[DISCLAIMER: This article is about my experience with going vegan. I am not intentionally shaming people for their diets or deliberately trying to change them, even though I would love it if you became inspired by this and did some research of your own! Also, I am not at all trying to be extremist. I am not like PETA. In fact, most vegans are not like PETA. Most of us just love animals enough to the point that we don’t want to mess with their lives in any way. I am not a charity case, or a bleeding heart, or a contradictory extremist. I know this gets a bit graphic at points, but I want to convey exactly why I’m going vegan. :)]
It’s been a while! I’ve missed blogging. I’ve been crazy busy with school and spring break, but I promise I have a San Francisco travel diary in the works and a few other entries I’m writing. This one is about a big change happening soon… I’m going vegan! I’m so, so, SO excited to finally be doing this. I’m so happy about being able to make a difference, and finally “be the change I wish to see in the world.” I hope you guys find this post informative, and please feel free to keep doing research if you’re intrigued!
Until now, I’ve never seen myself going vegan. If I heard people say that they were vegan, I would look at them in shock and say, “I could never do that!” or “why would someone do that? I could never give up ice cream or pizza or mac and cheese!” or the most common: “where do you get your protein?” Until this school year, the idea of being vegan has not crossed my mind in the slightest.
In January, I went vegetarian after struggling for years with eating meat. After being vegetarian for over 3 months, I started to think about dairy. My reasoning seemed so simple: by not eating meat, I wouldn’t be killing animals. Dairy doesn’t harm animals, right? It’s not bad for the environment, right? Convincing myself that this was the case, I carried on with my lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.
Even though I convinced myself that I wasn’t REALLY hurting animals by eating dairy and eggs, thoughts kept nagging me about the truth about the dairy industry. So, I did some of my own research. The things I discovered shocked me and left me sitting in a pile of confusion and hurt at the way we treat animals. So, the following list is compiled of EVERY reason that I’m officially going completely vegan on April 22nd, 2016, which happens to be Earth Day. I’ll consider it a gift back to the Earth. 😉
Why I’m Going Vegan
- I don’t want any part in any industries that support or carry out actions harming or killing animals OR the earth in any way.
- By saying this, I am doing everything I absolutely can not to partake in any way in the following areas: meat, dairy, and egg industries, brands who test on animals, AND brands who use animal products in their merchandise (which includes makeup, clothes, shoes, cars, etc…)
- I love animals, plain and simple. I don’t want to hurt them.
- There is absolutely no difference in killing your pet dog for its meat than killing a chicken, cow, pig, deer, rabbit, goat, or any other food animal for its meat. All animals, whether companion animal or “food animal”, can feel the same amounts of pain and have the same intellect, meaning they process the same things. So, yes, the cows that suffer at dairy and veal farms do know, to some degree, what is happening. So, yes, these chickens that we kill every hour for their meat do feel the pain of being mutilated. So yes, all animals feel inordinate amounts of pain due to our greed for food.
- Since I’m human, I have access to the luxury of vegan alternatives. Animals cannot afford this luxury. They don’t have grocery stores with vegan alternatives like humans do. In this day and age, I can get all kinds of meat, dairy, and egg substitutes at local stores for the same prices for the real stuff, but I can do it without harming even one animal.
- With this being said, animals need their own products to survive. For example, cow milk is meant specifically for calves; it has way too much fat and protein for humans. Cow milk is intended for calves to use to grow strong, not humans to drink with dinner.
- In the early stages of human evolution, people ate on a paleo diet. This entails no processed foods of any kind. It was all pure: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and raw meat (which includes some eggs). They didn’t have any dairy. Therefore, humans don’t have to have dairy in order to survive. And, clearly, humans don’t have to have meat to survive, because protein can be found SO many other places and B12 vitamins can be taken in supplement form or in enriched food sources.
- Quick disclaimer: no, animals are not the only ways to get B12. B12 is only found in dirt. Yes, that’s right, dirt. Animals are injected with B12 and eat in when it coats their food. So, unless we eat a spoonful of dirt every day, all we need is a quick pill.
