This morning I have a special guest post for you about vegetarianism and going vegan by Leo who runs Zen Habits. Though the wife and I are not vegans or vegetarians, we can truly understand the concern of those that choose to be and how they came to their decision. I visit Leo’s site every day and always find new sources of inspiration. If you do not already visit, please do so when you get a chance. On with the guest post!
What I love about the Good Human blog are its values of social consciousness, of doing what is right, of promoting sustainability and of minimizing suffering. These are the exact same reasons I became a vegan — while the health benefits of veganism are great, they are not enough to justify such a big change in most people’s diets. It is veganism’s aim to minimize suffering — both animal and human — that helps sustain any vegan.
That, and the fact that vegan food is delicious!
Now, I won’t be able to go into much depth here, but I’d like to point out a few reasons why the socially conscious person should consider veganism:
- Sustainability and waste of resources. More than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow go to feed animals. If that food were to go to humans instead, it would be enough to feed everyone in the world. Another fact: half the water used in the United States and nearly 80 percent of the land are used to raise animals.
- Eating animals causes global warming. A major report by the University of Chicago in 2006 found that adopting a vegan diet has a greater impact in the fight against global warming than switching to a hybrid car does.
- Worker rights. The fast line speeds, dirty killing floors, and lack of training make animal-processing plants some of the most dangerous places to work in America today. Nearly one in three slaughterhouse workers suffers from illness or injury every year, compared to one in 10 workers in other manufacturing jobs. The rate of repetitive stress injury for slaughterhouse employees is 35 times higher than it is for those with other manufacturing jobs.
- World hunger. Land, water and other resources that could be used to feed humans are being used to grow crops for farmed animals instead. Crops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten farm animals raised for food. Eating meat
is inherently inefficient, as it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of flesh. And because the industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land.
So what can you do? Here are a few thoughts:
- Try vegan dishes a few times a week. You don’t have to become vegan overnight, if you’re interested in trying it out. Try going to a couple of vegan restaurants, and try out a few simple vegan recipes. I love vegan chili, but there are probably vegan versions of all your favorite dishes. Many people transition to veganism over time.
- Becoming vegan isn’t as difficult as you think. Many people tell me, “I could never give up meat!” The truth is, you can. It may
seem really hard, or like something you don’t want to do, but if you give it a try, you’ll discover that eating vegan food is actually pretty great, and after awhile, you don’t miss meat, or cheese, or milk, one single bit. I am one person who can testify to that, and millions more feel the same way.
- Do some reading. Even if you’re not sure about becoming vegan, or don’t think you’ll do it, you should at least give it a read, with an open mind. Check out the links below, and do a google search, and at least be informed.
Some links for further reading:
Written by Leo over at Zen Habits.