Why I am a Vegan
I've been a vegan for most of a decade, and vegetarian
since 1981 (well over half of my life). Frequently, I'm
asked "why?" This document is intended to share some of
my reasoning, and perhaps inspire other people to also pursue
a lifestyle less damaging to animals.
My original reasoning for shunning meat products, which I
arrived at while in high school, is still the primary motivation:
I have a moral objection to the raising of animals for consumption.
This ethical reasoning is based on the belief that animals raised
for food often have uncomfortable -- even cruel -- lives, ended
earlier than would otherwise occur. In fact, farm-raised food animals
would not even have been born, except to end up as food. This, to me,
is insane. If the same standard were applied to people, we'd raise
people simply to be slaves (or food, or experimental subjects, etc.)
and feel no guilt when their period of performance is complete and
it's time to retire them.
Over the years, I've had many thoughts, discussions and readings
on the matter of food, nutrition, ethics, and related topics. Some
- Food animals are a waste of resources. Many pounds of grain
or other input go to make add a single pound to a meat animal. Why
not just eat the grain? Also, grazing animals (sheep & cattle,
for example) are damaging to the land they graze. In many cases,
the "rights" of farmers to publicly-owned land lead to killing innocent
non-food animals (such as buffalo). It's wasteful, all around.
- The food industry is rife with evil. From childhood obesity, to
the "farm bill" (aka, the "food bill") to immigrant workers, to
non-local foods in huge stores, to sponsorship of nutrition and health
research, there is incredible evil in the food industry. Nutritious
locally-originated non-processed food is harder to come by than sugary
crap, and disproportionately expensive. Labels for things like
hormones, pestices, etc. are not required (and it might even be
illegal to indicate lack of hormones), and chemical fertilizers cause
all kinds of damage. I don't trust the industrial food industry, at
- Meat is unhealthy. Somehow there has been an awakening to this
in recent years, with more people shunning particular meats due to
their own research & experiences. Cholesterol (which exists in
animals, not plants), high fat, pesticides, and food-borne illnesses
should be enough to convince anyone who wants to have a long and
healthy life to ditch meat in favor of healthier alternatives.
A few more thoughts:
- Lactose intolerance. While vegetarian but not yet vegan, I ate a
lot of dairy products. It turned out I was lactose intolerant, but
didn't know or suspect it. Among other things, this caused a
intestinal discomfort, and a lot of gas to be passed. Apologies to
everyone who spent time in close proximity to me during those years!
According to some estimates, 10% of people have lactose intolerance
(maybe that's part of why soymilk is now so easy to find in the
supermarket). Signs include bloating, gas, constipation, and other
gastric distress, in varying quantities, especially (in my case,
anyway) due to foods with a high proportion of cheese or milk
- Ingredients lists. Vegan means reading ingredients, to avoid the
many animal-based things that go into foods. Lots of surprising
stuff. Milk-based products are often found in baked goods, while
ingredients such as mono- and diglicericdes are ubiquitous but can
come from either plant or animal sources. Luckily animal shortening
(lard, etc.) is less frequently found these days due to concerns over
cholesterol. My message is that ingredients are fascinating, and
shocking. Go for fewer ingredients, with no animal-based ones, and
you'll find the food is tastier, more nutritious and, probably,
- Incidental uses. Vegan means no leather and other derived
products. This can be tough. But often non-animal products are
actually better, but either harder to find or more expensive. Running
shoes are one example (the best ones are non-leather). The meat
spinoff industries of animal "by products" for pet feeds, apparel,
etc. are themselves not necessary.
- Eating well. Vegan tastes great, is healthier, and
you get better fresher food. Enjoy it!!!
To sum up: Meat is barbaric. Use of animals for food is
evil, and indefensible.
Part of why I've posted this web page is for me to point to when
people ask me, "why are you a vegan?" In short, my answer is that
it's barbaric to consume animals. In most situations it's impolite to
tell people to their faces (perhaps over the dinner table) that I
believe they are behaving as unethical barbarians, patsy to the food
industry, and pursuing an unhealthy lifestyle. So, instead, I'm
writing it. I hope this little essay will change some people's
During my time on Earth, I hope I can personally crawl from the
barbaric era in which I was born to a somewhat higher level. Humanity
has a long way to go, and I can't pretend to set any gold standards.
I believe that avoiding consumption of animal products is a step in
the right direction.
Most recently updated:
Friday, 25-Oct-2013 14:35:39 PDT