Reasons To Transition To A Vegan Lifestyle: The Effects Animal Product Consumption Has On Society The Environment And Its Inhabitants

Khatira
7 min readJan 7, 2021

There are a lot of stigmas and negative connotations that the label “vegan” carries with itself. As a result, people become extremely closed-minded and feel personally attacked when “vegans are forcing their beliefs” on them. As a consequence of such an initial mindset, many are actually resentful in learning and even considering this lifestyle. We are creatures of habit, and so why should we change the way of eating if we enjoy it so much? But is that a justification to contribute to the torture, the slaughter of innocent beings who can feel pain, have emotions, build bonds with each other just as we do? And if you don’t deny that such mistreatment towards people would be morally wrong, it’s illogical to say that it is justified towards other animals because they have just as many rights and purpose on this planet, and they equally deserve to live happy and pain-free lives. It can be extremely powerful in what you choose to consume every day. All it takes for you is to reflect where the food that you are eating has come from, how it was made and the footprint it has on this planet, and on the way that you live your life. It’s not a restricting commitment, it’s your choice to give it a try and become mindful of what it is that you are consuming.

If humans continue to farm animals our planet will inevitably be destroyed and there will be no sustainable ecosystem for humans and other animals to survive. Animal agriculture is one of the major producers of air pollution, global warming, fossil fuels, and greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution, and ocean life destruction (Anderson, 2014). It is also the leading cause of deforestation which also results in species extinction and wastage of land that can instead be used for agriculture for crops to sustain the entire human population and end world hunger (Anderson, 2014). As a result, not only are we directly taking the life of the animals that we eat, but we are also, in the long run, taking the life of our only planet that sustains and supports our existence.

A case study conducted in 2008, by Nancy Perry and Peter Brandt from The Humane Society of the United States, demonstrates the complete lack of regulatory attention dedicated to livestock cruelty in the United States (Perry & Brandt, 2008, p.118). After media exposure of the cruel practices conducted in the Hallmark meat packing plants, the public began to pay attention to how little animal welfare and protection acts applied to livestock animals and those that did justify cruelest practices as “humane”(Perry & Brandt, 2008, p.117). Despite being one of the largest state suppliers, “the level of protection documented in the film viewed by millions — helpless cows bellowing in pain and anguish as they are shocked in the eyes, rectum, and face repeatedly; run over with forklifts; and otherwise tortured — is the best that farm animals may ever hope for, we must acknowledge that farm animals are, in effect, not protected at all” (Perry & Brandt, 2008, p.119). This also demonstrates how toxic it is to the mental mindset of people to continue to consume animals since it is this consumerist demand that promotes meat and dairy industries to brainwash people by putting an image that animals are living happily in the farms when this couldn’t be further from the truth (Perry & Brandt, 2008, p.118). The industrialization of animal agriculture has further shifted our perspective and relationship with domesticated animals. The more we, as a society, discriminate against animals and perceive them as food-producing machines, the more we treat them in such inhumane manners, and the more the government ignores their protection (Perry & Brandt, 2008, p.118). In a world where we are trying to stop violence and abuse, it is extremely unhealthy for a society to normalize ignorance of such. Ultimately, if we cannot stop violence and unfair treatment towards animals, how can we expect people to stop inequality and violence towards other humans?

Many people ridicule the idea that veganism fights for the rights of the animals and treats them as equals, but the real question should be what makes us think of ourselves as superior? The fact that we can constrain and torture animals without giving them any chance to defend themselves? That we take advantage of them because we believe we deserve to since “we are more intelligent”? But how does that make us better? We constantly fight against discrimination and yet we continue doing it ourselves. How can we discriminate, when the capacity of those animals suffering is equal to the capacity of the suffering of our loved pets and people that we always try to protect from hurting?

