Veganism is the practice of not consuming any animal products. By choosing a vegan diet, you eat food that is 100% plant-based. However, food consumption is just one of many aspects in your life that contribute to your vegan lifestyle. Others range from the clothes you wear (think: leather, wool, silk) to the upholstery you sit on (hello leather sofas) to the cosmetics lathered on your face (remember the Tested on Animals label?). There are a number of arguments for adopting a vegan lifestyle. Below, you will find them categorized into 3 sections:
Heads up: When I use “meat” or “the meat industry” from here on out, I’m talking not only about eating meat, but also dairy and eggs, and the consumption of animal products more generally, including, say, wool or leather.
In today’s world, who doesn’t want to look like the next Kardashian? I’ve had friends going on the keto diet, vowing to jog a half-marathon every morning, even doing guilt-crunches while snacking on Oreos. Nope, not kidding, although I wish I could say I was making that last one up! If only they’d consider giving up meat and dairy..
Whether you’re looking to slim down or just stay healthy, eating meat is probably not the most effective way to do it. In fact, it’s actually going to harm you. While there is much debate on what kind of diet the human body was designed for, you’ll find little on how the body was meant to consume industrialized, processed food. For better or worse, meat in the way we consume it today is toxic for our body. There are different stages at which toxins enter the meat we eventually consume, so here’s a quick breakdown for you.
Stages at which meat can become harmful:
When you consume meat, your body fights these toxins to protect you. But by continuing to consume meat frequently, you’re not making it easier for your body. Sooner or later, it’s going to get too tired, incapable of holding off the negative consequences of meat. In fact, the consumption of has been linked to numerous diseases – physical, cognitive and psychological.
Negative health consequences of meat:
But even as you debate giving up meat, you’ll start to wonder how you’ll meet your nutritional requirements, right? Let’s look at one such example – protein. After all, meat is the primary source of protein in our diet today. But did you know there’s actually an epidemic on the verge – we’re are consuming too much protein! A toxic substance in excess, the protein isn’t being digested by our bodies and instead, it’s leading to nutritional deficiencies. The cure? Increasing our fibre intake through fruits and vegetables. Convinced yet?
You’ve probably heard the arguments against animal cruelty:
Animals are living, breathing, conscious beings. Are you comfortable committing murder just to satisfy your tastebuds?
But I promise, I’m not here to shame you. If you like meat, by all means, go ahead. My only goal here is to make sure you’re fully informed in the decisions you make. The gruesome details surrounding animal cruelty can be repulsive and rarely does one want to hear about the torture and guts-and-gore. But that ignorance often leads to a discrepancy between behavior and values system. So I urge you to stay with me through this section, even if you want to turn away, close your browser window, and never think of veganism again. In fact, something you might find helpful is to close your eyes and take a deep breath each time you want to stop. Then, try again.
Given the current global political climate, even if you hadn’t before, you’ve probably heard of the term racism by now. Yes, that’s the idea where skin color determines the worth of an individual. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that racism was really questioned. Today, society has moved to a direction whereby one’s race and skin color doesn’t, and shouldn’t, impact the importance or inherent value of an individual. And that’s what’s happening today with an analogous concept: speciesism. Speciesism is the idea that the lives of certain animals, say dogs, are worth preserving, while those of other animals, say lambs, are not. Recently however, this idea of speciesism is coming under scrutiny and people are rising up, arguing that all animals are equal. After all, if you won’t eat your dog, why would you eat a lamb?
This problem is amplified by the meat industry, which doesn’t just use and kill animals, but actually tortures them. Animals live in cramped spaces, either stuffed in enclosures with others like them or in cages far smaller than what they need. They are artificially impregnated repeatedly to ensure continuous supply of meat from the newborn. When the animal’s body gives way, the animal is transported to slaughterhouses. This journey to slaughterhouses is brutal for the animals. If traffic accidents don’t kill them, then the lack of food and rest does. In summers, the heat causes dehydration; in winters, the cold is so extreme that they arrive frozen. Those who don’t die arrived injured, if lucky. Eventually, they are slaughtered for their flesh.
Let’s take a closer look at four specific animals: hens, cows, pigs and sheep.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is working hard at “making life mulitplanetary”. Till that happens, however, we have one Earth. Just the one. You and I and over 7 billion others have to share it. And like it or not, we’re not doing a great job 🙁 Our activities are releasing toxins and pollutants into our environment, bringing about global warming and climate change. One such activity is consumption of meat.
