What is veganism?
Veganism is a lifestyle that avoids the consumption of all animal products. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals – no meat, milk, eggs and sometimes honey. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool, silk and other animal products for clothing or any other purpose.
Here’s Why ….
Our animal neighbors are sentient, self-aware, and capable of experiencing both pleasure and pain. They deserve our respect, and they deserve freedom. Animal agriculture is responsible for the death of over 56 billion animals worldwide each year–not counting fish. Even animals raised under the most “humane” circumstances–which is to say, even some of the cows that are grass fed, and chickens that are “free range”–suffer tremendously to become or provide human food.
We all have the power to opt out of a system in which animal life is devalued and exploited by choosing the vegan lifestyle. Vegan diets are healthy, flavorful, and fun; vegan clothing and accessories are increasingly accessible to consumers. With every grocery, restaurant, and clothing purchase you make, you have the power to object to animal cruelty and support a compassionate world view. And you can do it all without sacrificing taste or pleasure!
Using crops like wheat, soy, and corn to feed animals on factory farms is grossly inefficient. It takes 16 pounds of grain and soy to produce one pound of beef and 3 pounds to produce 1 pound of chicken or egg. More than 70% of grain and cereal grown domestically is fed to farmed animals, in spite of our own human hunger crises. Various advocates suggest that we can remedy this problem with small farming models, which is true to an extent, but of course that solution doesn’t take into account the issue of animal sentience and suffering.
It takes between 20 and 50 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables or fruit; it takes 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat and almost 1,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. An exclusively plant-based diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while an average omnivorous diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. In a world with increasingly limited supplies of clean water, this feels criminally wasteful.
Meanwhile, the UN estimates that approximately 30% of the earth’s entire land mass is devoted to animal agriculture. The cost is enormous: it takes 3.25 acres of land to feed a meat-eating person on a continuing basis, while only a sixth of an acre is needed to feed a plant-based eater.
The UN has also stated that agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere yearly than do the fossil fuels from cars.
The facts are clear: animal agriculture is economically and environmentally ruinous. But none of us are powerless against the system: we can all choose to protest and remedy the damage of factory farming three times a day: by putting plant-based meals on our plates.
What About Health?
Many foods lose natural vitamin and phytonutrient content in the cooking process: water-soluble vitamins (including B vitamins and vitamin C) are especially susceptible to depletion via heating . There are naturally some nutrients that are enhanced by the cooking process, too: lycopene in tomatoes, a cancer-fighting compound, released by cooking, and so is the phytonutrient content in broccoli. For this reason, I recommend that all people consume both raw AND cooked foods. But the truth of the matter is that most of us could significantly increase the nutrient density in our diets by consuming more raw foods than we do.
Raw and vegan foods (vegetables, fruits, juices, nuts, seeds, and grains) are rich in fiber, which helps to keep our digestive tracts healthy and strong. Most people also find them easier to digest than animal proteins, which can be very heavy, and milk products, which are irritating to many people’s systems.
Animal vs. Plant Proteins
Few topics in health and nutrition have been more distorted than protein and our body’s need for it. We’ve all been taught that protein is the key to vigor, health, muscle mass, energy, and satiety. This is not without some truth: we do need protein in our diets, and it can help many of us to feel satisfied. But we needn’t supplement our diet with high amounts, nor do we need to mix and match foods to get “complete proteins” within each meal. We DO have to get all of our amino acids, but our bodies help us do it: they assemble, store and release amino acids as necessary. So if we get a well rounded sampling of the necessary amino acids over the course of each day and each week and each month, we ensure adequacy.
The World Health Organization recommends getting 5% of our daily calories from protein. Think about it: for a 2000 calorie diet, this means only 100 calories of protein daily! Most plants supply at least 10% of calories from protein, and the amount is far higher in leafy greens.
In addition, there are dangers from eating too much animal protein (and most Americans, who consumer about 100 grams of protein daily, do). High consumption of animal protein has been linked directly to tumor growth, bone loss, cholesterol and heart disease, kidney damage, and more. As noted above, animal protein, along with caffeine, refined sugars and starches, and nicotine, has been linked directly to bone loss due to the heavy acid load it places on the body.
(as my site is still new this section was taken from the fabulous and inspirational Gena at Choosing Raw)
And there you have it. Hope some of these reasons will affect your daily choices as they did mine.
Your Vegan Girlfriend