- Although some people argue that humans are made to eat meat, I beg to differ. If we were out in the woods with our bare hands, we wouldn’t be able to claw open an animal that we killed and eat it. We don’t have talons and claws. Yes, human hunters had weapons to aid them but those weapons weren’t a part of their bodies. Therefore, without assistance from secondary sources, humans aren’t able to kill, claw, and eat an animal. Our teeth in no way resemble those of a carnivore, or even an omnivore. They most closely resemble those of a frugivore, an animal which eats primarily fruits. They also resemble those of an herbivore, an animal which eats vegetables. Our digestive systems are vastly different than the ones of meat-eating creatures; they are lengthy and skinny so that the fruits and vegetables that we are supposed to eat pass through and linger for awhile so that we can absorb every last nutrient in them. The systems of meat-eaters are short so that they can digest and purge the decay and rot of dead animal flesh out of their systems.
- We’re not supposed to eat dairy, period point blank. It’s not our milk. Cows are not ours to rape. Milk is not ours to process and use. We are not baby cows. We do not need fat and protein filled milk to make us grow into 400 pound cows. The end.
- Contrary to popular belief, and even my own belief before learning more about this, production of dairy, eggs, and meat is in fact HEAVILY contributing (the leading cause of) to major world issues such as: world hunger, diminishing supply of water, global warming, topsoil erosion, aquatic contamination (waterways and drinking water), soil tainting, acid rain, and greenhouse gas production. For more information on these topics and how they are affected by the meat and dairy industry, visit this pages:
- Website: www.vegan.org (about environmental effects)
- Book: Becoming Vegetarian (this also covers veganism since it’s a subcategory of vegetarianism)
- There are so many more sources for learning more about environmental impacts, so googling it will bring up a lot more results!
- Animal cruelty in today’s most common industries is much more common than most people would like to believe. The way that industries treat animals absolutely appalls me.
- Dairy cows can only produce milk when they’re pregnant and/or nursing, so they are repeatedly impregnated in order to be able to make milk. If a dairy cow gives birth to a female calf, she is taken away from her mother within days after birth to be shipped off to live under the same horrible conditions as her mother. If a dairy cow gives birth to a male calf, he is taken away within days as well and is shipped off to a veal farm to be tethered and starved until he’s ready to be slaughtered for meat. Even though a cow’s lifespan is 25 years, they are slaughtered after 5 years after their production rates decline.
- Egg-laying chickens live in battery cages, which have a floor area the size of a vinyl record cover and wire floors. These wire floors cause severe deformities in chickens’ feet and the small, compact spaces of these cages disable chickens from spreading their wings. These chickens suffer from lameness, bone diseases, and obsessive pecking. As a result, their beaks are shaved down. Even though a chicken’s lifespan is 15 years, they are slaughtered after 2 years, which is typically when their production rates decline.
- These animals, and SO many more, live shortened lives in confined spaces and through the deprivation of their most basic freedoms. I believe that animals are not here for me to use; they are not a commodity or a utility. They are living, breathing beings who can feel just as much pain as the pets we hold so close to our hearts, and I don’t want to be a part of a system that deprives animals of a good quality of life.
- It takes 441 gallons of water to make 1 pound of boneless beef. It takes 110 gallons of water to make a 1/4 pound hamburger. For every fast food hamburger consumed, approximately 55 square feet of rainforest land is cleared to raise cattle. 95% of grain fields are used to grow grain for livestock; this is grain that should be used to fix world hunger since humans often eat the same grain as animals. These are just a few effects these industries have on the environment…
- Animal proteins are carcinogenic, meaning they are cancer-causing. They are linked to America’s worst diseases. By cutting out such animal products, we can eliminate the worst diseases plaguing this country: heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and so much more. We could save billions of lives every year. We would truly, in all aspects, save our Earth.
- Want to know more? See my Vegan Master List for links to products and information!
Ultimately, God gave us this Earth to live on and to protect. It is absolutely possible to live without animal products since we have the opportunity to use vegan alternatives. I believe that we should live and let live, because animals are valuable and should be respected. I’m excited to learn more about the vegan lifestyle, and I’ll absolutely share my best vegan tips and recipes with you all! I’ll wrap up this lengthy entry with a quote I like. I hope you all have a lovely week; we’re so close to summer! We have just over a month left! Keep pushing and be strong, we can do it!
All animals are somebody—someone with a life of their own. Behind those eyes is a story, the story of their life in their world as they experience it. In our culture, we have been encouraged to think of animals as things, as commodities. The great challenge lies in having a change of perception. The realization that they have a life of their own, independent of their utility to me or to anyone else: this is what I am trying to get at when I speak of them as being “subjects of a life.” In this sense, they are exactly like us, equal to us. — Tom Regan