Some time ago I was waiting at the train station to catch my train to work. Suddenly, right in front of me, a cattle-train transporting live cows for slaughter came through the station. It stopped for a moment, most likely waiting for a signal to proceed. The caged carriages took up the whole length of the train station, and hundreds of big black eyes were staring out at me through the bars. They looked frightened and stressed by their uncomfortable situation, and seemed fearful of an unknown future. The train then started again and left, but I stayed there crying, out of helplessness and sadness. I asked myself, “What can I do to change this situation, to help these animals? I am already vegan and have been vegetarian for the past 15 years. I don’t buy any leather-goods, and all my cosmetics and household products are cruelty free. What more can I do?” I felt even more upset because there was nothing sensible I could think of that could have stopped that train…or future trains.
A few months later I moved into a house situated nearer to the train-line. These days I see cattle-trains very often. Not only do I see them, but I also feel and smell them. Sometimes, when at the back of my house, I am caught by the strong scent of grass mixed with milk and cow-dung that fills the air whenever they pass by. The floor of the house vibrates from the weight of them as they pass, seemingly unending—these cattle-trains are the longest I’ve seen in my life. Then, after several hours, the same scent—although weaker now—follows the sound of an empty train returning, only to again transport livestock to be driven to their death. This is happening all over the world. Sometimes we see it; often we don’t, nor want to.
Seeing these trains, I am reminded of events from the Second World War, where people were transported to concentration camps like cattle, and experienced a similar fate. When deprived of basic conditions for life, or faced with death, the difference between people and animals seems little; we both have an innate desire for, and attachment to, life, and we both feel pain and become fearful with a similar intensity no matter what kind of body or intelligence we possess. The difference I do see, however, is that there aren’t as many people willing to stand up for these beings, as there were to stand up for those prisoners during the war; there are no armies that will fight against this injustice and set them free. Unfortunately for them, humankind has decided that it is acceptable for animals to be treated cruelly and massacred.
The exploitation and mistreatment that cows endure on commercial dairy farms is reason enough for me to refuse to buy dairy products produced from their milk. I won’t support these inhumane actions nor contribute to the demand of milk obtained in such a way. Not only do these cows spend their whole lives in these compassionless conditions, but then, when they are not useful anymore, they also become someone’s meal.
Becoming vegetarian, and now vegan, was a decision I made not only for ethical reasons, but for health reasons as well, and it was definitely a great choice. I feel lighter, stronger, healthier, and my senses are much sharper and attuned. I naturally crave fresh, healthy food. This is what happens when a person stops eating meat. After a few weeks the body changes, taste preferences change, and the attraction to eating meat is lost. A life without meat opens up a completely new way of perceiving both yourself and the world around you.
For these reasons I decided to write this cookbook, even though the circumstances are not ideal: I am not a photographer, nor a food stylist, and my camera is only a small one (the kind people take on holidays to take family snaps), and I have never written a book before. However, for me, writing this book is a small step towards change, and is my answer to myself when I ask, “What more can I do to stop the cruelty?” It is my small contribution, but one which I hope will be helpful for you and for those around you, because simply by living a conscious, compassionate life, you will be doing a huge favour for both yourself and for all the other living beings that we share this world with…because they have no-one, except people like you and me, to stand up for them, just by not eating them.