I didn’t become vegan until I was 44 years old because One, no one ever confronted me directly and told me why I should go vegan. And Two, since I was born into a society that teaches us that eating animals is normal and necessary, I didn’t question otherwise. When I finally questioned this narrative and looked behind the curtain, I felt so sad for the cruelty that I had been participating in, so angry at marketing systems in place to trick me, and disappointed in myself for being so gullible to fall for them.
So four years later and a lot of learning, I made a list of 7 reasons I think most people would want to go vegan, if they understood why it’s important.
1) Health. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes". Meat, dairy and eggs have been linked to diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. Dairy specifically had been linked to breast and prostate cancer, asthma, acne, and constipation. Contrary to popular belief, you can get all your essential nutrients on a full vegan diet including protein, iron and omega 3s ~ and it's better to get these through plant sources than through animal sources. If we don't need to eat animals to survive and even thrive, why would we? Is taste or tradition a justified reason to take a life? And to continue to breed them into existence?
2) Breeding. Meat, dairy and eggs start with breeding. That means in order to create animals for their milk, eggs or flesh, humans need to collect sperm from a male and inseminate it into a female. The animals are vulnerable and they don't have a choice in the matter. If we did this to humans, we would call it sexual assault. The structures they use to inseminate cows in large dairy factories are actually called rape racks and they go through this procedure once a year for their whole life. At the end of every pregnancy, the farmer takes her baby away so the farmer can have the milk, rather than the calf. Both mother cow and calf are distaught and cry out for each other for days. If the calf is male, it will be killed for veal. If it is female, she will be a dairy cow, like her mother. After about 5 cycles of this, the mother cow is "spent" and killed for meat. Is it okay for humans to control animals bodies like this?
3) Use. Animals are contained, often in crowded and unsanitary conditions, for their entire life to serve the needs of humans. They are killed for food at about a quarter of their natural life expectancy. For example, a cow would live about 20 years, but a beef cow is usually killed at 18 months and a dairy cow is killed at around 5 years old. Should we keep animals to provide us meals when we don’t need it for our survival?
4) Life. All farmed animals are killed against their will. Even dairy cows and egg laying birds are killed after they are worn out and can no longer produce milk and eggs. Humane slaughter is a mental myth made up to allow us to ignore our compassion for these animals. Even if an animal was raised on a small farm and lived a “good life” ~ the animal would still prefer to live out it’s life, rather than be killed. We don’t kill our dogs when they get old, unless it is truly the end of their life and we don't want them to suffer. And we certainly wouldn't eat them after. We treat them like family. Does taste and tradition justify taking the life of another being?
5) Pandemics. Most pandemics start from animal exploitation. AIDS, MERS, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, mad cow, Ebola, Covid-19 ~ all started by either taking wild animals from their natural habitat, or by breeding them and keeping them in over crowded conditions, or doing something like feeding cows other cows to save money like in the case of mad cow disease. I personally feel sad that we now have to live in fear of these viruses and being close to each other and gathering in crowds, and I’m angry that we humans create these conditions. If we stopped wild life trade, live markets and factory farming, pandemics like these would be a rare occurrence and not the accepted norm. Why wouldn't we do everything in our power to prevent future outbreaks?
6) Environment. Animal agriculture takes over forests, wastes incredible amounts of water and pollutes our oceans. In order to raise all those animals, we also have to feed all those animals and hydrate them. We could feed more people if we just farmed plants to feed people, instead of farming plants to feed the animals to eat and wear. Not only is animal agriculture the #1 cause of deforestation and species extinction, but clearing land to keep animals and grow their feed pushes indigenous tribes from their homes. Why would we continue to support animal agriculture when by just farming plants, we can better protect the planet and the vulnerable populations?
7) Taking. Meat, dairy and eggs are things that are not ours to take. When we fight for our right to have these things, it is an act of entitlement to something that is not rightfully ours. We should not be using someone else's body to fulfill our needs, even if it is a non human body. We can make the choice to just leave animals alone and still be healthy and eat delicious food. Is it our right to take from animals?
Please visit https://www.jenbarbatosvegankitchen.com/advocacy to learn more.
* I am not a doctor, please research the health issues of meat dairy and eggs for yourself or with your doctor.