Vegan     Vegetarian
 
sugarrocket.com
Current Articles

 

  REASONS TO GO VEGAN
  aka: Why I am vegan

When someone takes a guess as to why I don't use animal products, they usually summarize "because you like animals?" And it's as cut and dry as that. (Another common guess is "for your health?", which is funny on a couple levels.)

But my real answer is a few pages longer. Yes, I need to eloquently summarize myself for every potential vegan/vegetarian who inquires, but the reason I will not ever use animal products again is more of a seminar than a weekend retreat (*unh*)

I'm thankful for the increasing ease of being a vegan. It must have been hard 20 (or even 10) years ago to try and live a vegan lifestyle, but every humane convenience is available at my fingertips. However, even if this were not the case I would still be living my convictions. My veganism is not a matter of what I can conveniently achieve, or a "better" alternative to omnivorous practices. It's an all-or-nothing refusal to participate in something that I know is wrong. In the same way that a Pro-Life woman would never have "just one abortion", I am appalled at the thought of using any items that were created by ending a life. A little casein in my "non-dairy" coffee creamer or a little egg in my store bought bakery still supports in the death of two creatures. Thankfully, those heavy-on-the-conscience consequences are pretty easy to avoid with a well planned vegab lifestyle. Yah!

Moral Concern/Animal Rights & Welfare
The first, and only, reason that I originally went vegan was to appease my conscience regarding other living creatures. In 1998 I was lucky enough to begin working in an environment with several vegans and vegetarians. Although none of them were preachy I began to question their motives and do my own research as to why anyone would give up the deliciousness that was dairy and eggs! After about 4 years of being a lazy vegetarian my conscience became easily weighted down by all the heart breaking new things that I was learning about the meat and dairy industries. I couldn't believe I had wasted all those years thinking that "being vegetarian was enough".

The decision I made was a conscious, adult commitment, but my upbringing helped pave the way. My family and almost all of our friends had a lot of animals, so I was exposed to tenderness to non-human animals from the beginning. I didn't know any vegetarians until I was a teenager, but the respect for other living things was still important in our home. (Children learning to care for animals is vitally important for all kids to learn!) Throughout my life I have seen animals for what they really are: sentient beings who are 100% capable of feeling pain, terror, sadness, and happiness. Their differences from us (namely a smaller frontal lobe or "comparable human intelligence") don't make them less worthy of the respect that simply being alive awards them. It boggles my mind that vegetarians are sometimes written off for "thinking animals are better than humans", when the concept is just to give respect where it's due. If I saw a nicely dressed woman who needed help, or a shabbily dressed man, or a dog, I would stop to help all three of them. They're all sentient beings who can feel pain, end of story.

Every year 25 billion animals are slaughtered for food in the US. Before their lives are actually ended, their fate is sealed by the almost 300,000,000 Americans who refuse to admit that these animals feel. They feel terror as they are roughly crammed into trucks, they feel sadness as they are separated from their mothers or offspring just days after birth, and they feel pain as they are skinned, boiled, suffocated, or bled to death. (This most definitely includes fish!)

Environmental/Humanitarian
Update: Vegan Outreach has compiled some great info on vegetarianism and global warming at their A Truly Inconvenient Truth website. It's totally sourced, so you skeptics will have trouble "debunking" the connection. Check it out!

Animal agriculture is the number one pollutant of America's waterways. Animal excrement (often contaminated with toxic chemicals and hormones) runs into groundwater, rivers and topsoil, ruining potable water and land. Ammonia emissions from this excrement trigger acid rain and produce greenhouse gases. More than 1/3 of the fossil fuels used in the US are used to raise animals for food. Water, land, and plant food are grossly misused to produce drastically smaller amounts of animal-based "food" in the end.


Daily water usage in the US for...
An omnivore : 4,200 Gallons
A vegetarian: 1,200 Gallons
A vegan: 300 Gallons
Yearly land usage in the US for food...
An omnivore : 3.3 Acres
A vegetarian: 1/2 Acre
A vegan: 1/6 Acre
To make one pound of "food"...
Pound of beef = 2,500 Gallons of water
Pound of apples = 49 Gallons of water
Pound of lettuce = 23 Gallons of water
To make one pound of "food"...
Pound of meat = 7 pounds of grain or soy
Pound of grain or soy = 1 pound of grain or soy
                                               (duh)

Those numbers sound INSANE, don't they? But the math makes sense. If you grow plant food to feed animals that you eventually intend to eat, then you must expend much more water and land, and create more food and pollution in the process. To learn the facts behind what meat (and all other animal) production does to our world and then to continue to eat meat is like giving the finger to every living thing on Earth. It's acknowledging that we have a limited number of resources (which, hopefully, we all ready knew), and that we're running through them at as much as 14 times faster (vegan to omnivore comparison), just as a matter of preference. We prefer to eat certain things, and that's really just more important that starving countries, fatally polluted waters, land that's too desiccated to produce food any longer, or the suffering of sentient animals.

