Here’s why we are vegan!
This article outlines vegan living, a set of choices stemming from a simple logic: Any being that feels pain should not be put to pain. Thus, a vegan avoids all animal products: Milk & its products, meat, eggs, honey (substituting them with their plant-based versions for taste, if desired), wool, leather, fur, pearl, silk, etc. Not many people know that – like meat – milk, eggs and other animal products also lead to animal killing and torture! Even in traditional Indian tabelas/dairies, cows have to be subjected to unbearable repeated forced pregnancies and a lot of other misery. Hence, vegans also avoid all dairy products such as milk, paneer, cheese, ghee, butter & curd. So, food wise, a vegan eats nothing from a mother, nothing with a face. Vegans refrain from animal-tested products too, to the extent possible. Veganism is an extension of progressive movements like those against slavery, racism and gender inequity. The enslavement and exploitation of a class of sentient beings – on the morally irrelevant basis that they do not belong to our species – must end.
Ethics aside, vegan living is also critical for our own health, and that of the environment. There is compelling evidence that cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high BP, asthma, bone weakness and obesity can all be prevented or reversed through vegan eating. Plus, you can achieve all of this without sacrificing your favourite tastes: Be it sweets, chocolates, cakes, ice-creams, curd, paneer, cheese, pizza or tea/coffee, almost every dish you are used to can be found/made without animal ingredients! Read on for details:
- Milk: A source of immense animal suffering
- The acute misery caused by eggs and meat
- “But, don’t plants feel pain too?”
- Vegan food: The healthiest choice
- Exposing the calcium & protein myths
- Vegan for the environment and food security
- Conditioned vs natural
- Renowned vegan personalities
- Leather, wool and silk are NOT cruelty-free byproducts
- Does it harm employment? Not at all
- Agreed, but what about mosquitoes?
- Vegan alternatives exist for almost everything!
Milk: A source of immense animal suffering
The cow (or the buffalo), a mammal like us, has to become pregnant and deliver a baby to be able to produce milk. And, her milk flow lasts only for a limited period after delivery. But, for any tabela/dairy to be financially viable, every cow in it needs to produce milk continuously. Hence, she has to be forced into a constant, body-breaking cycle of pregnancy, birthing and milking! The repeated impregnation is done either through a rape by a common bull, or an equally torturous process called artificial insemination, exposing the cow to diseases. The cow’s babies, the rightful owners of her milk, are largely deprived of it. Since male babies are commercially useless to the dairy, they are either starved or sold to be slaughtered or skinned (often alive for soft leather)! Like humans, cows are deeply attached to their babies. Yet, calves are separated from their mothers, who are subsequently seen letting out cries of anguish for weeks! Milk is mostly extracted through machines, which often run even after the cow’s udders are empty, resulting in a lot of pain. She is injected with hazardous growth hormones like Oxytocin, causing her severe stomach cramps and bone weakness. Kept constantly pregnant and/or lactating, dairy cows get spent very quickly. At less than half their natural age, they are either thrown out on the streets to die eating plastic, or brutally hurled into trucks, which transport them to slaughter houses to die as atrocious a death as their lives have been. This 5-minute video, shot across various Indian tabelas/dairies, shows all of these barbarities taking place routinely.
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The acute misery caused by eggs and meat
Chickens grown for eggs & meat are stuffed in awful, tiny cages, inside a stinking compound containing scores of other birds. To reduce the losses caused by the stressed birds’ pecking, they are de-beaked (i.e., their beaks are chopped off with a hot blade) at a very tender age! A few agonizing months later, the birds are butchered barbarically in full view of their terrified fellow victims! The egg hatcheries (even the ‘free-range’ ones) brutally kill all male baby chicks, since they can’t lay eggs, and don’t grow fast enough to be raised for meat. This 3-minute clip of Indian poultry farms depicts some of the shocking horrors suffered by chickens. The tale of misery is equally sad for pigs, goats, fishes and other animals raised for meat.
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“But, don’t plants feel pain too?”
This is a totally flawed argument. If plants feel pain, that’s actually yet another reason to be vegan! That’s because a user of animal products consumes many times more plants than a vegan does. A non-vegan sits higher on the food chain, consuming not just meat, eggs & milk, but also the plants fed daily to the farm animals for their entire lifetimes! Thus, consuming every kg of animal food also involves the consumption up to 10 kg of grains. Therefore, eating plants directly i.e. eating vegan does the least damage to plants too (not just animals).
