Back in May I made the decision to go vegan. There are many reasons why but the biggest reason is my dog, Sunie. I love her beyond words. She has the best personality and is the sweetest animal on the planet. The thought of losing her one day is devastating to even think about. The more time I spent at home with her, the more I thought about my love for other animals. If I believed Sunie had a unique personality, was capable of learning and understanding what I am saying and doing, and that she, above all, was worthy of my love and compassion- why was I kidding myself into believing that wasn’t true for all sentient beings? Does the value of a human or an animal depend entirely on my perception of it, or are all beings worthy of living and being loved regardless of my biases?
I came to the conclusion that I could no longer in good conscious, pay someone else to slaughter, abuse and rape animals on my behalf. I would never want that done to Sunie, and I don’t want it done to any creature just so I can have a steak. My taste buds are not more important than that animal’s life.
After this revelation came to me, I did a ton of research. I needed to know everything about the meat and dairy industry and wanted to educate myself on veganism’s impact on my health and the planet. I needed all the information if I was going to give up my beloved steaks and grilled chicken. And what I found out was nothing short of disturbing.
The slaughter house footage alone (you can watch it here) is enough to make you want to quit cold turkey- no pun intended. Every time I watch the horrific, standard practices of these industries and know I contributed to this suffering and mass slaughter, it breaks my heart. These animals have value and deserve our compassion, even if we have been socialized to reserve our love for cats and dogs. This is the earliest form of discrimination we are taught, and I want no part of it.
Every single year, 72 billion land animals are slaughtered for human consumption. There are only 7.7 billion people on this planet. We are killing the equivalent of our species ten times over, every single year. This figure doesn’t even touch on the over 1.2 trillion aquatic animals killed annually for our consumption (source).
The day these animals are born, a human has already decided when they will die and how they will live. These animals are bred into existence just to provide a service for us, whether it is meat, dairy products, or eggs, and after their service to humankind has expired they are slaughtered, often years earlier than they would have died in the natural world.
As a woman- or really just a human who values the mother and child bond, the dairy industry is especially disturbing to me. Cows don’t just produce milk, they, like humans, must deliver a baby to produce milk. Instead of that mother cows milk going to her calf, she is hooked up to a machine and pumped with hormones and antibiotics (many of which the industry doesn’t have to reveal to the consumer because of gag orders) until her utters are bloody and mastitis has set in. Cows are simply not made to naturally produce milk at the rate we “require” for our ice cream, cheese and yogurt.
Because of this abuse, you get to legally enjoy 1,120,000 pus cells per spoonful of milk in the United States (source). Yum.
Meanwhile, calves are torn from their mothers and their fate can go one of two directions. Females become dairy cows like their mom and get to look forward to a cycle of rape, pregnancy, birth, having their babies torn away from them hours after being born, all to finally be hooked up to a machine for their milk. Rinse and repeat this torture until they no longer produce milk at a profitable margin and are shipped off to a slaughter house. Males, on the other hand, have no real use in the dairy industry except to be sold for veal and other delicacies. Of course some will be grazed until they are “adult size” and then, you guessed it, slaughtered.
I could go on and on about the atrocities of this industry and its abuse of animals forever. Why people choose to be horrified at puppy mills and not at factory farms is beyond me. All animals are worthy of our love and compassion, despite what we’ve been socialized to believe.
Aside from showing compassion to all animals, I chose to go vegan for my health.
For starters, I like 65% of the human race am lactose intolerant (source). This makes perfect sense considering most humans ween off breast milk around age 2. If we don’t need our mothers milk past infancy, we definitely don’t need gorilla’s milk, giraffe’s milk or a cow’s milk. So for my health it was important that I stopped consuming something that didn’t agree with me.
Beyond that, throughout my research I found that eating a vegan diet is in many ways healthier than the standard american diet. Research has linked plant based eating to lower “blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer” which is incredible (source). A simple diet shift can transform your health, get you off prescription drugs, and on to living a better life.
It has been less than 3 months and I can vouch that my energy has never been higher and my anxiety has never been lower. This diet has healed my relationship with food, myself and allowed me to fully trust and love my body. I feel incredible and am able to maintain my optimal weight effortlessly.
I also went vegan for the planet. Many people already know that going vegan is the best thing you can do for the environment. Veganism reduces fresh water consumption, preserves the soil, lowers greenhouse gas emissions- I could go on and on.
In fact, researchers at the University of Oxford found that a vegan diet could reduce a person’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. If you want to change the world, a vegan diet is the way to go. It is the easiest way to go green. Not to mention, if the entire world went vegan, global farmland could be reduced by 75%, that is the area of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined (source).
The animal agriculture industry also causes huge food disparities. We have starving people in the world yet tons and tons of soy, corn and grain are produced to feed livestock- not humans. We feed animals, which were just born to be slaughtered for our consumption, before we feed starving children and adults around the world. That seems so backwards to me. At the very least, meat should be viewed as a delicacy and eaten minimally, but at the rate we are consuming it, feeding our livestock has taken priority over feeding our human brothers and sisters.
The figures of the waste and depletion of resources because of this industry alone are astronomical. Check out more facts surrounding this environmental and humanitarian issue here.
We all want to see change. We all want to see things get better. But who is willing to change themselves?
I want to be the change. I want to do better when I know better. I want to be an example and at the end of my life I want to know I did everything I could to leave this world a better place for the next generation. As a vegan, I get to do all that.
I am giving up nothing and gaining everything. Better health, a greener planet, less suffering, to practice showing compassion to everyone and treating all beings equally. I get to live a life that allows me to love and feel at the deepest level without hypocrisy.
At a logistical level, I really truly am giving up nothing. Besides a sirloin steak, every single one of my favorite animal foods has a vegan option. There’s vegan ice cream, pancakes, butter, milk, chicken patties, burgers- anything you can think of it is available, plus no one had to die for you to eat it.
For the animals, for my health and for the planet, I want to be the change + I hope you will to.