Unfortunately, research on the impact of the meat industry is few and far between. What exists, often contradicts one-another statistically. However, all research agrees on the negative impact of the meat industry on our Earth. I’m going to break the facts into three broad categories – what’s going into the meat industry, what’s coming out of the meat industry and the mere existence of the meat industry.
The meat industry’s profits depend upon maximizing the amount of meat it can produce. The two ways to increase the meat is to increase the flesh on each animal while simultaneously increasing the total number of animals.
This process has resulted in there being too many animals for the earth to sustain.
When it comes to land usage, feeding animals is ever-so-problematic. If you favor factory-farms, a ridiculously large number of the world’s ice-free surface is used to produce feed for animals within the industry. On the other hand, natural grazing leads to soil erosion. Water is as worrisome. Leaving aside the large quantities of water that animals drink, producing their feed uses irrigated ground and surface water. This usage, in turn, depletes the underground water, which is now dangerously low.
Here’s the thing about an industry: it produces waste. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the clothing industry or fashion industry or the toy industry, manufacturing generates waste. While we can certainly go down the rabbit hole of discussing how all industries are terrible and mere civilization is the root of all evil, let’s instead focus on those industries which generate more wastes than others. What’s frightening is the amount of wastes generated by the meat industry alone (this article actually ranks food in the top four most wasteful industries! and how rapidly its accelerating climate change. Waste is produced by the meat industry at each stage of production. In the farms, the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow animal feed, along with the hormones injected into animals, are disposed into the environment. They run-off into the water, air and soil, generating nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. At the next stage, the slaughterhouses dump toxic pollutants into the water and land around them, impacting the natural wildlife that may exist. Finally, during distribution and consumption, a large proportion of the meat itself is thrown out, which effectively wastes all the resources used to produce it.
The industry is considered one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases.
Now whether this is 51% as claimed by PETA or 18% as claimed by FAO (Pg: 112) is really beside the point. The industry consumes fossil fuels at shocking rates. Let’s begin by thinking about the feed given to animals. Growing this feed utilizes pesticides and fertilizers, the production and transportation of which consumes fossil fuels. Speaking of transportation, getting this feed to the animals, the animals from farms to slaughterhouses, and meat from slaughterhouses to the consumer, all require fuel. And even when the meat gets to the consumer, it is frozen, stored and cooked, each step of which expends fossil fuels. All this, of course, is above the massive amounts of energy that is required to run a farm. While fossil fuels are the “expected” source of greenhouse gases, what causes just as much emission is the animal itself. Animals, especially cows, digest their food using a process known as enteric fermentation, which releases methane and nitrous dioxide, two rather harmful greenhouse gases. All animals also produce manure, polluting the air and water. All this is just to say that cow’s burps and poop are toxic for the environment.
When I first read about the food cycle in middle school, it seemed like an obvious conclusion that I was evolutionarily supposed to eat lamb (my then go-to meat preference). After all, don’t all predators eat their prey? If only I had paused to picture myself hunting in the savannah, I’d know that even a chicken was more likely to eat me than I a lamb. What I was unaware of at that age was the difference between natural hunting for survival and the mass scale at which factory farms produce meat for today’s meat industry. Because that’s exactly what our source of meat is – an industry. Its goal is to maximize efficiency, increasing yield at the lowest cost, without much thought to what the earth can or cannot sustain. While this approach certainly favors short-term affordability of meat, it doesn’t account for long-term availability of it.
Did you know, there is a mass extinction currently in progress? The sixth, in fact, in about 540 million years. The sole cause? Human beings. The leading contributor? Meat consumption.
We have wiped out entire species of animals in each of the six continents we inhabit. In 1992, scientists from around the world came together to warn humanity of the detrimental environmental impact our lifestyles were having. 25 years later, they were forced to give out a second notice. Their Warning to Humanity reemphasized the need to “transition to sustainability”, including “promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods”.
Veganoholics are either already vegans or have chanced upon the concept and want to know more, whether or not they are considering the lifestyle themselves. This website is designed to cater to their various needs, be it understanding the vegan lifestyle, or implementing it. If you have absolutely any questions, comments or concerns, please don't hesitate in reaching out!
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