Veganism: Animal Rights, Environmental Impact, and Health Benefits

Introduction

Veganism is a powerful Animal Liberation and Rights movement aimed at eliminating (as much as possible) the suffering, abuse, and exploitation of animals. As committed vegans, we refrain from consuming animal-derived food, wearing animal products, or supporting circuses and zoos that exploit animals. Our mission is to promote a compassionate lifestyle that extends beyond ourselves to protect all living beings.

Animal Rights and Factory Farming

Most animals, including mammals, possess complex brains and nervous systems, capable of experiencing emotions like humans do. Sadly, the modern factory farming industry inflicts tremendous suffering upon these creatures, making it one of humanity’s gravest ethical crimes.

Factory farms cram animals into overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, denying them the opportunity to engage in natural behaviours. Pigs, chickens, and cows are subjected to extreme confinement, leading to stress, diseases, and low quality of life. The use of growth hormones and antibiotics to maximize production further exacerbates the plight of these innocent creatures. Even attempts at ethical animal farming, such as free-range or cage-free systems, often fail to provide the animals with adequate living conditions. These systems may offer marginal improvements, but they still contribute to animal suffering on a significant scale. Additionally, the economics of large-scale animal agriculture will inevitably drive the industry toward efficiency and cost-effectiveness, leading to the widespread adoption of factory farming practices.

Dairy and Eggs: A Cruel Reality

Often considered more humane choices, dairy and eggs, also entail immense suffering for animals. Dairy cows endure a continuous cycle of forced impregnation, birth, and milking to sustain milk production. This relentless process drastically reduces their life expectancy and subjects them to physical and emotional strain.

Just like a human, a cow has to give birth to lactate, hence the poor dairy cows are forcefully impregnated once every eleven to twelve months to keep them producing milk.

Contrary to the idyllic image of hens roaming freely on green pastures, the reality of egg production is far from humane. Hens bred for egg-laying face similarly shortened lives, enduring immense stress from excessive egg production. Modern breeding practices have led to hens laying far more eggs than they would in nature, putting immense strain on their bodies.

Ethical claims about these products often overlook the hidden cruelty within these industries [Willhelm Knaus, 2009]. For example, “culling” is a common practice in the egg industry where male chicks are disposed of shortly after hatching because they are of no use in egg production. This practice highlights the inherent cruelty of even so-called “humane” egg production.

Veganism for the Environment

The environmental impact of the meat and fish industries is devastating. Fishery contributes nearly 50% of plastic in the oceans, with fishing nets being the largest contributor, at least when analysing the contents of the Great Pacific garbage patch. [Lebreton et al. 2018]. These discarded nets, known as “ghost nets,” continue to trap and kill marine life for years, contributing to the degradation of marine ecosystems.

Veganism greatly reduces the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans.

The environmental destruction from fish farming is also well documented [R.S.S. Wu 2001] and bycatches are a common occurrence. Bycatch is a catch that is either unused or unmanaged. Applying this definition to global marine fisheries data, conservatively indicates that bycatch represents 40.4 per cent of global marine catches. [Davies RWD, et al. 2009]

Buying fish at the supermarket contributes to all these atrocities.

Fish farming, or aquaculture, is often seen as a more sustainable alternative to wild-caught fish. However, this industry has its share of environmental consequences. Fish farms can lead to habitat destruction, water pollution, and disease transmission to wild fish populations.

Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

By embracing veganism, we can significantly reduce our ecological footprint. A plant-based diet has a lower carbon footprint than an omnivorous diet, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock sector is a major player in man-made global warming, responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in COequivalent. This is a higher share than the transport sector. [UN’s FOA, 2006]. Additionally, growing crops for direct human consumption requires less land, water, and resources compared to producing animal products.

On average, red meat is more Green House Gas-intensive than all other forms of food. Dairy products are an interesting second, as normalization by expenditure produces a GHG intensity similar to that of red meat. [Christopher L Weber et al. 2008]. When considering CO2 per calorie, it is very clear that a plant-based diet would be a significant component in the fight to save the world from overheating.

A vegan diet is also more land-efficient, meaning it requires less land to produce the same amount of food compared to animal agriculture. This means we could feed more people without impacting the current land usage if we all switched to the more efficient plant-based diet.

The livestock sector is the single largest anthropogenic user of land, with grazing and feed crop production occupying vast expanses of land, equivalent to 26 per cent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to feed crop production amounts to 33 per cent of total arable land. In all, livestock production accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land and 30 per cent of the land surface of the planet. [UN’s FOA, 2006].

Transitioning to a plant-based diet can free up land for reforestation and conservation efforts, mitigating the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity.

Veganism and Health Benefits

Embracing a whole foods plant-based diet can significantly improve health. Scientific evidence suggests that it can help prevent, treat, or reverse common diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Whole plant-based foods are rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre, contributing to improved heart health and cholesterol levels. The absence of cholesterol in plant-based diets, combined with the lower intake of saturated fats, reduces the risk of heart disease. Moreover, plant-based diets are associated with lower blood pressure, reducing the likelihood of hypertension-related complications.

Try a Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet

Being plant-based by itself isn’t healthy. There are plenty of awful processed foods, full of unhealthy oils and other chemicals that are plant-based. A well-balanced plant-based diet, compared to the standard Western diet, is what’s good for our health. Science is clear, being on a whole-foods plant-based diet is the best we can do for our longevity and health. A whole-foods plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like. A diet consisting of whole, unrefined plants. You can find our whole foods recipes here.

A Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet Protects Us Against Diseases

Studies have shown that individuals following a plant-based diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and are at a reduced risk of obesity-related diseases. The abundance of fibre in plant-based foods aids in weight management by promoting satiety and regulating blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, plant-based diets offer protection against certain types of cancer. For instance, high consumption of red and processed meats has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide essential vitamins and minerals that support the immune system and help combat cancerous cells.

A plant-based diet also supports bone health. Unlike animal products, plant-based foods do not promote calcium loss from bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Additionally, plant-based diets may alleviate symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of plant foods can help manage inflammation and improve overall joint health.

A Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet is Affordable

A whole-foods plant-based diet will also lower our food costs as there is nothing cheaper than beans and potatoes.

whole foods plant-based diet fits perfectly with veganism

Protect Yourself from Environmental Contaminants

Another reason to stop eating fish and shellfish is that they are a major source of exposure to environmental contaminants. Consumption will lead to a significant increase of whole-blood concentrations of mercury, arsenic and lead [Outzen M et al. 2015]. And we don’t like to have too much of that in our blood, do we?

Conclusion: Embrace Veganism

As human beings, we have the power to make ethical choices. Veganism is a more efficient and healthier lifestyle that aligns with our responsibility to protect animals, the environment, and our own well-being. By adopting a vegan lifestyle, we contribute to a more compassionate, sustainable, and healthier future for ourselves and the planet.

We are part of a rare species with the ability to think and understand the consequences of our actions. Just because other animals do things in nature, it’s not OK for us to do the same things. There are better ways now. Veganism is more efficient and can be way healthier. Go Vegan!

Final Thoughts

We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s engage in a meaningful discussion about veganism, animal rights, and environmental responsibility. Together, we can create positive change for all living beings and the planet.

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