Why go vegan?
When I first announced my intention to go vegan, my friends and family somewhat brushed it off. I’m sure they thought it was temporary since I tend to hop on many bandwagons, only to fall off of them a few
months weeks days later. Now that I’m a few months into this vegan journey, they’re beginning to think this is actually sticking, and many people have expressed their concerns.
Is it safe? Are you getting enough protein? Animals are already dead, so you might as well eat them. God created animals for us to eat. Milking a cow/chickens laying eggs doesn’t kill them, so why won’t you eat dairy/eggs? Aren’t you tired all the time? You’re going to get so skinny and sickly looking. What about animals that are killed humanely? What do you even eat?
I think I’ve heard them all and then suddenly someone asks me a question or makes a statement that makes me giggle. It’s like vegans are in on some big secret, except it isn’t a secret at all, and we’d love to share it with you, probably to a fault.
I’ve always had a heart for animals. That’s actually an understatement. My entire being is obsessed with animals, but that didn’t reflect in my life. Growing up eating meat and dairy was a habit. I didn’t see the chicken when I ate chicken strips, I smelled crispy fried golden goodness. I didn’t see the cow when I scooped out ice cream, I tasted creamy cold concoctions drizzled in hot fudge. I didn’t see the pig when I fried up some sausage, I heard the crackling and sizzling of meat meant for my breakfast. Everyone I was surrounded by had these same habits. But as the years passed, I began to see differently.
As I got older, I started to see more and research more about animals, our diets, and our environment. What I saw caused many emotions. I cried, felt inspired, became angry, found hope, and tested my own personal limits on what I tolerated and what kind of person I was. These feelings developed and fought with my habits for many years. In 2017, my mind, body, and spirit finally all said, “It’s time”. I firmly believe you cannot embrace veganism for just one reason. If you’re doing it for one reason, you’ll easily convince yourself that “just one time” is okay. Or you’ll convince yourself that what you’re doing isn’t making a difference. Here, I’ve broken down the three main reasons I am a vegan.
I don’t know about you, but every vegan I’ve met has been some kind of super fit and healthy person. I know that isn’t true for everyone, but I think I can safely say that the percentage of fit/healthy vegans is greater than the percentage of fit/healthy meat and dairy eaters. Vegans are known for being fairly fit and healthy. I have yet to encounter this benefit. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve gained 10 lbs since going vegan. Vegan junk food is incredible, and you will find plenty of it here. That being said, I need to increase my amount of healthy vegan food and decrease my amount of vegan junk food (read vegan ranch, it’s my kryptonite). It’s a work in progress.
However, there are many serious health benefits of being vegan. When you go to your doctor, they will rarely tell you to stock up on red meat and chicken. Most doctors I’ve encountered personally have sang the praises of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The president of the American College of Cardiology, which boasts 52,000 members of cardiologists, wants people to eat a vegan diet for optimal heart health. He’s not recommending red meat. He’s not recommending chicken. He’s not even recommending fish. He’s recommending a 100% vegan diet for the best chance of superb health and longevity of life.
The International Agency on Cancer Research has dubbed processed meats as a group 1 carcinogen. That’s the same as cigarettes. When I heard this I got to thinking, “I’m not a smoker, so why would I eat processed meats?” Additionally, several studies have found that processed meats, red meats, meat in general, and dairy products can somewhat or greatly increase your risk for all kinds of cancer, including colon cancer, breast cancer, and stomach cancer. Of course the cancer risk for each individual is different, but I don’t think there’s any research out there showing a vegan diet will increase your risk of cancer and other diseases. If there is, I have yet to find it.
Despite all of these health risks, I’m constantly asked about my intake of protein and other vitamins humans need to survive. I can personally attest that my diet is only lacking in one vitamin – B12. This is because only animals can produce B12. Therefore, I take a B12 supplement everyday. Problem solved. I’m an obsessive nutrient tracker and I use multiple food tracking apps, such as MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. Since going vegan, I have never lacked an essential nutrient, except for B12. In fact, I’ve had an excessive amount of all vitamins and minerals (and protein) since going vegan. Your body will not miss anything, besides B12, by going vegan. If you need a B12 supplement, I highly recommend this one because it’s affordable and effective.
While many people try to argue the state of our current environment, there’s no scientifically based doubt that humans are having a negative impact on the world. We currently have more pollutants and waste than ever before, and this only has a counter-productive influence on our environment. A staggering number of the pollutants and waste in our world come from factory farming of animals for meat and dairy. The amount of meat we consume in the United States alone is astronomical. In 2012, the U.S. consumed 52.2 billion pounds of meat. That means that water, feed, land, and greenhouse gases were produced for the whole animal equivalent of 52.2 billion pounds of meat in the United States alone in one year. Our population is not getting any smaller, so we can only expect this number to steadily increase unless we make some serious diet changes.
Not only do the resources needed to produce and maintain these slaughtered animals cause damage to our environment, but their waste pollutes a huge part of our water and land. It would be nice to think that the pollution of land and water didn’t really impact our lives, but it does, especially if you live in a low income neighborhood. People who live in low income neighborhoods are more likely to live in areas around meat processing plants and slaughter houses. Because of the chemicals used to feed and slaughter these animals, many people living in poverty experience a disproportionate amount of health issues such as asthma and cancer.
