It's a widely held belief that people need animal products for survival and good health, even though there are many long-time vegans who are very often healthier than the omnivorous majority. Any country whose economy is largely based on animal exploitation results in its people believing that there's little left to eat if you don't eat animal products. When people find out that I'm vegan, they ask me, 'But what is left to eat?' I tell them that I eat from the vast variety of plants found in the New Four Food Groups; grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit as recommended by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, rather than from the food group charts that were produced by those who profit from dairy and meat consumption.
It's time for change; even The American Dietetic Association now states in their 2009 report: "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes." (Source: Eat Right - American Dietetic Association).
Because of 'milk mustache commercials' and other economic propaganda, many people still believe that they need animal products for their well-being and survival, despite the overwhelming evidence that the very opposite is true; that in fact, a vegan diet protects us from many diseases that plague the human race. New studies are finding that a low-fat vegan diet can treat type 2 diabetes. (Neal Barnard, M.D.'s study).
Other studies have found a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease and prostate cancer. Dr. Dean Ornish showed serum from patients following a low-fat vegan diet inhibits the growth of cultured prostate cancer cells eight times more than serum from a standard diet group. Dr Ornish, founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research, found that patients on a low-fat, plant-based diet experience a significant decrease in PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer progression. Dr. John McDougall claims that "consuming meat, poultry, fish and dairy products is at the root of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and intestinal problems."
THE CHINA STUDY; the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, concluded that a plant-based diet is the healthiest for humans. The co-director of the Cornell-Oxford-China Study on Diet and Health, T. Colin Campbell, PhD, did not come from a vegan perspective prior to the study but due to the overwhelming evidence that was found, he now recommends a plant-based diet. The opening words on his web site are: "The science is clear. The results are unmistakable. Change your diet and dramatically reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity." (The China Study)
Donald Watson, a founding father of The Vegan Society and the man who coined the word 'vegan' lived to be 95 and climbed mountains till a ripe old age. I've been vegan for 31 years. I live with 6 other vegans who are vegan as long as or longer than I, and we are very much alive and are all in excellent health. There are 'long-time healthy vegans'. It may have been reasonable to question the health benefits of a vegan diet in the last century, but now we know! The facts are in!
We are the only species that drinks the mother's milk of another species. Would anyone suck on the udder of a cow for her milk? Of course not; we would consider it unnatural. Her milk is meant to nurture her baby calf. The truth is; dairy milk for human consumption is produced in a very unnatural way: first by artificially impregnating the cow (sometimes by strapping the cows on to what the industry itself calls rape racks!), then by stealing her baby within 24 hours of birth, despite her bellowing cries. (It's horrific what will become of her calves.) This grim cycle is repeated over and over and over until the cow is no longer profitable and then she is sent off to slaughter.
For those of us who believe in God, we must ask ourselves if God would want for us to kill innocent, gentle, conscious beings, when the plant kingdom is able to supply all the nutrients needed by the human body. Perhaps at one time in history humans HAD TO eat animals for survival. But now, delicious plant-based foods are readily available almost anywhere. "I like the taste of meat" is no longer a tolerable rationale.
We are destroying our planet; choking it with too many people and all their pollution. However, we can lighten our footprint on our tired Earth by choosing to be vegan and purchasing local produce. According to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation." Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO's Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the report says: "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation." Educating ourselves about vegan options shows us that we are not powerless to change the course of the sad state we find ourselves in, but empowered, through each and every one of our everyday choices.
(Livestock's Long Shadow 2006 report)
Nor is "Humane Slaughter" or "Happy Meat" the answer. "Happy meat" is an oxymoron. No conscious being is happy to have their life reduced to a commodity and violently ended. Anyone can go online and see graphic footage of animals in a slaughterhouse about to meet their death in a horrific way. It's real; yet people have not been willing to open their eyes or their hearts to the suffering they are imposing on others.Becoming vegan makes us a kinder, smarter human being than we were before taking this step; which is essential to human advancement. Becoming vegan, by definition, makes of us more compassionate human beings, and compassion is essential for human evolution. That's why Nobel Prize recipient; Albert Einstein said: "It is my view that a vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."
Choosing to be vegan is a major component of the solution to many forms of violence and exploitation, murder, and war. If the world's people adopted the vegan lifestyle, humanity would, naturally, become more gentle, more reasonable and more caring.
Avoiding animal products is good for people. It's good for the animals. It's good for the planet we all share. Change is in the air. Many human beings are realizing that we don't have a right to exploit, enslave, or be a part of the immense suffering inflicted on other feeling creatures. Nor do we have a right to continue a practice that is possibly the biggest contributor to global warming and the devastation of our environment. We don't have a right to perpetuate the horror that is human starvation, by using the world's grains to feed animals in order to feed our own addiction to meat. We don't have a right to over-use and pollute our diminishing water supply to sustain the farm animal business; which uses far more water than is needed for growing plants.
Veganism has "right" on its side. VEGANISM IS A SOLUTION to our planet's ailments. The Earth and its people are crying out for change. Veganism is the next step for humanity that will bring the change we long for.
Author: M. Butterflies Katz.
Article first published at Vegan Poet website.
Insert date: 2009-08-23 Last update: 2009-08-30