“Eating meat is murder!”. Whether you agree with this or not, fellow students and teachers of La Châtaigneraie, I hope that after having read this article, you will understand the benefits of becoming vegan and aiding in the battle to stop animal cruelty. I know that many of you may take umbrage with what I have to say. Despite my reservations, I strongly felt the need to stand up before my school community and debunk some myths. If you have a love for animals, you want to improve your health, or you want to help save the planet, open your minds and hearts and listen to what I have to say.
Even though many people may enjoy a family barbecue on the weekend or a plate of steamed scrambled eggs and sizzling bacon for breakfast, very few people actually understand where their food comes from and how it ends up on their plate. Every second, the insatiable meat industry slaughters hundreds of thousands of animals. Every year, fifty-six billion animal lives are taken away from our planet and billions more are tortured, suffocated and abused on a daily basis. Let me ask you, are you really indifferent to the pain and terror of a living creature? It may be hard for you to avoid the temptation of having that hamburger as you hear the lunch bell ring, but think about the ethics behind your choices. Would you really insist on eating it, if you had to kill the animal yourself?
Although vegetarians constantly argue that taking the milk and the eggs of an animal does not harm it, the animal still suffers countless procedures by farmers in order for the product to be extracted. Chickens are excessively bred to make them lay more eggs, cows get hormones and genetically-modified food in order to grow faster and produce more milk, animals are injected with countless drugs to increase the productivity of farms. Despite being labelled “free-range” or “bio,” no animal bred for large-scale food production is going to live happily. Vegetarians who claim they “love animals” and yet do not commit to veganism, do not fully recognize the ruthless reality of industrial farming. Understandably, choosing a vegan diet is a big change, but veganism is not extremism. It is the most effective way in which you can truly make a statement in favor of animal rights and against inhumane treatment.
I previously mentioned that animals are gorged on dangerous medications, genetically
modified fodder and toxic substances. Well, when we consume the meat, milk and eggs, we take in the same harmful substances. It is true that the amount of toxins we digest can be significantly reduced by eating only bio products. Nonetheless, even in “sustainably
produced” meat and dairy, the percentage of fat, cholesterol and harmful residues is much
higher compared to a plant-based diet. It is important to be mindful of the food you are eating, and by reading the labels and making better choices. Some may object that not eating meat or dairy will lead to multiple deficiencies. Meat and dairy are some of the main sources of protein, iron and amino acids, but they are definitely not the only ones. You can choose a delicious variety of plant-based foods such as soy, beans, green vegetables and grains to fulfill healthy dietary requirements, without taking in unnecessary bad cholesterol, saturated fat, or additives. Next time, when you are standing in the lunch line, think about getting a nice, nutrient-packed vegetarian option, rather than a steak or sausage.
Finally, we the millennials are the generation that demands better protection of the
environment, stable climate, ocean conservation, a better future. The production of meat and dairy places an extraordinary ecological burden on our planet and is halting our journey as a society to better the environment. The amount of grain required to feed the animals for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and wildlife extinction. In Brazil alone, 5.6 million acres of land are used to grow grains for livestock in Europe! A plant-based diet requires only one-third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. As for water waste, in order to produce 1 kilogram of beef, over 15000 liters of water are required. Going vegan reduces all that impact and your own carbon footprint by a whole half.
Even if we cannot convert the entire world to veganism overnight, reducing the demand for animal products, can help to prevent environmental catastrophes. Every time you choose a plant-based food option, you are standing up for your health and more importantly for ethical treatment of animals everywhere. We need to build the world up instead of tearing it down, to create a better future for ourselves and for every future generation to come. For this reason, I hope that this article has helped you realize the immense benefits of turning to veganism. Keep in mind that you can easily alter your habits by taking small steps in the right direction. Your choices matter more than you think!
Written by: Nicolena Andonova