Consuming animal products has been proven to be so harmful to our bodies and in preventing us from feeling and performing our best, that it has become questionable whether the omnivorous diet is the most optimal source of nutrition for our species. Or is the reason that our bodies are struggling with certain illnesses a signal that what we are eating is unsustainable. Many evidence indicates that our bodies are physiologically most similar to herbivorous animals in obtaining, digesting, and assimilating food. As a result, the consumption of saturated animal fat, protein, and cholesterol has been proved to induce many illnesses, from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, to cancer and strokes (Campbell, 2014). Carnivores and omnivores do not suffer from symptoms such as high cholesterol and saturated fat in the blood, even though they consume greater quantities of meat than humans (Are Humans Omnivores, Carnivores, or Herbivores? 2015, 08:43–10:10). According to Doctor Michael Greger, the consumption of excess animal protein has been revealed to contribute to the development of illnesses such as osteoporosis (Greger, 2017). According to Greger, “Meat and eggs have a lot of sulphur-containing amino acids (two to five times more than grains and beans) that are metabolized into sulphuric acid, which the body buffers with calcium compounds. And where is calcium stored in the body? The skeleton.” (Greger, 2017). Therefore, the more excessive protein is consumed, the more calcium exits the body through urine (Greger, 2017).

One of the major causes of death today is heart attacks, of which the disease Atherosclerosis is commonly the cause. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of cholesterol that layers the blood vessels, impeding proper blood flow to the heart, and resulting in strokes, and in severe cases, precipitous heart attacks (Are Humans Omnivores, Carnivores or Herbivores? 2015, 08:43–10:10). According to Dr. Williams C. Roberts, atherosclerosis is exclusive to herbivores, meaning that any omnivore or carnivore is incapable of developing the condition, even when consuming an indefinite amount of meat (Are Humans Omnivores, Carnivores or Herbivores? 2015, 08:43–10:10). Our predisposition in developing such diseases further suggests the unsuitability of animal product consumption for our species. Throughout many years of research, Doctor T. Colin Campbell has proposed a correlation between the consumption of animal protein and cancer development. Cancer development is a result of a genetic predisposition, the “starting place,” that is regulated to either tumor growth or regression, through the regulation of dairy protein (casein), in the diet (Campbell, 2014). Casein is discovered to be the most “relevant chemical carcinogen ever tested” in the case of cancer growth (Campbell, 2014). Animal protein was disclosed to be the cause of the increasing number of tumor development in cancer patients. Campbell and many other doctors of nutritional sciences concluded that consuming a whole-food, plant-based diet has the capability of preventing or even “reversing” cancer development (Campbell, 2014).

Unlike carnivores and omnivores, humans do not view other creatures as food when we look at them; our initial instincts and physiological capabilities do not drive and give us the ability to hunt them down. Unless we are suffering from some sort of mental disorder that restricts our capability to empathize, people do not usually want to hurt other beings for no reason, and the reality is that in the modern world there no longer is a reason, so why are we doing it? According to research conducted in 2014 on “The Psychology of Eating Animals”, most people experience cognitive dissonance, a moral dilemma, when engaging in the behavior of eating meat. Even though we may initially recognize animals’ capacity for pain and remorse in witness of their torture, to protect our ego our brain justifies our past behaviors and future desires of consuming animals by lowering our “moral concern” for them (Loughnan et al., 2014, p.3). This psychological stress response suggests that such behaviors don’t align with our moral capacities. Thus, people continue consuming anima products due to factors such as taste, habit, tradition, and convenience, that have conditioned us to grow accustomed to, normalize, and support their torture and slaughter. As society, we are also not exposed to the horrific conditions in which animals are raised in the meat and dairy industries. However, it is our responsibility to be aware of our food sources and learn that we are not only going against our morals and beliefs, but we are also attacking our bodies’ immunity and health. How are these factors not worth immediately putting an end to our maladaptive actions.

References

Andersen, K. (2014). COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret. COWSPIRACY. https://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

Are humans omnivores, carnivores or herbivores? (2015, September 3). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4NsMiOMmCY

Campbell, C. T., & Jacobson, H. (2014). Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition (Illustrated ed.). BenBella Books.

Greger, M. (2014, July 31). Does Animal Protein Cause Osteoporosis? NutritionFacts.Org. https://nutritionfacts.org/2014/07/31/does-animal-protein-cause-osteoporosis/\

[Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. ~DL]. (n.d.). Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551550285592065223/

Loughnan, S., Bastian, B., & Haslam, N. (2014). The Psychology of Eating Animals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(2), 104–108. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721414525781

Nancy Perry & Peter Brandt, A Case Study on Cruelty to Farm Animals: Lessons Learned From the Hallmark Meat Packing Case, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 117 (2008). Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr_fi/vol106/iss1/7

Painful Practices Allowed on Factory Farms without Anesthesia or Pain Relief. (n.d.). [Illustration]. Animal Welfare Institute. https://awionline.org/content/inhumane-practices-factory-farms

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