Why Are You Vegan?
Being Vegan is truly a joy. Being Vegan is not just about what I eat. Being Vegan is a choosing a lifestyle that seeks to do no harm to sentient beings.
I believe that the way we treat animals is a reflection of who we are. Their inhumane treatment is a toxic root that hurts all of us and our planet, and it is not something I can turn my back on. Eating meat is participating in factory farming. 99% of all meat winds up in factory farming, one way or another. We've all been brainwashed to see a cow or a pig as different than a dog or a cat - they are different, but they are equally beautiful animals with sentient traits. In fact, pigs are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. The food industry hides it's dark side very well. But now there are documentaries like "Dominion" that have taken the blinders off, and once they are off - the choice we have is to deny/ ignore it, or to become Vegan. This has told me a lot about who I am. The choice was easy for me. Being Vegan does require some effort, but it is so worth it! Recipes abound online. There are Vegan meal plans like Purple Carrot. It's doable and enjoyable. It's delicious too. I am Vegan because I want the food and products that enter my body/ soul to reflect kindness, compassion, and mercy to all sentient beings.
FROM THE HUMANE LEAGUE
"Dairy" and Cows With the advent of industrial agriculture, moneyed corporations began consolidating the dairy industry, driving out smaller farms and overtaking market share for the industry. Today, about 99.9% of farmed animals are living on factory farms, while roughly 70% of cows languish on factory farms. Cows used to produce milk endure the most horrific lives. They are inseminated throughout their entire lives, mechanically, via a process that is inhumane. They are caged and hooked up to milking devices around the clock for our consumption. From the time they are 14 months old, cows are impregnated and are kept on a constant cycle of birth, milking, and subsequent inseminations. This is rape. The demands placed on dairy cows are so extreme, and the living conditions so woefully inadequate, that their bodies begin to break down after only a few years. Cows are known to live for 20 years or more, yet on dairy farms, they are killed in 4-6 years, when their ability to produce the unnaturally high volumes of milk begins to wane. Calves On factory farms, life is cheap. Female calves selected for dairy production are the only ones who make it beyond the first few months of life. All other calves are either shot on-site or sent to veal crates—including every single male calf born, since male calves are considered useless to the dairy industry and are often disposed of within hours of being born. Veal crates are small plastic huts, each with a fenced-in area not much bigger than the calf’s body. Calves are confined in these small spaces in order to prevent them from jumping, running, or even walking—activities that would otherwise develop and toughen their muscles, making their meat less tender for those who will consume them.
Calves are robbed forever of their mother’s milk, fed instead a minimal amount of artificial milk replacement that is lacking in vital nutrients that would allow calves to grow healthy and strong. This leaves them deficient in iron, causing anemia. But these concerns are not important to the industry, which kills calves when they're just 8-16 weeks old. "Beef" Cows raised for meat—known as beef cattle—are bred to grow as fast as possible so that they can be killed younger. They spend about a year on rangeland where they undergo painful procedures like dehorning, branding, and castration. After a year, they're sent to feedlots, where they are packed into small, barren, crowded pens and forced to stand in their own excrement, before meeting their untimely ends at the slaughterhouse. Cows are treated like production machines rather than the sensitive, gentle beings they are. Below are a few examples of the unethical treatment cows are forced to endure on factory farms.
Prevented from grazing
Cow’s natural tendencies to wander through and graze on green meadows and plains are entirely denied. Instead, dairy cows on factory farms aren’t allowed to go outside, forced to spend their days without the rich mental stimulation of exploring vast areas. Instead, they spend the majority of their lives standing or lying down in places so crowded it can be difficult for them to move or walk.
In order to lactate, cows must give birth, which means they must first be impregnated. On factory farms, this procedure is either carried out by a bull or by artificial insemination where a human inserts semen into the cow’s body. In order for a human to do this, the procedure is too horrific to add to this blog.
Long and cruel transportation
After a handful of short years, so-called “spent” dairy cows are loaded onto transport trucks for a harrowing, and often days-long, journey to the slaughterhouse. Cows often go extended periods of time without any food or water, and are not given opportunities to rest. They're exposed to weather, including extreme heat or cold, often leading to death before arriving at their final destination.
