The three-fold-path became my out and out winning reasoning in the vegan/non-vegan debate and I do not believe, as a rule, that it ever failed me. At least as a rule set of which I had not yet analysed the hidden truths, the honest pondering's and the sad facts that were waiting behinds those rules that were about to make ethical life far less polarised and therefore far more difficult. More on this is part four.
The point of this post is to consider a few of the details of this three-fold-path on a surface level, to argue in favour of veganism without delving into any too-complex depths but to initially stick with the typical and fully justified arguments to give the stage to vegans for a minute. Let me just confirm something- I am totally pro-vegan, but that does not mean I am anti-non-vegan. I am just as often anti-vegan. I am pro-ethical/sustainable/plastic free/low mileage/conscious food, and together these are very tricky guidelines to stick to. But we must try!
1. My Health
This is often a major factor in turning vegan and regularly, after some research, appears to make a lot of sense. It is clear that our health is suffering from our normal western diets- they tend to be very high in sugar, fat, cholesterol, lacking not only in vitamins and minerals but also in time, and thus cause many diseases. 62% of the UK population are now overweight or obese and, in my opinion, there is an epidemic in bad food relationships. We have lost all our food intuition and have been left confused as to the truth of what healthy means. What we put into our bodies is vital to health, it will directly affect how we look, feel and think and it is undeniable that the average person’s consumption is simply unhealthy. At this point it is worth recognising something; what we consume is far great than what we eat- we must also carefully consider what we watch, listen to, other products we consumer and their effect on the world, how and where we spend our time; the list goes on.
But let’s stick to food for now.
While one begins to take an interest in taking control of their health, Veganism invariably pops up in their research- it can lower our cholesterol and lower risk of heart diseases and cancers, vegetables are generally lower in all the ‘bad’ fats, they are packed with minerals and vitamins and low is refined sugars. Having been brain-washed that 5-a-day is what matters, it is easy to assume that our new 20+ per day vegan lifestyle is the key to health. We research the health scares and common questions of requirement and find that we can get all our nutrients from plant-food sources and that recommendations are often defined by corporate interests; why has protein recommendation been increasing so rapidly in the past 50 years? Perhaps because the power giants that financially gain from our increased consumption are involved in the defining of these requirements. Scary stuff.
Amid the research we discover that the world of food is not only innately violent and revoltingly cruel, it is also corrupt, confused and full of contradictions. The interests of the enormous companies making unimaginable sums of money off the sales not only of meat but also the foods that feed the meat have the power to shape our thoughts and beliefs, to form our cultural norms and to challenge any policy, group or idea that could make a dent in their profits. As with most giant corporations acting like our health gurus (yes, that includes the health system and its disgusting pharmaceutical company companions), our heath is not the prerogative. Veganism appears like a knight in shining armour and gives us a simple path towards great health. Vegans do not use any animal products. What could be a more moral, clear and simple guideline for living?
2. Animal Rights
This is the area of the vegan argument that I feel is close to indisputable. Animals are being treated in the most indescribably appalling ways, their lives are absolute misery, then they are killed. There are many documentaries that will show you their realities, I cannot watch some of them and to be considered oversensitive for that would be a crime against the very concept of human feelings. Try to watch the documentary Earthlings if you have any desire to see how we are treating animals- there is absolutely no excuse for such cruelty, it is, without any speck of doubt, inexcusable and we should be disgusted that it happens at all. It is entirely true that there is a sliding scale to the ethics of the treatment of animals for food- and I pray that such documentaries are displaying the worst case scenario- but from a more simplified version of the vegan reasoning- even if the animal is treated wonderfully throughout its life (which the vast majority of animal farming cannot claim), the animal is still killed to satisfy our food desires on a scale that is not only unsustainable but also hugely unnecessary. I go vegan and animals will not need to die for me. It is a compassionate and self-sacrificing decision. Yes, I also love bacon- liking something does not equate to an ethical argument for its continuation.
Then there is the obvious and ever frustrating contradiction that for me really highlights our disillusionment and disconnection from the realities of our lives. To claim you love animals and to then consume meat- especially anything from a factory farm- is such a massive inconsistency that I get quite tired of hearing it. Do not go and cuddle a lamb then tell your friends about it over a roast, it is just silly. If you love animals, treat them well through dedicating to a deep and genuine understanding of the realities of all that we consume and make changes in your life to prove your claims. Killing something is not generally how we show that we like it.
Here it seems sensible to show a classic tool to demonstrate the reality of what we, as a species, consume. Click the link below, then sit for a few minutes and deeply contemplate the complexities of any one animal that you have interacted with while you look at the numbers and the scale of our consumption becomes terrifyingly apparent.
3. The Environment
The final string to the vegan bow is the environmental degradation that is occurring as a direct cause of eating meat (that includes fish), dairy and eggs. We have hunted pretty much all major land mammals out of extinction and now farm most of what we eat (apart from fish). This farming is enormously destructive, and it is a huge driver of climate change which is probably the most frightening scenario humans have ever faced, and we have the power to stop it if we want to.
Animal agriculture in its varying forms produces 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, that is more than all transportation combined! It is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution, all huge problems in our current world, problems that are not only dangerous for humanity but also hugely sad! This planet is so beautiful, we should feel implored to protect the incredible diversity of all its ecosystems and life forms. The evidence is all there that a vegan way of life is far lighter on the planet and as part of a mass movement towards environmental, ethical and conscious living it could (done right) be part of the required change to not only save the wondrous and inspiring creatures all around us but also ourselves.
Remember, the aim of this post is to highlight some of the reasons people go vegan, it is not supposed to be a fool proof set of arguments nor an advocation of veganism, it is simply some of the really great reasons to consider positive lifestyle changes, given the issues we are facing on our planet. Futures Conscious Roots blog posts will be exploring the reality of violence in our world, including a tearing down of many vegan arguments- not to advocate living however you fancy or to take away from the good that vegans are doing but to draw attention to the realities of living in a conscious and ethical way, so stay tuned.
The next part (3/4) in the Vegan(ish)ism 101 series introduces and aims to answer some of the most common questions vegans face.