Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
As I’m sure you’ve probably worked out by now, I’m vegan! This page has been created to hopefully answer some of the many questions I have received from you guys. This is by no means a complete list – just a collection of some of the information I have found out during my vegan journey so far.
I’m vegan for three main reasons:
- Firstly, for the animals – I love animals and I don’t want my lifestyle to impact negatively on any animal’s well-being.
- Secondly, for myself – I have read so much about what meat and dairy does to our insides that I no longer want to put those kinds of products into my body. I feel a million times better on a vegan diet; my hair, skin and nails are healthier, my immune system stronger, my digestive system better, and my energy levels much higher!
- Thirdly, for the environment – I had no idea what kinds of negative effects our diets are having on the planet until I studied Food Sustainability at University. It’s pretty mind-boggling what meat is doing to the environment, and how so many people are overlooking it.
I’m going to organise the info below into those three sections to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for 🙂 I plan to add to this page as I find more useful resources!
The Meat Paradox : Why do we love some but eat others?
Speciesism is a failure, in attitude or or practice, to accord any nonhuman being equal consideration and respect.
Why do people feel sick at the thought of eating dog, but hungry at the thought of eating pig (bacon) with their eggs? How can people feel so outraged about whaling whilst continuing to enjoy fish and chips? Why do some animals appear to deserve concern and consideration but others so much less so? How do so many people manage to eat so much meat while also readily espousing their love for animals? TEXT FROM HERE.
Have you ever wondered why we treat certain animals like friends and others like commodities or food? For example, dogs and cats are considered members of the family, but we slaughter and eat cows and pigs. Because we think there is a distinction between the animals we love and the ones we eat, we do not think twice about what has to happen to cows, chicken and pigs before they arrive on our plates as food.
This TED talk by psychologist Melanie Joy explores the reasons why we are disgusted by the thought of eating Golden Retriever, but happily enjoy beef, pork and chicken. All animals are equally sentient beings, but because we think that eating farmed animals for meat is, “normal, natural and necessary,” we never question our choice to mass slaughter and eat them.
By looking into how our society has normalized the consumption of meat, Joy contends that we all have a choice to remove ourselves from this cruelty, but the first step is awareness. Thinking critically and carefully about the roles we’ve assigned farmed animals versus our pets, we can see beyond the constructs of “carnism” and work towards a more compassionate future. TEXT FROM HERE.
Article – What is speciesism?
In terms of animals being one of the three reasons I went vegan, it’s pretty obvious – animals have to die in order to end up neatly packaged in your local supermarket. It doesn’t matter how organic or free range or ‘happy’ your meat was, they will still have lived a crappy life and died a distressing and extremely painful death. This is after spending most of their lives in tiny crates, often barely bigger than the animal itself. Birds are force fed with tubes down their throats, piglets are stolen from their mothers and castrated with just a scalpel and no pain relief. Animals are often hung up, still alive, throats sliced and left to bleed to death. Birds are hung on conveyor belts by their feet, which delivers their necks to a rotating blade. Male chicks (who are rendered useless by the dairy industry) are minced alive in giant blenders. These animals are not stupid. Pigs are just as intelligent as your pet dog – they KNOW what is happening/ about to happen and they struggle to get away. They live a painful and scared existence before suffering a cruel death. I could go on, but my written words are nowhere near as effective as seeing it for yourself….
Some of the following videos contain graphic scenes from inside slaughter houses, which is of course distressing to watch for most people.
BUT if you can’t watch what is happening to your meat, should you really be eating it?
- Earthlings – Probably own of the most well known documentaries. It’s a tough watch and I covered my eyes for most of it, but it contains loads of information relating to pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. I highly recommend everyone watches this film!!
- Food Inc – Available on Netflix, this documentary exposes global food production practices and how it is related to multinational corporate control. It covers the reality of large-scale food production, such as poor health and safety conditions for both animals and workers.
- Live and Let Live – Tells the stories of individuals who have turned vegan, including a butcher turned vegan chef!
- Speciesism – Documentary which focuses on factory farming and the philosophy relating to animals’ roles in our human world.
Non-graphic animal videos:
What about dairy??
DAIRY COWS DO NOT NEED TO BE MILKED – They (like all other mammals) produce milk only when they have a baby — to feed that baby! There is a very common misconception that cows need to be milked as they always produce milk and thus milking is somehow ‘good for them’. This is completely FALSE!
How milk is made – Female cows are restrained and raped through artificial insemination to try and generate a pregnancy. Once they have given birth, their newborn baby is ripped away from them only hours after their birth. This is obviously extremely distressing and confusing for the new mum who just wants to feed and comfort her baby. It’s equally distressing to the baby who has no idea what is going on and just wants its mother. The female is then whisked off to be attached to an assortment of hooks and pumps which will be clasped on to her for hours at a time, leaving her teats red raw, bleeding and pussing. To combat the pus and other nasties that end up in the milk, the female is dosed up on hormones and antibiotics, which also end up in the milk that you pour on your cereal – yum. Yes, the milk is filtered, but studies have shown a considerable amount still ends up in every mouthful. Once the female has reached the end of her sorry life (about 4 years), she’s taken away to be slaughtered. Back to the stolen baby – if male, this tiny little being is bundled into the back of a truck, taken to a market, thrust into a ring surrounded by farmers and then his life is bid on – so he can soon become veal. If unlucky enough to be born a girl, that baby faces the same horrific life as her mother.
