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Why Vegan?

Why vegan? It's a question those of us who follow the vegan path are often asked. People make this choice for many different reasons, and they are all good! A vegan diet is healthier, more socially conscious, and better for the environment.

Why Vegan? - Social Consicousness

Vegans are generally more conscious about the kinds of foods they buy and they always want to be able to track what they eat back to where it came from. Believe it or not, there are many food producers who would rather that consumers remain in the dark on this issue.

Behind the scenes of the food industry there is an enormous amount of exploitation going on, and it primarily takes two forms:

Why Vegan? - Animal Cruelty

Caged ChickensThe treatment of animals who are raised for slaughter on "conventional" animal farms is cruel and inhumane. These animals spend their lives in cramped conditions, unable to move and wallowing in their own feces.

The feces makes them sick so they are fed antibiotics which creates resistant strains of e-coli, the bacteria that is primarily responsible for all the recent food recalls. They are also fed synthetic growth hormones which stay in the meat and are consumed, along with the anti-biotics, by the people who eat it.

There are some farms that are working to treat their animals more humanely during their lives, but even with meat labeled as organic, there is no guarantee that the animal was treated humanely. The only guarantee is that it was not fed antibiotics or hormones.

Labels like "natural" and "free-range" can be very misleading as well. In order to be labeled as "free-range" the only requirement is that the hens have to have access to an outdoor area - it does not mean they have to make use of it.

Labeling a meat as "all natural" means only that there are no artificial ingredients. It does not cover the treatment of the animal.

Many vegans choose to view their lifestyle choice as demonstrating consciousness that we are not the only creatures on the planet and that animals have as much right as we do to live lives that are free of pain and torture.

Why Vegan? - Worker Exploitation

The United States alone consumes about 1/3 of all the world's food resources. Yikes! That's a lot - and it doesn't seem very fair does it? It isn't. Both in the United States and in many poorer countries, workers are putting in long hours for little pay in dangerous and unsanitary conditions to bring all that food to the great supermarkets of the United States. And many of these workers are children.

Vegans believe that their food consumption should not be the cause of suffering for any animals, including human ones! If you've seen labels on chocolate, for example, in the health food stores that say "fair trade" that's because the manufacturer wants the consumer to know for sure that the chocolate was not harvested by a West African child being exploited, overworked and underfed.

The best way to tell if your food is "legit" is if the manufacturer takes some trouble to tell you - either on the packaging or on the web site. If there is no mention made, that could be a big, huge red flag!


Why Vegan? - Health

It is true that vegans are concerned about health, but not just their own - everyone's.

Why Vegan? - Public Health

The animals on the factory farms are not the only ones who sicken in the horrendous conditions - that sickness can be passed on to us, and at times has been. The cattle, in particular, are fed on grain to make them fatter. But grain is not their natural diet and their intestines react by producing much higher quantities of bacteria in their intestines. That translates into massive amounts of ecoli in the feces. The massive amount of feces produced by the massive numbers of animals on factory farms gets into the ground water and can affect nearby crops. That is why in recent years we have seen ecoli outbreaks in peanut, spinach, lettuce and almond crops. This problem is far less likely to affect organically grown produce because on arganic farms, the soil is more consistently monitored, so vegans try to eat organic produce whenever possible.

Why Vegan? - Personal Health

Hand holding appleIn addition to social concerns, personal health is one of the main reasons why a vegan chooses this lifestyle. Dairy, much touted by the USDA as being an essential part of the standard food pyramid, is actually not a natural part of the adult diet of any mammal. Think about it. The basis for dairy products (with the exception of eggs) is milk. Milk is produced by cows for the express and only purpose of growing baby calves into large cows and bulls.

Dairy actually produces mucus throughout the body that slows digestion and keeps toxins trapped. The calcium in dairy is difficult to absorb by our bodies and the high protein content actually leaches calcium out of our bones. For a more detailed list of the problems with dairy, check out the Becoming a Vegan page.

Calcium from leafy greens is much more accessbile to our bodies and greens provide more nutrients and minerals that we need. Check out the Vegan Food Pyramid for more information about great vegan calcium sources.

Basically, meat and dairy create an acidic environment in the body that makes it much easier for diseases from the common cold to cancer to take root. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II is a national bestseller documenting a 27 year study on nutrition and health.

The study concluded beyond doubt not only that meat and dairy promote disease but that a plant-based diet can prevent, and even reverse disease!


Why Vegan - Environmental Consciousness

Why Vegan? - Global Warming

Hands holding small earthIf you're still wondering "why vegan?" consider this: 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from the factory farming industry - a pretty hefty contribution to the climate crisis, don't you think?

In the last 50 years meat consumption has increased five-fold, which means there is 5 times more cattle on the planet than there was 50 years ago.

Now the thing about cows is that they are very...well...flatulent. Really, really flatulent. And they poop a lot too. And both of those activities produce massive amounts of methane gas, which is a far more powerful and dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2.

At this point 20 percent of the Amazon rain forest has been destroyed to make room for more cattle farms - much of this paid for by McDonalds and other fast food conglomerates. Not only has this destroyed and endangered hundreds of animal and plant species, it has decreased by 20 percent the largest oxygen producing forest on the planet.

That's right - trees breathe out oxygen, supplying most of the air we breathe in. So if the rainforest goes, we're toast.

Why Vegan? - Groundwater Contamination

Factory farming does not just pollute the air, it also wreaks havoc on our groundwater - water that is used to irrigate crops. Enormous quantities of feces from cows, chickens and pigs on these farms pollutes the groundwater and fills it with dangerous e-coli bacteria.

This has resulted in more and more conventional crop recalls due to e-coli contamination - another reason to eat organic whenever possible.


So although answers to the question, "Why vegan?" are varied and complex, they all reflect a desire to live a more aware and balanced life and not to contribute if possible to the unconsciousness that is causing so much suffering, disease and destruction on our beautiful blue planet.

If you are considering becoming a vegan and want to be part of this consciousness, check out the Becoming a Vegan page!


If you are looking for information about any topic related to personal development, you'll find lots of great ideas under Personal Growth from is the most complete guide to information about Personal Growth on the Internet.

For more information about living consciously and in harmony with our earth, please visit my friends at Going Green - for

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