In case you were wondering: veganism is a lifestyle in which one aims to reduce all forms of animal exploitation as much as possible and in all areas of one’s life – whether it comes to life choices, food, clothing or any other purchases. As humans, we can simply do without any animal products and we therefore prefer to live by the words ‘live and let live’. But without having to compromise on comfort, pleasure, budget and the happiness of our taste buds.
Although one’s switch to veganism is often fueled by ethical motives and animal compassion, a vegan lifestyle brings about many other positive effects – on fellow humans, the environment and even your personal health.
One may, for instance, become vegan in order to stop contributing to animal suffering. All animals have the capacity to suffer in the same way and to the same extent as humans do. Animals feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness and familial love. But by using animal products or services that use (working) animals, we choose to ignore the animals’ rights and needs (like the need to not be kept in a pen, to not be tested on, and to not be killed).
Together, the millions of vegans currently living in Europe drastically limit the yearly number of animals that are bred, locked up, exploited and killed prematurely. This shows that a single vegan actually does make an essential and positive difference by yearly saving dozens of animals from the cruel fate they would have otherwise faced.
In this speech at a university in America, vegan activist and speaker Gary Yourofsky clearly explains what’s wrong with our usual way of treating animals. This video made a big impression on us and has played a major role in our journey to veganism.
Prior to that, we read the books The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think by philosopher Julian Baggini and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. These books caused a huge paradigm shift and we highly recommend reading them.
For more information about veganism, we kindly refer you to PETA, an animal rights organization that painfully exposes the hidden animal suffering in today’s world.
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Increased awareness about the disastrous effects that livestock farming has on the environment can also be a reason for one to turn vegan. Switching to a vegan lifestyle is the perfect way to drastically reduce your carbon footprint and negative impact on the planet.
The United Nations mentions industrialised meat production as the second largest cause of environmental problems, including water and air pollution, soil pollution, acidification and degradation of biodiversity – caused by, among other things, the deforestation of the rainforest (trees are cut down to make room for the cultivation of crops for cattle feed). According to the NVV (Dutch Association for Veganism), livestock farming is responsible for 18% of all humanity’s carbon emission, making it the world’s largest CO2 polluter. Hence, this industry has the biggest negative effect on global warming.
More and more scientific studies continue uncovering the damage we cause to the environment through livestock farming. To mention a few:
“Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.” The Guardian, 31 May 2018.
“Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown.” The Guardian, 10 October 2018.
“New study: plant-based diet may save the planet.” VegNews, 6 August 2015.
“Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report.” Independent, 5 October 2017.
“Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'.” BBC, 8 October 2018.
“Waarom je als veganist ook heel veel water bespaart.” NVV, 1 March 2016.
‘Animal feed’ is being cultivated on a large scale – crops that are eaten by cattle, but instead could also be used to feed millions of people directly. Because of our current food system, far fewer mouths are being fed. And hence, this system is unnecessarily yet strongly contributing to the unequal food distribution in the world.
To ‘produce’ meat, dairy and eggs, cattle feed (like soy and corn crops) must be grown on a very large scale. Currently more than 83% of all agricultural land is used for livestock, while it only makes for 18% of our daily calories (see The Guardian article above). To produce 1 kg of meat, on average 7 kg of cattle feed are needed. For the production of 1 kg beef, on average 15415 liter water is used.
It would be much more efficient to use agricultural land to produce food that’s meant for direct human consumption. Such system would also contribute to the reduction of the global food crisis. This claim is supported by several recent studies and research articles in mainstream media, including the sources below.
“The opportunity cost of animal based diets exceeds all food losses.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 April 2018.
“Massive reduction in meat consumption and changes to farming vital to guarantee future food supply, major study says.” Independent, 10 October 2018.
“Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 within planetary limits may be achievable.” American Association for the Advancement of Science, 10 October 2018.
“Global shift to vegan diet would sustainably feed 10 billion people, study finds.” Live Kindly, 10 October 2018.
“Plant-based diets could erase world hunger, says new report.” Live Kindly, 13 May 2018.
“Feeding the future; how can we possibly feed 7 billion people?” Infographic by PETA.
“Moving To A Vegan Diet Could Feed The World, Says Study.” Plant Based News, 25 July 2018.
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With a balanced, plant-based diet, you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy and energetic. The only supplement that you have to take is vitamin B12. Usually, because the vegan diet deviates from the ‘norm’, vegans are extra cautious about the nutrients in their food. They often eat healthier and regularly have their blood tested to check if their blood values are still up to standard. Hence, vegans are considerably more aware of their nutritional intake than the average individual.
By eating plant-based (more often), you also reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease, cancer and many other diseases, according to the NVV. Plant-based foods also contains zero cholesterol and fewer saturated fats. It’s not surprising that a plant-based lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular among top athletes.
In general, it can be said that plant-based foods are suitable for everyone, at any age and in every life phase. This has been confirmed by the world’s largest dietitian organization:
“Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, December 2016.
One is none? False. By eating plant-based, you daily save 4163 liters of water, 20 kg of grain, 2.7 m2 of forest (no need to deforest and grow animal feed), 9 kg CO2 emissions and the life of 1 animal. That’s a huge win on a yearly basis!
Each time you use your wallet and fork for a vegan choice, you cast a vote for the reduction of animal suffering. For a better environment. For the reduction of world hunger. And for a healthier you.