Thu. Jun 27th, 2024

The V word

By Ida Lillebo Nov 16, 2020
Be Fair Be Vegan posterPro-vegan protest in Berlin. Credit: Rexfeatures, Omer Messinger/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock

Living as a vegan is both controversial and perceived as provocative by many. Nor is it easy as many groceries contain animal products. So why would anyone willingly turn vegan?

You can’t be both an environmentalist and a meat eater

Animal agriculture is one of the most resource-intensive and environmentally damaging aspects of our industrial lives. Many people decide to go vegan due to environmental reasons. Livestock production is unsustainable, both in terms of climate and food security.

Greenhouse gas emissions from meat and dairy production account for roughly 20 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the emissions from the entire transport sector combined. Livestock production is also one of the largest sectors in terms of problems such as soil destruction, water, and air pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

After this series of arguments, you might wonder if vegans aren’t also damaging the environment because they eat soy products, as farming soy leads to deforestation. Yes, in several places rainforests are being cut down to grow soy, but this is soy mainly used for concentrates in the meat industry. Therefore, carnivores have a much bigger soy consumption than vegans, and the soy a carnivore eats is far more damaging for mother earth.

Producing meat requires several times more water, agricultural land, and energy than producing the same amount of grain or legumes. We waste large areas of land for the production of animal feed, instead of producing plant-based food that could go straight to our dinner tables. This is both inefficient and a misuse of our food resources.

According to Global Agriculture, meat production has quadrupled in the last 50 years, and “food animals” now outnumber humans by more than three to one. In other words, the population of food animals is expanding a lot quicker than the population of humans. This trend naturally contributes to all the environmental problems already outlined.

Some might argue that it’s only natural for humans to eat meat, but let me tell you: only four percent of all the animals on earth, are wild. The rest are humans and the animals we keep for food or as pets. There is nothing natural about that.

Life is for everyone

Life is for everyone, both humans and animals. The Humane Slaughter Association says that in the UK alone, 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption, every year. Many of these animals live all their lives locked up, often without an opportunity to meet their basic needs, before they eventually get taken to the slaughterhouse to be killed.

My observation is that most people are all for animal rights, but don’t act upon it. It might be time to realize that the sausage roll you got from Greggs yesterday, used to be a part of a pig that only wanted to live a happy life.

Some might call eating animal products a personal choice. However, a personal choice is something that only affects yourself. Dying your hair and converting to Buddhism is a personal choice. Eating animals, on the other hand, is beyond you and your personal choices.

Or look at it this way, we have no right to exploit and abuse other animals.

Think big, start with the small

Yes, we live in a world where all people are different. But once one has understood what goes on inside the slaughterhouses, and how it affects our planet, there are no good reasons to continue eating animal products.

Everyone has a moral ethic based on reason and sympathy. You might have to navigate the supermarket aisles with care to avoid hidden animal additives but living a plant-based life has never been easier. Plant-based products on the shelves have never been more numerous.

I believe that in the future, people will look back at our time and wonder how we could raise and kill animals for food we don’t really need to survive.

We can still enjoy life and eat great food with delicious flavours without animal products.

Most importantly, it does not have to be black or white. It is a lot better to do something rather than nothing. Start by cutting out meat a couple of days a week and take it from there.

I dont know about you, but I made a vow to myself to be on the right side of history. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I’m vegan.

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