Why Vegan?

On this page I'm going to try to explain my own reasons for being vegan. As I've said, being vegan works for me and it's been working since March of 2001.

My reasons behind my vegan diet are below, though not in any particular order. Where relevant, I've included links to some other sources of interest.
  • My own health. Before I went vegan I was eating poorly (salads and french fries most of the time). Although not everything I eat is healthy (I eat more than I should sometimes, amazing vegan desserts, and occasionally foods with lots of fat), I became FAR more conscious about what is going in to my body after deciding to make the transition to veganism. I've even read multiple books on vegan nutrition to better arm myself with knowledge about healthy vegan eating. I am certain the being vegan is NOT the only healthy way to eat, it's just one that works for me. With that said, there are some pretty good stats out there about the benefits of less meat/dairy consumption and individual health. 
    • Eating less meat is beneficial toward reducing one's risk for heart disease and for reducing one's risk of some types of cancer. You can also check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
    • New research indicates that even eating lean steak (which is low in cholesterol and fat) can lead to heart disease. Thus, it's not just the fat and cholesterol that are a problem. Instead, humans appear to have a bacterium in their digestive tracts that change L-carnitine (a nutrient in meat) into a compound that can increase arterial plaque buildup. This is more likely when you engage in regular meat consumption. 
    • Soy is actually alright for almost everyone (unless you have an allergy!) to eat. There's a lot of mis-information out there, but here are two good links (the second one is more technical) written by a nutritionist about soy consumption. Plus, soy is not the same as estrogen.
    • Full time vegans should supplement their diets with B12, as well as possibly vitamin D or other things depending on how you eat. For good information on vegan nutrition, see the following books and websites.
    • Here's a great Vegan Food Guide (From Ginny Messina)
  • The environment. If you're like most people I know, you are trying to change your behaviors in environmentally-friendly ways. You probably buy "green" products, use reusable shopping bags, replace incandescent with CFL bulbs, run your washing machine on cold, or even drive a hybrid car. That's excellent! However, if you are concerned about the environment, you should think very seriously about your food consumption patterns. The most environmentally-friendly diet you can have is one that is plant-based and local (such as in your backyard). 
    • The widespread use of chemical fertilizers (due to monocropping and CAFOs) is pushing worldwide nutrient production/presence out of whack. A new report from the UN Environment Programme called "Our Nutrient World" addresses levels of nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the world. It argues that more than 80% of our nutrients go to livestock and not to humans. 
      • More importantly, it argues that humans, specifically those in wealthy & developed countries, need to reduce their consumption of animal products by at least half.
      • Current nutrient runoff from livestock operations creates ocean deadzones, algal blooms, and contributes to climate change.
    • New information from the United Nations indicates that livestock production (which included beef, pigs, and chickens) creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all of our transportation (cars, trucks, trains, planes, etc.). Here is their statement about the environmental threat of livestock and here is a link to the full report. Scary stuff. 
      • This is a great infographic about the carbon footprints of five diets, including veganism. A vegan diet has the lowest carbon footprint of all the diets compared here. Even if you don't want to be vegan full time, reducing your intake of meat will lower your carbon footprint. 
    • Here's a great op-ed from Mark Bittman (I love him) that discusses and includes links to how we are running out of water and land and how livestock farming uses far more of these resources than growing plants does. Plus, he talks about greenhouse gas emissions and how they stem from raising livestock.
    • NEW! More information about how water intensive raising animals for food is in our current food system. What's more (for you nationalists out there), this article explains that we are shipping a lot of our meat (and therefore our water) to other countries. 
  • Animal well-being. more coming soon!
    • Many people think only about meat when they think about animal cruelty. But the reality is that egg-laying hens generally experience the worst conditions of all animals we farm. If you do not want to be ignorant any longer, please watch/read this information from the Humane Society of the United States. If you must eat eggs, try to buy eggs that are cage-free (although that term is not regulated, so it doesn't really mean much for the hens). The best case scenario would be to find a farmer who treats her/his hens well and buy eggs from that farmer. 
    • Most of all, animals have emotional lives and relationships. We interfere and that's just not know. For example, see this story about a mama cow who hid one of her babies.
  • Public health. more coming soon!
    • The widespread use of antibiotics in livestock in the US is leading to increases in antibiotic resistance, according to an FDA report. This means that it is increasingly likely for humans to get an infection that cannot be treated with any of our current antibiotics. Here is an easy to read article about it, but here is a link to where you can get the full report by the FDA.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report in September 2013 about antibiotic resistance. In it, the make an explicit link between the profilactic use of antibiotics in factory farming and resistant germs in humans and subsequent human mortality. 
  • World hunger. more coming soon!
    • The International Development Committee of the House of Commons in the UK issued a report arguing that people should eat less meat to aid in the stability of the global food system. Specifically, the report articulates that "the rate of increase in global meat consumption is unsustainable" and that people should view meat as a treat rather than something to be consumed at every meal. Here's a link to the article in the Guardian, but here's a link to the part of the report from which I quoted. 

FYI, this page will be edited with new things I find periodically.

2 comments:

  1. [ Smiles ] You've made an excellent choice by becoming vegan; it shows that you care about the welfare of the people, the animals and the entire planet!

    ReplyDelete