These conditions can lead to downed cows, meaning those who cannot even walk up the slaughterhouse ramp for their injuries or illness. While downed cows are supposed to be euthanized and not processed for human consumption, these individuals are often forced into the slaughterhouse by prods or trucks.
HOW DO DAIRY FACTORY FARMS AFFECT THE ENVIRONMENT?
Factory farms give rise to many negative on the environment. Dairy farming is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change. These farms foster other types of air pollution as well, resulting in dangerous health impacts for surrounding human communities, as well as the environment. Cow farming is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Cows also consume billions of gallons of freshwater each year, a resource that is anticipated to become even more precious in the coming decades when widespread water scarcity is anticipated.
How are cows killed?
In slaughterhouses, cows are guided into a small stall, where they are shot in the head with a gun equipped with a retractable bullet. This is meant to render the cow immediately unconscious, so that they're unable to feel the pain of the next horrifying steps of the slaughter process: hanging cows upside down and slitting their throats before dismembering them. All too often, cows are improperly stunned, leaving them alive and often conscious even during the dismemberment phase. Slaughterhouse workers recount many horror stories of cows who endure some of the worst deaths imaginable. Battery Cages
Battery cages are one of the worst tortures endured by any animal raised for food. These cages confine a laying hen, who produces eggs in an industrial factory farm, to an area no bigger than a piece of letter-sized paper—without space to even spread her wings as she’s born to do. An egg-laying hen is forced to spend her life standing and lying down on wire flooring which causes damage to her feet. The cages are so low that she can barely stretch her necks upwards, let alone run, hop, fly, or explore.
She is prevented from doing anything that comes naturally to her, besides eating. Even this comes with consequences, since she must stick her neck through the wire bars to access the feed trough. Doing so, rubs off her feathers and leaves her skin raw and in pain. Ventilation Shutdowns Ventilation shutdown (VSD) is the process of cutting off ventilation so that temperatures inside a building naturally rise (getting hotter and hotter) or fall (getting colder and colder).
Ventilation shutdown plus (VSD+) is a specific method of depopulation that involves shutting off ventilation and pumping in heat or carbon dioxide to kill animals. VSD+ has been used to deliberately put millions of chickens and other birds to death en masse shutdowns plus (VSD+) is an incredibly inhumane method of killing lots of animals at once by shutting off air supply and driving up temperatures, leading to organ failure and suffocation.
For chickens, they endure hours of suffering, suffocate, and die in agony.
After about a year on industrial egg production farms, the body of a layer hen begins to break down. Afterall, even though she is treated like a machine, she is not one. She is soon unable to produce the extremely high volumes of eggs that are demanded by the factory farm’s production schedules. And any drop in production means less profit for the corporations behind it all.
But in one final act of cruelty—before she is sent to slaughter—she will likely endure forced molting—a process designed to squeeze as many eggs from a hen’s body as possible. Hens naturally molt, or lose feathers, with the change of seasons as winter approaches. To mimic these natural conditions, the light in a factory farm is manipulated to turn on for shorter periods during the day.
Hens are also starved of food and water—sometimes for days at a time. After this starvation period, which can kill many hens, the birds are fed and given water, which kicks their bodies into one last spurt of egg production. Forced molting makes it abundantly clear that the only thing egg factories care about is eggs.
Gestation crates rank alongside battery cages as being among the most heartless ways to treat animals. A pregnant pig, known as sows, is forced into one of these cages for the duration of her nearly four-month-long pregnancies. In this tiny, coffin-like crate, all she can do is sit, stand, and eat. In fact, gestation crates are so small that she cannot walk at all, visit her neighbors as her social instincts would encourage, or even turn around. Imagine the mind-breaking boredom, and pain, of being forced to remain in exactly one spot for months on end—notably while pregnant. After she gives birth, she will be impregnated again, repeating the cycle until she is sent for slaughter when she’s no longer fit to bear babies—usually when she is between 1 ½ - 2 years old. No bacon is worth her tortured life.
