There are many people who think that vegans don’t eat a thing but salads. I can tell you that this is not the case. Vegans eat plenty of food, maybe even a broader spectrum of food then most carnivores.
But what is ‘a vegan’ then? Vegans don’t use any animal products. They don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs or anything else that is derived from an animal. But pure veganism goes further than what you put in your mouth. Vegans don’t use products, like cosmetics, clothes, shoes and other materials, that contain animal products or are tested on animals.
There are many reasons to become vegan. The most common arguments are for health or for the sake of animals. Lately the reasons are growing, people are becoming vegan for environmental reasons or the world food problem. Some vegans who become vegan for one reason, can see the benefits of the other arguments and ‘grow’ in their thoughts about being vegan.
More and more research shows that it’s not healthy to eat (lots of) meat, dairy or eggs. Nutrients from animal-based foods can cause more harm to a person then good, where there are lots of positive aspects to consuming plant-based nutrients. A vegan diet can have a positive impact on decreasing the development of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. When someone suffers from these last two diseases and adopts a vegan diet, very often they can reverse these diseases. Of course, to maintain this, the vegan diet needs to be a healthy and a conscious one.
The ethical reasons to become vegan are big. The main concern is the meat industry. Not only are these animals bred specifically for the consumption of animal flesh, they live their short lives in miserable circumstances. It is true that free-range or grass-fed animals are often better taken care of, nevertheless their sole purpose remains to be eaten by humans or fellow-animals (who aren’t even carnivores). The essence of the meat industry is that animals are ‘produced’ to be consumed by humans and therefore have to be slaughtered. The meat industry keeps animals, like pigs and cows, in places that are too small and resemble nothing of their natural habitat. The food they get is often not the food that they would eat in their natural environment. The slaughter is a long journey, because the animals are brought from the farm to a slaughterhouse in horrible circumstances. They are put on a truck with so many that they can’t even breath properly, let alone move an inch. In the slaughterhouse they arrive in an environment that they don’t know, don’t know what is going to happen to them and are driven into a small space where they get a bullet in the head or are electrocuted. These animals suffer a lot of stress and anxiety before they get killed , and that stress and anxiety starts from the moment they put foot on earth.
There’s a specific story when it comes to chickens. When held for their meat, they are bred that way that they grow about 1,5 times as fast as other ‘normal’ chickens. This causes lots of problems since their organs don’t grow at the same speed that their body does. They live in large poultry sheds, large not meaning that they have plenty of room, just plenty of space for a huge amount of chickens. When they are still young chicks, a selection is made between the male and female chickens. Since male chickens aren’t that wanted for their meat and don’t produce eggs, they are killed within a few days. Hens are often hold in ‘battery cages’, which is a small space where they can barely move, don’t get a glimpse of sunlight so they produce as many eggs as possible. When they can’t produce enough eggs anymore, they are killed.
The same goes for the dairy industry. Many people don’t know that cows have to get a calf to produce milk. This means that the calf is taken away from his/her mother within a few days, often slaughtered for their meat, so that farmers can milk their cows for human consumption. Here it is also the case that when the cows don’t produce enough milk, they go to the slaughterhouse.
Veganism is not only beneficial for your own health and for animal welfare, it is also positive for the environment and for the world population. Seven times as much land is needed to produce meat then there is to produce plant protein. About 60 percent of fertile soil is used for stock breeding! When you know that there is a lot of hunger in the world, this is a solid argument to go vegan.
An ecological way of living should include less consumption of animal products. Eating meat is causing lots of problems to our environment since it is polluting our air, our water and lowering our biodiversity. Research shows that the produce of livestock is responsible for about half of greenhouse gas emissions and a major cause for climate change.
The Importance of Plant-Based Eating for Health – Brenda Davis, Registered Dietician
Plant-based meats and dairy alternatives, Healthy for People and Planet – Alpro Soya
The China Study – T. Colin Campbell, PhD
Veganism – Wikipedia
Nederlandse Vereniging voor Veganisme
Water- en Voedselzekerheid - Protos
Vlees Eten – Animal Freedom
8 Hours, Stop long animal transports
Livestock’s Long Shadow, environmental issues and options – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations