There are many reasons we're vegan. Here's just a few to think about; find your own path.
The Other Animals Essay
Animals aren't people. They can't talk to us, discuss ethics, help solve our problems for us or write essays. Even though they aren't people, the other animals do suffer. They feel pain, fear and depression. There is a growing body of evidence which supports that their emotional responses are very similar to humans and we are learning more about their intelligence and ability to communicate everyday. And all of us have experienced insight into the other animals conditions. That pang deep inside that most of us feel when we see an animal hit by a car, or sick, or dieing is the essence of our humanity and we shouldn't suppress it. Our ability to display mercy and to empathize with other animals is a godly sort of gift. Sadly, though, in the last century they have suffered greatly by our own designs. If God found the creation of these animals good, how would he find their destruction?
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, and cattle after their kind and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God Made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
GENESIS 1: 24-26
Some people think it is sentimental to worry about other animals. The pragmatic types observe that in the natural world there are no rules, or rights, so why should we bestow any upon them? We should do so, because we can. This is the dominion* given to us as a passive test of our own nature.
Great saints like St. Francis, St. Cuthbert and St. Philip Neri, who were particularly close to animals, and specially sensitive to the way in which they manifested God's will and love, saw this [massive livestock production] coming and were ahead of their times. The understanding of animals they individually and intuitively acquired is gradually becoming more general as we use all the resources of modern science to get closer to them. We are indeed beginning to understand how animals think and why they do things, and that understanding makes us appreciate them far more and treat them more intelligently.
The more we understand about life in general, the more we value the lives of all creatures. Vegetarianism is spreading, inexorably I believe. God allowed us to live off the beasts of the field and the forest because there was no other way, then, for humankind to survive and prosper. But our technology is now such that we can produces endless varieties of nourishing and delicious foods without resorting to animal flesh. Gradually this realization will take hold of us. The rise of factory farming, whereby food producers can not remain competitive except by subjecting animals to unspeakable deprivation, has hastened this response. The human spirit revolts at what we have been doing.
-- THE QUEST FOR GOD, Paul Johnson
We should exercise mercy. Because we have this unique power, like God, to do good.
Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Don't trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent.
-- Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
*Dominion as used in the King James Bible is derived from the Hebrew word radah. Most Biblical scholars believe the term is better translated with its softer meaning similar to stewardship -- read more here.
HOW HUMANS COMPARE TO OTHER ANIMALS
The comparison between human physiology and carnivores (dogs, cats, etc.), herbivores (cows, deer, rabbits) and omnivores (bears, raccoons, etc.) from Milton R. Mills, M.D. (see the full article on the Anatomy of Eating here).
BRIEF PHYSIOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF CARNIVORES, HERBIVORES AND OMNIVORES
Milton R. Mills, M.D.:
"In conclusion, we see that human beings have the gastrointestinal tract structure of a “committed” herbivore. Humankind does not show the mixed structural features one expects and finds in anatomical omnivores such as bears and raccoons. Thus, from comparing the gastrointestinal tract of humans to that of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores we must conclude that humankind's GI tract is designed for a purely plant-food diet." (read the PDF in the link for details)
THE BURDEN ON LIFE
Over 10 Billion Livestock Animals Killed in the US for Food
The 2003 total of 10,064 million includes 41.2 million cattle and calves (up 0.5% from 2002), 133 million pigs (up 13%), 4.1 million sheep (unchanged), 291 million turkeys (down 5.2%), and 25.5 million ducks (unchanged), 9,144 million "broilers" (up 0.7%) and 425 million laying hens (up 0.2%)
Killing takes it's toll on humans too. The average yearly turnover rate for a slaughterhouse floor-worker is 100% - Time Magazine
Domestic 2002 Wildlife Deaths
The Hunger Argument
Amount of total US grain production consumed by livestock: 70%
How frequently a child on Earth dies as a result of malnutrition and starvation: Every 2.3 seconds
Amount of US grain exports consumed by livestock: 66%
Number of children who die as a result of malnutrition and starvation every day: 38,000
Amount of world grain harvest consumed by livestock throughout the eighties: 50%
Number of people who will die as a result of malnutrition and starvation this year: 20,000,000
Number of people who could be fed using the land, water and energy that would be freed up from growing livestock feed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100,000,000
The Natural Resources Argument
By 1977, the amount of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by the U.S., devoted to the production of livestock: One third
Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2
Activity that accounts for more than half of all water consumed for all purposes in the United States: Livestock Production
Amount of U.S. cropland producing livestock feed: 64%
Amount of US cropland producing fruits and vegetables: 2%
Pounds of edible product that can be produced on an acre of prime land:
Green Beans 10,000
The Health Argument
Amount of all diseases in the U.S. that are diet related: 68%
Diseases that can be commonly prevented, consistently improved, and sometimes cured by observing a low-fat diet free from animal products:
Arthritis, Breast Cancer
Heart Disease, Hypoglycemia
Kidney Disease, Osteoporosis
Prostate Cancer, Strokes
Asthma, Colon Cancer
Obesity, Peptic Ulcers
The Cholesterol Argument
Amount spent annually in U.S. to treat cardiovascular disease: $135 Billion
Most common cause of death in U.S.: Heart Disease
Risk of heart attack for the average American man: 50%
Risk of death from a heart attack for the average American man who consumes no meat, dairy products or eggs: 4%
Dietary cholesterol intake needed to support human health: None -- the body makes its own
Leading sources of saturated fat and cholesterol in American diets: Eggs, Meat, poultry and dairy products
Cholesterol found in all grains, all legumes, all fruits, all vegetables, all nuts, all seeds: None
"Diet May Cut Cholesterol Levels As Much As Drugs Do." --Scientific American
The Cancer Argument
Amount of all cancers in the U.S. that are diet related: 40%
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat eggs daily compared to once a week: 2.8 times higher
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat butter and cheese 2-4 times a week compared to once
a week: 3.2 times higher
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week: 3.8 times higher
Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meat, dairy products and eggs daily as compared to sparingly: 3.6 times higher
Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more days a week compared to less than once a week: 3 times higher
Meat and Cancer -- PCRM
The Protein Argument
Recommendations of the amount of daily calories to be provided by protein according to:
World Health Organization of the United Nations: 4.5%
Food and Nutrition Board of the USDA: 6%
National Research Council: 8%
Percent of calories as protein in:
All Peas/Beans/Lentils Average: 27%
All Nuts & Seeds Average: 13%
All Grains Average: 12%
"Dietary studies show clearly that diets based solely on plant sources of protein can be quite adequate and supply the recommended amounts of all essential amino acids for adults, even when a single plant food, such as rice, is virtually the sole source of protein." -World Heath Organization
Milk Doesn't Do a Body Good - National Center for Biotechnology Information
The Antibiotic Argument
Amount of total antibiotics used in US that are fed to livestock: 55%
Staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%
Staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91%
Major contributing cause: The breeding of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock
The Food Safety Argument
1985 National Academy of Sciences report: Current federal inspection procedures are inadequate to protect the public from meat-related diseases
Amount of all 2002 inspected chickens with salmonella bacteria: One-third
Amount of federal poultry inspectors who said they would not eat chicken: 75%
The Environmental Argument
Amount of original US cropland permanently removed from production due to excessive soil erosion: One-third
Pounds of topsoil lost in the production of one pound of feedlot steak: 35
Production of excrement by US livestock: 230,000 pounds per second
Water pollution attributable to US agriculture, including runoff of soil, pesticides and manure: Greater than all municipal and industrial sources combined
Amount of wells and surface streams in the US contaminated by agricultural pollutants: Half
Total amount of water consumed in the US to irrigate land growing feed and fodder for livestock: Over 50%
In 1960, when the U.S. began to import beef, Central America had 130,000 square miles of virgin rainforest. Only 25 years later, less than 80,000 square miles remained. At this rate, the entire tropical rainforests of Central America will be gone in 35 years. Deforestation is a direct result of the US importation of cheep beef from Third World Countries.
The Strength Argument
Only man to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice: Dave Scott, 6 time winner
World record – 24 hour triathlon; swim 4.8 miles, cycle 185 miles, run 52.5 miles: Sixto Linares
Food choices of Dave Scott and Sixto Linares: Vegetarian
Famous Athletes Who Eat Their Veggies
The Sport Argument
Number of animals killed by hunters in the US annually: 133,716,496
Number of hunters killed by animals in the US annually: 0
Odds of a hunter killing an animal in a year: 14 to 1
Odds of an animal killing a hunter in a year: 13,500,000 to 1
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