Biomass Use, Production, Feed Efficiencies, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Global Livestock Systems,Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, no. 52 (December 24, 2013): 20888–93, doi:10.1073/pnas.1308149110.

[14]Forks Over Knives | Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?,Forks Over Knives, May 20, 2013.

[15] Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra, “A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products,Ecosystems 15, no. 3 (April 2012): 401–15, doi:10.1007/s10021-011-9517-8.

[16] P. W. Gerbens-Leenes, M. M. Mekonnen, and A. Y. Hoekstra, “The Water Footprint of Poultry, Pork and Beef: A Comparative Study in Different Countries and Production Systems,Water Resources and Industry, Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) for better water governance and sustainable development, 1–2 (March 2013): 25–36, doi:10.1016/j.wri.2013.03.001.

[17] Pete Smith, Mercedes Bustamante, et al, “Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU),” accessed March 11, 2016.

[18] Philip Thornton, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen, “Livestock and Climate Change,International Livestock Research Institute.[cgspace. Cgiar. org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3. Pdf], 2011.

[19] Dr Richard Oppenlander, Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work (Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street Press, 2013).

[20] Sérgio Margulis, Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, World Bank Working Paper, no. 22 (Washington, D.C: World Bank, 2004).


[22] EarthTalk, “What Causes Ocean ‘Dead Zones’?,Scientific American, accessed February 27, 2016.

[23] Environmental Protection Agency, “What’s the Problem? | Animal Waste | Region 9 | US EPA,” accessed February 27, 2016.

[24] Henning Steinfeld et al., “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” 2006.

[25] World Wildlife Fund, “Impact of Habitat Loss on Species,” accessed February 27, 2016.

[26] Center for Biological Diversity, “How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet,Take Extinction Off Your Plate, accessed February 27, 2016.

[27] Dr Richard Oppenlander, “Freshwater Depletion: Realities of Choice,Comfortably Unaware, accessed February 27, 2016.

[28] Oppenlander, Food Choice and Sustainability, 2013.

[29] C. Michael Hogan, “Causes of Extinction,The Encyclopedia of Earth, accessed February 27, 2016.

[30] Brian Machovina, Kenneth J. Feeley, and William J. Ripple, “Biodiversity Conservation: The Key Is Reducing Meat Consumption,” iScience of The Total Environment 536 (December 1, 2015): 419–31, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.022.

[31] Dr Richard Oppenlander, “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification,Comfortably Unaware, accessed February 27, 2016.

[32]Water Footprint Product Gallery,WaterFootPrint.org, accessed March 13, 2016, /en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/.

[33] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products.”

[34] M. M. Mekonnen and A. Y. Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products,” 2010.

[35]AAAS: Climate-Friendly Dining … Meats,” Science News, accessed March 12, 2016.

[36] Drew T. Shindell et al., “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions,Science 326, no. 5953 (October 30, 2009): 716–18, doi:10.1126/science.1174760.

[37] Working Group 1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis,” 2013.

[38]Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,” accessed March 12, 2016.

[39] National Research Council (U.S.) and National Research Council (U.S.), eds., Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs (Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2003).

[40] Ibid.

[41] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products.”

[42] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.

[43]Water Footprint of Crop and Animal Products: A Comparison,” accessed March 13, 2016.

[44] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products.

[45] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.

[46] Ibid.

[47]Water Footprint of Crop and Animal Products: A Comparison,” accessed March 13, 2016.

[48] Arjen Y Hoekstra, “Water for Animal Products: A Blind Spot in Water Policy,Environmental Research Letters 9, no. 9 (September 1, 2014): 091003, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/9/091003.

[49] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.

[50] Ibid.

[51] “Water Footprint of Crop and Animal Products: A Comparison.”

[52] Hoekstra, “Water for Animal Products.”

[53] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.”

[54] WaterFootPrint.org “Water Footprint of Crop and Animal Products: A Comparison.”

[55] Hoekstra, “Water for Animal Products.”

[56] “U.S. Could Feed 800 Million People with Grain That Livestock Eat, Cornell Ecologist Advises Animal Scientists | Cornell Chronicle,” accessed March 12, 2016, http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat.

[57] “Hunger Statistics | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide,” accessed March 12, 2016, https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats.

