So, You Want To Make A Real Difference In The World? Well, Before You Make A Donation, Consider the Impact of Food Choice.
If you’ve ever seen War Horse, I Am Legend, or Life of Pi – you’ll know what I’m talking about.
As the credits roll at the end of a movie like the ones listed above, you let out a heavy breath of relief as you read the following:
“No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.”
…Or maybe I just have an incredibly soft spot for animals.
When I see the horse gallop to its death, the faithful dog die defending its owner, or any other kind of animal abuse or death in general, my heart melts and I can’t help but feel connected to these animals.
This is what the title, “Vegan” means to me:
“No animals were harmed in the making of this product.”
It states that no animals were subject to a life of slavery, mutilation, or slaughter.
That no animals were beaten, abused, raped, or drugged, and that no animals were torn from their babies, or killed prematurely – for the sake of food that tastes good.
“Of course, if we really open our eyes, these are fellow sentient, feeling beings that we’re eating. And they’re not happy or peaceful: they’re suffering, in mass factories of hormone injections, daily beatings, lives of living hell, and murder.” ~ Leo Babauta, A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless
I don’t want to come on too hard here, but this is the reality of the meat and dairy industry and it’s causing an immense amount of problems.
What problems could buying milk, cheese, eggs, and meat from a store possibly cause?
– Switching to a diet free of meat, dairy, and eggs saves more carbon emissions than driving a Prius. How much more? 50% more!
– In the United States, 70% of the grain grown is fed to farmed animals. Imagine how many people we could feed with that food.
– Nearly 80% of land deforested in the Amazon is now used as cattle pasture. Futhermore, studies indicate that a varied vegan diet requires about a third of the land needed for conventional Western diets; 3.5 billion humans could live off the food currently fed to livestock.
– To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water. [Via ChooseVeg]
– Not to mention that, according to VeganOutreach.org, one person can spare about 50 animal lives per year by eliminating animals from their diet. And animals do not ‘give up their life’ as some people believe – they have not given consent to be slaughtered. In over 95% of cases they are killed prematurely.
Before you click away because you’d rather not know, please hear me out on a few things:
1) While you might not be experiencing these effects right now, think about what kind of world are we leaving behind for our children. We all talk about how we want to, ‘make a difference’ and leave behind a legacy that matters and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt as good about a lifestyle change as I have about becoming a Vegan. I feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life – not only for myself, but for every living being on this earth. Don’t do it for yourself – do it for everybody else.
2) The Vegetarian Myth: Why not vegetarian? ‘I just don’t think I could ever give up cheese…’ Once again, not trying to come on too hard here but, the vegetarian myth – that milk and eggs and cheese don’t result in killing – is just that. Like all ‘farm’ animals, egg-laying hens are on death row. They are kept alive only as long as it is profitable to keep them alive. When the cost of feeding them outgrows the benefit derived from their egg ‘production’ (always at a fraction of their natural lifespan), they are slaughtered. [via The Vegan Pensieve] And you would be surprised at how good some of the plant-based cheeses taste. My list of recommendations to follow.
3) The ‘Grass-Fed’, ‘Cage-Free’, ‘Free-Range’ Myth: Happy pigs make happy meat? Really? Read this. And here is a quote from The Huffington Post that sums it up well: “There’s nothing humane about the flesh of animals who have had one or two or even three improvements made in their singularly rotten lives on today’s factory farms. Perhaps they are allowed outside into a patch of mud if they can fight their way out through the 10,000 other hens competing to get through the hatchway. Perhaps they are allowed to share a box in which to lay their eggs. Perhaps they are not kept in iron maidens or sow stalls in which they can never turn around. But the rest of their lot in life and the manner in which they are otherwise treated outside these reductions in abysmal treatment are still an abomination.”
