People are drawn to veganism and vegetarianism by all sorts of motives. Some of us want to live longer, healthier lives or do our part to reduce pollution. Others have made the switch because we want to preserve Earth’s natural resources or because we’ve always loved animals and are ethically opposed to eating them.
Thanks to an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, even the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits. And no wonder: An estimated 70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.
So, Why am I vegan? For the the sake of my mental and physical health, the environment and most importantly, the animals.
For the animals
Every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food. Raising animals on factory farms is cruel and ecologically devastating. Eating animals is bad for our health, increasing the risk of developing various diseases and illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.In response to animal welfare, health, and ecological concerns, compassionate people everywhere are adopting a vegetarian diet.
Preventing the exploitation of animals is not the only reason for becoming vegan but for many it remains the key factor in their decision to change. Whether you simply love cute, fluffy animals or believe that all sentient creatures have a right to life and freedom, avoiding animal products is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty. By going Vegan you can save up to 200 animals a year! A more detailed overview on why being vegan demonstrates true compassion for animals can be found here.
For your health
More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the health benefits: increased energy, younger looking skin, eternal youth; just some of the claims from enthusiastic plant eaters! Well, eternal youth might be a bit optimistic but there are certainly many scientifically-proven benefits to a vegan diet.
Well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Tasty food and better health – what’s not to love?
For the environment
From recycling our household rubbish to cycling to work, we’re all aware of ways to live a greener life. Yet did you know that one of the most effective ways to lower your carbon footprint is to avoid animal products? Oh, and this goes way beyond the problem of cow flatulence!
Why is meat and dairy so bad for the environment?
The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment; from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. On the other hand, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet, making the switch to veganism one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Plus, you’ll be ready for the Moon and Mars, as these future human colonies will be completely vegan due to the meagre resources on those worlds!
For developing countries
Few would argue that action is required on our part when it comes to helping people in developing countries. For the same reasons a vegan diet is good for the environment, plant-based living is a more sustainable way of feeding the human family. A plant-based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity due to the ever-increasing world population, there’s never been a better time to adopt a more sustainable way of living – and avoiding animal products is one of the simplest ways to start.
Why vegetarian isn’t enough
The suffering caused by the dairy and egg industry is possibly less well publicised than the plight of factory farmed animals. The production of dairy products necessitates the death of countless male calves that are of no use to the dairy farmer, as well as the premature death of cows slaughtered when their milk production decreases. Similarly, in the egg industry, even ‘ethical’ or ‘free range’ eggs involve the killing of the unnecessary male chicks when just a day old, often being thrown alive into a shredder. These industries also contribute to the environmental impact of animal products, and take up valuable land.
It’s tempting to want to believe that the meat we eat is ethical, that our ‘food animals’ have lived full, happy lives and that they have experienced no pain or fear at the slaughterhouse. Yet the sad truth is that all living creatures (even those labelled ‘free range’ or ‘organic’) fear death, just as we do. No matter how they are treated when alive, they all experience the same fear when it comes to slaughter.
It’s time to ask ourselves: if it is now possible to live a life that involves delicious food and drink; delivers better health; leaves a smaller carbon footprint; and avoids killing other creatures – then why don’t we?
Here is a video by Animal Liberation Activist Gary Yourofsky explaining the importance of animals rights and why YOU need to make the change now: