Is there any good reason for us to eat animals and use them? Seriously. Let's think about it.
Our Impact on Feeling Individuals
The fact is, that we currently enslave, mistreat, and then kill billions of sentient individuals each year, so that we may be able to eat them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations the number of land animals used for food was 53 billion (53 000 000 000) in 2010. And this number does not even include all the fish and sea animals. And it does not include all the other animals we use for other purposes, such as experimentation or entertainment.
These are individuals who come into this world with their own interests, their own preferences, who can feel, who have the potential to thrive as well as the potential to suffer. We take away their choices, enslave them, often to the point where they do not even have the freedom to turn around. We mistreat them brutally, in every thinkable way, physically and emotionally. In the end we kill them. Why? For pleasure, convenience, out of habit.
Our Impact on Earth
The fact is that our way of doing all of this is extremely wasteful and damaging to the environment. You save more water by not eating a hamburger than by not showering for a year. To produce one kilogram of animal protein you need six kilograms of vegetable protein. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gasses than all transportation in the world, including all the cars, busses, trucks. And the list goes on. Please find these and more facts in the statistics and publications of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The Impact on Our Health
The horrendous ways of keeping animals are also the places where most new epidemic and pandemic diseases are bred. Remember the Swine Flue? Bird Flue? "Mad Cow's Disease"?
“If a pandemic avian influenza virus emerges in the Sahara, it’s never going to matter,” said Scott Newman, FAO wildlife epidemiologist and coordinator of FAO’s activities under EPT Plus. “But in areas where pigs, birds and people are all living increasingly closer together, that creates the perfect environment for avian influenza viruses to infect pigs, a host where viruses may swap genes and suddenly be passed on to humans in a much more lethal form.” (from the FAO website on Avian Influenza)
Furthermore we see that by eating a healthy, low fat vegan diet we can reverse most of the chronic diseases. Studies from the last 25 years clearly show that heart disease is regularly reversed on this diet. Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in western societies. There are centers where diabetics are served a fresh low-fat plant based diet, only to find all symptoms of diabetes type 2 gone within a few weeks.
The Impact on Our Heart
To kill someone, we first need to kill a part of ourselves. We first need to harden ourselves and shut down parts of us. Or, we can pay others to shut down their hearts and kill for our pleasure.
Shutting down emotionally also paves the way to cruelty and violence towards all beings, including human beings.
Reasons To Eat and Use Animals
And so, if using animal products involves shutting down part of our hearts, risking our lives to eat these products, inflicting enormous suffering on billions of feeling individuals, while destroying our planet.... then surely we must have a darn good reason to do it. Right?
Is your reason for eating animal products anything other than: pleasure, convenience, or habit?
"It tastes good." "It is easy to get in the stores and restaurants." "I am used to it."
Surely, there must be other reasons. Pleasure, habit, or convenience could not justify all the suffering and harm we are causing. Let's take a look at some candidates that tend to pop up as reasons.
It Is Natural
"Animals eat other animals. This is natural. Therefore, we should eat animals."
First of all, biologically (anatomically and physiologically), we are not carnivores (meat eaters, like cats). We are not even omnivores (like pigs). Biologically we are frugivores (fruit eaters), a special sub-group of the herbivores (plant eaters). For our bodies to thrive maximally, our major source of calories should be fresh, ripe fruit. This should then be supplemented with leafy greens, vegetables and occasional nuts, seeds, and herbs.
Thus a diet with animal products is diametrically opposed what is natural and healthy for us.
Second of all, irrespective of whether or not we consider humans eating other animals as natural, we have the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and to assess the consequences of our actions. Theories like Darwinism or Natural Selection, do not constitute a moral code. If they did, we would no longer be assisting the ill, or weaker, older, and physically or mentally challenged persons. Those who break a leg might as well lay down and die. Those with vision problems better hope they see enough to be able to survive on their own.
Also, the amount of suffering we are currently inflicting is staggering, and not comparable to that inflicted by the carnivores on our earth. There is nothing "natural" about the animal industry. Please watch the movie "Earthlings", to learn of the industry standards and the impact of this industry on us, the animals, and the environment.
