Granted. I'd never been much of a meat-eater. My lifestyle didn't change all that much. I was still eating fish which can be found at any fast food restaurant. And being surrounded by conservatives I got a lot of grief about it, which I took in stride. However, the response made me less sure in my decision. I was a really self-conscious high schooler (who isn't?) and took these things to heart. Out of pride I continued, but I don't know if I had any real reason in my heart to continue at the time. I hadn't done any research. I wasn't receiving the health benefits because I still relied on fish and cheese as my primary protein sources. But I kept on.
For lent this year I decided to go vegan. Wow. It sounded overwhelming (and still kind of does). Even to me, vegans were extremists--crazies--comparable to conservative Christians in their intensity and arrogance. But it had been on my mind, and I knew I had to try. I wanted to be healthy when I did it, so I did all the research I hadn't done when I'd initially picked up pescetarianism. I learned plenty about eating healthily as a vegan (actually a very healthy, protein-filled diet contrary to popular belief) but I also learned the reality of the meat industry. It shocked and disgusted me.
I was raised in a liberal household, but in college I've changed ideas and beliefs (as one should) and I've become far more liberal than the rest of my family. When it comes to animal rights, my family has a much more conservative viewpoint which I've grown to disagree with. Before I talk about this any more, I'd like to make it clear that I respect my family greatly. Their liberal upbringing gave me a strong foundation of a life based on compassion and inclusivity. From that, I've developed more liberal beliefs, just as they are more liberal than their parents, and their grandparents before them. With each new generation, revolution inspires progress. We fight injustice because it matters to us. We are the educated, passionate, liberal masses of Generation Y.
Link here. Plant-based diets require 1/3 of the land used to house animals bred for food. The animals that we kill actually consume more protein and minerals than they produce. Plants are also a far more-sustainable food source. It makes way more sense to eat the plants we feed to farmed animals ourselves in a world with such precious and limited resources. Picture a world where the food used to feed over-bred farm animals went to feed impoverished families around the planet. We take this planet for granted. By 2050 our population is expected to have reached 9 million which is entirely unsustainable based on the average, meat-eater's diet today. Check it.
It's a lifestyle choice rooted in compassion. This is where much debate arises. People bring up plants as living beings, blah blah blah. Plants are not sentient beings which is the basis of many who choose a plant-based diet. Most don't like to hear that pigs are more intelligent that our beloved dogs. "Man's best friend." Because we don't eat dogs, that would be barbaric, right? This is a state of ignorance that we have chosen as a society. No one wants to know what happens in those factory farms. The conditions are despicable. It's a lot easier to say, "don't tell me, I don't even want to know!" as I have in the past. But I care deeply about animals--mine, as well as the ones that man has designated as inferior. And so now, when I'm exposed to horrible truths about the industry, I feel a deep-rooted sense of shame when I turn away from it. If it makes you so sad that you can't even look at these images, then why do you support it? That was a question I really had to look at.
"The disturbing nature of these problems can make it difficult for many people to accept the truth about factory farming when they are first confronted with it: “Surely,” one is tempted to say, “it can’t be that bad.” But once the scale of the devastation that this industry is wreaking on our health, the environment, and animals becomes clear, the most surprising aspect of factory farming is how effectively these problems have been hidden from the public in the first place.It's healthy. When people picture vegans this is what comes to mind:
|Venus and Serena|
|Ellen and Portia|
One woman said that when people ask her where she gets her protein, she answers, "where do you get your fiber?" Fiber leads to healthier bowel movements which can help prevent colon cancer. A vegan diet is beneficial to prevention of many diseases. Cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, arthritis and many more. We are told to drink lots of milk to prevent things like arthritis. Ironically, a dairy-free diet has shown substantial benefits for arthritis symptoms. I could go on and on, but the link above has a really great list from a nursing website.