veganism: food for thought

 

I put together this page not to preach but to inform people on the many different reasons why someone could go vegan. If you're just starting out as a vegan, maybe this page can help you out when people ask you these sorts of questions. Remember that compassion is key in a vegan lifestyle. Be compassionate not only towards animals, but also towards others who might not understand your choices. Lead with your actions and your example, not just your words. Also this page is by no means extensive - it just covers what I really connected with when making the transition to a plant based lifestyle.


"Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products." - Vegan Resource Group

However every vegan makes up for himself how strict he/she is. Whether they decide to just follow a vegan diet or live a vegan lifestyle, please show respect for their decision. Every little action in the right direction is a step forward for human kind and Mother Nature. By encouraging and supporting the small steps someone takes, you give them ownership of their actions. Criticise and shame them, and they’ll walk the other way.


"We all love animals. Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner?" ~ K.D. Lang

For me this has been one of the first reasons why I went vegan. I think we all know how that piece of steak got onto our plate, but we choose to ignore that knowledge. It's too much of an emotional burden to stay aware of the fact that that steak was once a living, breathing animal. Our society has taught us this is how things are. We are at the top of the food chain and it is only natural that we have to kill animals to survive. 


But let me pose you this question: Would you kill that cow or pig if no one else would do it for you? Would you be able to look that animal in the eye and kill it? If it were your dog, or cat, would you kill it? It's not because you have no personal relationship with that animal that it makes it less wrong to kill it. Why do we think it is wrong to eat dogs but OK to eat pigs? 


Our society makes it easy for us to dissociate from the truth. We cut it, package it, make it look like something else. Maybe we'll even put a happy cow on the packaging to distract from the truth that the piece of cow you're buying isn't exactly happy.

Ethical reasons

 

Wow the list is endless for this one. But let me attempt to make a most complete list. You can find these facts and more with the link to the scientific research they're quoting on cowspiracy's website .

  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. 

  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually. 

  • Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.

  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.

  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef, which equals to 2 months-worth of showers

  • 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs;  almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese. 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.

  • 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.

  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.  

  • Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. 

  • Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans.

  • 1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver. 

  • A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.

  • 130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US.

  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.

  • We could see fishless oceans by 2048.

  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.

  • 136 million rainforest acres are cleared for animal agriculture.

  • Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.

  • Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass.

  • We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people. However, worldwide at least 50% of grain is fed to lifestock.

  • A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food.

  • Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

Environmental reasons

 

"Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme." ~ Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Did you know that heart disease is almost non-existent in populations that center their diet around a whole-food plant based diet?
Here's the list of modern diseases a whole-food plant-based diet can prevent and reverse:

  • Heart disease

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes 

  • Averting, treating and slowing down certain cancers

  • IBS (irritated bowel syndrom)

  • Chronic constipation

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Alzheimer's disease

  • Crohn's disease

  • Parkinson

  • Obesity

  • ...

For more detailed and scientifically backed up facts, visit nutritionfacts.org/topics/vegans

Health reasons

 

Are we really meant to eat meat?


So some of you might think: 'Fair enough, this vegan lifestyle has some benefits, but doesn't it go against our nature to not eat meat? After all, our ancestors were hunters, we have the canine teeth and colon to eat/digest meat?'.

The base assumption is that having canine teeth means you are meant to eat meat. However, with the exception of rodents, rabbits, and pikas, nearly all mammals have canine teeth. In fact, several herbivores have ferocious canine teeth, and, as you’ll see in the gallery below, the largest canine teeth of any land animal belong to a true herbivore (Source).

Not only do most mammals, including herbivores, have canine teeth; but the largest canine teeth of any land mammal belong to a true herbivore: the hippopotamus. Hippos are extremely territorial and aggressive; their sword-like canines, which can reach a terrifying sixteen inches in length, are used for combat and play no role in feeding. The hippo’s diet consists of grass, on which it grazes at dusk.

Not only do most mammals, including herbivores, have canine teeth; but the largest canine teeth of any land mammal belong to a true herbivore: the hippopotamus. Hippos are extremely territorial and aggressive; their sword-like canines, which can reach a terrifying sixteen inches in length, are used for combat and play no role in feeding. The hippo’s diet consists of grass, on which it grazes at dusk.

