Quite simply, the vegan diet is the diet of the future… it is healthy, it is humane, and it is environmentally friendly.
The vegan diet, (eating only foods derived from the plant kingdom) is easily balanced nutritionally and provides a wealth of delightful flavors, from the simple to the gourmet. Whether you are an adult or a child, aged or pregnant, you will find everything you need in a vegan diet to live an active, healthy, and happy life. Nutritional research shows that a balanced vegan diet is not only perfectly safe, it is actually healthier than most other diets.
Ecologically and economically, veganism makes good sense. Less land than in conventional agriculture is required to produce the equivalent amount of food, an increasingly important factor with the current rate of deforestation and population growth. As an example: statistics show that the present number of cattle on the earth actually exceeds the number of human beings. If we take into account all other animals used in agriculture all over the world, we actually have a non-human population explosion which is more of a threat to the earth’s ecosystem than humans are. Food for thought!
There are other advantages too. The efficiency of crop farming is favorable to solving the world’s hunger problem. Presently about 70% of crops grown in the U.S. are fed to farm animals. During the famine in Ethiopia, crops suitable for human consumption were actually exported to first world countries for animal feed.
The most unfortunate victims of this topsy-turvy situation are the animals themselves. Meat wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, milk sealed in clinical containers and eggs laid out in neat rows in cartons hide the fact that animals are mutilated, transported, and killed in the process. The spilled blood and the cries of terror are replaced by coloring agents, tenderizers and supermarket muzak. We raise an international cry of alarm when we see baby seals clubbed to death and the equally horrifying fate of animals in our own backyard.
Veganism allows animals to live in freedom. It acknowledges that animals are not our slaves but our companions on the earth “They have never harmed us, they cannot defend themselves, and they are utterly in our power”.
Veganism is an act of protest and therefore of courage, rejecting the tacit assumption that the suffering and death of animals is something unimportant.
Vegans live, wherever possible, without giving support to the industries that profit by their use of animals, without using and animals and their by-products at all. They contend that any animal that may be put to profitable use will be used and will necessarily be exploited. All economically productive animals will lose their freedom and suffer painful invasions upon their bodies-whether they are on farms, at abattoirs or in laboratories. Whether it’s tail docking, branding, castration, close confinement, light-deprivation or debeaking, the commercial use of animals invariably involves cruelty. Just because we do not see it, does not mean that it is not there. Indeed, the very fact that it is hidden from us makes cruelty all the more likely to occur.
So… In A Nutshell… Why Vegan?
The only guarantee of a life not involved in cruelty is a life which avoids animal products altogether. It is the acid test of a cruelty-free lifestyle. (And, for most vegans, this would also include honey, there can be an almost symbiotic relationship between the apiarist and the bee, but nonetheless the honey is stolen, and bees are sometimes hurt or killed even by kind beekeepers. So even honey is an avoided food for most vegans.)
But vegans do more than this. They avoid sports and recreations that harm animals, such as rodeos, circuses, horse-racing, and fishing. Too puritanical you say? Not if you are on the animals’ side of the fence! There are many other forms of recreation which involve skill and fun without requiring animal exploitation: bushwalking, cycling, abseiling, swimming, to name but a few. Non-food products such as leather, wool and silk are also avoided, so are products which have been tested on live animals like cosmetics and household products.
Our meals are literally costing us the earth. They are turning forest into dessert, threatening wildlife habitats, poisoning the environment and, perhaps most importantly, they always involve cruelty to animals. If our meals did not contain animal products, if we adopt a vegan diet, then we would not only be making a stand against cruelty, we would also be avoiding further damage to the environment.
Rearing animals strictly for human consumption is an appalling waste of resources. Farm animals compete with us for land, food, water, buildings and fuel, and their waste-matter constitutes a major source of pollution. Pig’s waste for example, emits enormous quantities of ammonia which in turn, produces acid rain. Cattle, ‘whether for beef or milking, each emits up to 500 liters of methane, a ‘greenhouse gas’ 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
It requires lesser land to feed the human population on a vegan diet than on a conventional one, because it is far more practical to eat plants directly, rather than to process them through animals.
In a Nutshell
By relying on plant foods, we obtain all our calories and nutrients direct from the source while eliminating the ‘middleman’… (using the animal as a processor). Land is a valuable resource. Using it to grow food for direct human consumption is more sensible than growing crops to feed animals which later end up on our dining tables. Because more land is used to meet the increasing demand for animals and their by-products, the world’s forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
It is a fact that there can never be enough land to provide animal foods on such a scale. The world has only half a hectare of food-producing land per person and yet it takes three quarters of a hectare to meet the requirements of a typical meat-based diet. It is no wonder that the land is under pressure: the result being more pesticides and chemical fertilizers, fewer trees, and depleted wildlife habitats.
At the root of this problem lies deforestation, over-grazing, and over-cultivation. Many people are becoming environmentally aware of their world and care deeply about disappearing wildlife habitats and pollution, but don’t necessarily realize that their own eating habits are a major contributor to these problems.