Let me preface this post by telling you a little secret: veganism is not a quest for perfection. Let me repeat that for you – it is NOT a quest for perfection. It’s not about saying the world will never be cruelty free so I may as well eat that steak. It’s not about saying well I accidentally ate some cake with egg in it so I may as well cook myself some bacon and eggs. It’s not about giving up when things get hard or when situations arise that cause conflicts to your ethics.
It’s about giving things a go.
It’s about trying something new. It’s about being strong and standing by yourself and what you believe in. But above all, it’s just about doing the best you can, whenever you can. So if you’re reading this and thinking of veganism as a doctrine of perfection and ethics beyond your reach because it’s ‘too hard’, let me pop that bubble for you now and tell you that you can do this. Veganism is not some extreme lifestyle choice. It’s not. It’s actually the opposite – it’s perfect sense. It’s about saying to yourself that you want to live your life in a way that causes the least amount of harm to the least amount of beings. It’s very simple.
Before you read any further, I want you to promise yourself one thing. Promise yourself that you’ll read this entire post, from beginning to end. Promise you won’t skim read, but that you’ll take it all in. And promise that you’ll read this with an open mind and an open heart. Because this isn’t child’s play. This is the real deal. Throughout this post I have also included links to outside sources extending on the issues I’m raising. I recommend for you to check them out as you go along, so that you are not accepting what I’m saying simply off face value, but you are also learning the opinions of others in the field.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let me break this down for you. A vegan is someone who eats nothing that comes from an animal; no meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs or honey. They also don’t purchase any animal products, so no leather, silk, suede or wool. We’ve got 3 main reasons why someone would want to be vegan— for the animals, for the earth, and for ourselves. I know a lot of people are initially daunted by the issue of veganism; I know I was before I made the change. But as I said, it’s very simple. 3 reasons. 3 big reasons. Let me break it down for you.
FOR THE ANIMALS
If you could live your life, achieve everything you’re achieving now, and feel as good, if not better, then you do now, without hurting any other inhabitant of the earth (earthlings, which include humans, animals, fish, reptiles and so on), wouldn’t you want to do that? If you answered no, you need to check yourself, because any normal, rational person would answer yes to that question. It’s not rocket science folks – we’re just talking about the concept of not wanting to hurt any other being. Okay, so we’ve established that everyone (should) want to live in a harmless manner. Let’s press on.
Animals, like humans, have preferences. They have a preference to eat food rather then starve. Cats (usually) prefer to be constantly scratched, just behind the ear. Dogs prefer to play catch, or have their stomach rubbed. Rabbits prefer to eat those carrots you have hiding in your pocket and goats prefer to chew everything in their sight. That’s all common knowledge. But as we explore this concept, we find that these preferences become more complex. My father is a horse trainer, and I remember occasions growing up when the horses would actually unlock their stable door in an attempt to escape. So, here we have proof that animals also prefer not to be locked up. Let’s dig deeper; when you accidentally stand on your dogs foot, does it yelp? When you go to fling a cushion at your annoying cat, does it flinch? Yes, they do, because they have just felt or anticipated ‘pain’. So, from this we can gather that animals would prefer to not feel pain.
These preferences extend beyond domesticated animals too. In many cases, pigs are smarter than dogs. In fact, it’s popular knowledge that pigs are actually more intelligent than young children, and they have been cited to enjoy playing video games. No really, it’s true—check out this great video explaining this theory. From this we can gather that, logically speaking, all animals would prefer not to feel pain. If your dog wouldn’t like to feel pain, then neither would a pig. If your horse flinches when you use the whip on them, then a cow would feel the same. If your bunny rabbit hates it when you squeeze it too tight, guess what, chickens wouldn’t like that either. So, now we’ve established that all animals have preferences to not feel pain. Let me say that again—all animals would prefer to not feel pain.
By some strange circumstance society has found ourselves loving one category of animals (dogs, cats, horses, rabbits), but abusing, oppressing and discriminating another category of animals (cows, pigs, chickens, fish). That’s a bit strange, don’t you think? Why would you do that? Why love one but hate the other? The answer is simply because it’s what’s been done. It’s what we have all grown up knowing, and none of us has bothered to question it. Vegans are simply the people that stand up and say enough: I’m questioning it.
No animal wants to feel pain. No cow wants to be raped by a human. No mother pig likes being crammed in a gestation crate so small they can’t move. No calf wants to be torn from it’s mother hours after it’s born. No chicken wants to live in a cage so small they can’t spread their wings. No cow wants to walk to it’s death.
