When my best friend asked me why I am vegan, it was because he believes that the “why” is the most important part of any mission. I think he may be right about that. I heard another vegan once say “There's no wrong reason to do the right thing,” which is kind of the short version of my answer to this question. The longer version starts with this: I'm vegan because I believe it's the single-best individual contribution anyone can make, for the animals, for themselves, for other humans, and for the fate of the planet itself. I'm vegan because I believe in all the data that confirms the previous statement. I am vegan because my conscience won't allow me to be otherwise.
The following is a breakdown of each of my “whys,” beginning with my primary motivation:
I Don't Want to Hurt Animals
Of course, with the exception of trophy hunters and psychopaths, no one wants to hurt animals, right? If you or someone you know owns an animal, you are probably nice to them, right? You wouldn't stand for it if you were to watch someone hurting “their” animals. You'd feel compelled to intervene.
Now stop for a minute and imagine yourself slicing the throat of a pig or a cow and then hanging it upside down to bleed to death while it's still kicking. That's not you, right? Or imagine sorting out baby chickens at an egg factory and throwing the male ones into a macerator all day long (because the male ones don't produce eggs). Or burning off the beaks of chickens or the tails of baby pigs. Still not you, right? Or imagine yourself at a dairy farm taking a baby cow away from its mother right after birth and witnessing the pain in their eyes, listening to their cries for mercy. Probably still not you, right? Or imagine yourself putting a rabbit in restraints to squirt soap into its eyes, or sewing a baby chimpanzee's eyes shut to see the cognitive effects of...whatever (these things actually happen). Still not you, right?
And yet, this is what you pay for every time you buy meat, eggs, dairy, Proctor & Gamble products, etc. Every single time, you are paying for the brutality and murder describe above and worse. Much, much worse. Don't believe me? Watch “Meet your Meat” or the more recent “Dominion.” There are literally laws in the United States (called “ag gag” laws) that prevent people from exposing the brutality in factory farms because they know such exposure threatens their profits.
There is no such thing as “humanely killed.” You can't humanely kill someone that does not want to die. All sentient beings want to live, be happy, and be free. All of them. And even though “free-range” has terrific PR, you'd be mortified to see what qualifies as “free-range.”
I can't pay for brutality and murder. So I am vegan.
Pro tip: It might not seem like it at first, but compassion tastes SO much better than bacon. Give it some time and I'm sure you will agree.
I Want to Be Healthy
My parents are dying from entirely preventable diseases. They've been through the whole gamut of so-called old people diseases (they are in their 70's) and so-called remedies. My father has had a “widowmaker” heart attack, pre-prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and most recently diabetes. He takes 15 pills a day (when he remembers to do so) and insulin injections. My mother had a full hysterectomy for uterine cancer and as of this writing is being treated for a heart murmur.
ALL of these diseases are exacerbated by, and usually caused by, the consumption of animal products. ALL of these diseases are preventable with a vegan diet, and some of them are actually reversible with a vegan diet. Not only do humans not need animal products in their diet, they are healthier without them. I'm not going to recap the dozens of articles and peer reviewed studies that prove the above – you can find them right here on the internet if you are so inclined.
Sure – the stress in my parents' lives as activists and their otherwise sedentary lifestyles have played a part in their rapidly accelerating decline. But fighting the man didn't put plaque in their arteries. Cheese did. Dairy: a product arguably as addictive as any other drug and one that literally contains morphine. Again, you can find more info on this with a simple Google search.
When you consume an animal who has only ever known a stressful lifestyle, born and bred to be slaughtered, tortured their whole lives, and is finally in a state of sheer panic as they are murdered, you literally consume their stress in the form of the stress chemicals that their body releases into their blood. You are what you eat.
Fish, in their purest state, are not good for you and almost all of them are full of plastic and mercury. Chicken actually has more cholesterol than cow. Don't even get me started on eggs. The World Health Organization has deemed processed meat (sausage, bacon, cold cuts, etc.) as a class-one carcinogen (cigarettes are in the same category).
Of everyone in my immediate family, I'm the only one who isn't on some type of prescription medication. I'm also the slimmest of the group, and now that I'm working out regularly and have pretty much eliminated processed foods from my diet, I'm probably also going to live the longest. Hopefully my brother and sister will eventually see in my example the benefits of living a cruelty-free life so that I don't have to watch everyone I love die long before I do.
“But where do you get your protein?” Do a Google search for champion vegan bodybuilder Nimai Delgado and tell me he looks protein deficient. Endurance athlete Rich Roll did five Ironman Triathlons in 6 consecutive days on nothing but plants. The world record for most weight carried by one person is held by a vegan. The world record for running the Appalachian Trail is held by a vegan. Watch “The Game Changers” on Netflix to discover how veganism is being adopted by pro athletes everywhere with outstanding results.
