I am not a vegan and I’ve been thinking about it a great deal lately. I love animals, I hate factory farming, I’m dairy free, so why not? Three reasons: eggs, oysters, and my husband.
Chickens are believed to be resultant of the ancestral co-mingling of at least two species of Asian jungle fowl and were first domesticated around 8,000-10,000 years ago for cockfighting, food, and religious purposes. Chickens made their way into the Americas in the hands of European and Polynesian immigrants between 1200-1600(ish).
My point here is that chickens are like dogs— we domesticated them a long time ago and have been cross-bred them to the point that there’s really no place for them in the wild anymore. If we decide as global people that we want to stop breeding domestic chickens, I’m all for it. Let’s let modern day chickens live out their lives in peace, die easy deaths, and be done with it. Until that day comes, it is our responsibility to care for the chickens that we domesticated and those chickens are going to lay eggs.
To be clear, we are whole-heartedly against factory farming and we do not buy grocery store eggs. We get our eggs from reputable sources at local farmers markets or from friends that we know love their chickens and care for them accordingly. Chickens will lay eggs no matter what and, if they come from a known reputable source, I don’t see any harm in eating those eggs.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of sentience is being responsive to or conscious of sense impressions. I like this definition from Animals, Ethics, and Trade: The Challenge of Animal Sentience better, “Sentience is the ability to perceive one’s environment, and experience sensations such as pain and suffering, or pleasure and comfort. An animal that is sentient will have the ability to receive internal sensation and information from its environment, and then interpret this as an emotion.”
In my opinion, oysters do not meet these criteria. They do have nervous systems and ganglia to interpret sensations but they do not have brains. They’re not making memories, engaging in cognitive thought, or feeling emotions like fear the way a cow, sheep, pig, chicken, or goat might—the way people do. I think it’s okay to eat oysters…and champagne.
M husband is a patient, kind, thoughtful man who supports me whenever I express a goal or desire to him. He has my back and I have his. When I told him I couldn’t eat animals anymore, he was on board. When I told him I couldn’t do mass-produced grocery store eggs, he began buying local (sometimes considerably more expensive) eggs without complaint. When I said I was done with dairy, he switched to non-dairy creamer (Ripple is awesome), milk, and butter right along with me.
When I told my husband I didn’t think I could eat fish anymore, he took umbrage. He’s given up a lot. We used to get chicken wings together ever Sunday, roast a chicken once a week, eat bacon every Saturday morning, and enjoy the occasional VERY rare steak together. All he asks is that we be able to enjoy good sushi once in a while and sustainable, locally-caught fish (he even gave up salmon). You only live once and marriage is a partnership—sometimes, something has to give. Ergo, I eat fish sometimes.
That’s it. Agree with them or don’t but those are my reasons. If anyone would like to share their (polite) arguments or opinions with me, I’m open to them. I really do feel guilty for eating fish so if anyone has a good argument or alternative for that, I’d love to hear it.