If you think it's wrong to cause unnecessary harm to animals, you already believe in veganism.
All animal products, whether labelled 'free-range', 'humane' or otherwise, involve the direct exploitation of sentient beings. All animal products are unnecessary because we simply don't need to consume them to live happily and healthily (in fact many studies suggest that animal products are actually detrimental to human health). As such, consumption of animal products causes unnecessary harm to animals. Avoiding animal products sends a powerful message to those exploiting animals for human gain. Industry works via supply and demand; decrease demand (for animal products) and supply decreases, increase demand (for vegan alternatives) and supply increases. This is how vegans seek to abolish animal agriculture.
Why not just be vegetarian?
This is a common question. I was vegetarian myself for many years before becoming vegan and I truly believed I was doing the best I could for animals; you don't have to kill a cow to produce milk, do you? How wrong I was. All farmed animals will eventually end up in a slaughterhouse. Male calves, born from the constant impregnation of cows required for milk production, have no use in the dairy industry as they cannot produce milk. So male calves are either raised for cheap meat production (selective breeding means they won't grow as fast or as large as cows raised specifically for their meat) or they are killed shortly after birth. The same thing happens with male chicks in the egg industry. So vegetarianism involves a lot more death than it at first seems. Additionally, vegetarianism relates only to diet so does nothing to help end non-food animal industries which include dog and horse racing, zoos, circuses, aquariums, clothing (fur, wool, leather), and vivisection. Veganism is the moral baseline and the minimum we can do if we truly believe that animals deserve to be treated with respect.
As mentioned above, veganism is first and foremost a moral concern, however there are other benefits to a vegan lifestyle that are worth mentioning:
- Animal agriculture is hugely resource intensive and is a leading cause of climate change. Removing animal products from your lifestyle will drastically reduce your carbon footprint.
- Worldwide, we grow enough grain to eliminate world hunger, yet this grain is fed to cows, chickens, pigs and other farmed animals, instead of people.
- Vegan food is hugely varied and you may discover foods that you never would have tried before.
- You'll almost definitely get your five-a-day. Probably more like fifteen-a-day.
- Your worldview may change and you may start to feel more compassionate towards all living beings, human or nonhuman.
- It's a great way to meet new people. I have made lots of friends through being vegan, going to potlucks, organising outreach stalls, and going to vegan festivals.
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