Veganism


Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Ideally this would be done from a moral perspective, however it is also important to recognise that veganism also arises from the environmental impact of the meat industry, as well as from the health benefits of a vegan diet.
While being vegan is the best scenario, you should not necessarily see going vegan as a binary jump that happens instantaneously (as this can be intimidating), but as a progression. And that every step you take along the progression benefits animals, the environment and yourself (reduce frequency of eating meat, reduce types of meat eaten, replacing milk with soya milk etc).
Veganism is the easiest way for you save many lives in the present and in the future.

Read my case for Veganism by clicking here

Title: Veganism Morals Lecture
Link Notes Type Video Lecture


Length 1h 10m
Complexity Beginner
Author Gary Yourofsky
Description: This lecture provides the fundamental arguments for veganism from a purely moral perspective. The lecturer, in my opinion, has a great balance of moral reasoning, passion and public speaking skills.
There is one part of the lecture that is boring where he just lists lots of meat-substitutes this is from around 45:30 to 51:00.
Q&A Session following lecture
Title: Earthlings – Animal cruelty
Link Notes Type Documentary


Length 1h 35m
Complexity Beginner
Author
Description: Earthlings is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place.
Title: Cowspiracy – Animal agriculture and climate change
Link Notes Type Documentary


Length 1h 30m
Complexity Beginner
Author
Description: This documentary explores the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and why it is generally kept of off mainstream debate when talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Title: ‘Carnism’ Psychology Lecture
Link Notes Type Video Lecture


Length 1h 15m
Complexity Amateur
Author Dr Melanie Joy
Description: This lecture approaches the psychology behind ‘carnism’ – a term defined by Melanie where Carnism is to Meat Eater as Veganism is to Vegan. She recommends various ways of approaching meat eaters realising that simple logic is not sufficient in order to convince them of veganism.

life

vegandietveganwater

Antibiotic use in food fuels resistance to vital drugs
Dairy Industry explained in 5 minutes

Guide to excuses for harming and exploiting animals

Cartoons mocking common carnist arguments

Animals in nature:
Hippo saves another animal (video)

Buffalo protecting their young from lions (video)

Buffalo protects another (video)

Bear saves a crow (video)

Leopard and baby baboon interaction (video)

Lioness Protects Baby Wildebeest (video)

Vegetarian crocodiles

Other Links:
World record holder strongman Patrik Baboumian discusses his vegan diet (video)

The dangers of industrialised animal agriculture (video facts)
Sustainability facts of animal agriculture

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists
Girl teaches us a lesson we won’t ever forget (video)
Veganism Debate
Lecture on Veganism by The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
Study reveals that meat-eaters are the number one contributors to worldwide species extinction

My case for Veganism

I will argue the case of Veganism from various standpoints while dismissing common arguments:
Nutrients and Practicality
Biology
Price
Past
Efficiency
Desensitisation
Psychology, Indoctrination and Society
Morals
Empathy
Environment
Health

Nutrients and Practicality

Prior to explaining the reasons for going vegan, it is important to note that you can obtain all the nutrients that you get from animals, from plants.
If animals get their nutrients from plants, then all the nutrients that we obtain from eating animals must be obtainable from eating plants. The only thing that will vary is that certain animals will have larger concentrations of some nutrients, and smaller concentrations of others. But all of the nutrients are still easily available from plants. It may have been difficult to get certain nutrients in the past when plants were sparser; however with the development of agricultural and transport methods it is very easy to get access to high quantities of nutrients from plants (this applies to protein, Omega 3 oils, Vitamin B12, etc.)

Biology

  • Humans are omnivores, but I find the meaning of omnivore is warped for certain purposes. Yes, omni means all, and this is very misleading. It is important to note that omnivores can eat both meat and vegetables, but even more important to note that they can eat either meat or vegetables i.e. it is a choice. This would certainly make more sense from an evolutionary perspective as you would not be completely dependent on a single food source when it is scarce. For example, most bear species are omnivores and their individual diets can range from almost exclusively herbivorous to almost exclusively carnivorous, depending on what food sources are available locally and seasonally.
  • Why do you see smaller numbers of predators (carnivores) relative to prey (herbivores) in nature? It’s because meat eating is very inefficient so it is far more difficult for them to survive relative to the herbivores.

Price

  • A vegan diet is much cheaper than a meat based diet. This is why major charities which feed the hungry only provide vegan meals as it cuts costs.
  • Even if you are desperate for the taste/texture of meat, there are plenty of substitutes that have been developed that are essentially the same as meat. These meat substitutes are generally either the same price as meat or cheaper. If the subsidies from governments that the meat industry was provided were removed, they would be even cheaper.

