They’re after my blood. In fact, they repeatedly call on my work phone asking for it. But when I go in they won’t take it. There are blood shortages, I know. My wife and I used to be regular donors. Then we moved to the United Kingdom for my doctorate. Although largely vegetarian even then, Britain came to be under the “Mad Cow” disease scare just at that time. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy seems to have been caused by adding filler from other animals to cattle feed. Naturally vegetarian cattle—vegan as adults—were being fed animal by-products. Anyone who lived in the United Kingdom during the height of the scare is banned from ever donating blood in the United States, no matter how severe the shortage. That doesn’t mean they won’t continue to call and make you feel guilty for not donating.
Medical care is culture-specific sometimes. We once knew a woman who was a medical doctor in Sweden but who could not practice medicine in the United States. At least not without undergoing extensive medical retraining. I think of wonderful organizations such as Doctors without Borders where medically trained people help out those in less developed nations. Nations may be a necessity, but nationalism quickly leads to problems, many of them major. I realize that mixing medical techniques can cause complications, but I wonder if sometimes we go too far. And I often think about the medical problems caused by consuming too much meat. Raising cattle and hogs, especially, leads to huge environmental problems. There are better ways.
It’s been about five years now since I’ve been more or less fully vegan. Eating options have expanded enormously in that time. There are plenty of options for eating out, although most restaurant chains still seem to equate the practice with consuming animal products. For me the process was gradual. While living in Scotland in the late eighties to early nineties we cut most red meat from our diets. When my daughter turned out to be a natural vegetarian, I joined her. After several years living that way (over two decades now), I finally made the leap to being vegan. Animals should have rights. Nature can be cruel, I know. Still, to exploit other species for our gain and their sacrifice bothers me. I like to share. I even like to donate blood. I’m still asked to do it and am turned away when I show up at the door. I can’t help but to think there’s a better way.