(Original post by Snuffleupagus)
I think I can see where you're coming from, but that's a pretty simplistic view. Rejecting what is regarded as the norm, and refusing to contribute directly those who produce animal products, does have an impact - both financially, and in terms of how society as a whole views the way animals are used. It calls things into question; this inevitably leads to other, like-minded people seeing that there is an alternative to the norm, and that they, too, can make a stand against something that they feel is unjust. This is apparent from both the increasing numbers of vegetarians and vegans around the world, and the increasing awareness, in the developed world, at least, of the origin of animal products, and increasing concern regarding the lives of the animals from which they are produced.
I don't, however, believe that you can ever guarantee that an animal has not suffered - even if you know the farm it has come from treats the animals well, even if they're free range and organic, they all end up at the same slaughterhouses, which, in many cases, leave a lot to be desired (see recent campaigns to introduce CCTV into abbatoirs). Also, although, of course, there are ways of being a more discerning shopper (which should be applauded), if you go out, or to other people's houses, to eat, and unless you cook your own food from scratch, it's impossible to know the origin of all the animal products you consume.
To many people, it just boils down to the fact that we believe it's just plain wrong to take an animal's life simply for the sake of tickling a fancy (before anyone has a go, even mainstream health organisations concede that there is absolutely no physical need to eat meat - indeed, it can even damage health). I know I'm in the minority, but it's how I feel, and I don't understand how people fail to see the perverse horror of it all - but they don't, and I can only hope that one day, the majority will feel as I do, and will look back at us in the same way that we look back at those who believed it natural and acceptable to own slaves.
Oh gawd, I don't want to cause an argument (I've been meaning to come back to our discussion, Schizopear, but exams got in the way!). I'm not having a go, or demonising anyone - we all get by in our own way, I guess, but I would always encourage people to question everything, especially the things that are taken for granted (and I can say this because I'm probably old enough to be your mother, all of you).
The point I actually wanted to make was to the original poster. I applied to vet school this year, and, as you can see, I have similar views to yours. I know there seems to be this idea that you have to accept and support all things farming-related if you want to be a vet, but it's nonsense. As long as you're mature enough to accept that you're going to see a lot of things that you disagree with - that upset you - along the way, and that you will be interacting with people who have very different views from yours, and, more importantly, that you feel that you can do this professionally, and with good grace, then go for it. There's definitely room for more people like us in the profession - time has moved on.
I now live back in the rural community I was brought up in - I have some very good friends who are farmers, and although we're at opposite poles in some respects, it doesn't prevent us from being friends (in fact, several have said they totally understand why I feel the way I do). I think it's important to be able to interact with a person as a person, not as an embodiment of certain ideas, even if those ideas are different from yours - a vet has to deal with all sorts of clients. As long as they're not doing something obviously abusive, I think I'll be ok!
I also think it's important to accept that this is the world as it is right now - it's upsetting, and unjust, but it's all we've got to work with; by looking it in the eye and taking the emotional hit, we can get to a position where we can help to make it a little bit better - whether by helping the animals we come into contact with as best we can, or by challenging outdated/cruel practices from an informed, authoritative position. The end will justify the means.
I want to be able to ease the suffering of animals when and where I can - although it would probably be too difficult emotionally for me to work as a farm vet, I believe that all animals deserve the best care we can give them - in fact, it could even be argued that farm animals deserve the best care of all, considering what we take from them.
Sorry to have gone on for ages