Most of us in one way or another consider ourselves animal lovers. Many of us bring animals into our lives to share our homes, beds and hearts as loved members of the family. We care for them, play with them, cuddle them, pay for vet treatment when they’re ill, and even rely on them for emotional support and unconditional love. When they pass away, we mourn them. Even among those of us who don’t call themselves animal lovers, most people still do not wish harm on an animal and want them to be treated with kindness and respect. Yet we live in a society that has normalised cruelty and violence as necessity to bring food to our plates.
We have been taught form a young age that we need dairy for calcium, meat for protein, and vegetables for our vitamins and minerals. Now, that’s what we’ve been taught, but it’s simply not true. We can get our calcium from various plants, such as dark leafy greens, and our protein from almost everything we eat – but if you’re an athlete, you can get the high amounts you need from legumes, soy products, plant-based milks, and many other foods. Most of us aren’t really told about the alternatives to these assertions, simply taking them at face value. Unfortunately, by not questioning these things, we allow many billions of thinking, feeling beings to suffer right here in Australia.
The good news is, there is an alternative. It’s called veganism. Veganism is defined as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose. A vegan lifestyle is filled with variety and countless choices of delicious food – it only excludes the use of animal products. For food, that means not eating meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey or other animal derived ingredients. It also means avoiding fur, leather, and wool, as well as cosmetics, personal care, or household products that have either been tested on animals or contain animal ingredients.
- Non-human animals feel pain and want to enjoy life
By buying products that require the use of animals, we are bringing billions of lives into existence, then dooming them to a life that is a fraction of their natural lifespan, in conditions that are effectively a form of constant torture. By avoiding animal products we directly reduce the market for items that require their imprisonment and death.
- There is no “Planet B”
Animal agriculture is one of the largest causes of climate change, water usage, deforestation, and extinction. Animal agriculture actually emits more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. In order to grow a kilogram of meat, eggs, or dairy we need to feed an animal several kilograms of plants – it’s a much better use of our land and water to simply eat those plants ourselves. Fish aren’t an alternative either – at current rates of consumption, all species we fish for food will be extinct by 2048. The alternative to fishing is fish farming – which still means fishing to feed those in the farm, and has the added problem of destroying the ocean beneath and around the pens. For these (and many more) reasons, the single most powerful thing you can do to help the environment is to completely boycott animal products. The UN itself has declared that a shift away from animal products is necessary to save the earth.
- There are health benefits to avoiding animal products
People who have removed animal products from their diet are clinically proven to have a reduced risk of a suite of ailments, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, and obesity. It’s important to note that (just like everyone else on the planet), you will still be your best with a large variety of whole vegetables and minimal refined sugars and fats, but simply by cutting out animal products, you’re doing your body a big favour. The dietary associations of the US, EU, and Australia (among others) have confirmed that vegan diets are perfectly healthy for all stages of life. Just in case you’re worried you’ll miss out on your protein, Serena and Venus Williams are vegan, Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone vegan, Patrik Baboumian has set world records in strength as a vegan, and Nimai Delgado has never eaten meat in his entire life. They’re far from isolated cases too, as more and more elite athletes are competing at their peak and smashing records as vegans.
To move towards a lifestyle that is more compassionate, more sustainable, and great for your health, we have a few tips.
- Learn a few simple recipes that you can fall back on.
A great resource for this is available at https://www.veganeasy.org/
- Set some concrete, achievable goals for yourself
Vegan Easy is a great tool for that, and we have published a guide on how to drop dairy: http://www.dropdairy.com.au/pledge/
- Find some vegan alternatives you like for comfort food and lazy meals.
We don’t always have the time to cook, and sometimes we just crave comfort.
There’s a great list for Australia here:
- Don’t be afraid to check the ingredients list. You’ll be surprised which foods have milk powder in them for no apparent reason, but you’ll also be surprised which foods you didn’t expect are vegan.
- Don’t beat yourself up for slipping up here and there. It’s okay – nobody’s perfect.
Every mistake is a lesson learned, so it’s something you’ll know for future. Just keep trying
For more information, we can recommend the below resources.