You may have seen people talking about something called Veganuary, particularly in recent months. But what is Veganuary and why does it matter? Veganuary is a charity that inspires people to take up veganism throughout January – and hopefully onwards from there. Over 50,000 people signed up last year, and it’s more than 120,000 this year! If you would like to give it a go – you can sign up here. Of course, you can go vegan without signing up for everything, it’s just an extra helping hand along the way.
So, why go vegan? For the animals, for your health, and for the environment. There are many more reasons, but these seem to be the primary three!
Animals should have the right to live, and to live free from harm and exploitation by humans. We wouldn’t want to be harmed or exploited by an intellectually-superior alien race so why should we do that to those “weaker” than us? We also feel very saddened by animal cruelty towards dogs and cats, so why should pigs and cows be exempt from this compassion? Animals are sentient beings: they feel emotions, can suffer, and their lives matter to them. Humans are animals too, so it makes sense that we have more in common with other animals than that which separates us. Yet, we have created an industry from Hell which does nothing but create suffering and misery for animals. There’s no end to the ways in which animals experience torture in factory farming. Here’s a small snippet about the cruelty of animal farming from the Veganuary website…
“There is, of course, the physical pain, of teeth and tails being clipped, horns burned off and ear tags puncturing flesh, but there is also the overwhelming suffering of life spent in a cage, or standing on broken bones, or having milk taken through infected teats. And all this is routine on British farms.
What of the emotional toll? The dairy cow who grieves for her young, as calf by calf they are taken from her so that their milk can be sold for human consumption. The hen who is not permitted to keep her eggs, let alone hatch out her chicks, and can only watch as they roll away. The ewe and her lamb bleating for one another, long after the young sheep has been sent away for fattening.”
We should be thinking of animals as the individuals that they are, and not as a mass collection of live stock that exists only to please us. It’s not to say that animals are the exact same as people, just that they needn’t be exploited, harmed, and killed by us for no good reason. What kind of person treats others this way? Enough is enough.
There are also a lot of health benefits to going vegan. Cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs can help to combat various health problems and encourages a general improvement in well-being. There are so many vegan athletes and sports stars – and it’s for a reason!
One of the scariest things, for me, about animal farming, is the intensive use of antibiotics – check out this statistic from the Veganuary website.
Nearly 50% of antibiotics used in the UK are used in animal agriculture, and in the USA this figure is a staggering 70%+.
Yet, we are told as human beings to avoid asking our GP for antibiotics because it can promote resistance! Overcrowding, stressful conditions, and early weaning all lead to sickly animals and thus antibiotics are introduced into the food supply. Since the farming is so intensive, antibiotics are provided whether the animal has specific need or not. It’s all about increasing profits and maximising production. So, animal farming poses a health threat to all of us in and of itself.
Otherwise, cutting out animal products can be beneficial in terms of blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol are strongly linked to heart problems. Coronary heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the west. These risks are significantly lowered amongst vegetarians and particularly vegans – check out some of the studies shared on the Veganuary website here and here.
Consumption of animal products is also related to Type 2 Diabetes, where vegans are found to have a 60% less chance of developing the disease. This extract below from the Veganuary website details the current condition of Diabetes in the UK:
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing global conditions, and places a massive burden on individuals and health care services. Since 1996 the number of people in the UK with diabetes has nearly tripled, from 1.4 million to over 4 million. Over 21 million people have type 2 diabetes in the US. If current increases continue, it is estimated that by 2025, 5 million people in the UK will have diabetes. Worryingly, Type 2 diabetes is also now becoming increasingly common in younger adults and even adolescents.
Eating meat is worse for the environment than driving a car. All our lives, we have been told to turn off our taps, turn off the lights, take the bus instead of driving… but were we ever told about the environmental impact of beef? Cutting out animal products can help to save water, save forests, save species, save energy, and reduce pollution.
“Livestock” animals need water to drink, to clean them/their living spaces, and of course in order to grow all of the grain to feed them throughout their time alive! All food utilises water in its production – almonds and avocados are quite bad, for example – but we have to eat something, and nothing compares to the water consumption of animal products.
In addition to all of this, don’t forget that animals gotta poop too. And what happens to all of this waste? It is contaminating our air and waterways. Not only this, but the waste has to be kept somewhere as giant lakes or in cesspools. Where do you think these are? Near the homes of poor people. The Veganuary website lists just some of the many stories of environmental damage caused by animal waste.
Scientists at Cornell University found: to produce one calorie of food energy from beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy vs one calorie of human-edible grain requiring 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy. Vegan food is far more energy-efficient and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than animal products.
Not only water, pollution, and energy… deforestation by the meat and dairy industry leads to habitat loss and the extinction of many species. Every second, any area of rainforest equivalent to a football field is cleared to provide space to grow animal feed and for pasture grazing. And sealife is affected too. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Report said that “96% of all wild fish species are moderately exploited, or worse“.
It seems to me that there are more than enough reasons why to go vegan – now it’s time to approach the “how?” This January, I will be sharing a post from my blog – new or old – on my various social media channels in order to help people get the information that they need.
Please feel free to approach me with any questions you may have, I am more than happy to help. Follow my blog for more info, or find me on twitter/instagram with the handle @morgancrawf where I frequently post about veganism and will be sharing my blog posts. Happy vegging!