In addition to exposing people to these toxic chemicals, the meat and dairy most people consume is less than healthy. Most poultry is injected with high amounts of sodium to make them appear plumper. Most fish are the fed toxic waste of other animals. Most cows and pigs are given huge amounts of hormones to grow bigger and produce faster. This allows for meat and dairy to be produced quicker and cheaper. This is not the meat and dairy you’ll find at your big city 5 star restaurant. But don’t be fooled. Even at these types of restaurants you still can’t be sure of what you’re getting, as seen here. The meat and dairy most people buy are sold at a discounted price to those who are already struggling to pay for basic food and other needs. The meat and dairy contain toxins and hormones that not only contribute to sickness such as cancer and asthma, but also cause children to ingest huge amounts of hormones, leading to a rate of maturity that their bodies cannot handle.
I’m not sure what a world full of vegans would look like, but I can guarantee that it looks better than the direction we’re going now.
The meat and dairy industry is big money. These industries are heavily supported by government organizations. These organizations, like the USDA are supposed to hold business accountable for the quality of meat and dairy they produce and the treatment of the animals used. However, the USDA is also behind the Ag-Gag that prevents the reporting, photographing, and taping of slaughter houses and factory farms. It seems strange that the same organization established to protect the consumers of meat and dairy are also preventing people from having an understanding of what’s going on with their food.
Another group that stands to make a lot of money from the meat and dairy industry is the pharmaceutical industry. If the thousands of studies and testimonials showing a plant-based diet can prevent, or in some cases reverse, disease is correct, the pharmaceutical industry stands to take a huge cut.
Of course the ranchers, dairy farmers, meat and dairy industry workers, and pharmaceutical industry employees deserve to make a living. I have no idea what would happen to those people if the whole world suddenly became vegan. But I don’t think that’s realistically going to happen. The amount of money many of the upper people in these industries are making is huge. But at what cost? These industries are looking for the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to make money. More money is their end game, not quality products.
To be honest, there is very little to know about the financial part of the meat and dairy industry, and most of what’s out there is often heavily one sided. The point I want to make about money in regards to meat and dairy is to question things. Ask yourself, “Who stands to make the money in this situation?” When you hear things discrediting veganism, find out who is producing that information. Many times you will be surprised about the source.
This is a big one for me. This was my selling point. Over the years I have read many books, seen many documentaries, and researched many different angles. This is the point I’m most mocked for, yet feel the strongest about. I realize all books, documentaries, articles, and people have an agenda. But you know who doesn’t? My dogs. My dogs don’t really have an agenda, other than loving me and being loved by me, and maybe getting some treats here and there. But the more experience I have with animals, the more I realize they are just like my dogs. All animals strive to have a relationship of some kind and preserve their own lives. The more I read, watched, and thought about it, the more I understood that if I couldn’t put my dogs through the same treatment as my hamburger, then why was I continuing to eat animal products? I highly doubt I will say anything here that hasn’t been said before, but for some reason, it still isn’t enough.
There are several things I’ve read, but one book that sticks out to me is a book called Skinny Bitch. You can get a copy here. I’m not a huge fan of the way they word some things and emphasize the importance of being skinny, but the testimonies are heart wrenching. Testimonies of cows being separated from their best friends and going into depression. Testimonies of the torture of animals. Testimonies of the screams of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, etc. that go into these slaughter houses knowing there has been a ominous change in their surroundings. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve heard say, “I don’t want to hear about that.” But it’s happening. Just because you choose to ignore it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Everyday and every ounce of meat you eat, a life is slaughtered for it. An animal that had friends, an animal that had feelings, an animal that wanted to preserve their own life. I know it’s hard to hear, and I know I may sound extreme for saying these things. But they are real.
Unfortunately, this part of veganism is not taken seriously because of the lack of evidence for these claims. Unfortunately, our government has sided with corporations who produce animal products. These slaughter houses and factory farms are protected because of the Ag-Gag laws mentioned earlier.
I’m largely surrounded by people who spout off statements that God meant for us to consume animals. That’s why he created them after all. My answer is and continues to be that God gave us dominion over these animals. That means we are given a charge over them as protectors. Animals, no matter how vicious, are seen as more vulnerable than us in the eyes of God, and we’re meant to care for them. The things going on today, even in the most “humane” of circumstances, are far from care.
Below, I’ve cited just a small portion of the references I’ve used to come to the conclusion of my choice of being a vegan. I’m not going to lie. Some of these will make you cry. Some of these will make you throw up. Some of them will make you feel love for your fellow humans. You will go through a wide range of emotions. But one thing I hope you don’t experience is ignorance when it comes to veganism. Becoming a vegan is not an easy life decision. But I beg you, please be aware of all sides and all situations when you make your choices at the grocery store, restaurant, or at home. Your choices matter. I’m often told, “Being a vegan just isn’t for me.” Each time I tell those people, you’re right. It’s not just for you. It’s for your future, future generations, the health of all people, and those without a voice.
Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Proverbs 31:8
Additionally, the documentaries What the Health, Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated will give you great insight to veganism.