Past

  • It is often claimed that eating animals is natural, it’s a part of nature, and therefore it is ok. Just because other animals eat other animals, does not mean it is the right thing to do for humans, who have a choice as a conscious omnivore. Rape and murder is very common within other animals, yet we don’t wish to adopt those values, so why do we want to adopt their meat eating values too?
    Humans have the rare mental capacity to deny the social laws of nature, the survival of the fittest. To decide what is best through reflection rather than basic instincts. We can shape nature for the better of everything on the planet.
  • It is often claimed that humans have always eaten meat therefore it is ok. Humans used to consider raping and murdering things as normal, yet we do not anymore because we have realised it is immoral. Longevity is not an argument for any practice.
  • Meat is a luxury, in the past we hunted for our meat from animals which were widely spread throughout the land mass, with simple weapons which gave a reasonably fair playing field. Back then we were hunting for our survival. Now we force breed and ‘farm’ animals which live in tiny spaces with no chance of survival due to our advanced technology. Humans (due to their high level of consciousness) have now broken the cycle of nature where we need to hunt for our survival. Instead we hunt and eat meat for luxury which is completely unnecessary.

Efficiency

There are two nutrient chains available to humans:

  • Meat eater: human <- animal <- plant <- nutrients in soil
  • Vegetarian: human                   <- plant <- nutrients in soil

In each stage of food production inefficiencies occur (a plant is not 100% efficient, an animal is very inefficient). Therefore, in order to get rid of inefficiencies, humans need to eat up as far up the nutrient chain as possible. By cutting out animals (and hence their inefficiencies), you need to produce smaller amounts of plants to feed the population, smaller loss of life, you make better use of nutrients, cause less pain, produce less CO2, take up less land, consume less water, force less creatures against their will, etc.

Desensitisation

  • We use many euphemisms to distance ourselves from the acts we are committing:
    Animal skin = leather
    Pig flesh = bacon
    Cow flesh = steak
    Puss = somatic cell count (found in milk)
    Bee vomit = honey
    Hen period = egg
    Even with milk, when we think of drinking another human’s breast milk we find it kind of repulsive. Yet when we think of drinking the breast milk of a completely different species, it appears normal and not repulsive.
  • When meat is presented to us in supermarkets, it is often presented to us in the form of slabs of flesh. Feathers, skin, feet, eyes, head, heart etc. are removed (even though some of these are edible). While this is partly due to convenience of processing for the consumer, it is also because these things that are removed are signs the slab of meat was a living creature like us. By removing these familiarities we are desensitised to the reality of eating meat.
  • We objectify animals and treat them as abstract members of a group. We do this by avoiding giving them names (a means of identifying with them) and instead give them numbers.

Psychology, Indoctrination and Society

Throughout our lives we have grown up in an environment where eating meat is socially acceptable. Despite how similar eating meat is to other acts we have outlawed (slavery, rape, murder, etc) why is it that we do not feel the same way about animals?

  • The idea of us eating another human or common pet (dog, cat) is considered such a terrible thing within our society, yet it is ok for other animals? It is only because we integrate them into our society and get to know them, whereas other animals are kept out of our sight. This is simply a form of racism.
  • If you don’t give something, such as the devotion to meat eating, a name, its existence is not being acknowledged and it cannot be pinpointed to be thought about. Dominant systems maintain themselves by remaining unexamined. For example, how easy was it to deal with racism before it was even called racism? A name is necessary to identify the problem. In the case of the devotion to meat eating, this has only recently been called Carnism, hence why it has been difficult to address.
  • We are taught by our parents from a young age that eating meat is acceptable. Therefore once we are older and able to rationalise, we tend to try and make up reasons for why our past behaviour is justifiable even if it is not particularly logical (or we avoid thinking about it at all), in order to reassure ourselves that we are good moral people. We must confront our actions and change them.
  • A lot of people claim that vegans/vegetarians are over-emotional and that causes them to be irrational. But it only appears this way because these people come from the dominant culture which is severely lacking in emotion. If they come across as aggressive they are called militant human-haters, and if they come across peacefully they are called tree-hugging hippies. There is no stance that can be taken acceptable, unless it is exactly the same as the person who is accusing the other of being one of those things.

