Some people choose to stop eating animal flesh and fluids to experience health benefits or to reverse a particular illness or ailment. Some people don’t want to contribute to violence against animals or pay people to work in an industry that desensitizes them to animal suffering and thus to their own compassion.
Aware of the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the environment, some people are moved to help prevent global warming. With precious rainforests disappearing in order to create grazing land for cattle, wild animals being killed at the behest of private ranchers, and precious resources being poured into what is an unsustainable system, eliminating the consumption of animal products is indeed a logical and sensible response.
So, pick a reason — any reason, and it alone would be reason enough to justify eating an animal-free diet. Whether you care about human rights, food safety, wild animals, the environment, world hunger, farmed animals, or your own health, just a cursory look at these issues demonstrates how intricately linked they are to our consumption of animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs.
Which reason do you choose?
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*DISEASE TRANSMISSION. Many of the major killer pandemics we’ve been plagued with were acquired from our contact with non-human animals, such as tuberculosis (from cattle), influenza (from pigs and birds), whooping cough (from pigs and dogs), and smallpox (from cattle). Even HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is believed to have been first transmitted to humans through the butchering and consumption of infected chimpanzees.
*WILDLIFE: The U.S. Department of Agriculture-led program Animal Damage Control (now euphemistically called Wildlife Services) spends millions of tax dollars each year to kill millions of coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions, birds, and many other animals as a subsidy for the agricultural and livestock industries. The U.S. government killed more than 1.5 million wild animals in 2018, many at the request of farmers and ranchers.
*GREENHOUSE GASES: The livestock sector creates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent (18 percent) than transport. protein — not to mention being carriers of foodborne pathogens such as salmonella.
*OVERPOPULATION: Over 100 billion farmed animals alive at this moment—more than ten times the number of humans. Over 90 percent (over 99 percent in the US) of these animals live on industrial, large-scale factory farms enduring atrocious cruelty such as intense confinement in tiny cages, brutal mutilation and slaughter methods, and rampant health issues from artificial breeding.
*WORLD HUNGER: Because that is such an exorbitant amount of waste of food calories, even a 10% drop in U.S. meat consumption would make a significant difference in terms of food available to feed the world’s starving millions.
*VIOLENCE: Most people would never think of killing the mourning doves they watch from their windows or the geese they feed at the park or the coyotes they glimpse in the wild. But because of our habits—that are formed and perpetuated not out of necessity but out of familiarity—billions of animals are brought into this world solely to be killed.
*AGENCY: The problems we have in this world are because people are not living according to their own values of compassion and kindness.