What is veganism?
The vegan way of life consists of a diet without meat, fowl, fish and dairy. However, it is also a real commitment for the animal rights and ecological issues. Indeed, a vegan won’t wear leather, wool, fur or silk. She will also not use products tested on animals, such as cosmetics. Moreover, she will not use jewelry made from animals, such as pearl, mother-of-pearl, horn and bones. Joanne Stepaniak and Virginia Messina, experts on veganism and nutrition, explain that the word vegan “was derived from the word vegetarian by taking the first three letters (veg) and the last two letters (an). Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, indicates that “veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion”.
Different reasons can lead someone to become a vegan.
Usually, people do it step by step: first they become vegetarian, or exclude meat from their diet, and then they omit fish, dairy products and eggs. Finally, they completely remove everything that comes from animals. There are three main reasons why people adopt a vegan way of life. First, it can be because they believe in animal rights and don’t want to be part of this system that abuses them. The second reason why people may want to become vegan is because they believe that it is a healthy lifestyle. The last reason of choosing a vegan way of life is because it helps environment.
People choose to become vegan because they believe in animal rights, and don’t want to be part of this system that abuses them.
A common idea that is advanced against veganism is that human beings have always hunted animals to eat. This is very true. However, nowadays, animals are raised to be killed and eaten. Being aware of the way animals are treated is the first step to make people understand and then change their minds. As a matter of fact, “more than 95 percent of all animals killed in the United States die so people can eat them” (Ball, Green, Norris). It means that nearly all animals are raised for consumption. They live in terrible conditions: small boxes, genetic modifications… All the free birds on earth don’t reach the number of chicken raised for consumption. This is alarming because we see that the production increases and the way of taking care of the livestock has decreased.
Now, the most important thing is to produce more and more, no matter in which conditions.
Then, there is a distinction between cattle raised for milk production, and for meat production. For meat production, steers receive a lot of hormones so that their muscles grow faster and the meat is tender. Then, they are fed with antibiotics and a lot of calories so that they are sent to the slaughterhouse faster. They are kept in stockyard where they can’t move without walking on each other. This leads to an increase of the production in the fastest way. Cattle are kept in small stalls where they can only eat and not move. They also have antibiotic injections so that their nervous system can handle the fact that they can’t exercise. After five years of producing milk, they are sent to slaughter because it’s the time when the milk production decreases. Instead of having a life of twenty to twenty-five years, it is reduced to five just because after that they don’t produce enough milk. These animals are very badly treated; they are only considered as the product they are going to make, without any recognition of a living being. This reason is not the only one that people take in consideration for choosing the vegan way of life.
2. People may want to become vegan because they believe that it is a healthy lifestyle.
A common idea is that vegan can lack minerals, proteins and a lot of nutrients. However, we know that they get all they need from sources other than meat. Vegans are, in fact, healthy people. Indeed, “the intake of 400–600 grams.day of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced incidence of many common forms of cancer” (Heber and Bowerman). Indeed, fruit, vegetables and products made with plants have antioxidant properties. According to the Institute of Food Technologists, antioxidants “help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are substances that occur naturally in our bodies but attack the fats, protein and the DNA in our cells, which can cause different types of diseases and accelerate the aging process” (“What are Antioxidants?”). It means that antioxidants are actually really healthy and help cleaning bodies and make people feel better. Additionally, being vegan leads people to pay more attention to what is going to be in the plates. Indeed, most of the vegans choose organic products, and the more natural they can find. They prefer cooking instead of buying already cooked products. However, becoming vegan is not only a choice for oneself, but it also for the well-being of the planet.
It seems that things are changing.
More and more people are aware of the vegan way of life as an improvement for themselves and for our planet. There are also changes on a larger scale. Indeed governments are more and more involved, and create different laws for animal rights and ecological issues. Finally, being aware of this way of life is the first step that can lead people to think about it and adopt different decisions in their way of life. Of course, becoming vegan requires motivation and can’t be done in one day, but there are a lot of communities, reports and associations that can help people to meet the goal. It is a personal choice led by morals.