What it is:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, entertainment or any other purpose.
What it is not:
Vegan is not a challenge, it’s not a diet, it’s not selfish, it’s not an eating disorder, it’s not ‘for wealthy people’, it’s not to get attention.
WHY VEGAN ? for the Animals.
Most humans feel empathy towards animals. We don’t like to see them suffer, we don’t take pleasure in hurting them. We have animals in our homes, we interact with them and we often turn to them for emotional support. We, no doubt, also believe that they enjoy being alive as much as they enjoy the company of others, they avoid pain, suffering and death.
A lot of us would answer Yes if asked if we love animals. And even if we don’t love them, and avoid their presence, most of us would think they deserve a happy and free and cruelty-free life.
Some people think that animals are on earth to be our food and to serve us. That’s called speciesism, ‘Speciesism’ is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. it’s placing a hierarchy between species based on how cute/strong/rare/funny/majestic they are. But is a pig really less intelligent, less able to perceive his environment, have feelings, love his family then a dog we would cherish and value? and even if we talk about animals that we judge ‘dangerous’, ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid’ do they deserve to be abused or killed because we give ourselves to moral right to do so?
When people fight a specific animal abuse, a specific slaughterhouse, a specific festival, a specific factory. it is speciesism. One question for those people if they are not vegan yet; are those animals you fight for right now more worthy of your respect and love than the one you ate for lunch, or wear to go out? There are no criterias to select which animals are worthy of their own lives. If it is wrong to act violently to a dog or cat just for enjoyment or convenience, how can we justify the horrible things we do to other animals? we do not need to eat animal products to be healthy: Some do have nutritional value, most are actually not good for our health. (longer article about vegan diet to come soon) we mainly do so because it is a cultural habit and we enjoy the taste of these products. We do not need animals to dress and decorate our houses. (post about vegan life style and fashion to come soon).
Some of us try to address this inconsistency by purchasing products that are marketed as “humane” or as produced “ethically.” However, as you’ll see, these words are meaningless and actually do very little to give animals a better life.
In any case, these terms encourage the public to believe it is okay to exploit animals simply because we enjoy it. This strange contradiction is our “moral schizophrenia.” We can overcome this social affliction and respect life by going vegan.
WHY VEGAN? for the Earth
”(…)Only about 3 percent of the Earth’s entire surface is capable of producing food for an exponentially growing human population (predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050). Given that it takes 16 to 20 times the amount of natural resources required to feed a meat and dairy eater as to feed a vegan, that alone should be reason enough to switch to a plant-based diet.
But there’s more… far more. Factory farming also accounts for 37 percent of methane emissions. Considering methane has over 20 times the global warming potential of CO2, that’s a scary number to consider. Meat production emits more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector, and producing just a half a pound of hamburger emits as much CO2 as driving a 3,000-pound car 10 miles. Astounding. One study looked at what would happen if urban and suburban households in four countries — the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Brazil — swapped lentils for beef once a week and found that the emissions reductions from this step would equal taking 3.7 million cars off the road for a year. While driving a Prius might help you feel good, it doesn’t come close to the benefits of ditching meat and dairy.
If you care about our precious planet, consider that hundreds of millions of acres of forests and rainforests worldwide, including 260 million in the U.S., have been cleared for livestock grazing or for corn and soybeans, the primary animal food crops. In fact, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute to create room for farm animals being grown to feed humans. At this rate, the world’s rain forests could disappear in a hundred years, which will drive climate change and cause habitat loss for millions of species.
In terms of life-giving water, growing animals to feed humans is calamitous. Strong word, I know. But consider, first, that doing so is a leading source of water pollutionin the United States. Why? We grow 150 billion animals annually to feed a human population of 7 billion. Try to wrap your head around that number. Where do we put all the poop? Factory farms put much of it into the ground, into manure lagoons that leach into our groundwater, killing entire waterways and countless animals. Or sometimes they just pump it directly into the water in direct persistent criminal violation of The Clean Water Act. (…)
Pollution isn’t factory farming’s only impact. Water use is a tremendous concern as well. Cornell University researchers estimate that “producing a pound of animal protein requires, on average, about 100 times more water than producing a pound of vegetable protein.” One sobering example of the problem is that one of the largest aquifers in the world (and one that provides drinking water to 2 million Americans) is predicted to dry up within the next 50 years due to overuse by the beef industry. (…)
What’s the hold up? Animal agriculture is ruining our precious Earth, the only home we have. Time is not on our side. Want to do your part this Earth Day, eco-warriors? Go vegan. Anything less is lip-service.’
