According to The Vegan Society, Veganism is defined as:
A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
The roots of veganism sprout from three basic principles:
A vegan considers that the right to social justice is not a privilege reserved just for the human species but applies to other animal species too that inhabit this planet. A vegan passionately cares about the environment and feels responsible to contribute to the betterment of the planet. Better health resulting from making intelligent food choices is an added bonus that a vegan gets.
But the trouble is that both meat eaters and vegetarians who consume dairy and other animal products like eggs and honey, condemn and criticize vegans for taking an extreme position.
To call such pooh-pooh-ers as ignorant would be putting it too mildly and stronger words would end up alienating them.
It’s best to be gentle and persuasive and make a passionate case for veganism. Here it is:
Ethics: Veganism and Social Justice
It is not your right—based on YOUR traditions, YOUR customs, and YOUR habits—to deny animals THEIR freedom so you can harm them, enslave them and kill them. That’s not what rights are about. That’s injustice. ~ Gary Yourofsky
Man loves one set of animals (dogs and cats) and balks at eating them (unless he’s a Chinese or Korean), he yet takes pleasure in eating gentle animals like chicken, cows, goats, pigs, etc. Any normal person finds it disgusting to look at animals being slaughtered in a slaughterhouse but he nevertheless feasts on their flesh. Even a meat eater will never take his small kids on a visit to a slaughterhouse. Why? The answer is obvious.
Can this behavior be explained?
Does man know why he eats a certain set of animals? Is it because it is graphically and textually represented in many mythological texts and everyone else does it? Is it because eating animals has become a normal daily practice? Is it because meat-eating is accepted as part of the mainstream and one just shoves dead animal corpses down his throat as food without any thought? No one actually knows why we eat animals anyway.
This is a crazy illogical way of relating to animals — love one set and kill and eat another though you find them gentle. And keep on following traditions without ever questioning them.
Different species were born on our planet not to be tortured and killed for our use, but for leading a social life. Animals are sentient — they feel pain just as humans do, are emotionally attached to their offspring just like us, their kids play around just like ours, they mourn the death of their loved ones just like us, they fear death just like us, and just like us have a desire to cling to life dearly.
Yes, humans have been blessed with higher intelligence and you will never see writers, scientists, thinkers, painters from other animal species, but that does not give humans the right to entrap, imprison, forcibly impregnate (read that as rape), forcibly separate mothers from their offspring, torture and murder animals for food, clothing, animal testing of drugs and cosmetics, and what not. Does it?
Every animal deserves to live its full natural span of life. Humans must understand that animals are not inanimate objects that they can mutilate as they wish; all animals experience pain, pleasure, fear and love, especially motherly love, just as we humans do.
Environment: Veganism Protects the Environment
Basically, we should stop doing those things that are destructive to the environment, other creatures, and ourselves and figure out new ways of existing. ~ Moby
Let figures do the talking:
- Raising livestock for meat eaters requires 8% of water resources (for feedstock farming) that are otherwise reserved for human consumption. If you take into account that the human and livestock populations are rising year on year, it is easy to guess that water scarcity will hit us sooner than later and it may be followed by water wars.
It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat and just 25 gallons to produce 1 pound of wheat.
- 1 calorie from animal protein burns up 11 times the fossil fuel required to generate 1 calorie of plant protein.
- A meat-based diet generates 7 times more greenhouse gases as compared to a vegan diet.
Do you know that if Americans eliminate one serving of chicken per day it has the same effect as taking 500,000 cars off the roads?
- Animals raised for meat eaters excrete 89,000 pounds of poop per second (in USA alone). The gases from their excrement pollute rivers and our environment. In the USA, such excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states.
- Animals reared for meat consume grains, soybeans, oats, and corn. As a thumb rule, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. And then we complain about rising food prices. What are we, idiots?
Rearing meat necessitates the inefficient use of water, energy and agriculture. I can keep stating statistics, but guess the above will suffice.
Does this not make a compelling case to turn vegan — at least for people who value nature and genuinely care about climate change?
Health: Veganism For Good Health
Some people think the plant-based, whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme. ~ Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
- A study was conducted by Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic to research to understand why red meat contributed to heart disease. The results were astounding. It was discovered that saturated fat and cholesterol made only a minor contribution to the increased amount of heart disease in red-meat eaters. “The real culprit was a little-known chemical burped out by intestinal bacteria after people eat red meat. This chemical gets quickly converted by the liver into another little-studied chemical called TMAO that gets into the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.”
Another study published by the New England Journal of Medicine had similar things to say about eggs. The Journal says, “In the case of eggs, the chain of events starts when the body digests lecithin, breaking it into its constituent parts, including the chemical choline. Intestinal bacteria metabolize choline and release a substance that the liver converts to a chemical known as TMAO, for trimethylamine N-oxide. High levels of TMAO in the blood are linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”
The great news for vegans was that the studies said that vegans would not have enough gut bacteria needed to make TMAO.
Long story cut short, red meat and eggs with or without their fat content, increase the risk of heart disease.
A vegan diet, on the other hand, significantly reduces its risk.
- A vegan diet is a no-nonsense diet that is far removed from many fad diets. Meat eating is linked to obesity and perhaps that is the reason why Americans are getting fatter (no offense please — many statistics can prove me right). PETA says that adult vegans are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters. Not only does this factor make vegans healthier, it makes them leaner and meaner. Yup, vegans are sexier than meat and dairy eaters.
- T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University is of the opinion that casein in milk has the potential to cause cancers and that animal-based foods and proteins increase the risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and many similar ailments.
He also says that based on the scientific evidence gathered he knows beyond doubt a diet based on whole and plant-based foods is the way to go, and that animal & dairy products must be struck off from your diet.
- Animals reared for meat eaters are routinely injected with antibiotics. Unsafe and cheap pesticides are also used in their food. Plus, hormones are pumped to spur their growth. The result is a nightmare — farm animal flesh is packed with pesticides, antibiotics, chemicals, toxins, and hormones. That’s what meat eaters actually consume along with animal flesh.
People who argue that even plants contain pesticides should realize that pesticides contained in meat exceed pesticides contained in plants by up to 14 times.
This is all bad news for meat eaters but good news for the pharmaceutical industry.
- Those who feel that a vegan diet is neither healthy nor nutritious enough should check out this page full of famous vegan bodybuilders. Enough said.
You don’t need to eat animals to survive. And you don’t need to eat them because tradition says so — haven’t you been questioning tradition all this while?
But change is difficult and to change your routine, you must change the way you think. Think about it — when you eat meat, you end up risking your health, depleting natural resources, damning the environment, and more.
All this for fulfilling an undesirable desire, and not out of necessity.
Every vegan’s diet is well-balanced and healthy — and it is not boring at all. Give it a shot to save yourself and Mother Earth because the time to change is upon us.
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