People who eat meat and dairy products often find it difficult to understand why someone would go vegan. After all, just about everyone agrees that meat, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products taste good. However, there is also a chance that human flesh, dog flesh and cat flesh tastes good. Should we also eat that flesh as well? Of course not. Most pet owners scoff at the idea of consuming dog or cat meat as these animals are friendly and cute. I argue that an action is not justified simply because it feels good. I admit the best food I have tasted is fried chicken. I used to eat pizza several times a week. I have given up these pleasures and converted to veganism for moral reasons. Here’s why.
A Shift in Perspective
In order to understand why someone would become a vegan, an omnivore must make the effort to shift his perspective. This is exactly what I did when deciding whether I would continue to consume meat and dairy products or go vegan. I considered what life would be like for an animal such as a cow, chicken or fish. These are sentient beings, meaning they are aware of their existence. They have the capacity to feel pain and fear death. I wondered what life would be like for a cow or chicken reared on a farm or ranch for the sole purpose of being slaughtered and fed to humans. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it is quite perverse to raise an animal with the intention of killing it or using its by-products. Such actions are especially immoral in the contemporary era in which plentiful vegan options are available.
Consider the Context
We live in a time of remarkable wealth and prosperity. Food of all types is abundant. You can purchase diverse foods, beverages, spices and nutritional supplements at a number of local markets or even order them online. There is no shortage of options. You can even find the rarest of ingredients at specialty websites and have them delivered to your door in a single day’s time. This means there is absolutely no need to rely on animals for sustenance. Major store brands now carry vegan items, ranging from the typical fruits and vegetables to vegan cheese, vegan frozen dinners, meat substitutes and beyond.
The bottom line is that it is no longer necessary to kill animals or use their byproducts to survive. You can live a happy and healthy life without meat, eggs, cheese and other sources of dairy. The same could not be said 150 years ago when markets had a comparably limited selection of foods. The context is drastically different in the modern era. People live in cities and suburban locations rather than farms. Food, beverages and exotic ingredients are transported to every corner of the globe in remarkably little time. This context makes it quite easy to scrap the meat and dairy for vegan options.
I am willing to admit that if I survived a plane crash and had to survive on a remote island or in the woods, I would hunt animals and use their byproducts. Why? Because the context demands it for survival. In the end, morality hinges on context. It is immoral to consume meat and animal byproducts when living in a civilized group in modern day society. You can obtain all the nutrition you need from vegan options without causing any sort of pain to animals.
Veganism’s Health Benefits
Aside from the moral argument to go vegan, there is also a case to be made that the vegan lifestyle improves health. I always wondered how I would feel after cutting all the meat and dairy out of my diet. I read about professional athletes like Tom Brady, Ricky Williams, Serena Williams and Mike Tyson who converted to veganism. I read that the consumption of meat spurs an aggressive temperament. I also heard about vegan tribes with a life expectancy over 100 years. I researched the topic and found that veganism really does offer a number of important health benefits. The American Dietetic Association reports a well-balanced vegan diet is beneficial for people in all stages of life. This includes pregnant women, infants, children, adolescents, adults and even professional athletes who require elite physical conditioning for optimal performance.
A vegan diet boosts energy levels, improves heart health and even makes the skin appear younger. Plant-based diets are loaded with essential minerals and vitamins like iron, protein and calcium. Plant-based foods are also high in fiber and have minimal saturated fat. They are chock full of antioxidants that reduce the risk for major health issues like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity that plague people across the globe. Countless scientific studies have confirmed that a plant-based diet reduces the odds of these ailments. It has even been proven that a vegan diet mitigates the symptoms of arthritis.
An Oxford University study conducted in 2016 determined that the wide-scale adoption of a vegan diet would save more than eight million human lives in a single year. Consider the fact that a whopping 2,600 Americans perish every single day as a result of a form of heart disease. Converting to veganism is the best way to prevent coronary heart disease. Plant-based food combined with exercise and avoiding cigarettes is scientifically proven to reverse heart disease. Vegan diets also decrease LDL levels. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. An American Journal of Cardiology study found that a low-fat vegetarian diet decreases LDL by 16%. A vegan diet high in nutrients decreases LDL cholesterol by one-third. Add in the fact that plant-based diets are loaded with fiber that helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol and it is easy to understand why veganism is rapidly growing in popularity. In contrast, animal flesh contains absolutely no fiber at all. Indeed, I look and feel much healthier after making the transition to veganism. I will never go back to eating meat and dairy. I encourage you to do the same.
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