Vegan food: The healthiest choice
Milk, eggs and meat account for most of our cholesterol & saturated fat, and contain no fiber. Contrastingly, plant foods are rich in fiber (essential for good digestion), and contain no cholesterol. These facts are among the several reasons behind the following alarming summary from a number of independent studies, including the biggest study ever to link food and health [Undertaken by Oxford University, Cornel University and others under the name ‘The China Study’]:
Milk, eggs and meat cause or aggravate many dreaded diseases including
heart disease, high BP, cancer, asthma, diabetes and bone weakness.
In other words, vegan food does way more than the removal of excess body fat, and improvement of fitness/energy & digestion. It is actually essential for good health. ‘The Last Heart Attack’, a CNN documentary, features Bill Clinton, who has cured his heart disease through healthy vegan food. It also has the testimonies of many eminent doctors/scientists who advocate plant-based food. The awareness is rising in India too. Dr Nandita Shah has successfully solved a lot of diabetes and heart disease cases merely through healthy vegan food! Moreover, animal foods are alarmingly high in antibiotics, pus & pesticides. The pesticide concentration is much higher in milk, eggs & meat than that in vegetables. Recently, the Food Safety Authority of India found 68% of India’s milk contaminated with pesticides, detergents, etc.!
Exposing the calcium & protein myths: There’s absolutely no nutrient that vegan food cannot provide [B12 deficiencies are equally likely in non-vegans]. As substantiated by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, milk protein actually leaches calcium from the bones, resulting in bone weakness! Plus, humans absorb only 32% of the calcium in cow’s milk. Even in calcium content, milk is surpassed by dozens of plant foods: leafy green vegetables (like coriander, methi, radish, curry patta), til (sesame seeds), ragi, almonds, rajma, peas (e.g., chana), moong sprouts, soya products like tofu, etc.
The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (bone weakness)
are those boasting the highest consumption of dairy products!
If you consume enough calories, you are bound to get enough protein! That’s why protein deficiencies are mostly found in malnourished people. In fact, excess protein leads to serious harm. Anyhow, there are plenty of protein-rich plant foods: all pulses (dal), soy products, all legumes [peas like chana, beans such as rajma, etc.], almonds & other nuts, seeds, and more. In fact, there have been quite a few world-class vegan athletes and body builders, ranging from two-time Olympian Seba Johnson (a vegan since birth), to long-distance runner turned renowned bodybuilder Robert Cheeke (another long-time vegan). Many have also sustained babies and pregnancies on totally vegan food, and are healthier for it!
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Vegan for the environment and food security
Animal products deplete resources such as land and water massively, since the animals have to be daily fed and hydrated all through their lives. Growing loads of crops for animals and then feeding on them is a terribly inefficient way to feed ourselves: It takes up to 10 kg of grains to make 1 kg of animal food! As much as 50% of India’s maize becomes cattle feed. A UN study deems animal products culpable for a whopping 70% of the world’s agricultural land, 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions, and considerable deforestation. Our non-vegan choices lead to the breeding (i.e. birth) – and subsequent torture & killing – of 10s of billions of farm animals (several times the entire human population) in one year! In a nutshell, there is simply not enough land and water to sustain the world on animal products.
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Conditioned vs natural
Ever wondered why milk and eggs are the only unbranded foods being advertised? That’s because natural, instinctive foods like fruits and veggies never need to be marketed. What would a small (unconditioned), hungry child pick up when offered carrots, and a live chicken? Our so-called canine teeth do not make us omnivorous, as canines are also found in several herbivores (e.g., gorillas, horses, hippos). From laterally moving jaws to long intestines, humans possess a dozen physiological traits that make us plant-eaters, not omnivores. A real omnivore’s arteries are never clogged, but heart disease through clogged arteries caused by animal products is the biggest killer of humans! As for milk, is there any species in nature drinking another species’ milk, or any milk at all post infancy? Each animal’s milk is tailor-made for her species by nature. Hence, hormonally and biologically, the milk of a cow/buffalo is totally unsuitable for humans. Finally, since we breed (i.e. unnaturally produce) the farm animals we use, going vegan will bring the animal population down to the natural state.
