The moral and ethical reasoning behind veganism so often focuses on animals. Yet no matter how solid the reasoning, for some people this just isn't enough. No arguments about animals will sway them because animals just don't have enough worth.
Meat tastes good. I get it. But what about going vegan for the sake of other people? In an attempt to build on the understanding of veganism, here are five key reasons to go vegan for the good of humanity – how can humans benefit from a worldwide shift to a vegan diet?
We are approaching D-day in the medical sector. Antibiotics are being squandered, and it’s no longer realistic to expect them to be available forever. Without antibiotics, simple surgery will kill thousands of people through infection. Childbirth will be a hugely risky endeavour. And a minor chest infection could kill a healthy adult.
We are breeding an army of superbugs through our overuse of antibiotics. Scary, no?
And how are we squandering our antibiotics? Well, the animal agriculture industry unfortunately. In the US, the industry has been routinely pumping about 70% of antibiotics produced into healthy animals. This prevents the animal from getting sick, and causes a minor and unexplained increase in growth. Great for the industry, terrible for the future of medicine.
A growing body of research is linking the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture to antibiotic resistant superbugs. However, until the industry is changed, no single farm is going to want to risk changing its own practices for fear of losing profits in a highly competitive environment. One way to expedite the industry changes is to boycott it yourself.
For more information, we recommend the film Resistance.
Eradicating food poverty
Meat consumption hampers efforts to feed poverty-stricken countries. Not to oversimplify matters, but the answer to the challenges of charities such as Oxfam is actually blatant, and that is to leave meat off your plate.
Animal protein is horrendously inefficient to produce, requiring vast amounts of grains, soy, and other crops to feed the 50+ billion animals used in agriculture per year. There are only 7 billion humans on the planet at the moment, yet we are struggling to feed them.
A UK government report on the future of farming published back in 2011 highlighted how this problem will only worsen as the population grows to 9 billion over the next few decades, demonstrating how there needs to be a massive shift in the distribution of food as it stands. A plant-based diet is the best way to commit to this shift on a personal level.
Protecting oil supplies
Whilst veganism is often intertwined with the renewable energy movement, it would also protect what limited non-renewable energy resources we have left, and ensure they can be used more efficiently. With current estimates pointing to oil running somewhere around the middle of this century, this is a pressing issue.
There are numerous stages within the animal agriculture industry where these resources are used in abundance. Manchester-based artist Mishka Henner highlights this eloquently.
His series of aerial shots of feedlots and oilfields hint at the interrelationships between these two massive industries. Feedlots are the final feeding stations for cattle before slaughter – in the last few weeks of their lives the aim is to fatten them up, adding about 4 pounds of weight per day. Masses of corn and grain are provided to the animals.
These crops are grown elsewhere, and shipped to the feedlot. By food activist Michael Pollan’s estimations, each bushel of corn (about 8 gallons) requires a whopping 1.2 gallons of oil which is used primarily in chemical fertilisers.
We’ve already mentioned the inefficiency of turning plants into animals for consumption, but this affects the future of the world’s non-renewable energy supply, at a time when inefficiency cannot be afforded.
Despite ongoing debate on nutrition and long-term health, a shift towards a plant-based, vegan diet filled with fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, healthy fats, and lean vegan protein is consistently shown to be optimal for long-term health.
Only a month ago, an independent US government advice committee (The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) published a report highlighting the necessity of a shift towards plant-based eating for the long-term health of citizens.
There are plenty of proponents for other diets, but consistently a plant-based one comes out on top for long-term health. This particular committee is entirely independent and aren’t swayed by bias.
You can either read the full 571 page report, packed with evidence… or just take our word for it. A vegan diet is optimal for personal health.
The slippery slope
This is a slightly less palpable point, as it’s more conceptual than practical, but bear with me.
When discussing vegetarianism, Tolstoy stated that for ‘as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.’
Tolstoy’s point was that violence begets violence. When we see it as possible to subjugate what we would call ‘lesser beings’ where will we stop? The slippery slope leads us from subjugating animals, to cultures and peoples we see as inferior. Our compassion makes way for violent traits within us, and those violent traits dominate.
Tolstoy illustrates that we can never be sure where those violent traits will end, and to whom we will extend them to. Thus, by exercising compassion over animals, we are more likely to exercise compassion over man.