Why people avoid using or consuming animal products
While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.
Why vegan? Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Living vegan provides numerous benefits to animals’ lives, to the environment, and to our own health–through a healthy diet and lifestyle.
You can make an impact
Being vegan can save:
200 animals per year.
1.3 million gallons of water.
1.5 tons of carbon emissions.
For The Animals
Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially-raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, factory-farmed or free range, are slaughtered when their production rates decline.(1)
The same factory farm methods that are used to produce most meats are also used to produce most milk and eggs. (2) These cows and chickens live their short lives caged, drugged, mutilated, and deprived of their most basic freedoms.
As with any mammal, cows produce milk only when pregnant and stop after their calves have been weaned. When a dairy cow delivers a female calf, the calf becomes a dairy cow herself, born to live in the same conditions as her mother. But when a dairy cow delivers a male calf, the calf is sold to a veal farm within days of birth, where he is tethered to a stall, deprived of food and exercise, and soon slaughtered for meat.(6)
Since it is unprofitable to keep cows alive once their milk production declines, life is only a few years longer for dairy cows, and are usually slaughtered at 5 years of age.(7)Thus, a cow’s normal lifespan of 25 years is cut 20 years short just to cut costs and maximize production.
On U.S. farms, an average of 7 egg-laying hens spend their entire lives in a battery cage with a floor area the size of a vinyl record cover.(3)
Living on wire floors that deform their feet, in cages so tiny they cannot stretch their wings, and covered with excrement from cages above them,
these chickens suffer lameness, bone disease, and obsessive pecking, which is curbed by searing the beaks off young chicks.(4)
Although chickens can live up to fifteen years, they are usually slaughtered when their egg production rates decline after two years. Hatcheries have no use for male chicks, so they are killed by suffocation, decapitation, gassing or crushing.(5)
Today’s farms are not like the ones most of us learned about in school; they are mechanized factories where an animal’s welfare is of little concern compared to profit. Veganism emerges as the lifestyle most consistent with the philosophy that animals are not ours to use.
To see more pictures of factory farming, visitFarm Sanctuary’s FactoryFarming.com.
To see factory farming videos, visit our video page.
For the Environment
Animal agriculture takes a devastating toll on the earth. It is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.
Animal agriculture’s dependence on higher yields accelerates topsoil erosion on our farmlands, rendering land less productive for crop cultivation, and forcing the conversion of wilderness to grazing and farm lands. (8) Animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms are a leading cause of pollution in our groundwater and rivers. (9)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has linked animal agriculture to a number of other environmental problems, including contamination of aquatic ecosystems, soil, and drinking water by manure, pesticides, and fertilizers; acid rain from ammonia emissions; greenhouse gas production; and depletion of aquifers for irrigation.(10)
In a time when population pressures have become an increasing stress on the environment, there are additional arguments for a vegan diet. The United Nations has reported that a vegan diet can feed many more people than an animal-based diet. For instance, projections have estimated that the 1992 food supply could have fed about 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet, 4.2 billion people on a 85% vegetarian diet, or 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet.(11)
For more information, check out the documentary Cowspiracy.
For Your Health
The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions (cows’ milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans).
Eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food, making them a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Dietetic Association reports that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for all of these conditions.
Vegan foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans, are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are rich in fiber and nutrients. Vegans can get all the protein they need from legumes (e.g., beans, tofu, peanuts) and grains (e.g., rice, corn, whole wheat breads and pastas); calcium from broccoli, kale, collard greens, tofu, fortified juices and soy milks; iron from chickpeas, spinach, pinto beans, and soy products; and B12 from fortified foods or supplements.
With planning, a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we need without any animal products.