WHY VEGAN? for the People
‘Quite simply, we do not have enough land to feed a growing population an animal-based diet. While 800 million people do not have enough food, we continue to waste valuable agricultural land by obtaining only a small fraction of its potential calorific value.
The world’s population is increasing and viable agricultural lands are diminishing. If we are to avoid future global food scarcity we must find sustainable ways of utilising our natural resource base. Industrial livestock production is not just unsustainable; it’s unjustifiable.’
A vegan diet is the only diet that the entire planet could live on. Any other diet would not be sustainable for the whole planet.
If you read, and not even carefully, the article so far, you should already understand it’s not. But if most think it’s extreme to be vegan, I can only point out that this is the actually only non-extreme life choice. Because you know what is extreme? And you DO participate in that if you buy ANY animal product. Boiling animals alive, slitting their throats, inseminating them then stealing their babies so you can steal their milk, keeping them shoved in cages, force feed them with chemicals and hormones, slamming them, shooting them, various and major ecological disasters and nearly 1 billion humans starving. And the list goes on. That, is extreme for me, not eating fruits, grains and veggies. I will not solve the world’s problems but now I know this mass murder and ecological disaster is not done in my name anymore.To say ‘it’s a personal choice’ is to forget there are direct victims of your acts. You can go in a moral debate, you’ll end up figuring that you can’t justify it ethically any longer. there is no ‘humane’ way to kill or make suffer a living being who wants to live and avoid pain. You can make a change now.
short answer: stop buying or putting in your mouth any kind of animal products.
long answer: It takes you to look at animals from an other perspective. Animal flesh is not food, cows and chicken are not milk or egg machines. Animal skin is theirs to wear not yours. Animals exist for themselves not to be experimented on or to entertain you. Once this is understood, it is not difficult at all to have a vegan life-style. I will make a post about vegan diets and refer dietary recommendations in a separate post. And will also do an other post about vegan lifestyle in general (clothing, makeup, etc) will keep you posted!
How does it feel, Is it hard? The change is slow, so very slow sometimes that it’s very sad. I am positive most of the time because I know I made the right choice, I feed myself with food that didn’t allow cruelty, separation, suffering and murder of other beings. I no longer buy clothes that are made with the skin of animals or buy make-up that was tested on them. It sets you free. It’s the most life changing and mind opening experience of my life. Love and respect flows in. Towards myself and the world outside.
But some days, it’s hard.The only difficulty you will face once you go vegan, will have nothing to do with what to eat or to wear. All the information you need about it is very accessible. You will have to come face to face with the darker side of humanity and remain hopeful. You will meet and know so many caring, intelligent and loving people who will continue to participate in needless violence against animals, just for the sake of their pleasure or convenience. That part is hard.
I can no longer open people’s fridge and look at what is inside. I used to see meat and diary, and that’s what they still see, but now I see animal flesh and products of tears and suffering. I used to not make the connexion either. Because that’s what the industry wants you not to do. But the information is out there, nothing is hidden from you. No argument against veganism is ethical or health based. It’s even more unfair that animals don’t have a voice, we have to be theirs. Although most people react positively when I say I am vegan, the so-called ‘social pressure’ is a barrier that many won’t overcome but I don’t care anymore if people want to think less of me or judge the actions I am taking. Every change will create resistance, denial and taunts. And then only people accept the new reality as ‘normal’ and act as if they always were thinking in the new way. Fight against all discrimination push you out of your comfort zone as the victim and as the oppressor; racism, sexism, homophobia, speciesism,…
I feel grounded in this choice and feel like I have finally woken up.
All the pictures in this article were taken during my trips in India where I was twice for several months in 2013 and 2015.
for further reading and links:
Speciesism explained on BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/rights/speciesism.shtml
Vegan for the Earth on Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-stevens/three-reasons-to-go-vegan_b_5170484.html
Vegan for the People by Vegan Society: http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/environment/food-security