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Living vegan enables us to help diminish animal suffering, reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our health.
Due to increasing exposure to horrific animal cruelty, environmental devastation, debilitating health conditions, and escalating public health risk, more people are ditching animal products than ever before.
In addition to saving animals, here are four key reasons why a shift from animal-based consumption to plant-based consumption is critical:
1. Personal health.
Consuming animal products is linked to a significant number of health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers. These health risks are now recognized by many doctors and prominent organizations, including the National Institute of Health (NHI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The World Health Organization has classified processed meats—such as bacon and sausage—as a Group 1 carcinogen, which puts them in the same category as cigarettes. Meat clogs arteries and causes blood vessel blockages, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and erectile dysfunction. Dairy is acidic and causes inflammation. Research has found that milk from cows treated with the hormone rBGH contains up to 10 times more Insulin Growth Factor. IGF has been associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers.
Hormones and antibiotics used in animal agriculture have damaging effects on our health. Approximately 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to animals to counteract the effects of poor sanitation and overcrowding and promote faster growth. The use of antibiotics in animal farming poses a serious threat to humans because it creates new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as indicated by the American Medical Association and other leading medical groups. Every year, at least two million people in the United States become infected, and 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
2. Public health.
People living near factory farms are subjected to environmental pollution and sanitation hazards. Poor sanitation and waste management lead to contamination of the food supply with bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are massive cesspools where industrial farms dispose of billions of gallons of urine and feces every year. This produces dangerous gases, noxious smells, and dust containing bacteria. Harmful compounds like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia are released into the air, and people living near these waste pools have an increased risk of respiratory problems, sore throats, diarrhea, eye irritation, depression, and other conditions.
Animal waste contaminates drinking water, as nitrates seep from lagoons and spray fields into groundwater. Manure can contain traces of heavy metals and our water quality is compromised by phosphorus and nitrogen, two elements that are present in animal waste.
3. The planet.
Animal farming is highly destructive to the environment. Many environmentalists advocate for a plant-based diet, considering that animal agriculture is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, ocean dead zones, air and water pollution, deforestation, and species extinction. Over 37 percent of methane emissions result from factory farming. Methane has a global warming potential 20 times higher than carbon dioxide. Industrial agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supplies, and water polluted with agricultural runoff can damage ecosystems, resulting in toxic effects on wildlife. Manure that runs off the land accumulates in waterways, and ruptured waste lagoons have caused massive fish kills.
Tremendous amounts of land, water, and energy are required to harvest and transport feed for farmed animals. According to the United Nations, over 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to make room for crop fields in the United States, most of which are used to grow livestock feed. Additional resources are used to raise animals, dispose of their waste, transport them to slaughter, and process their bodies.
Due to Covid 19, schools are closed, large events are canceled, and people have been in quarantine. The entire world is on alert. Life as we’ve known it has drastically changed. Not only did this outbreak start in a live animal market, or “wet market” in China where wild animals were being sold for food, but the use of animals for human consumption was the origin of past viruses such as swine flu, SARS, and bird flu, among others.
Michael Greger, M.D., author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, states: “When we overcrowd animals by the thousands, in cramped football-field-size sheds, to lie beak to beak or snout to snout, and there’s stress crippling their immune systems, and there’s ammonia from the decomposing waste burning their lungs, and there’s a lack of fresh air and sunlight—put all these factors together and you have a perfect storm environment for the emergence and spread of disease.”
During Covid-19, slaughterhouses and factory farms have been deemed “essential business,” and have thus remained open, even though they are breeding grounds for bacteria and disease. There are, however, several Smithfield pork processing plants that were closed due to many hundreds of workers contracting the virus as a result of cramped working conditions and the inability to socially distance. To prevent future pandemics, we must end humanity’s obsession with eating animals.
There is nothing essential about the animal agriculture industry, which tortures innocent animals, pollutes our environment, and endangers our health. Consuming a plant-based diet helps decrease the demand for animal slaughter, drastically reduces one’s carbon footprint, and improves one’s health. Recognizing that animals deserve liberation and including them in the sphere of social justice is crucial for an evolved society.
A vegan world is imperative for the survival of the planet and all of its inhabitants.
Know more about Brittany’s first book here: Voices for Animal Liberation: Inspirational Accounts by Animal Rights Activists, released in March 2020.