[58] “2015 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by WHES,” accessed March 12, 2016, http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm.

[59] Mekonnen and Hoekstra, “The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.”

[60] Dr Richard Oppenlander, Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work (Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street Press, 2013), http://amzn.to/1QLqpvq.

[61] Johnny Seeds, “Direct Seeded Vegetable Crops,” n.d.

[62] “Animal Industry Report Released by Iowa State Animal Science Department | College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” accessed March 12, 2016, https://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/releases/animal-industry-report-released-iowa-state-animal-science-department.

[63] Seeds, “Direct Seeded Vegetable Crops.”

[64] John Robbins, Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth Second Edition, 25th Anniversary Edition edition (Tiburon, California : Novato, California: HJ Kramer/New World Library, 2012).

[65] “AAAS.”

[66] “Source of Half Earth’s Oxygen Gets Little Credit,” accessed March 12, 2016, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0607_040607_phytoplankton.html.

[67] Dr Jack Hall, “The Most Important Organism?,” Ecology Global Network, September 12, 2011, http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/12/important-organism/.

[68] National Geographic Society and National Geographic Society, “Save the Plankton, Breathe Freely,” National Geographic Education, February 28, 2012, http://education.nationalgeographic.org/activity/save-the-plankton-breathe-freely/.

[69] Trisha B. Atwood et al., “Predators Help Protect Carbon Stocks in Blue Carbon Ecosystems,” Nature Climate Change 5, no. 12 (September 28, 2015): 1038–45, doi:10.1038/nclimate2763.

[70] Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm, “Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities,” Nature 423, no. 6937 (May 15, 2003): 280–83, doi:10.1038/nature01610.

[71] Atwood et al., “Predators Help Protect Carbon Stocks in Blue Carbon Ecosystems.”

[72] Sarah Sedghi, “Shark Culling May Be Contributing to Climate Change,” Text, ABC News, (September 29, 2015), http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-29/sharks-and-other-predators-help-prevent-climate-change/6813042.

[73] The “tonnes” referred to throughout this paper are metric tons. [tonne/metric ton = 1,000kg/ 2,204.6lbs; ton(UK) = 1,016kg/2,240lbs; ton(US) = 907.2kg/2,000lbs]

[74] Fen Montaigne, “The Global Fisheries Crises (Still Waters, The Global Fish Crisis),” accessed February 25, 2016, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/04/global-fisheries-crisis/montaigne-text.

[75] United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012,” 2012, http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e01.pdf.

[76] Ismeni Walter, The Last Fish: Our Exhausted Seas (English Dubbing of German Documentary “Der Letzte Fisch: Unsere Meere Am Scheideweg”), 2011, https://youtu.be/lQoVQRqQhlI with original German: https://youtu.be/_bzM_MSZNiE.

[77] Environmental Justice Foundation, “Squandering The Seas: How Shrimp Trawling Is Threatening Ecological Integrity and Food Security Around the World.,” 2003, http://ejfoundation.org/sites/default/files/public/squandering_the_seas.pdf.

[78] Walter, The Last Fish: Our Exhausted Seas (English Dubbing of German Documentary “Der Letzte Fisch: Unsere Meere Am Scheideweg”).

[79] S. Silva et al., “Comfort, Health and Production: Portuguese Dairy Farmers Talk about Animal Welfare,” in The Ethics of Consumption: The Citizen, the Market and the Law, ed. Helena Röcklinsberg and Per Sandin (Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2013), 209–14, http://dx.doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-784-4_33.

[80] United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Fisheried and Aquaculture Department, “Good Practices for the Meat Industry. Secion 3: Animal Identification Practices,” n.d., http://www.fao.org/3/a-y5454e/y5454e03.pdf

[81] The Council of the European Union, “COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing,” Journal of the European Union, September 24, 2009, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:303:0001:0030:EN:PDF.

[82] “Derovo Group – Unidades Industriais,” accessed March 12, 2016, http://www.derovo.com/UK/unidades/index.php.

[83] E. U. Directive, “Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 Laying down Minimum Standards for the Protection of Laying Hens,” Official Journal of the European Communities (L 203), 1999, 53–57.

