Being Vegan Being vegan is a really challenging thing to do. It cuts out most of if not everyday food. It’s not just a way to eat but it’s a lifestyle choice. It affects what you wear, how you think, and what you buy. A lot of people have questions about this choice and why thousands of people all over the world are starting to become vegans. A new Oxford University study states that “Cutting your meat and dairy intake can improve your health—and quite possibly save your life.” People ask what the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan is. Vegetarian diets, which contain no meat (beef, pork, poultry, or fish and shellfish), are naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and full of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds. A multitude of scientific studies have shown that vegetarian diets have remarkable health benefits and can help prevent certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. We encourage vegetarian diets as a way of improving general health and preventing diet-related illnesses. Vegan diets, contain no animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products), are even healthier than vegetarian diets. Vegan diets contain no cholesterol and even less fat, saturated fat, and calories than vegetarian diets because they exclude dairy and eggs. Scientific research shows that health benefits increase as the amount of food from animal sources in the diet decreases, making vegan diets the healthiest overall. Another popular question is what do vegans eat? Vegan diets tend to be more colorful and varied than meat-based diets—vegans can enjoy just about every dish a meat-eater can by cooking with veggie burgers, "ham," "hot dogs," and "turkey" made out of soy and with less familiar staples such as tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and seitan, or wheat gluten. These can be added to spaghetti, soups, salads, lasagna, stir-fries, and chili. Many vegans take advantage of delicious ethnic cuisine, such as Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Mexican, and convenience foods, such as instant soup, frozen "TV dinners," flavored rice mixes, and canned soup (many black bean, minestrone, and vegetable varieties are vegan). Vegans eat baked and refried beans and pizza without cheese but piled high with vegetable toppings like peppers, mushrooms, or even artichokes or pineapple. Vegans bake with egg replacers, soy flour, and mashed tofu. Now is about the time people ask Why Vegan? Farmed animals are every bit as intelligent and capable of feeling pain as the dogs and cats we cherish as our companions. They are inquisitive, interesting individuals who value their lives, solve problems, experience fear and pain, and are capable of using tools. Yet the more than 16 billion animals that are killed for food every year in the U.S. have little legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on companion dogs or cats. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” They are neglected, mutilated, genetically manipulated, put on drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transported through all weather extremes, and killed in gruesome and violent ways. Even so-called "free-range" animals are often mutilated without the benefit of painkillers; kept in filthy, disease-ridden sheds; forced to endure long trips to the slaughterhouse without food or water; and killed in the same ways as animals from factory farms. Going vegan is the best way to stop these atrocities. Karin Bennett, writer for the Economist wrote, “The raising of billions of animals to become meat-lovers' main courses is a main contributor to environmental destruction—it's a leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions and causes water pollution and topsoil erosion. The meat industry runs on enormous amounts of fossil fuel and water—and the denials of those who ignore the fact that each package of meat represents immense, intense animal suffering.” From the meat industry's rampant abuse of animals and environmental devastation to the tremendous health benefits of a vegan diet to helping end world hunger and deplorable working conditions in slaughterhouses, there are countless reasons why more and more people are leaving meat off their plates for good and embracing a healthy and humane vegan diet. As PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”
Bentham, Jeremy. Animal Libertation. 23-26. Print.
Newkirk, Ingrid. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.
Oxford University. Oxford agrees cut out meat for life. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. .
Bennet, Karin, ed. Meat is Not Green. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. .