In her new book, Mind If I Order The Cheeseburger?, Sherry F. Colb discusses the comparative anatomy of carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. “[M]ammalian carnivores and omnivores share a number of physical attributes that make them well suited for killing and tearing apart their prey. They have a wide mouth opening, relative to head size; a simple jaw joint that operates as a stable hinge for effective slicing but which is ill-suited to side-to-side motion; and dagger-like teeth spaced apart to avoid trapping stringy debris. They also have sharp claws. (2) The mammalian carnivores and omnivores additionally have huge stomachs that enable gorging, an important capacity in animals who tend to average only about one kill per week. (3) These animals also have a very low gastric pH (which means their stomachs are very acidic), enabling the breakdown of highly concentrated protein as well as the killing of dangerous bacteria that typically colonize decaying flesh. (4)

Each of these traits enables the lion or bear to use her body to kill prey. Herbivorous animals, by contrast, have fleshy lips, a small mouth opening, a thick and muscular tongue, and a far less stable, mobile jaw joint that facilitates chewing, crushing, and grinding. Herbivores also generally lack sharp claws. (14) These qualities are well-adapted to the eating of plants, which provide nutrients when their cell walls are broken, a process that requires crushing food with side-to-side motion rather than simply swallowing it in large chunks the way that a carnivore or omnivore swallows flesh.

Herbivores have digestive systems in which the stomach is not nearly as spacious as the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, a feature that is suitable for the more regular eating of smaller portions permitted with a diet of plants (which stay in place and are therefore much easier to chase down), rather than the sporadic gorging of a predator on his prey. (15) The herbivore’s stomach also has a higher pH (which means that it is less acidic) than the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, perhaps in part because plants ordinarily do not carry the dangerous bacteria associated with rotting flesh. The small intestines of herbivores are quite long and permit the time-consuming and complex breakdown of the carbohydrates present in plants. In virtually every respect, the human anatomy resembles that of herbivorous animals (such as the gorilla and the elephant) more than that of carnivorous and omnivorous species. (16) Our mouths’ openings are small; our teeth are not extremely sharp (even our “canines”); and our lips and tongues are muscular. Our jaws are not very stable (and would therefore be easy to dislocate in a battle with prey), but they are quite mobile and allow the side-to-side motion that facilitates the crushing and grinding of plants.

Our stomachs are only moderately acidic, a fact that becomes salient around Thanksgiving, when even slightly undercooked dinners of turkey flesh result in many cases of food poisoning from the illness-causing bacteria that easily survive in our stomachs. (17) Like herbivores and unlike carnivores and omnivores as well, we have long small intestines, enabling the digestion of complex carbohydrates, a process that begins in our mouths, where we, like the committed herbivores, have carbohydrate-digesting enzymes as well. (18)

Does any of this mean that people are incapable of eating and digesting animal products? Of course not. With weapons to kill animals, we do not need dagger teeth, and with fire to cook flesh, we can usually avoid the pitfalls of a stomach that is ill-equipped to kill the pathogens that populate raw flesh.

Despite our flexibility in accommodating animal-based foods, however, it nonetheless remains clear that we are anatomically well suited to plant-based eating…[A]nimal-based foods are unnecessary for us, and they carry significant costs and risks. While it is beneficial to have complex plant carbohydrates slowly make their way through our very lengthy small intestines, the same cannot be said for having meat rotting in our intestines for extended periods of time. (19)

See the full excerpt (with citations) from which this text is taken, at Sherry Colb’s Free from Harm article, Two Arguments For Eating Animals: It’s Natural and Animals Do It Too. 

7471396_orig.jpg

Also check out this article_: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html

 

Do you really crave meat?


Some people will use the 'craving' argument to justify eating meat. However have you ever eaten a piece of raw chicken or cow? Because that's how predators naturally eat it. Even if you were to cook the raw meat, it would still taste pretty bland. It's more likely you're actually craving the seasoning of the meat than the meat itself. If you're out on a hike in the woods and you see a rabbit hopping by, do you get the urge to kill it and feed on it? Probably not. 

So what about ex-vegans? Although some former vegans will have experienced poor health as a result of an imbalanced diet, many others were simply struggling with difficult cravings. And while cravings— and the discomfort they produce— are real, it’s important to recognize that a craving is not a need. As much as it may feel like we are actually suffering from a life-threatening cheese deficiency, we know that withdrawal from highly pleasurable or addictive sensations can produce a multitude of physiological responses, including feelings of depression, fatigue and deprivation. We also know that cheese cravings aren’t indicative of an actual biological need, because remember, cow’s milk is made for baby cows (source) not grown-up humans. 

 

Resources

 

Documentaries


 

Books


THE CHINA STUDY - here




Articles


BRIAN WONG: The comparative anatomy of eating - here

COWSPIRACY: Facts - here

FREE FROM HARM: Common justifications for eating animals - here

FREE FROM HARM: Nine reasons your canine teeth don't make you a meat eater - here 

FREE FROM HARM: Catching up with science : burying the humans need meat argument  - here

MICHAEL BLUE JAY: Humans are naturally plant-eaters: according to the best evidence: our bodies -  here 

NUTRITION FACTS: Vegans - here

 


Miscellaneous 


HAPPYCOW - This website is great if you're traveling and looking for vegan/vegetarian restaurants or health food stores. - here