[84] Jason Lewis, “French Farmers Ignore Battery Hen Ban,” January 1, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/8986255/French-farmers-ignore-battery-hen-ban.html.

[85] Directive, “Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 Laying down Minimum Standards for the Protection of Laying Hens.

[86] Silva et al., “Comfort, Health and Production: Portuguese Dairy Farmers Talk about Animal Welfare.”

[87] European Commission, “REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on Systems Restraining Bovine Animals by Inversion or Any Unnatural Position,” August 2, 2016, https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-48-EN-F1-1.PDF.

[88] The Council of the European Union, “COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing.”

[89] Ibid.

[90] Ibid.

[91] Ibid.

[92] “Butina Reference List Worldwide,” November 2013, http://www.butina.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/images/Case_stories/Reference_list_nov_2013..pdf.


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Thornton, Philip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” International Livestock Research Institute.[cgspace. Cgiar. org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3. Pdf], 2011. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf.

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12 thoughts on “Europe’s Dark Secret: Eye Opening Speech!

    sally anne hubbard says:

    Excellent. So much valuable information. I wish people like you were around when I was growing up. I became a vegetarian and later vegan in my adult life. Before that it was common to eat animals, no one ever said or thought how bad it was for the innocent animals.

    Deborah Myers says:

    Emily, that was truly masterful! I’m so proud of you. I’m going to share this video with everyone I know… (Even though all my friends and family are sick of hearing from me about this.) I can’t understand how anyone could continue eating animals after watching this. Very powerful!!! Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication. Your heart and eloquence are unparalleled.

    Wow thank you so much Deborah! I SO appreciate it ;D So glad you found this helpful!

    Friderike says:

    Thank you.
    With love from Frid

    robert macdonald says:

    Good speech! Did you get any response from the audience or did they just rush off for the complimentary bacalhau? :)
    That the EU’s CAP spends billions to over-produce and store, prop up prices, gets exploited left, right and center etc does not help. Even the US subsizes ag “These agricultural subsidies distort trade, which adversely affects poor farmers and environmental protection in developing countries. Subsidies also impose a fiscal burden on taxpayers. Conversely, reducing agricultural subsidies in the United States (and other developed countries) could help poor farmers in developing countries compete in the marketplace, reduce ecosystem degradation and help reduce federal spending. – See more at: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ib126
    So not are we having to live with animal slaughter but we’re paying for it too! :(

    Bellen says:

    Emily – wonderful speech. Being able to present the information in a way to make people think and make decisions for themselves is difficult but you did it.

    I have a couple of questions. Granted, I’m 69, & times have changed. So, when did being vegetarian include eating eggs and dairy? In the 60s & 70s, to the best of my recollection, vegans were vegetarians that did not use any animal products like honey, wool, silk and leather but vegetarians did.

    And, secondly, do vegans really need to have the multitude of vegan products that are imitations of meat, dairy (like cheese) and eggs? Shouldn’t they get away from all that?

    I’ve only been a semi-vegan (use honey occasionally and do have some leather shoes & purses) but other than making seitan (and I’m going to stop that as soon as the garden gets to full production) I don’t try to imitate all those products I gave up. I see no need to. Guess my diet would be more of the Whole Food Plant Based variety.

    Emily.. you are so good at this, you really get the message across clearly and concisely.. I really wish for your videos to be seen by the world. I have great admiration for the work you do.

    By the way, I’ve included several of your quotes in my 2nd book..

    Andrea Eggert says:

    Great! You are intellectually inspiring und heartwarming and I thank you for your words. For me the vegan life was the best decision in my whole long life (I’ m 54 years old) and since then, many doors opened and I learned so much about the world. I wish you the very best.- Sorry for my English, I’m German.

    I can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you put on your videos and talks. Keep up with the great work you’re doing.
    You’ve inspired me to start speaking in front of an audience about veganism.

    SO great to hear this! Thank you so much for sharing this with me and for getting active ;D

    Asia Burrill says:

    Thank you for this thoroughly heartbreaking yet important speech. Thank you for inspiring others.
    Keep up the amazing work.
    Best regards

    Wow thank you so much for for your kind words. This means more to me than I can ever say. Thank you and much love!

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