So why go vegan anyway?
There’s a LOAD of reasons to go vegan. Reasons that will benefit you, AND the world around you, with minimal effort on your part.
Sound good? Have a glance over my absolute top reasons to go vegan. Some of them might surprise you!
P.S. – if you’re already vegan or have completed Veganuary, you may be interested in reading about: why people don’t stay vegan after Veganuary.
Go Vegan For – Health
A vegan lifestyle goes way beyond animal rights and that’s why HEALTH is our very first reason for going vegan. We all want to be healthy, right? Something that puts many people off going vegan is the belief that it will badly affect their health, or they won’t get the right nutrients. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
A UK study indicated that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and strokes. Another large study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet with exercise, either stopped the progress of the cancer or reversed the illness (source – I’d be interested to see further studies conducted to verify this). Vegan diets are also known to cut the risk of other types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer. I could go on – there are many objective studies out there showing that a vegan lifestyle reduces your chance of contracting many different illnesses. Try searching for legitimate long-term studies on the benefits of veganism on health, if you are a research junkie and want to know more.
There is also concern about hormones. A common practice in the meat industry is giving hormones to the animals, therefore speeding up growth. When you eat meat, these hormones enter your own body and can disrupt the natural balance of your own hormones. Some of the hormones have been shown to cause tumour growth in humans too.
Dairy products and meat also contain high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol, so provided you don’t live on a vegan junk food diet, you will find that your cardiovascular and general health improves too. Many vegans are more clued up on nutrition and diet than meat-eaters (perhaps due to over-compensating!), and anecdotally you find that vegans often have fantastic blood results at the GP’s office!
Do remember that the benefits for your health as a vegan will vary, depending on what exactly you eat. Anybody living off a diet of ready meals and sugary foods will be at a disadvantage. Of course, this is true of any diet! You can have a look into this research that describes any possible side effects of going vegan (good and bad!), such as weight loss and gain.
You can also see me vouching for a healthy plant-based diet in this article, which discusses the best eating styles.
Go Vegan For – Humans In Undeveloped Countries
Around 870 million people worldwide are suffering the effects of malnutrition. Every year, starvation claims the lives of over 2.5 million children under the age of 5. Those stats are shocking. There is enough plant-grown foods in existence to feed the entire human population, so why is this happening?
Let’s be clear, veganism isn’t just an animal rights issue, it’s a human rights issue too. Feeding grain to livestock reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Around 75% of soybeans produced are fed to animals, for example. Many people go hungry, while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Many of these slaughtered animals are then transported to affluent countries such as the UK, for us to eat! Seems odd, doesn’t it? The amount of animal-based food (meat and such) produced is much less than the plant food put into it, leading to a very poor ‘return on investment’. The grain itself could be given to these people, or the land used both to grow that grain AND raise the livestock could be used to grow vegetables and other foods.
Nitrates and other pollution from animal grazing, can also be a land and water pollutant. This leads to unsafe drinking water, spread of animal-borne illnesses, and unsanitary living conditions.
The kindest thing we can do for our fellow humans is to phase out the use of animals for food, fairly distribute the food we do have, minimise spread of disease, and encourage farmers to focus on crops rather than livestock. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is a huge contributor to this – we can effectively influence supply and demand.
Go Vegan For – Reducing Animal Cruelty
The obvious one! It all really boils down to one question – can we justify the suffering and death of animals, when we can live happily and healthily without inflicting it? By refusing to pay for animal products, we reduce the demand for them, whilst demand for plant-based alternatives increases. Fewer animals are then bred for our consumption.
Many people eating meat don’t realise the intense, prolonged, torture that animals suffer in their lives, simply to provide an unnecessary 10 minute meal for us. A high proportion never see daylight, and many die in their cramped, unhygienic surroundings before they even reach the slaughterhouse. Would you be happy for this to happen to your pet, or family members?
These animals are the same as humans in many ways. They give birth, form close bonds with others, take enjoyment in various activities, and feel pain. The only
difference is that over time we have rationalised killing some species, and not others. Is this really fair?
Many people don’t realise that cows only produce milk when they reproduce, in a similar way to humans. This milk is produced as an exact match for the calve’s nutritional requirements. However, the calves are separated from their mothers after birth. Some are killed immediately, others sold for veal. The mother cow is artificially made to keep producing milk for as long as possible, for human consumption. These mothers are well known to spend days calling for their babies, and some have even chased after their calves. This description is just the tip of the iceberg of what goes on in the dairy industry.