Morals

  • It is immoral to enslave a species and murder them when it is not necessary for survival.
  • Being a vegetarian saves 477 animal lives a year on average. If you live for 75 years, that’s 35.7k lives saved. Globally, 56 billion animals are killed for food a year.
  • Not only are lives saved, but the suffering of the animals due to intensive farming (by which most animals are reared) doesn’t occur. If you go vegan, an even larger amount of suffering is reduced through the reduction of production of goods such as milk, eggs etc.
  • Some plants, such as fruit, actually intend for other animals to eat their produce in order for them to take a shit and spread their seed. Therefore these plants actually want you to eat their fruit. It is completely consensual, and does not cost the plant its life.
  • Capitalism merely treats, say a cow, as capital. A piece of capital that can be used to create milk for humans, who’s skin can be used to produce clothes for humans, who’s very flesh is used to feed humans. All of these different uses affect the profitability of a cow. Therefore if you are against any one of these practices, you can reduce the frequency of it occurring by stopping the other practices as well, such that cows become unprofitable and are no longer bred for human purposes.
  • Martin Luther King claimed that those who treated their black slaves nicely were, in some ways, worse than those who treated them badly. This is because it makes both parties complacent in the situation where one living being owns another. You can make the same argument for animals.
  • The difference between the oppression of animals and the oppression of blacks/women, is that animals are not able to say this is wrong, to stick up for themselves. So it is up to other humans who understand to do it in their place. Animals cannot organise, they cannot rally and disrupt. One may do it and it will be killed.
  • Plants do not feel pain like animals do.
  • Animals wouldn’t hesitate to kill you, therefore it is ok to kill them. Again, if you are setting your benchmark for your moral compass based on creatures with little capacity for thought, you are essentially admitting that you are very stupid.

Empathy

    • It is often claimed that it is ok to kill the animals for food if they are killed ‘humanely’. If someone thought it was ok to kill you, as long as they did it humanely, would you be ok with that? Would your family be ok with that? Does it make it any less of a murder?
    • It is often claimed that humans are superior to animals, have won the game of survival of the fittest and can therefore do as they wish with those lower down the food chain. If more superior species evolved or superior aliens came to the planet, would you want them to treat you as you did those who were lower down the food chain? Would you mind if they raped you, took your baby away from you at birth and pumped breast milk out of you many times a day, in cramped living spaces (as is done to produce milk)? Beat and murdered your children in front of you?

Some imagery for human farms (extracted from Gantz):


  • The entire life’s purpose of the majority of animals is to be food for someone’s plate. Not only that, but many meals are thrown away either by the consumer or the supermarket (overstock), making their enslaved life was for absolutely nothing. Can you imagine what it would be like for your entire life to be completely meaningless? – This point isn’t very strong as it is unlikely that animals have the mental capacity for desiring a purpose.
  • Just watch a video on how animals are treated and imagine that it was you.
  • An animal has a desire for survival just like you.

Environment

  • Greenhouse gases
    Meat (and dairy) production are responsible for 18 % of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions globally each year produced by humans.
  • Land
    40% of the world’s land surface is currently being used to feed humans, and 30 out of that 40 per cent is used to produce meat for human consumption.
  • Water
    The water necessary to produce a unit of beef is 11.5x that it takes to produce the same unit of wheat (6.7x for rice/soy beans).
  • Food Waste
    It takes 7kg of wheat to produce 1kg of beef.
  • Animal Waste
    Huge amounts of animal waste are produced from meat production, which are often not disposed of properly contributing to pollution of the water supply.
  • Extinction
    I have seen some claims that meat eaters are not responsible for the extinction of other species, and they are actually saving cows, pigs, chickens, etc. from extinction by eating them. This stems from a larger issue of humans not being able to recognise the indirect consequences of their actions. Including animals in the human nutrient chain requires more land (as 1 pound of beef requires something like 10 pounds of plants), hence vast swathes of land is used for animal production. Around 90% of land used to grow Soy beans is used to grow Soy beans which are fed to animals for the meat consumption of humans. This unfortunately means that large areas of new land needs to be cleared to feed the world’s growing population which adheres to meat consumption. The land chosen is generally rainforest areas, which help reduce levels of CO2 in addition to housing many types of rare species. Hence eating meat causes the extinction of these rare species via deforestation.
  • Grass-fed Beef
    Grass-fed beef still requires a lot of land, although that land can be kept in better condition than with intensively farmed beef. There are various studies that do not seem to come to any conclusive evidence as to which method is worse for Greenhouse gas emissions. The animals do not suffer like with intensive farming, however they still die at the end. Grass-fed beef is more expensive. Environmentally, there is not a huge difference between the two so it would still be far better just to go vegetarian/vegan.

Health

Lots of antibiotics are used in meat (and dairy) to ensure that no disease is passed on to the consumer. Repeated exposure to these antibiotics mean that they lose their effectiveness for treating illnesses that you contract yourself. This is becoming a very significant health risk for future generations as you become immune to treatment.

There are also many health benefits to veganism such as lower cholesterol, lower fat, lower chances of cancer, etc.

Reasons for eating meat: habit, tradition, convenience (laziness), taste.

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