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It is ironic that many of us avoid racism/sexism, but unconsciously practice an ideologically synonymous ill: species-ism, i.e., the exploitation of one species by another. When it is not fair to hurt beings from other races & genders, how is it fair to enslave and torment beings from other species (that too merely for pleasure, not survival)? Why should justice & kindness be confined to humans when animals too can feel pain equally acutely? What we are doing to animals is worse than the human slavery that was prevalent not so long ago. Imagine being given birth just to be enslaved & tortured for life! That’s exactly the story of the billions of farm animals that we produce (breed) every year! Thankfully, we successfully overcame centuries of conditioning to abolish human slavery, to choose ethics over history. It’s high time we overcome the conditioning & indifference concerning animals too, and take the next leap in our ethical evolution by eradicating animal slavery & oppression.
“Animals exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans,
just like black people were not made for whites, and women not for men.”
Renowned vegan personalities
Here are some interesting anecdotes/quotes from a few of the many eminent vegans. Tobey Maguire (‘Spiderman’), a staunch vegan, doesn’t allow anyone wearing animal skin (e.g., leather) in his house. He even sent back a Mercedes with leather seats. Another inspiration is former Citibank vice president Philip Wollen, for whom, being vegan is ”to be able to look in the mirror without feeling profoundly ashamed”. ‘Avatar’ director James Cameron’s initial motivation for going vegan was environmental conservation. He terms the avoidance of animal products as the “single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change”.
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Leather, wool and silk are NOT cruelty-free byproducts
Milk production is the most common source of leather. Since male calves have no use for a tabela/dairy, most of them are used for leather. They are often intentionally starved, so that can be skinned quickly. Indians are the worst offenders, as our indiscriminate dairy consumption has made us the largest exporter of cow leather! Leather makes up half of all profits of many slaughter houses. Thus, leather (and wool) buyers make meat much cheaper. Wool also causes many atrocities such as flesh stripping on sheep. A silk cloth leads to the exploitation and killing of tons of silk worms.
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Does it harm employment? Not at all
A vegan world will not have fewer jobs. The reduced employment in the animal products industry will be compensated for by increased openings in the vegan products industry. Jobs decline when the demand diminishes. But, veganism doesn’t reduce the demand; it only changes the demand. And, history shows that the market is very adaptable. Besides, from tobacco to chemical weapons, there are many unethical things wherein people are employed, but, do we approve of such things? No, because there exist enough cruelty-free means of employment.
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Agreed, but what about mosquitoes?
The idea is to try one’s sincere best to cause the least amount of cruelty necessary for survival. So, rather than hurting or killing mosquitoes, we prefer to keep them at bay through cleanliness, mosquito nets and/or repellents. Besides, it’s one thing to inflict pain in self-defense or accidentally, and totally another to do so when there’s no necessity.
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Vegan alternatives exist for almost everything!
Being vegan is easier than ever. Avoiding animal products does not mean giving up yummy food. From sweets, cakes, chocolates & ice-creams to curd, paneer, cheese, pizza & tea/coffee, pretty much everything that you are used to can be enjoyed without milk & eggs! Find all the where-to-find, how-to-make pointers and other practical tips on Dairy alternatives, Vegan products, Eat-out options, Recipes & more.
There are tons of recipes that use [cashew, coconut, soya, almond] milk to veganize everything you love! Tofu (a healthier taste substitute for paneer), milk-free chocolates, vegan biscuits, soya milk, etc. are readily available in the market. Many cities also have outlets for vegan ice-creams and cakes. As for eating out, restaurants of every cuisine serve dishes that are devoid of dairy, eggs, meat & honey.
Like food, other choices can easily be cruelty-free too. There are ample options for non-leather furniture, footwear & accessories. Shampoos, soaps & cosmetics involving no animal testing/ingredients are also readily available. Wool, silk, fur and honey can be easily substituted or avoided too. To sum up, veganism involves no deprivation at all! The following will make your vegan life even smoother:
- Practical tips: Dairy alternatives, Vegan products, Eat-out options, Recipes & more
- Facebook groups for information/help on veganism [Open not only for vegans, but anyone interested]: Pan-India, Bangalore-specific
- Contact details: Ruchi [email@example.com], Jay [9483709867, [firstname.lastname@example.org]
No being that feels pain should be put to pain.
Let us alter our choices to uphold that!