The dairy industry explained in detail:
Article – Why dairy is bad.
Video – Dairy is f*cking scary
Video – The dairy industry in 60 seconds
Article – Vegan Peace on Dairy
“If I wasn’t meant to eat meat, then I wouldn’t have these canine teeth!” is a knee-jerk defense that’s often made after a meat-eater has been confronted with information about animal farming cruelty, or with the fact that humans have no biological need for meat, milk or eggs. (Quote from Free From Harm)
“Our teeth prove we are carnivores.” Our teeth prove that we are opportunistic omnivores. In fact, there are many features of our bodies that show we evolved to eat far less meat than most other omnivores. This is in line with our nearest neighbor, the chimpanzee, which will only eat meat occasionally, despite large sharp canines.
Do vegans get enough protein?!
Whole grains, vegetables, and beans provide more than enough protein to stay healthy. Most people actually eat too much protein, and when the body has more than it needs, it excretes the rest in our urine. Animal protein also leads to increased risk for several illnesses.
Protein is made up of 20 amino acids – meat, eggs, and dairy have all 20 of them. There are also complete proteins in plants, such as grains and beans, but some of them have smaller amounts of one or two of the 20. Because of this, they aren’t popularly recognised as great sources of protein, even though they have tons of vegan protein. Of the 20 amino acids, humans create 11 in their bodies and get the other 9 from foods. Someone with a protein deficiency is not getting enough of one or all of those extra 9 amino acids. As long as you eat a wide variety of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, you will absolutely get enough vegan protein. (TEXT FROM HERE).
Article – The protein myth
Don’t you need cows milk for calcium?!
Although calcium is present in animal milk, it isn’t the only source of the mineral, nor is it the best source. The dairy industry just wants us to think it’s the best. As long as you eat a varied diet, getting enough vegan calcium is easy. Dark leafy green vegetables like kale, mustard and collard greens, broccoli, bok choy and chinese cabbage, and okra contain tons of calcium. (TEXT FROM HERE).
Article – 5 ridiculous myths about cows milk
Article – The calcium myth
- Forks Over Knives – Available on Netflix, this film examines the claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.
- Vegucated – Three meat-eating New Yorkers go vegan for six weeks for health benefits but discover the dark side of animal agriculture along the way.
The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.
It is impossible for any rational person to intelligently deny the negative ecological fallout of industrial farming. The arguments are sound and incontrovertible: three quarters of the US’s nitrous oxide (296 times more polluting than carbon dioxide) comes from meat agriculture; pigs and cattle excrete almost three times as much waste nitrogen than humans globally (in the US it is 130 times more); toxic chemical and animal runoff from factory farms has poisoned 173,000 miles of rivers and streams; land the size of seven football fields (often precious forested areas) is destroyed every minute to create room for farmed animals; 40 percent of all grain produced worldwide goes to feed livestock, not humans. The list of insults to the environment goes on and on and on. (REFERENCE)
Livestock farming generates more greenhouse gas emissions worldwide than all cars, lorries, trains, boats and planes added together. CRAZY.
- Cowspiracy – A great (non graphic) film about the devastating effects of animal agriculture and how (and why) many charities, organisations and farms are covering up the extent of the damage. You can find it on Netflix.
- Meat the Truth – Explores the impact of animal agriculture on global warming and climate change.
One Green Planet articles:
WATCH THIS VIDEO! Gary Yourofsky’s ‘Why Vegan?’ talk was one of the main motivators for me becoming vegan. Everything is explained in an easy to understand way and only features very minimal graphic scenes.
This Facebook Post covers pretty much every non-vegan argument!
Why go vegan – Vegankit.com
Nutrition: Although not from a vegan website, this post includes a great step-by-step guide to the different nutrients you need to make sure you get enough off (for meat eaters and vegans alike!). It includes lots of ideas about how to get each nutrient and what vegan foods are great sources.
There’s also a TONNE of amazing vegan Instagram accounts that will excite and inspire you, showing how delicious veganism can be. There’s too many to post, but searching through the hashtags ‘vegan’, ‘vegansofig’, ‘veganfoodshare’, ‘whatveganseat’, ‘plantpowered’, ‘veganism’ etc etc is a good start.
BOOKS COVERING VEGANISM
- Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
- Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer
- Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World – Victoria Moran
- Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World – Bob & Jenna Torres
- The China Study: T. Colin Campbell
- Becoming Vegan – Brenda Davis
- Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows – Melanie Joy