And yet they do. The cow is raped so she can become pregnant and produce your milk. A mother pig lives in a shoebox so that you get your bacon. A calf is torn from it’s mother so that you can eat your veal schnitzel. A chicken does this so that you can have your eggs for your chocolate cake. A cow walks knowingly to it’s death so that you can have your steak.
Let me pause here to comment on the importance of language. I just said ‘your’ milk, ‘your’ bacon, ‘your’ eggs, ‘your’ veal, ‘your’ steak. But they aren’t yours. And they never were. And it’s not bacon, or milk, or eggs, or veal, or steak. It’s the under belly of a pig. It’s breast milk. It’s a chicken’s period. It’s a baby male calf. It’s cow’s flesh. It’s not yours. It’s theirs. Euphemisms (a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing) are used so that we feel better about what we’re doing. Just another little trick society uses to keep the truth in the dark.
These examples of daily cruel practices used in the animal agriculture business are only some of the more talked about issues hiding behind the slaughterhouse walls. If you’d like to know more about the truth behind your meal, check out Earthlings, a highly acclaimed documentary which thoroughly covers all areas of animal exploitation for human gratification.
Peace begins at the dinner table. Animals are the silent victims of our world. When you’re having a bad day, and you just want to curl up in bed with some ice-cream, know that a cow was torn from it’s mother so that you could consume the milk that was meant for them. When you’re craving your Friday night ribs, remember that a cow had to die so that you could get through your week. When you have three-thirty-itis, and you need a chocolate bar to get you through the rest of the afternoon, remember the cows slaving away in the dairy farm so that you can make it to 5 o’clock. It’s animals who are the silent victims of our society. Our very lives are upheld by their sacrifice. I’m not exaggerating, I’m being completely earnest.
Animals are constantly there for us. And yet we’re never there for them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I could go on for hours about this topic, in fact, if you want me to, let me know in the comments. But, in the efforts to keep things concise, I’ll leave it at this: animals don’t want to feel pain. So, when someone says they’re vegan for the animals, it’s because they don’t agree with what is happening to the animals, and they don’t want to be a part of it.
You can’t call yourself an animal lover if you still eat them.
Just know that you can’t call yourself an animal lover if you still eat animal flesh, breast milk or chickens period. You can’t get upset when an exotic animal is killed by a poacher if you have paid someone to kill a cow. You can’t be shocked at news reports of abused dogs or cats and share petitions on your Facebook wall asking for justice when you had
bacon slaughter and eggs pain for breakfast. The cases of animal abuse in the animal agriculture sector that I have reported here are not radically extreme versions of what’s going on. It’s whats going on everywhere. There is no ‘humane’ way to slaughter an animal. There is no ‘nice’ way to keep this cycle going.
If you can’t watch the slaughterhouse videos, why are you so comfortable eating a product of their existence? If you wouldn’t be prepared to kill a cow, why are you prepared to pay someone to do it for you?
There’s a strong myth out there that argues humans are natural meat eaters. That we need meat to survive. That we evolved to eat meat.
This is a lie. We don’t.
To the contrary, abstaining from consuming animal products will statistically see your health and life span improve. Whilst I won’t sit here and list all of the health benefits of veganism, I will include some of my favourites.
Do you know what the number one killer of humans worldwide is? Take a guess. Need a hint? It’s a 100% preventable disease. In 2012, it took 17.5 million lives, which was 3 in every 10 deaths. And the cure, and cause, is found on your dinner plate. That’s right, it’s cardiovascular (heart) disease. The number one contributing factor to developing cardiovascular disease? Obesity. But good news; adopting a vegan, plant based diet, drastically reduces the amount of saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol in your diet, so your chance of developing obesity off a vegan diet are drastically lower then if you eat animal products. Don’t believe me? Show me the America full of fat vegans. I rest my case. (If you want to keep reading on this subject of veganism being a healthy diet void of disease, I highly recommend the all-time best seller ‘The China Study‘.)
I imagine you have heard of cholesterol by now, right? It may be because your grandparents were always complaining that they can’t have too much butter on their bread because they have to ‘watch their cholesterol’. Or they even might be taking tablets for them already. Cholesterol is a naturally occurring molecule produced primarily by our liver. It’s not bad for us, but rather the opposite— we need it to survive. However, our bodies make all the cholesterol that we need, so when we give our bodies extra of it, it starts to freak out and that’s why cholesterol related health problems occur. The good news for vegans is that cholesterol can only be found in animal products; no plant, legume, grain or nut contains this molecule. So when you go vegan, you can say goodbye to cholesterol issues for good. Similarly, if you already have cholesterol issues, cutting out animal products (under the supervision of your Doctor) will see your cholesterol number’s drop significantly. It’s not rocket science, it’s logic.
