Why I’m Vegan

Dear Reader,

I’m currently writing for my website; essentially an extension of my blog but I’m also writing on other topics. Here’s a piece I wrote today about why I choose to be vegan…

According to my parents, as a young child I never really took to meat, even before I knew where it came from I used to spit it out. I can remember sitting down to dinner, stuffing my cheeks like a hamster and then excusing myself and spitting it all down the toilet. It was almost intuitive or built into me.

In 2001, when I was 11, we had the foot-and-mouth crisis in England, where cattle all over the country became diseased and people feared that- if they ate meat- they would catch the disease. One day, over a Sunday roast, images of the animals being burned in a huge pile came on the TV. Although I was already old enough to understand, something clicked in me when I realised that what was on my plate was the same animal that was being burned on the television. I pushed away my plate and vowed never to eat meat again, and I didn’t.

As time went by, I learned more and more about the cruelty of the meat industry and grew more into the animal rights side of things. I never really understood why people would be vegan because I didn’t know then of the cruelty behind the dairy and egg industry.

But when I was 20 I became a member of the Animal Rights Society at university. One night they screened a film called ‘Earthlings,’ exposing the cruelty behind the use of all animal derived products.

It was shocking. I only managed to watch 20 minutes before I was in total hysterics and felt like I was going to throw up. From that day on I always thought that- if everyone in the world knew what went on- we’d all be vegan, because there is nothing in this world less humane and more barbaric than the way we use, hurt and exploit animals. There’s no denying it.

After learning what I did from Earthlings, vegetarianism just didn’t seem enough (although I am not saying it’s not a good start). Although it is less publicised, animals suffer equally as much- if not more- in the dairy, fish and egg industry as they do in the meat industry. When a milking cow gives birth, male calves are often slaughtered or torn away from their mothers, hours after being born to be raised for veal. When a milking cow is done with- too old to use for milk- she is slaughtered.  As for the egg industry, most of us have seen the images by now of caged hens, but I’m afraid to say that ‘ethical’ eggs mean little difference. The hens are still kept in an incredibly cramped environment with no room to scratch or spread their wings and suffer hugely. Again, male chicks are often seen as useless and are killed when they are just a day old.

And so I became a vegan, and since then I’ve done a lot of research into the environmental side of it too. For example:

“The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe. This land contributes to developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow cash crops for animal feed, rather than food for themselves. On the other hand, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet, making the switch to veganism one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.”

(The Vegan Society)

Medical professionals and scientists alike are now advocating a vegan diet for health benefits, too. Personally I am not a vegan for the health reasons but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of them. For example:

  • There is scientific proof that leading a vegan lifestyle can increase your life expectancy
  • A plant-based diet is more rich in protein, iron, calcium and fibre, high in antioxidants and low in saturated fat
  • Because of this, vegans are less likely to become obese, get heart disease, diabetes or cancer

…And a Fun Fact: The world’s oldest living dog is vegan!

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