4) Being a vegan is not hard. There are more vegan food options available today than ever before – and good options, too! If this was about life or death then of course I would hunt, gather, and consume dairy. But we are so incredibly far from that life. Being a vegan today is literally about picking up a different product off the shelf from the supermarket. Sure, some of the substitutes might not taste as good as the meat and dairy – but this idea transcends taste and is about our future!
5) This is not an all-or-nothing argument. While, of course, my ultimate goal would be for you to become a full-blown vegan, I would still be absolutely thrilled if you decided to take even one small action step as a result of this article. A small action step taken in the right direction is better than no steps taken at all – seriously.
My At-A-Glance Vegan Starter Kit:
– Get Almond/ Coconut Milk blend instead of regular milk. It tastes better (in my humble opinion) and is better for the world. And the dark chocolate almond milk is way better than regular chocolate milk too!
– Get Chao or Follow Your Heart non-dairy cheeses. These are the best cheese substitutes I have found yet – dare I say they hardly taste like a substitute…!
– Try Tofurkey, Seitan, Morning Star and other meat substitutes. They are only getting better and better and have become an easy, ‘YES’ for me.
– Get some plant-based protein powders. They taste amazing and are easily integrated into your current diet. Still don’t think Vegans get enough protein? Here are 10 additional protein sources.
Ignorance is not bliss.
Choosing to remain in the dark and to turn a blind eye towards this incredibly serious issue is the same as supporting the dairy and meat industries to your fullest potential.
It’s the simple economic principle of supply and demand.
As long as there is a continued demand for meat and dairy, people will continue to supply regardless of the means.
But if we choose to demand other products – vegan products – and move the money slowly away from the meat and dairy industries, the supply tables will turn and we can start to truly make a difference in the world.
I still find myself stunned at how disconnected we all are from truth behind our foods. I hadn’t put two and two together until I was twenty-five years old.
It’s time to wake up and it’s time to demand a better supply. The vegan substitutes will only get better and better with a broader audience supporting it.
But it starts with you. Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to make a change in the world – for it is the only thing that ever has.
“Veganism isn’t about giving anything up or losing anything. It is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing non-violence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable. Veganism is not a ‘sacrifice’. It is a joy.” ~ Gary L. Francion
And if Mike Tyson, Steve-O, and Spider Man can do it… So can you.
The following is a list of names whom you might recognize that support the Vegan lifestyle:
Steve-O – the former member of the Jackass crew, is passionate about the harmful effects and practices of factory farming as well as his health.
Mike Tyson – Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson turned vegan in 2010, and has since loss 100 pounds. Here’s an interview he did with Oprah on the subject.
Ellen DeGeneres – “Going vegan is not a sacrifice, but the compassionate thing to do.”
Natalie Portman – For her, it was reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which sheds light on how animals that make it to our plate are raised, killed, and processed. She wrote an entire article on it here.
Ariana Grande – In several interviews, Ariana explained that the switch had as much to do with her health as her love for animals. Tweet proof.
Pamela Anderson – A huge animal rights activist, Pamela Anderson has been vegan for a good majority of her life. This year, Pamela launched her own cooking website, The Sensual Vegan.
Carrie Underwood – Growing up on a farm, Carrie Underwood says she became a vegetarian at age 13 after witnessing animal killings first-hand.
Usher – His dad died of a heart attack in 2008, and RadarOnline reports that Usher is determined to take charge of his fate with this healthier diet.
Carl Lewis – World-famous track runner and Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis says he had the best race of his life at the 1991 World Championships, after he turned vegan to prepare for the race, Mother Nature Network reports.
Russell Brand – After watching “Forks Over Knives,” a documentary on rejecting processed food to control common diseases, Russell Brand converted from longtime vegetarian to vegan in 2011, according to Mother Nature Network.
Spider Man [Tobey Maguire] – He revealed giving up meat was an easy adjustment, saying “It’s never really been that hard for me. I’ve never had any desire to eat meat. In fact, when I was a kid I would have a really difficult time eating meat at all.”