“Every time you drink a glass of milk or eat a piece of cheese, you harm a mother. Please go vegan.” ― Gary L Francione
The people who refrain from using all types of animal products and the products that are tested on animals are called vegans. Many people mistake vegans for vegetarians, who only avoid meat in their diet.
The term “vegan” was coined back in 1944 by Donald Watson. He chose the word from the first three and last two letters of vegetarian, as it was “the beginning and end of vegetarian.”
The Philosophy Of Veganism
The Vegan Society defines veganism as:
“A philosophy and way of life that seeks to exclude – as much as possible – any form of exploitation and cruelty to animals, whether for food, clothing, or any other purpose, and by extension, promote the development and use of alternatives without animal exploitation, for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment”
From a philosophical point of view, veganism is about not seeing animals as commodities, but rather as individuals that co-exist with humans. It is about simply respecting the existence of non-human animals and liberating them from the suffering they have to go through to fulfill human desires. You might be wondering what is the need to go vegan? What’s wrong with using animal products? Why do we need to see animals as anything but commodities? Let us take a look at the reasons why people go vegan:
Reasons To Go Vegan
Most people go vegan for the animals. They support animal rights. As we all are aware that animals are used by us in almost every sector from farming to sports and entertainment. But have we ever asked ourselves what the life of an animal at the factory farms be like?
Animals have to go through insane suffering to fulfill human needs and desires. The unethical practices at the factory farms are artificial insemination, dehorning, tail docking, castration, etc. Animals raised for food are kept in small cages and sent to slaughter in a quarter of their natural life span. The mental and physical health of these animals is adversely affected.
The animals used to carry loads and people at the tourist spots are often beaten up to keep them in check. They are forced to carry heavy loads, causing pain and discomfort.
Animals used for scientific research and testing are subjected to torture by injecting them with chemicals, electroshocking them, exposing their skin to deadly substances, etc.
But what about animals at the free-range farms? What’s wrong with using products that come from free-range farms? The thing is, rather than believing in animal welfare, vegans believe in animal liberation. Free-range farm animals are seen as commodities rather than individuals. This is something that collides with the philosophy of veganism. Animals at free-range farms are also artificially inseminated and have their bodies exploited to maximize the “yield.” They meet the same fate as animals at the factory farms.
2- For Environment
With the awareness about climate change increasing among youngsters, several people have started questioning animal agriculture. Several studies from reliable organizations have shown that animal agriculture negatively impacts the environment.
Animal products, in general, have a larger carbon and water footprint than plants. The negative impacts of animal agriculture are not limited to carbon emissions and water usage. Animal agriculture is resource-intensive as it requires more resources to produce 1 kg of meat as compared to plants.
According to FAO, 30% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is devoted to livestock grazing. Since forests are cleared for making pastures and grasslands for livestock, it is one of the major causes of deforestation and biodiversity loss through habitat destruction. According to the WWF, animal agriculture is responsible for over 60% of the biodiversity loss. Conventional cattle rearing is the most unsustainable form of animal agriculture.
The people who realize the importance of adapting to a plant-based diet go vegan for the environment. Environmental veganism is seen mostly in young and well-educated people.
Recently, some students from Oxford University voted to ban beef and lamb on the campus to fight climate change.
An Oxford student in favor of the ban said ” Substituting beef and lamb produce is probably the single most impactful change the authorities can encourage in behavior at the university to reduce our collective impact on climate change.”
3- For Health
With awareness about health spreading, more and more people are switching to plant-based diets. Though a person who follows a plant-based diet isn’t necessarily vegan. They may still use animal fibers and products that are tested on animals.
Several studies have shown that a well-planned plant-based diet(sometimes loosely called a vegan diet) can reduce the risk of deadly diseases like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. Though some controversial studies show the opposite results and some show neutral results.
In a 2015 study, WHO classified red meat as Group 1 and processed meat as Group 2A carcinogenic. WHO recommends limiting the consumption of red meat and processed meat. It is also recommended to limit the consumption of saturated fats and trans fats that are present mainly in animal products such as meat, dairy, butter, and eggs.
Animal products are high in cholesterol and fats that can accumulate in the blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis.
A plant-based diet can help you lose weight. Dieticians often recommend a whole food plant-based diet to obese people and the people who are at risk of diabetes. Vegans, in general, have a lower BMI as compared to meat-eaters and vegetarians. Though, a vegan diet has its own risk. A poorly planned vegan diet can increase the risk of nutrient deficiency. Remember, a plant-based diet is as healthy as you want it to be.
Going vegan might not be an easy task, especially for people living in countries where veganism isn’t popular enough or people with food allergies. But when you think from the animals’ perspective, going vegan makes sense.
You should consult a dietician before going vegan and make meal plans to be safe. So, have you made a decision yet? Will you try veganism? Tell us in the comments!