VEGANISM - ANTISPECIESISM

When The Vegan Society became a registered charity in 1979, the Memorandum and Articles of Association updated the definition of “veganism” as: 

Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly (meat) or partly (dairy / eggs) from animals.”

The people who adopt the values of veganism and the vegan lifestyle do so for ethical reasons. It is important to make clear that someone who simply follows a vegan diet, while continuing to shower with shampoo produced by a company that tests on animals or while buying leather and wool clothing and shoes, is not vegan. Dietary habits are only one piece of the puzzle.

Being vegan is a daily struggle that makes people continuously searching for ethical products, which have been produced under fair conditions (that’s why, for us, the value of veganism goes hand in hand with the value of fair trade), without the need for any animal (and by consequence, any human) or environmental cruelty. The products that vegans prefer are produced sustainably for the environment and the animals that live in it. These products may be – besides food, cosmetics and clothing, which are obvious – condoms, wine / champagne, car tires, tattoo inks and printer inks.

Have you ever heard of speciesism though?


Many authors have found that our relationship to the animals is based on speciesism. By analogy with racism and sexism, this concept refers to the ideology considering that the lives and interests of animals can be overlooked simply because they are of another species. These thinkers conclude that speciesism is irrational and unfair, because humans are not the only ones to feel emotions and that we should also respect the lives and interests of other sentient beings who share this planet with us. Speciesism is a widespread form of discrimination that billions of animals suffer from today.


Like us, nonhuman animals are feeling creatures who can experience suffering or enjoyment depending on how we treat them. Yet they are subjected to harms we would never inflict on humans. Most of us would agree that it’s unfair to harm humans because of their skin color or sex. Isn’t it also unfair to harm animals simply because they belong to one species instead of another?


Intelligence is not what matters, suffering is.


We show respect for others by trying not to harm them, and helping them when we can. Many people accept that we should respect dogs and cats, and not harm them. But other animals can also suffer because of our daily choices.
Shouldn’t we respect them too?


There are people who say we shouldn’t respect animals because they are less intelligent than we are.


But many humans have lesser intellectual capacities, due to disease, accidents or congenital reasons. It’s clear to most of us that we shouldn’t discriminate against or harm those humans. This shows that, when it comes to respecting someone, what matters is not intelligence or mere species membership. What matters is simply whether they can be harmed or benefited by our actions.


A century ago, it was thought that the animals cannot suffer. Today, not only is it well known by all that animals suffer and feel emotions, but a lot of ethological studies have shown that many also have self-awareness (chimpanzees, bonobos, dolphins, elephants, pigs, magpies, ravens, parrots etc.). At one time humans distinguished themselves from other animals by their ability to manipulate tools, but now we know that more than a hundred animals can use tools.
Animals are beings endowed with mental life, with interests, desires, their own personality and therefore must be regarded as individuals. But despite the scientific advances, our society is still speciesist and still uses them as a resource.

It is worth mentioning though the environmental and health reasons why it would be good for someone to follow a vegan diet:

Livestock farming and humans: the cost of exploitation of non-human animals on the environment and humans

Livestock farming in numbers – the real cost of consuming animals and animal products:

1. Greenhouse effect: Livestock farming is responsible for 65% of nitrous oxide emissions and 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. (The total corresponding percentage of land, sea and air transportations on a global scale is 13%). It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions by livestock farming will increase by 80% by 2050, if demand does not decrease.

2. Water waste: In order to produce a liter of milk, 999 liters of water are consumed. In order to produce a kilo of eggs, 3.723 liters of water are consumed. For a kilo of cheese, approximately 7.495 liters of water are consumed. For a kilo of beef, approximately 20.820 are consumed. 1/3 of the planet’s drinking water is used in the production of meat and dairy.

3. Land: 45% of the planet is used by factory farms and the livestock feed farms that are made for them. 1/3 of the earth’s land is deserted, with livestock farming being the main cause.

4. Oceans: It is estimated that 2,7 trillion sea animals are fished annually. Per year, 90-100 million tons of fish are fished. Approximately 40% of those fish are thrown back into the oceans dead, as they are deemed inedible. Approximately 650.000 whales, dolphins and seals are mistakenly killed each year by fishing boats. Further, it is predicted that oceans will start to run out of fish by 2048. Finally, the release of nitrogen by factory farms is responsible for the creation of more than 500 dead zones in the oceans.

5. Forests: The deforestation of 136 million hectares of rainforests and 91% of the Amazon rainforest is attributed to livestock farming. Approximately 137 species of animals and plants become extinct everyday due to rainforest deforestation. Finally, 1.100 activists have been killed in their efforts to protect the rainforests in the past 20 years.

6. Pollution: A dairy farm with 2.500 cows produces the same amount of pollutants as a city of 411.000 people. In the U.S., 52.617 kilos of pollutants are produced per second just by livestock farming.

Furthermore

  • Feeding a human that consumes animals and animal products requires 18 times more land mass than a vegetarian.
  • Cultivating 1,5 hectares of land yields 16.783 kilos of plant food. In case the same area was used for livestock farming, it would only yield 170 kilos of meat.
  • At least 50% of farmed grain is meant to be consumed in livestock farms.
  • 82% of malnourished children live in countries whose plantations are used mainly for the production of livestock feed.
  • If the entirety of earth’s population followed a plant-based diet, these farms would be enough to feed 10 billion people. Indicatively: We could feed 1,4 billion more people if the farming and consumption of cows, pigs and chickens came to an end in the U.S. ALONE.

In short, the only way to save the planet from the effects of climate change is through directly changing the diets of humans. If that does not happen immediately and en masse, then a new wave of refugees (climate refugees) is expected to soon start environmental migration.

{See more: Atlas environmental migration by IOM}

Source

Consuming animal products and the impact on health

Dairy products and eggs not only are neither valuable nor necessary for humans, but they are actually harmful. The consumption of dairy is connected to osteoporosis in women. [1] Dairy products consumptio is also connected to Parkinson’s disease [2], various cancers like breast cancer [3], prostate cancer and ovarian cancer [4] [5]. The consumption of dairy is also linked to other health problems such as diabetes [6], colic pain and more [7] [8]. In general, the consumption of animal protein is linked to cancer [9] [10]. However, what is truly necessary for children and adults is the calcium that protects our bones. Research shows that dairy products probably do not offer any benefit in that regard [11] [12]. On the contrary, the daily recommended intake of calcium can be covered by plant sources, avoiding the various health hazards found in dairy like saturated fat, excessive cholesterol, unhealthy animal protein, lactose and the problems related to it [13]. Such sources are leafy greens, nuts, legumes, broccoli etc. [14] Finally, the consumption of a single egg equals to smoking 5 cigarettes [15].

The consumption of meat is linked to serious health problems, such as: colorectal cancer [16], stomach cancer [17], Alzheimer’s [18], rheumatoid arthritis [19], cardiovascular disease [20], breast cancer [21] and more.

In conclusion, the suffering of millions of animals and humans, the destruction of the environment and the waste of an inconceivable number of resources should be enough to put an end to the presence of all kinds of animal derived products in human activities once and for all.

All animals have an inherent value and right to live.

Go vegan!

For the animals, for the environment and for your health.