From the way we look to what we eat to what we believe, every vegan is different. But there is something that connects us all, and that’s the compassionate choice to leave animals off our plates.
You see, veganism isn’t about conformity or perfection. It’s about living in a way that avoids exploiting and harming animals. It’s about taking a stand for a kinder world.
But going vegan doesn’t just spare countless animals a life of misery; it’s also great for your health and the environment. From lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer to cutting your carbon footprint in half, these are the things about veganism that meat eaters should really know.
1. Meat consumption is one of the leading causes of climate change.
Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change and deforestation. According to the World Bank, animal agriculture is culpable for nearly 91 percent of Amazon destruction. What’s more, the meat industry generates more greenhouse gases than all modes of transportation in the world combined. In fact, even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565-gigaton CO2e limit by 2030—all from raising animals for food.
2. The meat industry exploits workers.
Workplace hazards for factory farm and slaughterhouse employees include injuries, respiratory illness, PTSD, and infection by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Recent reports indicate that on average one Tyson employee a month is injured by equipment and loses a finger or limb.
3. Animal agriculture consumes a lot of resources.
It reportedly takes 576 gallons of water to produce one pound of pork, 880 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk, and a whopping 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. But it’s not just water that the meat industry wastes. A pound of beef requires 13 percent more fossil fuel to produce than a pound of soy.
4. Meat is horrible for your health.
Eating meat is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that processed meats are just as hazardous to your health as cigarettes. And the world-renowned Mayo Clinic found that long-term vegetarians live on average 3.6 years longer than their meat-eating counterparts. Let that sink in for a minute.
5. Meat is actually disgusting.
According to the USDA, 90 percent of defects discovered in chicken carcasses at slaughter plants involved "visible fecal contamination that was missed by company employees." Additionally, the USDA estimates that around 25 percent of cut-up chicken meat and about 50 percent of all ground chicken sold in stores is contaminated with salmonella.
From salmonella to E. coli, meat is covered with dangerous bacteria. The CDC estimates that at least 2 million infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria occur every year, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that 22 percent of these infections are linked to foodborne pathogens. Nasty!
6. Animal agriculture is killing wildlife.
Scientists have recently warned that we’re seeing the sixth mass extinction and that more than half of all wildlife could be gone by 2020. But why? Look no further than the food on your plate. Through pollution, climate change, and habitat loss, animal agriculture decimates wildlife.
Additionally, a great many animals are killed to feed the profits of the meat industry. Each year thousands of wild animals, including wolves, bears, river otters, eagles, and coyotes, are killed because they are seen as a threat to animal agriculture industries.
7. Meat production contributes to world hunger.
With close to a billion people in the world without enough food, it’s impossible to ignore the link between meat consumption and world hunger. A 2012 study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota found that humans produce enough grain to feed the world, yet we choose to feed most of it to animals just so we can eat meat. As of 2012, 95 percent of oats produced in the U.S. and 80 percent of our corn has been fed to farmed animals—yet in 2015, more than 6 million U.S. households reported extremely low food security. The U.S. could feed 800 million people with the grain we feed to farmed animals.
8. No federal law protects animals at factory farms.
Unfortunately, not a single federal law protects animals during their lives at factory farms. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act pertains only to the slaughterhouse. What’s more, this law doesn’t include birds, who make up over 98 percent of the animals killed for meat. Want to change this? Click here to sign our petition urging the USDA to extend basic slaughter protections to birds.
9. The meat, dairy, and egg industries torture animals.
In the pork industry, piglets are slammed headfirst onto concrete floors if they are too sick or aren’t growing fast enough. In the egg industry, male chicks are ground up alive. That’s right—since they will never lay eggs and don’t grow quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat, they’re killed within hours of hatching. These practices are truly sickening, but they are considered standard and acceptable, and they are just two of the many horrible things done to animals at factory farms.
10. Vegan food is delicious.
When you go vegan, a new world of culinary delights opens up! Heck, some of your favorite foods are probably already vegan and you don’t even know it. Want to try making a vegan meal? Check out our Pinterest page for hundreds of great recipes and ideas.
The single best thing we can do to protect animals, workers, and the planet from the cruel and destructive meat industry is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of meat and other animal products.
Click here for delicious vegan recipes, meal ideas, and tips on making the switch.