Veganism, a Responsibility for the Average American

According to the USDA ten-thousand one-hundred fifty-three million land animals were killed in the United States in the year 2010 alone. These animals are kept in confinement their entire lives. If you are an average healthy American, you should be a vegan American. With all of the reasons and benefits to going vegan there is no reason why an average healthy American should not be. Vegans are people who do not consume or exploit animals in any way. This consists of a refusal to participate in the consumption of animal meats or by-products for food, clothes, or entertainment. A vegan lifestyle has been proved to grant those living it (as well as the world we live in) many benefits. Three large reasons to go vegan are: health, environmental, and simply how easy it is. In the body of this argumentative essay, content will touch upon the previously mentioned benefits for going vegan, as well, as a supporting mention about how going vegan is easy in America. Afterwards, reasons why some may oppose a vegan lifestyle will be touched upon. In the conclusion, a reiteration of the above concerns will be addressed with some final thoughts for the reader to ponder over.

Health, a great starting topic regarding the vegan lifestyle. Many vegans are often asked “where do you get your protein?”. There are many sources of protein out there for vegans to eat. For curious minds, the best way to get acquainted with the answer as to where vegans get their protein is to research. Libraries, search engines, doctors, and nutritionists are all very good resources. Vegan’s even have their own food pyramid which can be found at:  http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/vegetarian-diet-pyramid/overview. Once familiarized with the nutrition available for vegans it will be good to consider the long term benefits. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine supports that those living a vegan lifestyle have been shown to hold “. . . the lowest risk of heart disease”. The Winston J. Craig, writer for The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, states additional health conditions in which vegans should worry less about. These health conditions are; “obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers”.

Eliminating personal contribution to the exploitation of animals and reducing the devastation such practices do to earth’s environment is another considerable motivation to live a vegan lifestyle. Veganism, which is commonly described as a compassionate lifestyle is not just healing for the animals but the environment as well. Exploiting and consuming animals creates harm towards our environment and agriculture systems. The University of Reading’s (abbreviated UR) findings on the environmental damage caused by farm waste is exponential. The four types of pollution the UR lists are; “Air, water, land, and visual and noise pollution”. In addition, another category of sources are listed; “Animal carcasses, organic manure, slurry, parlour[sic]/dairy/vegetable washings, fertilizers, waste milk, sewage sludge, and silage effluent.” The UR goes on to estimate that farm waste creates 200 million tons of undiluted excrement every year in the UK alone. Think about how much more this would translate to in the United States! Also, with the threat of natural disasters to wreck the infrastructure of the many slaughterhouses and farms in the United States, our environment is at a constant risk of such pollutions spreading. Not just ridding the US economy of slaughterhouses but shutting down all fur farms is really the only chance this nation has to begin to repair the devastation that animal consumption has wreaked on its own soil. Fur farms, just like meat and dairy farms, have caused major damage to our environment. Once animal fur is removed from the animal it must go through a process called tanning. Tanning is a process which prevents fur from biodegrading and uses very harsh chemicals. One major negative risk that comes from fur farming is the fact that a fur farm may neglect to follow waste removal procedures outlined by the EPA. Chemical spills may be a risk, however, an absolutely certain fact on the negative environmental facts of fur farming is the detriment fur coats cause to the earth. Once a leather, suede, or fur coat is tanned, eventually it will be discarded by its consumer only to end its journey at a landfill where the chemicals that were processed in making it are to end up poisoning the earth. By going vegan one eliminates their contribution to this sort of harm in the environment

Veganism is easy and on the rise. There are three factors that make up this fact and reason to go vegan. Those reasons are food availability, financial, and modern food alternatives. According to a quick search through Google’s trending API, since 2004, veganism has achieved rapid growth in the media and what people are searching for on the internet. This directly relates to how easy it is to be vegan. Such trends relate to the economic state and market value. A vegan eats natural and for the most part unprocessed foods. These are in abundance at every restaurant and grocery store. With restaurants, as long as there are vegetarian options served most of the time the kitchen staff will be knowledgeable and accommodating. Grocery store shopping for a vegan is also a breeze. Vegans, whose food are bountifully found in grocery stores, will find that their grocery bills should go unchanged. By going vegan, in this regard, one will not notice much of a difference in their lifestyle.