I Need the Protein
"I have always been told that we need the nutrients in animal products to survive. Where do we get the protein?"
Obviously, as demonstrated by hundreds of thousands of vegans, it is possible to thrive on a vegan diet. In fact, the levels of thriving are unparalleled when a well balanced diet is chosen, as we, for instance, can see in medical studies where chronic illnesses are reverse. Please visit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for information on the studies.
It Is a Personal Choice
"I choose to eat animal products. That is my choice. You should accept it."
Although, whether to use animal products or not use them, is indeed a choice, it is not purely an esthetic choice. It is a choice with a profound moral dimension.
Let me see if I can clarify what I mean. Imagine that Greg takes cages of little puppies and cages of cats down to the town square and sits all day and slowly tortures them to death, one after the other. He does it because he gets pleasure out of it. And to anyone who protests he says "It's my choice. If you choose not to torture animals, then I accept it. You should accept my choice to torture them."
Essentially, there is very little difference between Greg torturing animals for his pleasure, and us paying others to torture animals for our pleasure of dining on them.
Choosing to inflict suffering and harm on others is more than an esthetic choice.
It Is Not Illegal to Eat Animals
Human slavery was legal for a very long time. Did that make it right?
Is racism right? What about sexism?
Just because something is currently not a crime does not automatically make it right. Speciesism is no more right than racism.
What To Do About It All
So, if you believe that pleasure, convenience, and habit are not good enough reasons to inflict all that damage on yourself, others, and our environment, then you have a choice. You can stop sponsoring the industry that does all these things, simply by becoming vegan (no longer using any animal products).
Veganism is a moral baseline and an individual expression of a political view.
Isn't It Better to Regulate Animal Use?
"It is unrealistic to think that everyone would stop eating animals right now. If you really care about the animals, shouldn't you try to improve the treatment of the ones we have?"
Surprisingly, the answer is no. We have now had animal protection groups that have focused on animal welfare for over a hundred years. And the result? We now exploit more animals in more horrendous ways than ever before.
When we look at the campaigns and the big successes of the animal welfare organizations we see that all they accomplish is to introduce more cost effective ways of exploiting animals. Why? The basis is the fact that animals are property and have no rights. As long as they remain property, the owners can do pretty much all they want to them. So far, they only agree to changes that financially benefit their exploitation.
This is why it has been proposed to give animals the right not to be property. Please read more about this, as well as the history of welfare campaigns at www.AbolitionistApproach.com.
Also, most of the wins of the welfarist organizations do not apply to animals alive today. Instead they achieve laws, filled with loopholes, that state something along the lines "within the next 15 years certain types of animals should be transitioned to larger crates". And so, it is not improving the quality of the animals now, and perhaps not even in the future. What it is doing now, however, is to improve the public opinion of how animals are kept. And it makes people feel better when it comes to eating animals.
In conclusion, from history we see that animal welfare reforms make animal exploitation more efficient and cost effective, while allowing the public to feel better about exploiting sentient individuals.
But I Am Only One Person
"Even if I were to stop using all animal products, that would not make much of an effect in total. Even if I told others about it, it would not affect many."
Do you want to hear the oddest thing? Vegan education, that is basically what you find in this article, has never really been tried. There are animal welfare organizations that have millions of dollars. But they do not put those millions on vegan education. Instead they use them for all sorts of other campaigns.
So let's try this. Let's try vegan education for a while and see where it leads.
If all the people who are currently vegan by choice were to convince only one other person to become vegan, each year, and the new vegans would do the same... How long do you think it would take before we had a vegan world?
Stunningly, if only all the vegans in the USA did this, it would take less than 14 years to turn the world vegan. Of course, this is only a mathematical calculation and not a proper, realistic model. But this is just to show how big of an impact vegan education could have, if attempted.
There truly is no justification for what we are doing to the animals on earth. So, for you, for your family, for the animals, and for the planet - celebrate life by becoming vegan today. You can start right now, with your next meal.