While not the only reason for going vegan is to avoid animal cruelty, it is for many people the most important component in their decision to go vegan and stay vegan. We’ve learned in recent years, thanks to several animal protection and nutrition programs, that this “common fact” isn’t so…true any longer. Just because something is ‘normal,’ or even ‘necessary,’ doesn’t imply it’s the greatest decision for our health or the health of the world—a revelation that’s become evident in the face of rising cancer and heart disease rates, as well as the clear threats of climate change.
There is an alternative to despair. Plants. Millions of people around the world have thrived on a plant-based, even entirely vegan diet for millennia, receiving enough nourishment, including protein, from fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. But what exactly is veganism, and what are some of the benefits of trying this way of eating?
What is Veganism?
Veganism is, at its core, about altering consumption habits that have a negative impact on animals in any form, major or small. By avoiding animal-derived products, veganism aims to alleviate animal suffering and foster a more compassionate world.
As a result, it can be used as both a food and a lifestyle option. A vegan diet consists of plant-based foods that substitute animal products such as meat, eggs, and cheese.
A vegan lifestyle also includes other concerns, such as wearing clothing manufactured from plants such as cotton, linen, or alternative materials like faux leather, rather than products that damage animals, such as wool from sheep and leather from cows’, lambs’, or others’ skins.
Veganism, like many food and lifestyle approaches, isn’t without flaws. While the businesses around animal agriculture are well-known for causing severe human rights and environmental abuses, commodity crops such as corn, sugar, and coffee can also exploit humans and harm the environment, depending on how they are farmed. Naturally, the purpose of veganism is to cause as little harm as possible.
Why should you go vegan?
For your health
Meat intake has a number of health hazards, ranging from carcinogens related to cancer to residues of chlorine discovered on chicken carcasses in an attempt to eradicate bugs like salmonella and listeria. Fish, in particular, can have dangerously high levels of toxic substances. Chemicals such as dioxins and methylmercury have been discovered in farmed salmon. Persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other substances that can harm the human body can be found in both wild-caught and farmed fish.
You can avoid these harmful hazards and live a healthier, plant-based lifestyle by eliminating these items and other meat products from your diet.
Eliminate Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is high in most animal-based products, including chicken, shrimp, dairy, and eggs, and is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, are cholesterol-free. A vegan diet, which is devoid of meat, milk, and eggs, lowers blood cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease. Plant-based diets were found to be helpful at lowering cholesterol levels by up to 30% in one study. This is a significant victory, given heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States.
Give Your Skin What It Needs to Glow
It’s an old cliché that your skin is your largest organ, and it’s true. Taking care of it from the inside out, just like the rest of your body, is essential to maintaining it healthy. Antioxidant-rich foods aid in the fight against skin-damaging free radicals, allowing your skin to naturally renew, regulate its oil and moisture levels, and glow. Antioxidants can be found in abundance in plant-based meals such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, but they are scarce in animal products. Plant-based diets are also easier to digest, resulting in less stress on your entire body, including your skin.
Hormones are vital for regulating the body’s internal processes, and studies show that a vegan diet can help to promote a healthy, balanced hormone system. When consumers ate a vegan dinner vs a meat-heavy meal, gastrointestinal hormones that help regulate weight growth, blood sugar, and the feeling of being full after eating were shown to increase. Obesity and type 2 diabetes can be fought with the help of healthy hormones.
It’s a frequent myth that humans require cow’s milk to get enough calcium to keep their bones healthy. Recent research suggests that vegan diets can contain just as much, if not more, calcium than dairy-based diets. Foods like broccoli, kale, and collard greens not only contain high quantities of calcium, but they also provide this crucial mineral in a far more digestible form. Vitamin D (found in cereals, soy, and bread), vitamin C (found in oranges, limes, tomatoes, and peppers), and potassium are all essential minerals for preventing osteoporosis (naturally occurring in fruits, beans, and vegetables).
For the animals
Battery cages are commonly regarded as one of the cruelest forms of confinement for any animal bred for food. A laying hen, who produces eggs in an industrial factory farm, is confined to an area little larger than a sheet of letter-sized paper, with no room to stretch her wings as she was designed to do.
An egg-laying hen is compelled to spend her entire life standing and resting on wire flooring, which harms her feet. She can hardly stretch her necks upwards, let alone run, hop, fly, or explore because the cages are so low. Apart from eating, she is unable to perform anything that comes naturally to her.
Even so, she must thrust her neck through the wire bars to go to the feed trough, which has implications. This can cause her feathers to fall out and her skin to become rough and inflamed.