Mutilations at Factory Farms
In the factory farming system, mutilations are a part of life for animals raised for food. And they often occur without any painkillers. A day-old chick destined for egg production is commonly debeaked, a deeply painful process in which the sensitive tip of her beak is sliced off without anesthesia. This procedure is thought to cause chronic as well as acute pain and is especially cruel when you consider that her beak is the primary way she senses and experiences the world. Castration is another common mutilation on factory farms, horribly endured by male pigs on hog farms and by cows raised for beef.
Selective breeding causes a host of issues for animals. Today’s dairy cow is selectively bred to produce huge amounts of milk, far more than her offspring would normally require. Her udders, notably if she is a breed such as a Holstein, can grow so large that it becomes distended and swollen. As a dairy cow, she is also subject to painful conditions like mastitis, the inflammation and infection of her udder area, that make it painful for her to lie down.
A typical chicken raised for meat has been selectively bred to the point in which they cannot bear the weight of their own body, growing faster and bigger than is natural, or healthy. This “rapid growth” can cause a host of painful and fatal conditions—from joint problems, to broken legs, to heart failure— that put intense strain on their body.
Tail docking involves removal of portions of an animals’ tail. For instance, young lambs are tail docked, as are hogs on factory farms and dairy cows in some cases. While these procedures are done for various reasons on a factory farm, the fact is, it is a direct result of industrial farming methods. And no matter the reason, tail docking always causes excruciating and lasting pain.
Reasons To Go Vegan For Health
As if going vegan for the animals wasn’t enough, there are plenty of health reasons to leave animals off your plate for your health!
There are many health risks associated with meat consumption—from carcinogens linked to cancer, to traces of chlorine found on chicken carcuses, in an attempt to kill bacteria like salmonella and listeria. Fish, in particular, can contain relatively risky levels of dangerous chemicals. Farmed salmon has been found to contain chemicals including dioxins and methylmercury. Both wild-caught and farmed fish can also contain persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other compounds that can cause damage to the human body.
By removing these foods and other meat products from your diet, you can avoid these toxic risks and live a cleaner, plant-based lifestyle.
Eliminating Bad Cholesterol
Most animal-based products—including chicken, shrimp, dairy and eggs—are high in cholesterol, which is linked to a risk of coronary heart disease. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, don’t contain any cholesterol. Eating a vegan diet—free of meat, milk, and eggs—lowers our blood cholesterol and reduces our likelihood of suffering from heart disease. One study found plant-based diets effective at lowering cholesterol levels anywhere by as much as 30 percent. This is a big win, since heart disease is known as the #1 cause of death in the US.
Give Your Skin What It Needs to Glow
It’s an age old adage, and it’s true: your skin is your largest organ. So, just like the rest of your body, taking care of it from the inside-out is vital to keeping it healthy. Eating antioxidant-rich foods helps fight skin-damaging free radicals—helping your skin to healthfully regenerate, naturally balance it’s oil and moisture levels, and simply get glowing. Luckily, antioxidants are everywhere in plant-based foods—in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, but they are rarely found in animal products. These plant-based foods tend to be easier to digest, as well, putting less strain on your entire body, including your skin.
Boost Your Mood
Managing emotions can be a critical component of a happy, productive life, and studies have shown that a vegan diet can lead to an improved mood—meaning a greater sense of wellbeing. In one study, vegans reported less anxiety and stress than people who ate an omnivorous diet. Consuming plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, including flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and vegetables like collard greens and spinach can help elevate your mood.
Hormones are important in helping to regulate the body’s internal systems, and research is finding that a vegan diet can promote a healthy, balanced hormone system. Gastrointestinal hormones, that help regulate weight gain, blood sugar, and the feeling of being full after eating, were found to increase after people ate a vegan meal compared with a meal heavy in meat. Healthy hormones also can play a role in combating obesity and type 2 diabetes.
There are a variety of plant-based foods that can help improve your concentration thanks to their nutrient benefits, including:
With so many natural, vegan food options, lagging concentration can be a thing of the past.
