“Animals are friends, not food.” The Finding Nemo-inspired catchphrase is probably good enough to explain one of the main reasons why a lot of people have turned vegan. Veganism is the practice of eliminating all exploitation of animal products -mainly for food, and including clothing, cosmetics, and other purposes. Throughout history, many believe that animals and plants were created as a purpose to satisfy the human needs. However, scientifically, humans are classified as animals and some people take this as a foundation to fight for equal rights.
The equal rights for animals imply no kind of harm shall be done,.
Additionally, an immense improvement of the environment could be predicted from the riddance of animal products5. A drastic change of lifestyle might lead to failure, but as the consumption of vegetables is famous for its many benefits, a plant-based diet is only a beginning to the importance of veganism. Veganism helps create a new way for people to live a healthy lifestyle without harming the ecosystem by improving the perception towards nature and offering daily alternatives for better choices of food and products.
Veganism has been introduced to humans since 500 BCE (Dombrowski). Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher and mathematician, promoted his belief in kindness among all species and started a diet of what is called today as vegetarianism (Dombrowski). Siddharta Gautama, also known as Buddha, was discussing the vegetarian diet with his followers as well (Dombrowski).
In all Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, the religions aim to not inflict pain on other animals, as humans are.
Then, in 1806 CE, Dr William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley from England refused to consume eggs and dairy for ethical reasons (Marcus). Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, believed that both animal and human suffering are equal and as serious, and the encouragement of animal cruelty might liken the idea of human superiority towards racism (Marucs). The West never picked up on vegetarianism, as it sprung mostly in Europe, but a religious sect in Pennsylvania called The Ephrata Cloister proposed vegetarian diet to the public (Marcus). The word “vegan'” was finally created by Donald Watson in 1944, as a description of the non-dairy vegetarians. In 1960, Jay and Freya Dinshah started the American Vegan Society (Marcus).
Veganism by far has proved its benefits in health for people. In 2007, a nutritionist named Jackie Keller showed that the vegan diet helped people with Type-2 diabetes to reduce their LDL cholesterol by 21%, meaning there will be less incidence of hypertension (Gunnars BSc). According to the American Diet Association (ADA), vegan eating links with the decrease of death risk from ischemic heart disease. With the diet, vegans also increase the intake of wholesome foods, due to the plenty consumption of antioxidants, dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Although there are other diets that might be able to achieve similar goals without eliminating meat, veganism greatly promotes psychological health. With the elevated consciousness in choosing food, veganism performs high self-control, and with it comes commitment and dedication.
Additionally, the awareness in food consumption cuts down impulsive eating behavior, decreasing the chances of eating disorders that are in fact increasing in today’s society. People might argue how a balanced diet is the best one, because humans are identified as omnivores. Perhaps with the right amount of meat, vegetables, dairy, protein, and other minerals combined, a balanced diet is great. However, the increasing prices of organic food nowadays, healthy meals are not as achievable for some as they are for others. If it is not organic, the meat might have been manipulated with growth hormones. Through veganism, people are able to cook balanced, affordable, and healthy meals without contributing to the suffering of other species in the process.
The most common concern for veganism is how vegans may be deficient in some nutrients, particularly from animal-based foods. First of al, the Australian Dietary Guidelines has now agreed that a well-planned vegan diet is a safe, healthy, and viable option. Also, the U.S National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health published an article about how eating plant-based foods allow significant health benefits as opposed to animal-based foods. Additionally, plant-based foods are able to replace animal-based foods in terms of human nutrition (Tuso et al). For example, vitamin B-12 which is believed to only be found in animals are in fact present in nori seaweed and fermeted soy (tempeh), vitamin D is mostly produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and DHA, an essential omega-3 fat, can be in the diet in the form of krill oil (Tuso et al).
Some nutrients, such as creatine, are available in supplements and others are produced in the body, though in a small amount. Nevertheless, humans do not need animals to survive healthily. Aside from the humanistic benefits, veganism helps to strive for a better agriculture of animals (Vidal). Within the egg and dairy industry, chickens and cows suffer an immense suffer and death. The industries kill billions of hens and baby chicks, and millions of cows and calves, every year (Capps, “Free From Harm”). The cows are separated from their infant hours after birth, causing the disruption of motherhood, only so the milk that was intentionally for the calves can be taken away (Capps). The “Wildlife Services” kill carnivores and predators on behalf of the livestock industry (Capps).
Cruelty is not acceptable in any way, especially to those of whom own feelings. Since the beginning of time, animals have shown protection towards their own kind and even desire to reproduce in order to maintain the existence of their own species. To witness infants slaughtered before the eyes of the mothers is torture beyond humanity. Farming should be done with benevolence and decency, with consideration of the animals’ life and well- being instead of merely for the benefits humans. It is simply not right to murder an extensive number of animals with an excuse to satisfy “supply and demand”, solely to fill the pockets of businessmen. In defense for the fear of animal overpopulation, many, many species have existed before humans since the beginning of time, and even with humans, before all the industrialization, the Earth’s ecosystem was able to operate perfectly without artificial interference from humans.
Unlike animals who kill other animals for food, humans have a choice. Animals kill from necessity, but with the exploitation in the industry, most humans kill animals for palate pleasure or convenience. It may be more convenient to inject chickens with hormones in order for the eggs to lay faster, or to extract milk while it is produced maximally, and food cooked with egg and dairy may debatably taste better than without, but humans need to fit others into consideration. When one has a choice between sparing or taking a life, to bring violence and death upon others because of the “taste” is not humane in any way, also for the fact that the animals cannot fight back. With less animal products, veganism contributes on a higher possibility to end world hunger and the impact of a better environment.
An estimated 14% of the world’s population approximately 850 million people-suffer from undernourishment while others continue to waste valuable agricultural land and resources to produce animal products (Vidal). The decreasing number in large animal factories will eventually have an effect on less air pollution, puts less stress on our natural resources by requiring less land, as well as reducing pressure on the environment (Vidal). With its benefits for all humans, animals, and environment, although veganism has its own disadvantages, the prosperities that follow with a plant-based diet definitely pay off. Veganism is not a selfish choice. Being a vegan means more than satisfying one’s self, and it plays an essential role on the vitality of all humans and other living beings.