Jailee is an eclectic writer with an interest in health, nutrition, science, business, economy, agriculture, and a plethora of little things
Alleviating the suffering of other sentient beings
It is impossible not to recognize that the meat industry causes extensive animal suffering with its cruel methods of raising animals for food.
For example, most chickens are raised by being stuffed into tiny cages where they can't even turn around. Egg-laying hens live for one year before their egg production slows down, then they are brutally slaughtered.
Cows raised for beef spend their lives standing on concrete floors in feedlots where they ingest thousands of pounds of chemicals and waste until eventually they are packed onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses where they will be hung upside down and have their throats slit open.
One of the most disturbing aspects of meat production is that animals are mutilated without being given any painkillers during the process.
Heifer International, a group that promotes veganism, has stated that "if you eat a pound of beef, you have to kill 15 animals to get it."
Alleviating the suffering of other sentient beings is an appealing reason for becoming vegan because it reflects our universally held value system concerning cruelty to animals.
Most people in this world have no idea where there 'food' comes from, much less understand the suffering involved.
The suffering of these animals can be seen, and therefore understood better by watching documentaries such as:
- Earthlings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gqwpfEcBjI
- Food Inc.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRp71BwRW8c
- Forks Over Knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1LUj3kxB9M
- Cowspiracy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAyh4oU2PKo
These videos are quite disturbing; however the suffering of animals caused by animal agriculture is much more extensive than even these videos show.
Veganism alleviates the suffering of these sentient beings by eliminating their exploitation in the food industry.
Facts about cows, pigs and chickens are discarded, such as their ability to feel pain, the natural diet they would consume, and their emotions.
The best way for us to alleviate the suffering of these animals is by reducing our consumption of meat products and eliminating it completely from our diets.
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Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of our most serious environmental problems. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and if present trends continue by 2022 , meat consumption will have risen by 89% since 1963.
Animal agriculture accounts for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year -- 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a leading cause of deforestation; the clearing and burning of forests to create pasture and cropland for animals has increased global warming potential 28%.
The UN reports that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry (cars, trucks, planes, trains etc). "Livestock account for 18 percent of human-induced greenhouse gases. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock alone causes almost one-fifth (19 percent) of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. By comparison, all transportation produces 13.5 percent."
Note: The FAO's (Food & Agriculture Organization) estimate of 18% is lower than the 32,000 million tons (51%) cited by other sources because it only takes into account greenhouse gases released directly from raising animals for food; but those numbers don't even include their contribution to deforestation or ocean dead zones.
Raising livestock also uses huge amounts of land and water. According to some estimates , you need 11 times as much land to produce animal protein as you would for plant proteins -- and most of that land is cleared rainforest . As a result, an estimated 80-90% of "deforestation" in the Amazon is due to cattle ranching. And that's just forests.
The production of animal products involves the loss of many natural environments as well as considerable amounts of fossil fuels. In addition, deforestation is necessary to create grazing land for farmed animals. In order to produce one calorie from animal protein requires approximately 100 times as much water as producing a calorie from plant protein . In dry regions with little rainfall this difference can be 1000 times! It takes about 1,000 gallons (636 liters) of water to produce just one pound of wheat, but it takes up to about 10,000 gallons (40,000 liters) of water to produce one pound of meat.
Animal agriculture has a huge waste problem too. For every 1 calorie brought into existence by animal agriculture's production system , more than 5 calories of externalized costs for soil erosion and pollution, as well as wildlife and habitat loss, are generated.
Is this hard to understand? You can't have a food shortage if everyone is vegan. Well, it's not so much a "food shortage" as it is a waste of humans' arable land which should be used for growing plant crops rather than meat-producing livestock. And it's not so much a matter of "veganism" as it is a matter of growing only plant crops. But the end results are the same.
As a result of the meat-based diet most humans eat, 30% of the Earth's land mass (an area larger than the United States) is used for grazing livestock, and a further 30% of the Earth's land mass (an area larger than South America) is used to grow grain to feed these animals.
There are more than 150 diseases that can be prevented or treated by a vegan diet
The vegan 'diet' can completely prevent or treat more that 150 diseases, including the ten leading causes of death in the U.S. -- heart disease, cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis etc .
Many people don't understand why you would go vegan for something like cancer or a stroke , but it's not as pointless as it seems at first glance because eating a plant-based diet can actually help your body prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place.
Today most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Meat does not provide this nutrient which is necessary to maintain cardiovascular health and brain function. The best source comes from fish and flaxseed oil. Studies show that a vegan diet provides twice as much omega-3 fatty acid as a meat-based diet. You need sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to prevent disease, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and asthma. In fact, a vegan diet provides the only natural way to get these all-important nutrients.
Over 50 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium due to poor dietary choices. Magnesium helps our body and mind achieve optimum health and without it we're more likely to suffer from diabetes, cancer and hypertension (high blood pressure). A study at Loma Linda University found that vegans had 40% higher levels of magnesium than nonvegetarians. The highest concentration of magnesium can be found in whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, oat bran and barley.
Mayo Clinic researchers conducted extensive research to determine how eating meat affects your chances of developing heart problems or getting cancer. The study found that meat eaters are more likely to get cancer, heart problems or other health issues.
An American diet contains too much acidic animal proteins which can lead to chronic diseases, osteoporosis and kidney stones. The best source of alkaline food is vegan diets which help maintain your ionic charge or pH balance of blood and muscle tissue.
A vegan diet has been proven to help with weight loss and management by lowering blood cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cancer.
Common misconceptions about veganism
It's boring - A vegan diet has incredible variety. There are hundreds of delicious foods to choose from and new recipes are being developed daily.
It's expensive - Eating healthy can be less expensive than eating meat.
You'll lose muscle mass - Our bodies need protein for energy, building tissue and other important functions. You don't have to consume animal protein to get enough protein in your diet. Soy, wheat , beans , lentils…etc are all great sources of protein. Most athletes who switch to a plant based diet experience an increase in athletic performance.
Anemia - Vegans can obtain enough iron through their food intake alone without consuming the flesh of other sentient beings. Supplementation is not recommended, unless by a medical professional that has deemed you to be deficient, which is rare.
You cannot get enough calcium - Plant foods like broccoli, kale , collard greens, figs and sesame seeds are all excellent sources of calcium.
You cannot get enough vitamins - This is not true! A wide variety of plant foods can provide us with all the vitamins we need to function at our highest level.
It's too hard to give up meat and dairy - It doesn't have to be difficult. You don't have to make a single change today, just keep an open mind and starting changing little by little.
It's bad for the environment - Actually the opposite is true! Animal farming wastes natural resources at a tremendous rate. Raising animals for food consumes more than half of the fresh water consumed in the United States each year. The nitrogen from manure creates a greenhouse gas 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. And unlike plant-based agriculture, animal agriculture uses enormous amounts of land and contributes greatly to deforestation throughout the world.
How to adopt a vegan lifestyle
One of the first steps to becoming vegan is to clear your house of any food that might tempt you. Go through your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer and get rid of anything related to meat or dairy products.
The next step would be to look at alternatives for animal based foods, such as soy milk instead of cow's milk; apple butter instead of pork jelly; almond milk instead of cow's milk creamers; tofu hot dogs, etc.
While doing these couple of things to make your transition easier, contemplate why you want to become vegan. Make a commitment to the cause of your decision and expound upon this commitment by taking action, in the form of supporting and sharing it.
After you've done this it will be easier for you start taking baby steps towards eating more plant based meals until one day you fully transition into a vegan lifestyle!
This may have been a lot to get through but I hope you enjoyed reading about all these points that show that going vegan is, indeed, the best choice you can make.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.