A common misconception is that humans need cow's milk to provide sufficient calcium necessary for maintaining good bone health. However, recent studies show that vegan diets can provide just as much calcium as dairy products, and perhaps even more. Foods like broccoli, kale, and collard greens offer not only high levels of calcium, but this essential mineral also comes in a much more digestible form through these plant-based sources. Other nutrients required for preventing osteoporosis include vitamin D (found in grains, soy, bread), vitamin C (readily available in oranges, limes, tomatoes, and peppers), and potassium (naturally occurring in fruits, beans, and vegetables).
Reducing Potential for Food Poison
Food poisoning commonly occurs thanks to contamination from salmonella or E. coli bacteria, both of which are found in the feces of animals. While vegetables can also be contaminated with these toxins, research has shown that households that consume meat are more likely to suffer from food poisoning as opposed to vegan or vegetarian households. The culprit? Moist hand towels give bacteria ample places to grow. The easiest way to minimize this risk is to leave animals off your plate and out of your home.
Reasons to Go Vegan for the Environment
Beyond the health and wellbeing of your own health, and animals’, too, making plant-based, vegan food choices can also help the health of our environment. As has been seen with climate change, notable changes to our ecosystems can lead to catastrophic threats for both us, humans, and wild animals.
Driving through the farmlands ofAmerica, you may encounter an inescapable stench, and even find it hard to breathe at times. Factory farms are often hidden from public view, but the air pollution, while invisible, is impossible to mask. Hog and chicken factory farms are particularly devastating when it comes to air pollution, which is produced by—a direct bi-product of the thousands of animals confined in small spaces, each of whom generate waste that seeps into the soil, water, and air. Workers, and the communities that are adjacent to these facilities, are most impacted by air pollution, which can cause headaches and other chronic conditions, alongside the economic impacts of lower property values.
The fecal contamination of factory farms poisons more than the air. Water that runs near factory farms can become contaminated due to the improper treatment of animal waste. Since our waterways are connected, this pollution can also extend out to marine environments—as rivers and streams empty into the oceans. This has been linked to dead zones in ocean habitats, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, where some of the largest dead zones in the world have been observed.
Freshwater is among the most precious of resources, yet animal agriculture treats it as just another material to abuse. Globally, the industry has been estimated to consume close to 20% of all fresh drinking water supplies. Nearly 1,000 gallons of water are used to produce a single gallon of milk, 900 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of cheese, and a whopping 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce only one pound of beef.
Factory farming causes deforestation in two ways: by clearing forests to raise cattle on land, and to make room for the vast mono-crops like wheat, corn, and soy that feed animals confined within concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). The World Bank found factory farming to be responsible for 91 percent of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil—a critical habitat that plays a key role in maintaining the global climate.
Factory farming is responsible for emitting an enormous amount of greenhouse gasses, including potent gasses like methane, that play a pivotal role in global warming and climate catastrophe. Conservative estimates show that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions—more than planes, trains, and motor vehicles combined. Clearly, animal agriculture is among the most significant contributors to today’s climate change crisis—leading to, extreme temperature shifts, ravaging wildfires, deadly tsunamis, and more.
Wildlife and Biodiversity
Due to deforestation, pollution, and climate changes brought on by factory farming, what little remains of uncultivated wild habitats is at risk. Increasingly, wild animals are having a difficult time surviving in their natural homes.. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct each year due to the voracious needs of animal agriculture. Today, diets rich in meat are the greatest threat to the diversity of our world’s flora and fauna and the ecosystems on which they depend.
Is It Really Worth It To Go Vegan?
It used to be that eating vegan in the US, UK, and other parts of the world, was a lonely endeavor. It was difficult to go to a restaurant and choose anything other than a small bed of iceberg lettuce or a side of fries. Unseasoned blocks of tofu were the norm, as were bland veggie burgers that fell apart in the bun.
Not anymore. The evolution of alternative proteins like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are so close to mimicking the flavor and texture of meat that they are essentially indistinguishable from the animal-based original. And vegan restaurants dedicated solely to dishing up plants in all forms are popping up in cities around the world, while vegan ice creams, yogurts, and milks are seeing a surge in popularity.
Eating vegan is finally becoming about what you can eat, not what you can’t. Whether you choose to give veganism a try for your health, the environment, or the animals, you’ll be creating an impact that stems far beyond yourself.