“Being vegan is not a sacrifice, it's a joy!”
This quote by Gary L. Francione describes the experience very closely. Many non-vegans think that the vegan lifestyle is extreme and restrictive. People believe so, because most of us grew up in a society that conditioned us to think that it is somehow acceptable to cause suffering of animals for our pleasure. In a society like this, it really might seem a 'sacrifice' to give up all the cruel products, such as meat, dairy and eggs. However, once make the connection between what you buy and where it came from and what it causes to your health and the environment, you realise that living without such products is not a sacrifice it all. Being a vegan is very empowering, because you will prove to yourself that you can largely reduce the amount of suffering your choices will make in the future. It really is a joy! This is a brief summary of the main reasons for choosing this awesome lifestyle.
In the meat, dairy and egg industry animals are treated as objects meant to generate profit. These industries do not take into account that animals are sentient beings, who can feel both physical and emotional pain. For instance, pigs, who are just as intelligent as dogs, are mutilated at young age without anesthesia. Their teeth are clipped off, their tails cut off and their genitals painfully torn out. Dairy cows are separated from their babies right after birth, so that their milk can be used for dairy products. Yes, just like humans, cows have to be pregnant or give birth to produce milk. Behind every bottle of milk you see in a supermarket is a calve that has been taken away from their mother. The egg industry is just as cruel. The male chicks (who cannot lay eggs and are not suitable for meat) are immediately killed after birth, since no profit can be generated from them.
This is just snapshot of all the cruelty that is happening to animals around the world. Unfortunately most of us live in a society where we are taught that this is normal, natural and necessary. On one hand, it is a crime to abuse your dog or cat, on the other hand it is normal to pay for a piece of meat of a tortured animal and eat it. This paradox is called speciesism. Just as racism or sexism, speciesism is a type of discrimination based on a category, in this case the specie. It does not make any sense to claim that you love animals while supporting these massive industries that treat them worse than we treat the worst criminals, does it? There you go. It is so simple. If you like animals and do not want to cause suffering of other beings, being vegan is the way to align your ethical beliefs with your actions.
Find out more:
About personal experience Listen to this great motivational talk by the activist James Aspey
Yes, you can be a vegan for completely selfish reasons, too. The plant-based diet has been proven to be the healthiest diet in the world. Again, it is very simple. Plant food, when combined well and eaten in sufficient quantities, contains all the nutrients, proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber we need.
There has been so much evidence connecting diseases to the consumption of animals. Dr Campbell (author of China Study, one of the largest studies of nutrition in history) has proven that the growth of tumors directly responds to the intake of animal protein. Casein, the protein in cow's milk is actually the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered, according to Dr Campbell. On the topic of cancer, in 2015 the World Health Organisation released a report stating that processed meat is a Group I carcinogen, along with smoking cigarettes, arsenic, asbestos, alcohol, HPV and other substances. See the whole list here.
Dr Caldwell Esselsyn, the leading American expert in treating heart disease, successfully cures patients with with low-fat vegan diet, including the former president Bill Clinton, who is now a proud vegan. Once you truly dive into the massive amount of information, you will find out that the evidence is just unbelievably overwhelming. If you are new to veganism, please educate yourself about nutrition!
Find out more:
About preventing heart disease Listen to this TED talk by Rip Esselstyn, the son of Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, who has proven that a plant-based diet works miracles in preventing and healing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the Western world
About the leading causes of death Listen to Dr Michael Greger explaining how the consumption of animal products is scientifically linked to our leading causes of death
CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Animal agriculture has extremely adverse impacts on the environment. In 2006, United Nations released a report saying:
Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed, according to a new United Nations report released today. “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said. “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” (Read the whole report here)
Yes, consuming cheese and meat is contributing to global warming more than all transport together. Avoiding animal products is therefore doing more for battling climate change that all your recycling or switching a car ride for a bike or train.
Why is meat and dairy destroying the environment?
- Much more resources are needed to produce a kg of meat than a kg of grains. The cattle needs to be fed huge amounts of grains.
- All this grain needs to be grown somewhere. As a result, animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation and rain forest destruction.
- Animal agriculture and its by-products are responsible for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Animal agriculture consumes huge amounts of water. It takes on average about 10 000 litres of water to produce 0,5 kilogram of beef. In the US, animal agriculture uses 10x more water than all households.
Again, this is only a short summary of the environmental impacts. But what about human rights? Did you know that:
- We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people? If we stopped grazing so many animals and shifted the grains to starving people in under-developed countries, we could end the world hunger very soon.
- Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to lifestock.
- Depressingly, the vast majority of starving people live in countries where large amounts of the produced grains is fed to animals, which are then eaten by people in Western countries.
Find out more:
About animal agriculture Watch the documentary Cowspiracy
About the the environmental impacts of factory farming Watch this short video that gives you a good idea of the consequences