Over in the poultry and egg world, the male chicks of egg-laying hens are killed at one day old as they have no monetary value. Some are tipped into grinders en masse, still alive. Others are thrown into huge bins and left to die. This practice even happens on free-range and organic farms.
This is just a mere snapshot of the horrific and senseless suffering that goes on every day – I haven’t even mentioned the fish, honey and fur industries! I’ve kept it non-graphic for the sensitive.
Multiply all of this by the 2.7 million animals that are killed in the UK alone EVERY DAY, and you can understand why we need to make a change. This scale of suffering is sickening.
Go Vegan For – The Environment
Most of us have realised by now that climate change is real and happening as we speak. Whilst animal agriculture isn’t the only factor contributing to climate change, it is certainly helping to accelerate it. Raising animals for food uses many more resources than growing plants. 30% of the ice-free surface area of the Earth is used to either rear livestock, or grow the food to feed it. They produce a huge amount of methane (cows alone in excess of 150 billion gallons per day!), and methane is thought to be 25 to 100 times more harmful than CO2 – not good. An assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also found that the contribution of the livestock industry to global greenhouse gas emissions, exceeds that of transportation!
This leads me on to pollution. Factory farming is a huge contributor to the contamination of our soil, air and water. It uses harmful chemicals, and creates toxic waste. This all runs off into our rivers and oceans, killing marine life and contaminating our water supply. The soil surrounding farms is also highly susceptible to pollution when animal waste pits (excrement and urine) break or overflow. If that’s not enough, the ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulphide produced ends up in the air we breathe too. Nice!
Meat-eating is an energy issue too. Producing meat uses up to 75 times more energy than producing corn, notably electricity. Research is ongoing but has suggested that a third of all fossil fuels used in the USA, are for animal agriculture. These are fuels that are slowly running out!
To keep it short and sweet (ish!), I haven’t even mentioned deforestation, land degradation, water scarcity and species extinction. Animal agriculture contributes to every single one.
In a nutshell, go vegan for our lovely planet.
Go Vegan For – The Containment Of Illnesses
With the contamination of our soil, water and air (described above), comes the spread of illness and bacteria. We catch E. coli from eating contaminated red meat – it’s the top cause of bloody diarrhea. The young, elderly, and already unwell people, can become very ill or even die from E. coli. But, by being vegan you avoid the risk of E. coli infection.
Salmonella food poisoning is related to E. coli. People most commonly catch it from contact with raw eggs, or raw chicken meat (from poultry infected with salmonella). Veganism means you’ve greatly reduced the risk of getting it.
Let’s also talk about ‘mad cow disease’. It’s fatal, it’s a non-treatable disease. You definitely don’t want to catch this one. The disease is uncommon in developed countries such as the UK, but it does still exist! One way to ensure you don’t get the human version of it (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) is by avoiding animals infected with mad cow disease.
Lastly, antibiotics. Livestock are given them, which can then lead to bacterial resistance. They are heavily overused in order to increase profit. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in animals reared for meat. The more you consume meat, the greater the risk of exposure to resistant bacteria and the gene mutation that causes it. The resistant gene MCR-1 (a mutation from antibiotic Colistin, used to fatten pigs up) was discovered in 15% meat samples and 21% animals tested 2011-2014.
So there we have it. I sped through it in brief but found many reasons why consuming meat and dairy is NOT the right thing to do. The devastation caused is just not worth the justification – unnecessary meals. There are many studies to objectively support the points raised above, with more ongoing research to fact-find too.
Before we move on, I’d like to say one final thing. Please beware of ‘facts’ and propaganda on the internet. There are many untruths circulating in our wonderful online space, some from militant vegans, but many more from the meat and dairy industry. Did you know the dairy industry actually tried to stop the plant milk industry from using the word ‘milk’? That some studies claiming that children NEED cow’s milk for calcium were actually funded by the dairy industry to push sales? Be careful when researching and reading studies, especially those funded by groups with an agenda. Check sources, check who paid for the research and why. Education is key!
Still not convinced that veganism is the right path for you? Visit my Mythbusters page where I abolish all those common excuses for not going vegan.
Thinking about giving veganism a try? Move on to my step-by-step plan for making that change.
Other sources for this article include:
Food and Agriculture Organization
Humane Society International
International Vegetarian Union
Courtney Linder for The Independent
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
United Nations World Food Programme
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The Vegan Society