Still don’t believe me that veganism is healthy for the body? Show me the hospitals full of dying vegan’s riddled with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers, diabetes etc. You can’t. Do you know why? Animal protein is the number one cause of every major disease on this planet. Eliminate that and you will eliminate/drastically reduce every major disease.
Ultimately the issue is not that you can’t live without meat, cheese, milk, eggs or fish. Rather, the issue is that you can’t live with it.
My last benefit of veganism on the body is not necessarily physical, but equally important. It’s common knowledge you are what you eat, with your body constantly replacing each cell in your body. When you eat death, pain and murder, how can you expect to feel happy, vibrant and alive? When you eat the flesh or byproduct of an animal that has gone through what they go through, how are you surprised by your constant lethargy? I wasn’t joking when I said peace begins at the dinner table, it’s a serious issue. If you want to feel well, do well and be well, then you must eat well. Eating a vegan diet eliminates the possibility of you consuming this pain, torture and death, and sets you on the path to both physical and mental well-being.
If you’re still skeptical, show me the jails full of vegan murderers. Show me the stats of hospitals full of depressed vegans. Show me the vegan war mongrels. Show me the evil dictators who abstained from animal products. You can’t. But I can show you a world full of depressed or violent meat eating humans.
And before you throw ‘Hitler was a vegetarian’ in my face, let me tell you that is a lie (skip the video to 12:30). It was fabricated by Goebbels, his propaganda minister, to make him seem like a peaceful figure during his reign of power. Do you know where they got the vegetarian idea from? The biggest symbol of peace during this time – Mahatma Ghandi.
One final note, for all of you stubborn readers who, although you may accept the health related facts, still believe we evolved to eat meat because our ancestors did it, let me just quickly squish this myth for you too. We ate meat during evolution only as a last resort. But we were also sleeping in caves and walking thousands of kilometers each year. You sleep in a nice bed, use a smartphone, have a job, drive a car… It is not logical to pick out ONE thing the caveman did sporadically and use this as an excuse to continue the circle of
Humans are herbivores. We are not carnivores. This is evident in our physiological comparison to the lion, a true carnivore. Our jaws move side to side, to allow us to grind our food. Lions only go up and down, rip and tear. It is the natural instinct of a lion to hunt and kill other animals for their food. Put a toddler, an apple, and a rabbit in a crib and let me know when it rips the rabbit apart for lunch and plays with the apple. Lions also eat their meat raw, off the carcass. We process, cook, disguise and flavor our meat so much that it doesn’t even resemble the original animal anymore. The lions intestinal tract is 3-6 times the length of it’s trunk so that it can quickly eliminate foods that rot fast (meat) from its body. Human’s intestinal tract is 10-12 times the length of our trunks so that we can completely digest and extract every last vitamin from our food. Lions have a sprint speed of 50 mph, humans bottom out at about 15. Lions have dangerous claws. We have delicate fingers. We are not built to eat meat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you use ‘humans are made to eat meat’ as your excuse to perpetuate the animal agriculture industry, know that your facts are off and your excuses are outdated. Humans are not natural meat eaters. We don’t die without meat. Indeed, we thrive.
FOR THE EARTH
Let’s split our beautiful planet into 3 separate conversations: land, air and water.
If you take a look at the Earth, only 3% of the Earth’s surface is capable of producing food for the human race. Given that population is projected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050, that’s an incredibly small amount of space to produce food for an incredibly large amount of people. When a person eats animal products, not only are they eating the immediate food product, (cow flesh, pig flesh, cows breast milk or chicken period etc) but they are also consuming the tonnes of water and feed that have gone in to rearing that food source. Given this, it takes 16-20 times more natural resources to feed someone who eats animal products then it does to feed someone who does not (vegans). 16 to 20 times more resources. Shit.
I feel like this fact here is heavy enough for me to mic drop and walk away from the conversation, because if that fact isn’t enough to make you reach for the soy milk next time, then you need to broaden your mind a little further to really let this information sink in.
In order for humans to produce animal products at the rate we do, we need to create space for it. Deforestation occurs every second of the day so that we can utilize more of our land space to rear animals. Deforestation is no easy or quickly reversible act; it is a serious crime against our planet. And we’re not doing this on a small scale either: 260 million acres of forests have been cleared in the US alone since deforestation began. Lets put this in perspective: land the size of 7 football fields are cleared every minute so that humans can continue to eat animal products. If things keep moving at the rate we do, we only have 100 years left of rainforests. That’s beyond cruel. That’s just plain ridiculous. Plus, it’s illogical to go to so much effort to produce a product that is not only killing our environment, but killing ourselves too. Moving on.
