Several months ago I decided to take the step and become a vegan.
What is a vegan?
A vegan is someone who abstains from consuming meat and meat products (including eggs, cheese, milk, etc) – some go even further and abstain from buying anything that was made using animal products (e.g., leather).
The question is why vegan? There can be a number of reasons someone decides to become vegetarian or vegan. Here are the top reasons why I choose to make this lifestyle change.
Factory Farming is a major reason why I became a vegan.
- A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare. – according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®)
If you are not aware of the harms of factory farming you can watch a 12 minute video by clicking here (this video has disturbing images).
Because people have such a high demand for meat consumption, animals are now raised under the following conditions in most factory farms:
- Animals are packed into spaces so tight that most can barely move. (seriously have you seen this!)
- Farms are often not properly maintained and are breeding grounds for many diseases.
- Animals are treated poorly (understatement), and deserve better.
Bottom line – the vast majority of meat (roughly 99%) in the U.S. come from factory farms. Factory farms treat animals as commodities in unethical ways. Eating meat that has been raised on a factory farm contributes to the violence and unjust treatment of these animals.
The second major reason I became a vegan is for environmental reasons.
1. Meat production wastes a ton of water. – 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat.
2. Raising animals for food takes up half of all water used in the U.S.
3. You’d save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you would if you didn’t shower for six months.
- Rain forest
1. For every meal eaten with meat, 55 square feet of rain forest has been torn down to produce that meal.
2. Every six seconds, an acre of rain forest is cut down for cattle farming. (roughly 14,400 acres a day!)
3. In 2004–05, 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in order to grow crops to feed animals on factory farms.
But what will a vegan lifestyle do?
1. If we actually ate the foods we feed to farmed animals, we wouldn’t need to grow nearly as many crops, and we could eliminate the need to decimate the rain forest.
2. A 2008 study concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is.
3. A vegan is responsible for the release of approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year than is a meat-eater.
4. It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.
5. Animal agriculture is a leading source of carbon-dioxide, nitrous-oxide, and methane emissions – these are the top three greenhouse gasses.
6. And the University of Chicago found that going vegan is more effective in fighting climate change than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.
Yes, spiritual. I believe one can cultivate compassion in their life and one way I have chosen to do this is by not eating meat or meat products.
- Compassion is the concern for the suffering of others.
Animals suffer greatly because of the high demand of meat in our lifestyles. Every time I chose to eat something other than meat, I am using this moment as a way to reflect upon how my choices affect others and how we are all connected. Animals are sentient beings, not mere commodities. Each time I choose not to eat meat I am saying, “I value their lives and realize that I share this earth with them and have a duty to help preserve this world and live in a sustainable way.”
Should everyone go vegan?
Probably not. There are reasons why one would choose not to become a vegan and I respect many of those reasons. While I have chosen to become a vegan, I am not a vegan advocate. I do, however, believe in advocating that people eat less meat, know where the meat comes from, and know how it was raised. For me, this is more important than becoming a vegan and is perhaps the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint.
If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and ate vegan food instead, it would be like taking 500,000 cars off the road….think about that!