The Cause and Effects of Going Vegan

In the following essay I will be touching upon the cause-effect rationale for going vegan. There are slight disagreements from different sources on the definition of veganism, so for my essay veganism does not include consumption of animals or animal by-products. Regardless if it is for entertainment, food, or clothing. The goal is to abolish exploitation in any regard. For many people and for many reasons veganism is a controversial subject. To start off, I feel it is only fair I mention by background, as I myself are vegan. I made the transition just about two years ago and since then have joined a local advocacy group. My participation in this group, known as “The Boston Chapter of The International Vegan Association” involved much research into veganism as it relates to culture, morals, health, agriculture, and the environment. With the information and supporting facts I will provide I am most certain my argument for why one should go vegan is flawless.

The word “Moral” is defined by Merriam Webster as “concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior”. To consider how morals relate to veganism one must first consider how they decide what is right and what is wrong. In my experience of direct grassroots advocacy I found most non-vegans under the impression that morals are autonomous. Over many decades philosophers have pondered this only to realize there are too many anthropological factors for this not to be the case, thus Ethics was born. Ethics are “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad” (Merriam Webster). As going vegan is a lifestyle choice I believe using your moral compass is a key component to keep you on track, especially since the more you look around the more loosely (or inappropriately) you will find people to use the term vegan. When it comes to using your moral compass to go vegan you must really dig deep into why you believe what you do about how animals should be treated. To figure out what I really believe I use my critical thinking abilities to analyze a few different philosophers to understand and really be able to support my moral reasoning for choosing a vegan lifestyle. One particular philosopher I came across in my studies that stuck out was Jeremy Bentham and his philosophy of utilitarianism (the belief that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people – Merriam Webster). This helped me articulate my own beliefs as a vegan that animals are to be considered persons. The really explains and puts a stopper to the often circular argument on why it is indeed morally wrong to exploit animals. Diving deeper into that subject is for another essay. Also, for this reason, I believe convincing someone to go vegan for moral reasons is more about getting that person to support their beliefs with well researched and logical rationale. I truly believe if people understood how animals are sentient beings (The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness by Philip Low), morally, one could not continue to exploit them. Just as one learns from their environment, society’s cultures shape ethics which play a strong factor in an individuals morals.

This brings me to extend upon how culture is another interesting factor surrounding the abolition of animal exploitation. Some cultures assist in lowering certain types of abuse to specific animals. For example, in India there are stringent laws against slaughter of certain types of cattle in particular geographic locations of India (http://dahd.nic.in/). This actually being based on a religious factor since the Hindi population views cows to be sacred. On the other hand, there are cultures which promote exploitation of certain animals that would seem unfathomable to the rest of the world. Such an example are Japanese people who eat dolphins whom are mentioned by David McNeill to be hated by the rest of the world for doing so (www.japanfocus.org). However, Japanese folk view dolphin to be a most succulent delicacy. This contrast of cultural views on animal exploitation furthermore supports my initial statement of how morals are indoctrinated by culture. If we are aware that our individual morals are indoctrinated by our respective culture(s) we can better understand the fundamental beliefs we do share. One universal belief is that no human should be slaughtered unless they are a threat to others.

Environmental factors were not the first thing that turned me on to veganism. Though in my travels I have met a growing number of people experimenting with avoiding animal consumption for this factor alone. The devastation caused by the harvesting of animals as a food resource is exponential. There are three main ways in which this practice is detrimental to our planet and many ecosystems. Pollution, the stripping of land for factories, and the monumental amount of plant based nourishment that must be harvested to feed farm animals. With the practice of factory farming pollution manifests itself in three ways; waste that is utilized in the process of slaughtering animals, waste that is discarded afterwards, and in some cases floods on factory farms that can leech toxins such as sewage sludge and pesticides into the surround land (http://www.ecifm.rdg.ac.uk/farm_waste.htm).

Agriculture surprisingly is one of the most convincing reasons to go vegan and is often overlooked. Going vegan would benefit agriculture for humankind so from a certain light, with this argument it lends no need for one to have compassion for animals. According to David Pimentel, ecology professor at Cornell University, for every kilogram of high quality animal protein produced livestock are fed nearly 6 kg of plant protein [or 6 times the weight per kilogram] (Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the Environment by David Pimentel). This means that with the 7 million metric tons of animal protein produced in the United States annually we are producing 6 times as much plant protein, straining our natural resources which could feed much more people. David Pimentel also goes on to describe how because we must harvest this exorbitant produce we are straining and stripping the earth and soil of its health and nutrients. Thusly, if we stopped producing animals as livestock not only would we have less of our natural resources being abused we would have a better chance at solving world hunger through proper distribution of plant protein.

In conclusion, you must draw your own conclusion. The facts are out there. You should have a general idea by now about how going vegan will not only benefit you and the other animals living on this planet, but how going vegan will benefit the planet itself. For in the ways of ethics and morals, you will feel better about how you will not cause harm to other creatures. Culturally, you will be able to break down barriers set up by traditions rendered irrelevant by your own newfound autonomous philosophies. Environmentally you can enjoy a less wasteful, toxic, and industrialized jurisdiction of animals. While agriculturally you can literally reap the satisfaction of watching the amount of produce the world contains grow at least 6 times over.

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