To really understand why veganism is a great choice it is important to look at veganism through the perspective of those who object to it. In America, veganism may be overlooked or written it off as too extreme a diet to be practice for those who don’t want to make a change in their lifestyle choices. With all of the benefits of going vegan mentioned above there are still more to be covered. However, from this point on the argument will begin to review the misconceptions about veganism surrounding health, finance, and meat being a crucial part of the natural human diet with a deep analysis. Those who are interested may feel a reluctance to attempt veganism based on the previously mentioned misconceptions. The facts mentioned earlier in this essay already disprove most of the counterarguments, however, a further review of the opposition is still necessary.

Veganism and health. Many omnivores suggest that a vegan diet is not sustainable. The most common arsenal of objecting statements, regarding this aspect, used are: vegans can’t get; b12, calcium, and protein. Another large objection non-vegans hold about health is the idea that most vegans take nutrition supplements because it is not a sustainable lifestyle. To dive into these misconceptions further it will be good to lay out two supporting statements. When it comes to nutrition, the diet that people start with is a learned habit. Also, the fact that most people are omnivores is being a suitable counterargument to veganism is easily disproven on the basis that this is how American society raises its children to eat out of a behavioral norm. Due to these two statements being facts it becomes easy to take the two initial counterarguments at face value and suggest that veganism is not sustainable. A deep analysis on the non-vegan mindset can shed light supporting veganism in two ways. First, for every omnivore that points at a vegan calling them malnourished, a vegan can raise the statistic that 40% of men and women were taking multivitamins from 2003-2006. [cdc] The fact is that vegans can get b12, calcium, and protein. Protein is in soy, calcium is in kale, and b12 can be fortified in many popular cereals and soy. The second point the vitamin statistic shows is that many people are taking supplements, vegan or not, because not many people are able to base all of their meals in a way that enables them to achieve the full recommended vitamins and minerals without the aid of supplements.

The financial objection. To start off, there is a large misconception that vegans must eat only organic and raw foods. There is nothing within the definition of veganism that supports this misconception. Organic foods are definitely more expensive than their counterparts. However, because of the nature of omnivores and vegans having different food pyramids it is not easily compared apples to apples. People’s needs and hunger levels vary for a number of different reasons.

Meat and the natural order of things. Four reasons this argument exists are because of the following misconceptions; humans have evolved to eat animals and their byproducts, certain human body parts’ physical characteristics show that we are predators, humans are stronger than animals therefore they are meant to be our food, humans have an instinct to eat animals. These are all easily disproven. To start off with the evolutionary argument this can easily be disproven by analyzing the human digestive system. Dairy, and meat certainly are eaten by omnivores and some nutrition is gained but are they really meant for human consumption? Since none of these food types digest properly it stands as a solid argument that, no, this is not the case. Dairy, this food group consists of mostly milk and cheese. Many humans are lactose-intolerant one example of why people should not eat dairy. Meat because it is not so well digested is known to cause a number of health problems. Colon cancer is one of these problems as a Harvard study pointed out [harvard]. Regarding the physical characteristics of humans and eating meat it will be pertinent to compare us to other omnivores in the animal kingdom; teeth, claws, and the digestive system. Predatory teeth, which tyrannosaurus rex and most bears have are not similar to human canines. Predatory teeth are made to function as such that they could grasp and puncture the flesh of their prey. Predatory claws that bears and lions have function as weapons against their prey. Humans do not have this. Lastly the digestive system that carnivores have are very short which is not the case in humans and other herbivores. Take a look at the pictures below.

Lastly, as far as human instinct to kill goes it is something people don’t do any more. The Oxford English Dictionary online defines instinct as “An innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli”. There is no research available to show that humans have a pattern of killing animals for food. If anything people make an extra behavioral effort to eat meat by going to grocery stores. It is much more socially common to see people having a garden than raising animals as food.

The body of this essay has introduced some basic reasons for going vegan. Counterarguments have been presented and debunked as well. Going vegan is ultimately a personal decision and commitment. Billions of animals are needlessly taken away from their families and slaughtered every year in America that is a fact that all human omnivores must take a personal responsibility for. Resources are out there to transition healthily into a vegan lifestyle. If one has no immediate physical imperative to reject a vegan lifestyle than it is that person’s choice to directly participate in the massacre of dozens of innocent lives. Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle need not be done by fear but out of motivation to improve life on earth for everyone.

 

WORKS CITED

 

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“Shark Gut Parts” Picture. Ucumberlands.edu n.d. Web. 28 June 2014. <http://www.ucumberlands.edu/academics/biology/faculty/kuss/courses/Digestive%20system/SharkGutParts.jpg>

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