So, you’ve got 2 main greenhouse gasses which contribute to global warming; methane and carbon dioxide (co2). Of the two, methane is the deadliest, boasting the potential to cause 20 times the amount of damage as co2 does. 20 times! That is straight up poison to our earths atmosphere. Now, consider that factory farming alone accounts for 37% of the worlds methane emissions. As I said, poison. On a broader scale, meat production alone is emits more greenhouse gasses then the entire transportation industry worldwide. So next time you feel guilty for driving to the shops instead of walking, know that the cows flesh (‘steak’) you had for lunch did more damage to the environment then your car did. In fact, speaking of cows flesh, scientist observe that 1kg of ‘steak’ produces more co2 emissions then a 3 hour car drive would. Can I mic drop yet? No? I’ll press on.
There are currently 7 billion humans walking this earth, and yet we breed 150 billion animals every year to satiate our appetites (and egos). It seems like my maths is off, but it’s not. Google it. So, 150 billion animals… where does all their fecal matter go? Whilst that maybe wasn’t your first thought, perhaps it should have been, because it’s a serious issue. Most farmers put it in manure lagoons, which contaminate our ground water, in turn destroying entire waterways and killing thousands more animals. Indeed, if animal welfare doesn’t get you rethinking your lifestyle choices, perhaps human welfare will: in 1993 dairy farms contaminated Milwaukee’s drinking water with Cryptosporidium, a lethal micro-organism. This disastrous incident killed over 100 people, made 400,000 sick and caused $37 million in lost wages and productivity. Shit.
But water pollution isn’t even the worst of it: it’s the tip of the iceberg. Water use itself is catastrophic to the environment. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that producing 1 pound of animal protein requires over 100 times more water usage than producing 1 pound of vegetable protein. This drastic statistic is realised in the news that one of the world’s largest aquafiers is estimated to dry up in the next 50 years due to overuse by the beef industry. According to further calculations, researchers suggest you could go two years without a shower and still not save as much water as you would by not eating one pound of beef.
*mic drops* *walks out*
THE BOTTOM LINE
The fact stands that you can’t call yourself an environmentalist if you still eat animal products. And if you’re pedantic about turning off electrical appliances to save electricity, taking a 3 minute shower or you drive a hybrid car to reduce your carbon food-print, but you still eat meat, cheese, milk, eggs and fish, then you are a hypocrite. Animal production is the second biggest force destroying our earth today. Do you know what the first is? Us. Humans. We are a parasite to the earth. If we evaporated off the earth today, every single other earthling would benefit from our absence. We cause more harm then good. If ants disappear? We’ve only got a couple of years before the whole system breaks down. If bees go? We’ve got even less. It’s time for us to quit the arrogance that entitles us to treat the animals and earth in this way. It’s time to take a stand.
OKAY I GET IT, WHAT NOW?
To bring this back to my original question of ‘why vegan’, the answer is simply, ‘why not’? If you have a strong case for continuing the practice of animal slavery, abuse and murder, I’d love to hear it (leave a comment down below). Until then, let’s awaken to the truth and exercise our autonomy to move to a more ethical lifestyle.
If you find this news overwhelming (which you should, this is scary stuff!) it’s not too late. Just take things one meal at a time. Order the vegan/vegetarian option at your next restaurant. Purchase the vegan ice cream instead of the breast milk version. Reach for the tofu, tempeh or imitation meats instead of the cow, pig or chicken flesh. One step at a time.
Just know that whatever you want to eat, there’s a vegan version of that somewhere. I’ve never felt deprived on a vegan lifestyle, because there’s vegan options for everything. One quick Instagram hashtag search will bust the myth that veganism is too restricting.
Congratulations! You made it to the end. Hopefully after reading this you’re feeling a little more in-touch with what went into providing your every meal. I wish for you that you have the strength to stand up and say enough is enough. I wish for you that you quit the excuses and think of the animal that gave their life so that you can eat their flesh. I wish for you that you now understand that veganism is not some crazy cult. It’s simply a bunch of people who have made the beautiful choice to practice more ethical choices. I wish for you that you take the step to a vegan lifestyle for the animals, yourself and our earth.
If you do have the strength to adopt a vegan lifestyle, know that I, the earth, and our animal friends are so proud of you.
When you’re struggling, or craving meat, just remember:
Veganism doesn’t limit you. It sets you free.
If you are looking for more answers or are wanting to continue your education on these issues, I recommend to check out my Top 10 Vegan Documentaries which expand on all of the issues I have raised here. Also be sure to check out my Instagram page, where I illustrate the ease of living a vegan lifestyle whilst traveling the world full time!
Now over to you, what do you think on this issue? Have I assuaged your views on veganism at all?