I turned vegan nearly three years ago back in September 2015. After being vegetarian for a year and a half.
Veganism has grown a lot in the time since I committed to it. It really is amazing to see all the new products on the market and to hear about so many people lessening their consumption of animal products or even cutting them out entirely.
Today I wanted to explain why I choose to be vegan. There are various reasons as to why one might choose to make this change, however my reason is primarily because I do not feel comfortable with the cruelty that many animals experience in the production of meat, milk and eggs. As well as with the creation of leather and other animal derived materials, and of course animal tested cosmetics.
I will also touch on the environmental side of veganism, as I feel this is also a reason as to why we should lessen our consumption of animal products. So, back all the way in January 2014 I saw this video. Just a warning, it’s pretty graphic, but it pretty much details what happens in the creation of animal products. It changed everything for me as I realised there was a whole word of cruelty behind the products I ate and enjoyed every day.
The meat and dairy industry has some pretty dark practices, I’ll list a few that are commonplace in the UK here:
- Chicks are de-beaked in order to stop them pecking at each other because they are in such an enclosed and tight space.
- Dairy cows calves are taken away from them shortly after birth so that they won’t drink their mother’s milk because it gets sold to us. See a video about this here.
- Male chicks are macerated (basically they’re shredded) because they are of no use to the industry and this is the cheapest way to dispose of them. See this tweet where the RSPCA (who are meant to be against animal cruelty!) justify maceration.
- Many animals are thrown about, kicked and treated carelessly by staff in slaughterhouses.
Of course, there’s so much more to that list, and there are some documentary’s you can watch to get a true perspective of what goes on in these industries. For example:
- Land of Hope and Glory – very up to date and based in the UK.
I will be honest, I haven’t seen Land of Hope and Glory, or any video that shows the cruelty of the animal product industries in a long time. As a vegan of almost three years, I know all too well what goes on, but if you are still a consumer of animal products, I do urge you to watch one. If anything I feel it’s important to be educated about what we’re purchasing and eating every day.
I believe that no animal deserves to be treated cruelly or to die before their time – that is fundamentally why I am vegan. Human’s can live perfectly healthily on a vegan diet – check out the NHS page here. It explains that veganism is healthy at all life stages and the things you need to be aware of when switching. (Just a side note – I totally understand that some people have illnesses which may make veganism difficult/impossible, but for the healthy individual it’s totally fine!).
So, that’s the animal cruelty side of things. Now what about the environmental?
It’s commonly in the news that animal products are not so great for the environment. Basically, animal agriculture is responsible for a hell of a lot of greenhouse gases. Some sources say 15% some say as much as 51% whichever one, it’s massive. We’re all aware of how of how much of a problem climate change is at the moment, so imagine if we could cut it, even by 15% – that’s huge.
I believe what’s unique about veganism and the environment is that the consumer really does have power. We have the power to cut animal products out of our diets, or even just reduce it. A lot of the other causes of greenhouse gases are much harder to have an effect on in our individual lives. For example, electricity – there is simply no way to live without it unless we drop out of society entirely which most of us, understandably, don’t want to do.
That’s just one element of the environmental impacts animal products, but there is so much more, this ted talk provides a great overview.
So all in all, this is just a summary of why to be vegan. There’s a lot more to it, and I may go more in depth with certain topics in the future. I just want to make it really clear that, veganism is great but for a lot of people it’s a big challenge. And if that’s you, I would encourage you to just cut your animal consumption if you want to. Meatless Monday’s are a great place to start, or really just cutting animal products in any way you want to or is easy for you.
If you decide you want to go fully vegan, fantastic. If you decide you want to just cut out chicken, that’s great too. Any step is appreciated by both animals and the environment.