Dairy cows used to generate milk are subjected to not only physical but also psychological cruelty. A cow must first give birth to a calf before she may lactate, and the calf is taken away from her practically immediately after birth. Many individuals would agree that breaking the mother-offspring tie is a violation of a sacred relationship. On dairy farms, though, this is merely accepted practice. It is, in fact, a critical component of the business model.
Selective breeding has also resulted in a mother cow producing abnormally large amounts of milk, causing health difficulties that can lead to persistent suffering. When you consider the filthy conditions in which she is forced to live, it’s easy to see why dairy is anything but innocuous.
Animals—chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows—are picked up for the final trip of their lives as they are brought to slaughter in a slaughterhouse after an often fearful, tiring, and painful life on a factory farm. This is not going to be a pleasant journey. Whether it’s chickens, pigs, turkeys, or cows, they’re all crowded onto trailers with little room to move.
They may be exposed to harsh heat or cold during these long-distance travels. They are frequently denied access to enough food and water. By the time they get to their final location, each animal may be so terrified and neglected that they urinate. Their feces-covered bodies are then cruelly slaughtered for human consumption. What is it about that that is so appealing?
A layer hen’s body begins to break down after roughly a year in an industrial egg production farm. After all, she isn’t a machine, even if she is treated like one. She quickly finds herself unable to produce the massive quantities of eggs required by the factory farm’s production schedules. And any decrease in output implies less profit for the companies who are behind it all.
But, as a final act of cruelty before being slaughtered, she will almost certainly be subjected to forced molting, a procedure meant to extract as many eggs as possible from a hen’s body. As the seasons change and winter approaches, hens naturally molt, or lose feathers. The light in a factory farm is regulated to turn on for shorter periods of time during the day to simulate these natural settings. Hens are also depleted of food and water for days at a time. After this period of hunger, which can kill many hens, the birds are fed and given water, causing their body to go into a final burst of egg production. The only thing egg factories care about is eggs, as evidenced by forced molting.
Gestation crates are right up there with battery cages as one of the cruelest methods to treat animals. Sows, or pregnant pigs, are confined to these cages for the duration of their almost four-month pregnancies. She can only sit, stand, and eat in this tiny, coffin-like container.
In fact, gestation crates are so small that she is unable to walk, visit her neighbors, or even turn around, as her social instincts would suggest. Imagine the mind-numbing monotony and anguish of being compelled to stay in the same place for months at a time, especially while pregnant. She will be impregnated again after giving birth, repeating the cycle until she is no longer fit to bear children, which is normally when she is between 12 and 2 years old. No amount of bacon is worth her torment.
For the environment
When driving through America’s farmlands, you may notice an obnoxious odor and find it difficult to breathe at times. Factory farms are frequently hidden from public view, yet air pollution, while imperceptible, is unavoidable. When it comes to air pollution, hog and chicken factory farms are particularly harmful because of the hundreds of animals trapped in tight areas, each of whom produces waste that penetrates into the soil, water, and air. Air pollution, which can induce headaches and other chronic diseases, as well as the economic implications of decreasing property prices, have the greatest impact on workers and the communities surrounding these operations.
More than the air is poisoned by the feces of factory farms. Because of the inappropriate management of animal waste, water surrounding factory farms can get contaminated. Because our waterways are interconnected, pollution can spread to marine habitats, where rivers and streams flow into the sea. This has been connected to dead zones in ocean environments, such as the Gulf of Mexico, which has some of the world’s largest dead zones.
Factory farming causes deforestation in two ways: by clearing forests to raise cattle on land, and to make room for the vast mono-crops like wheat, corn, and soy that feed animals confined within concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). The World Bank found factory farming to be responsible for 91 percent of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil—a critical habitat that plays a key role in maintaining the global climate.
Factory farming is responsible for a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions, including powerful gasses like methane, which play a key part in global warming and climatic disaster. Animal husbandry is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than planes, trains, and automobiles combined, according to conservative estimates. Animal husbandry is clearly one of the major contributors to today’s climate change catastrophe, which has resulted in dramatic temperature fluctuations, devastating wildfires, lethal tsunamis, and more.
Wildlife and Biodiversity
What little remains of uncultivated wild environments is at risk due to deforestation, pollution, and climate change caused by factory farming. Wild creatures are increasingly struggling to survive in their natural habitats. Each year, tens of thousands of species become extinct as a result of animal agriculture’s insatiable demands. Today, meat-heavy diets pose the biggest threat to the diversity of our planet’s flora and animals, as well as the ecosystems that support them.
FAQs about going vegan
Veganism is finally focusing on what you can eat rather than what you can’t. Whether you try veganism for the sake of your health, the environment, or the animals, you’ll have an impact that extends far beyond yourself. For additional information, go to PowerPAC plus!!!