The protein in the animals you eat comes from plants.
I want to be happy and healthy and live that way for a long time. So I am vegan.
I Don't Want to Hurt Other Humans
There are literally thousands of lakes of pig shit all over the United States. What? You didn't know this? That's probably because you are not a working class person living in a rural neighborhood. If you are, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Your air and water are polluted by the nearby factor farms who store their pig feces in lakes that leak into your water supply and are periodically sprayed into the air in nearby fields. You and your family and your neighbors suffer and die from a myriad of maladies, including asthma, thanks to pig farming.
The murder and consumption of animals is the reason there is a pandemic right now, and the reason for every zoonotic pandemic in history, from swine flu to bird flu to anthrax to AIDS...you name it, it happened because we insist on murdering animals for food. To sweeten the deal, some of the most vulnerable humans to the current pandemic are those that worked in the pig slaughterhouses, which is why they had to shut those down. (Side note: this was not a good thing for the pigs. Because these pigs couldn't be “processed,” pig farmers are being “forced” to kill their own pigs with gas chambers or bullets and have their dead bodies discarded. Not to worry: Trump is bailing out all these poor farmers with billions of your tax dollars. They're getting paid to do their own murdering. This is all happening right now. This is our America.)
It's not an accident that the lowest quality foods – usually greasy animal products and other junk “food” – are almost always all you can find in working class and BIPOC neighborhoods. Watch “They're Trying to Kill Us” - a documentary being released soon, as well as “The Invisible Vegan” to learn about the history of dietary racism in America.
Animal agriculture is also the largest consumer of antibiotics. Animal agriculture is not only the perfect breeding ground for disease, it's also the reason that minor surgical procedures will soon be potentially as lethal as they were before antibiotics were used for such because animal agriculture is sucking the world's antibiotic supply dry while they are breeding these diseases. Again, search for it right here on the internet. Mother Jones had a good article on this.
The number one killer of humans in America is heart disease. The number one cause of heart disease is the consumption of animal products.
If the food and water used to fatten and sustain animals bred for slaughter were given to humans instead, there would be no world hunger or thirst. Period.
I like the idea of not causing pandemics and not shitting on other humans. So I am vegan.
I Love the Earth
Animal agriculture is the single-biggest destroyer of the environment. I'll repeat that because this is the fact that most well-meaning environmentalists tend to ignore. Animal agriculture is the single-biggest destroyer of the environment. It is the main reason for dead zones in the ocean. It is responsible for 94% of deforestation in the Amazon. It the main cause of our lifetime's Great Extinction. It uses the overwhelming majority of our food and water resources. It causes more greenhouse gasses than ALL OF THE TRANSPORTATION IN THE WORLD COMBINED. The oceans are being fished to extinction and much of the murder that happens because of commercial fishing doesn't even end up as “food.” Watch “What the Health” on Netflix. Probably the single best one-stop resource for why going vegan is the right choice that I've seen to date. Visit www.cowspiracy.com for a list of facts about the apocalyptically destructive force of animal agriculture.
I love trees and oceans and all of nature. So I am vegan.
And yes, I want you to be vegan, too. I really do. I can't pretend that I don't. I won't pretend that I don't. I know it is the right choice for all the reasons above and more. And yes, it would make me very happy.
Why would this make me happy? You might think that by convincing you to be vegan I am vindicating my own choices...like there is some kind of vegan heaven that I am going to get into for converting you. There isn't. Even if there were some way to show that I am somehow selfishly motivated for wanting you to be vegan, this would only mean that I win AS WELL AS you, AS WELL AS the animals that won't be killed or tortured because of you, AS WELL AS the environment, AS WELL AS all future generations of animals and humans. We all win if you go vegan, regardless of the motivation behind it.
And to be clear, vegan isn't just a diet.
A vegan diet IS indeed the best thing you can do for your health, BUT, make no mistake about it:
Veganism IS unlimited compassion
Veganism IS environmentalism
Veganism IS social justice
Veganism IS anti-extinction
Veganism IS anti-pandemic
Veganism IS anti-oppression
Veganism IS anti-exploitation
Veganism IS anti-cruelty
Veganism IS a spiritual lifestyle
Veganism IS science
Veganism IS escape from hypocrisy
Veganism IS the future...
…BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE. The world is literally ending because of animal agriculture. But animal agriculture ends when you stop paying for it.
And so I am vegan. Perhaps the real question to ask is,
Why aren't you vegan?