Believe it or not, I don’t have a lot of vegan friends on my personal Facebook page. Whenever I happen to meet a cool vegan person, I sometimes get too lazy to look them up and send them a friend request. So when a vegan Facebook friend of mine recently announced that he was getting off the vegan grid after advocating for it for many years, I felt a familiar tinge of disappointment. “Oh man, now all of his non-vegan friends will be convinced that being vegan is unsustainable…” Eventually, I managed to overcome my initial judgmental thoughts and wished him the best of luck. At the same time, I asked myself, “Why is it that I never feel like I don’t want to be vegan anymore?”
The ex-vegan movement seems to be on the rise these days. In the past couple years, some big-name vegan bloggers have announced that they were no longer vegan, and some of them even managed to make a few extra bucks off of this by publishing books. And yet every time I come across their reasoning for quitting their vegan diet/lifestyle, those reasons never sound 100% convincing to me:
“I was just feeling too weak!” – “Were you eating enough calories, or was it an all-day, every day feast of green juice and salad?”
“My doctor told me I should add some meat for health!” – “Does your doctor know enough about nutrition? Most doctors get a mere 20 hours or less of nutrition education during their entire time in medical school!”
“I just felt like eating eggs!” – “Do you know how chickens are tortured on factory farms, and is that torture worth the five minutes of your satisfaction eating some scrambled eggs? Also, getting eggs from the happy chickens in your neighbor’s backyard still supports the cruel practices of the chick hatching industry where those chickens first came from, with male chicks being ground alive because they aren’t of use for the buyers or sellers.”
I acknowledge that everyone has their own path, and it’s none of my business how other people choose to live their lives. However, when it comes to our dietary or lifestyle choices, I think it’s important to remember that the way we decide to go may affect more than just ourselves. For example, if we choose to eat meat, some living creature has to die, and if it had an option to express its feeling about our meat-eating ways, it probably wouldn’t be very happy.
So in a sea of people striving for ‘balance’ and ‘listening to their bodies’, I listened to my head and came up with the following reasons to stay vegan:
10 Reasons Why I Choose to Stay Vegan
1. Because I’m not the center of the universe. Other living creatures’ lives matter, so the fact that I may get an occasional craving for their meat or bodily secretions doesn’t justify their abuse or death.
2. Because animals didn’t give us their consent to consume their bodies (or products of their livelihood). Mainly, because they can’t. A chicken at a ‘happy’ backyard farm may have laid that egg for her personal use. If I take it, she might get stressed out and lay another one. Do I want to cause unnecessary stress to an animal? Nope. My memories of fried egg sandwiches from my pre-vegan days don’t give me a justification.
3. Because animals suffer, both on factory farms and in small, ‘grass-fed’ farm operations. (Warning: things are about to get kind of graphic) Regarding factory farms, the info on animal suffering is widely available on the internet. As for the ‘grass-fed’, ‘happy cow’ farms, here’s the reality: some small-scale farmers prefer to butcher their cattle on-site instead of taking the animals to a specialized slaughterhouse. It’s a known fact that animals create a bond with their young, with some (if not all) species developing special ‘voices’ to communicate with their babies. So imagine the horror of an animal mother who sees her baby screaming when it’s pulled away from her, and then hears their shrieks when they are being butchered mere yards away on the same farm, all for the sake of fancy restaurants getting their veal or lamb.
4. Because being vegan is better for my health. Do I even need to list all the health benefits of a plant-based diet? Where do I start? Let me just say that if we take out the #1 source of dietary cholesterol (animal products) from our diet, we may significantly reduce our chances for developing heart disease – the #1 killer of people in Western civilizations that may start developing in our bodies as early as during our childhood. Before you get seduced by paleo and ‘bulletproof’ bloggers, please keep in mind that the connection of cholesterol and heart disease has been traced in thousands of scientific studies over many years, and just because an occasional study pops up showing the opposite, it doesn’t mean that all previous research should as well crumble.
Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org describes the connection of our diet and the top 15 diseases killing Americans every year in his brilliant new book, How Not to Die. Don’t believe me when I talk about the benefits of a plant-based diet? Take the word from the doctor who “every year… scour[s] the world’s nutrition research (so you don’t have to)”.
5. Because being vegan is better for the environment. The world’s supplies of fresh water are nothing to mess around with: people in California know this firsthand as they are going through the longest drought in the state’s history. Some are quick to point out that almond trees require a whole gallon of water to grow a single almond. However, the production of a single hamburger calls for upwards of five hundred (!) gallons of water! The latter fact is mostly swept under the rug by large environmental organizations. If you haven’t seen Cowspiracy, the eye-opening documentary about how animal agriculture is affecting our environment, please do yourself a favor and go watch it (available on Netflix).
6. Because we were not built to eat meat. From the structure of our teeth (lots of molars for grinding plant matter, fairly weak canines that would never bite through an intact animal’s hide) to our digestive systems (stomach acidity ten times weaker than that of carnivorous animals, as well as much longer intestines for getting all nutrition out of plants) and inability to produce vitamin C inside of our bodies unlike the natural meat-eaters in the animal kingdom, everything pinpoints that Mother Nature intended us to be herbivores.
7. …or dairy. Just think about it: no animal in the world continues to consume their mother’s milk past infancy. (And certainly no animal consumes the milk of other species!) Why so? Because nobody needs extra growth hormones! “What about the milk from ‘happy grass-fed cows’ – it says ‘hormone-free’ on the package!” Despite the grass-fed dairy producers’ claims that they don’t add any additional hormones to their product, that happy cow’s milk naturally contains growth hormones because Mother Nature intends baby cows to pack lots and lots of weight quickly after birth. So don’t drink milk unless you’re in a hurry to get ten times bigger like a baby calf! Oh, and that calcium in dairy doesn’t get absorbed well in our bodies – we’re better off eating green leafy vegetables like kale and cabbage for a calcium boost.
8. Because we can survive just fine on a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds provides us with more than enough nutrition, protein, and whatever macro- or micronutrient is destined to become the next big media obsession. Just make sure to eat plenty of calories, and keep things interesting by not eating the same darn thing every day.
9. Because if I believe that something is morally wrong but everybody around me is doing it, it doesn’t mean that I should be doing it too. A few gruesome historical events like slavery and holocaust come to mind. Without going into detail, let me just say that during those times in history, there were people who disagreed with the majority of the society supporting those forms of human abuse – and those people were a minority. However, today the majority of us are appalled looking back at slavery and holocaust, all because the beliefs and the actions of the few who disagreed eventually won. That’s why as vegans, we have an important job to do sticking to our beliefs and spreading the word.
10. Because I don’t have to deal with a moral dilemma at every meal. That used to be a big problem for me before I went vegan: I would admire cows in the countryside, and feel ashamed later for going out to eat and ordering a steak. Or, I’d struggle trying to figure out why we love and pet some animals like cats and dogs, and kill and eat others. I would do all kinds of moral gymnastics trying to find explanation, but couldn’t find any. These days as a vegan, I am at peace at every meal.
So Just as I don’t expect to lose my memory anytime soon, I also don’t expect forgetting any of the reasons above for staying vegan. Sorry ex-vegan movement, we’ll have to go our separate ways…
Question for you: What was the biggest reason why you decided to go vegan/plant-based? Please let us all know below!
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