One of the most confounding misconceptions about vegans is that they "only care about animals" and think of humans as second class citizens. Unlike someone who admittedly believes that certain species are more inferior than their own (omnivores, I'm looking at you), vegans share a value for all life. There's bad apples in every bunch, so of course there are vegans who don't fit this exact mold, but no vegan I have ever known (or heard of outside an urban legend or smear article), would wish harm upon another human. I saw a "Feed the Children" infomercial once and was shocked to learn that the fundraising campaign was to drill wells so these emaciated and sickly people could just have clean water to drink. The thought that the simple selection of one's food affects whether other nations starve or have enough to eat and drink is powerful. Feeding 7 pounds of vegetables into an animal to get 1 pound of meat makes no sense. The water it takes to create 1 pound of beef could provide all the water needs of someone on a vegan diet for over a week. Imagine that. One steak dinner is equivalent to over 8 days of life saving water and 7 pounds of food.

There's always someone who flippantly counters these staggering and homicidal facts with "but meat tastes good", or some such thoughtless nonsense. But all jokes about tofu and tree hugging aside, it comes down to a matter of one populations taste preferences being deemed most important. Some people seem programmed not to comprehend the magnitude of this fact, but I choose to take responsibility for my actions, and you can, too. It's not a problem you can blame on the government or bad luck or an unsolvable force. I am vegan due in part to a concern for the lives of other humans around me, and the world that we live on. I refuse to let something as trivial as the food I eat destroy either.

Health
I don't know if this is reinforcing a bad stereotype or shattering it, but health is really at the bottom of my priority list in reasons for going vegan. In the beginning I knew that veganism could be "healthy", but it took some more research to discover that veganism is not a health compromise: it's the healthiest way possible to eat!* I was eating a lot of junk food for the first few years of being a vegan and it never really bothered me that I wasn't eating well. I've been lucky enough never to have serious medical problems, and outside of childhood colds and a couple head/neck injuries (which are very funny stories, really) I'm very healthy looking and feeling. It wasn't until around the beginning of my 4th year of veganism that I began to look into nutrition as I was getting more hounded with health questions from omnivores. The quest for snappy comebacks lead me to discover some solid nutrition information, and since then I've been working towards an ever-increasingly healthy diet

Just like your tastebuds wake up after you switch to a vegan diet, I've felt my body improve when I eat smarter. On days when I aim to get more raw foods, or don't eat processed foods, I feel more energy and a lighter feeling that makes me want to get up play. I'm also motivated by making intelligent choices. When I found out that I was bamboozled by claims of dairy being a healthy food, I got angry and make the switch to soy, almond, and rice milks. I don't like relying on hearsay that's stuck in the back of my mind or accepting any nutritional belief before finding out it's origin. After the meat and dairy fiascos (I was raised on them, too) I've started to become more interested in what I'm eating. It's my body for goodness sake, why wouldn't I be impeccably careful about what I put in it? Learning about nutrition and what I can eat and do to help keep my body functioning at maximum rock out capacity is important to me now. I like waking up refreshed and not wanting to fall asleep after a meal of heavy food tries to lull me into narcolepsy. This knowledge also helps me see through marketing ploys that I might otherwise have missed. I'm not just more aware of what's going into my body, but of everything I purchase and consume.

It's an awesome cycle. I started caring for other creatures, which helped me to care for my fellow humans, which brought me to caring for myself. If it wasn't the absolute truth I'd be rolling my eyes at the sappiness of my tale. But veganism has helped me become a more conscientious person, and that helps out me and everyone I'm around.

Almost every day I learn a new fact that continues to strengthen the position of veganism in my mind, but the above mentioned 3 items are the biggest issues for me. One good reason would be enough to make the switch, but it makes the decision all the more satisfying when every pieces fits together.

* There are many foods that are vegan and are terribly unhealthy, empty-calorie garbage. Being a junk food vegan will probably make you malnourished, and like ANY diet, veganism requires a little research and meal planning in the beginning. A healthy vegan diet consists of a wide variety of veggies (including lots of leafy greens), fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, whole grains, plenty of water, and either a B12 supplement or B12 fortified foods.


   
All text by LK, except where noted. Distribute freely, but please link back to Vegan Info.
Disclaimer: Research is good for you.
 
TOP
Veganism
vegan diet, vegetarian diet, vegan food, vegetarian food, vegan lifestyle, vegan nutrition, going vegan, becoming vegan, why vegan
Vegetarianism