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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Guest Post: Why Vegan

The following is a Guest Post by Ashley K.  
Wife, mother of four, and author of 
You can follow and like her Facebook page here.

Everything the world had to offer me I indulged in. Ice Cream, runny egg sandwiches smothered in cheese, a juicy steak, and the all American favorite, grilling hot dogs, burgers, and chicken on a beautiful summer evening. Where these foods came from or the process of how they got to my grocery store never occurred to me. And why would it? Meat, chicken, fish and dairy will always be available to us. Forever, right?


When I started questioning everything we are told, and doing an insane amount of research, it hit me how wrong I was. How wrong we all are. The very people who tell us what food groups to eat the most of, are only doing so in the interest of their own wallet. And we are single-handedly destroying our planet. 91% of Amazon destruction is due to agricultural farming according to The World Bank. 91%. Cows produce 150 Billion gallons of methane per day, and just so you know, methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2. All those cows need to drink water and do you know how much? 34-76 gallons of water are used annually due to animal agriculture.  Even if we eliminate fossil fuels, we will exceed the 565 gigatonnes CO2E limit by 2030 just from raising livestock. (Cowspiracy.com)

Breeding and raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and trains and any other means of transportation combined. Cows release about 120kg of methane each year. The effects on the climate from Methane is a whopping 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. And guess how many cows there are worldwide? 1.5 billion! For comparison, there are about 7 billion humans in the entire world. 805 million of those people are chronically hungry. If we stopped agricultural farming, we could feed every single starving person in the entire world. Well, you ask, what if all beef were grass fed? If all beef were grass fed we would need 3.7 billion acres of land. The U.S only has 1.9 billion. This still doesn’t eliminate the water usage and carbon footprint they leave behind.

According to onegreenplanet.org, we use 56 million acres of land for animal agriculture and only 4 million for growing produce. 70% of grain is fed to farm animals instead of people. The world’s cows eat enough food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. Yup. That’s more than every single person on earth. What’s worse, we use 4,200 gallons of water a day to support a meat eater’s diet. In one year, that’s 1,533,000 gallons of water. A plant based diet only uses 300 gallons per day, only 109,500 gallons per year. One hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce. You could take showers every single day for two months. Or how about this: 5% of water used in the United States is from private homes, 55% is for animal agriculture.



To put things into perspective for you, one acre of land can produce 250lbs of beef. Think that’s a lot, huh? That same one acre of land can produce 50,000lbs of tomatoes or 53,000lbs of potatoes. And uses less of our freshwater supply. If we continue eating an animal based diet, we will eventually deplete our natural resources. Watching Cowspiracy on Netflix gave me a huge wake- up call and realization. Consuming an animal based diet is killing our planet.

The widespread animal cruelty, living conditions, and inhumane treatment of the animals we breed to consume is what initially grabbed my attention. I watched the documentary 'Earthlings', followed by the documentary ‘Lucent’. It was incredibly difficult to watch, I had to stop every ten minutes to take some deep breaths. I worked in a hospital for six years and would not be considered someone who has a weak stomach, but watching these documentaries almost makes me sick. It made me wonder, if people had to watch the animals being slaughtered before eating them, would they still eat it? Or what if they had to do it themselves?

This alone was enough for me to easily give up consuming any animal, but I am an emotionally driven person who had a massive emotional response to seeing something so horrific. Once I calmed down, I went in search of more factual reasoning to support my decision.

Let’s start with dairy. A cow won’t produce milk unless she has a baby calf. Most cows are artificially inseminated, purposefully kept pregnant to maintain milk supply in addition to given hormones. Once she gives birth, the calf is taken away from her within 48 hours so her milk can be pumped for humans instead of given to her baby. Because of how long they are hooked up to pumps, they often get mastitis and infections. Most dairy cows don’t live longer than four years, while cows in general live up to 15 years. They are then slaughtered and their meat is given to fast food restaurants. What becomes of her baby? If it is male, he is sold and used for veal. He is usually kept in a small pen, without sunlight and restricted movement to keep the meat tender. He is fed a liquid diet and slaughtered within four months. Female cow? The same horrible torture her mother endured. Let’s think about this for a minute. Dog milk goes to baby dogs, cat’s milk goes to baby cats, rat milk goes to baby rat’s but cow’s milk goes to baby humans? What?

As a breastfeeding mother, this information hit home. What if I was artificially inseminated against my will? Then after giving birth, my baby was taken from me and sold to be slaughtered. Meanwhile, I was hooked up to pumps and given hormones and antibiotics so I could produce 20,000 pounds of milk a year for another species. Then, ten months later, the process happened all over again and again and again until I died. All the while enduring cramped, horrific living conditions, bleeding nipples, and infection. All of that on top of the emotional stress of losing my baby.

We often get sucked into terms like ‘free range’ when shopping for eggs. But what does that actually mean? The picture below shows “free range chickens”.


“Hens on large-scale commercial cage-free farms are not kept in cages as the birds on standard egg factory farms are, but the difference usually stops there. Most still have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade and are crammed together in filthy sheds. They never go outside, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, or do anything else that is natural or important to them.

They suffer from the same lung lesions and ammonia burns as hens in cages, as well as breast blisters from sitting on urine- and feces-covered floors. Male chicks are often ground up alive or left to suffocate because they don’t lay eggs and are considered too small a breed to be profitably used for meat.  While free-range and organic egg farms are technically supposed to give birds outdoor access, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided that “they may be temporarily confined” for “reasons of health, safety, the animal’s stage of production or to protect soil or water quality.” Many free-range egg farms take full advantage of this loophole by almost never allowing the birds outside” (PETA website).  Chickens are also really smart little things. They can recognize up to 100 faces, sleep, dream, and even purr like a kitten when rubbed.


While this isn’t the case for ALL farms, but the majority, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we were not meant to consume dairy. All the components in milk are meant to grow a baby cow, not baby humans. 75% of people are lactose intolerant. In fact, consuming too much dairy can increase your risk for heart disease. It is also the hardest for our bodies to digest and has a very strong link to cancer and disease. Eating eggs every day puts you at an increased risk for heart disease and increasing your blood cholesterol levels. Dairy also makes you age faster. Consuming seeds, nuts, beans, fruits and veggies are a much source of protein and vitamins. Consuming dairy has also been found to be the leading cause of breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and colon cancer. In fact, switching to a plant based diet can actually prevent cancer and in some cases reverse heart disease without medication.

What about fish? Do Vegans eat fish? No they don’t. Tons of unintended species are caught in fishing nets and die. They are known as bycatch. Hundreds of thousands marine turtles are among these victims. These beautiful creatures have been around for 100 million years and now six out of seven are on the Endangered and Critically Endangered species list. Simply from us fishing. In fact, it has been predicted that if we keep consuming fish at the rate we are today, we will have fishless ocean by 2048. Reading this made me realize how much something like that would affect my children, and their children. 

According to the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), for every one pound of intended species of fish caught, there are five pounds of unintended species caught and disguarded. From Pelagic long line fishing in the Pacific Ocean alone, 4.4 million non-targeted fish are caught and killed. 3.3 million are sharks. I could dedicate an entire separate blog to this very complex issue because there is so much information.90-100 million tonnes of fish are pulled from the oceans every single year. ¾ of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted and animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones. If the Ocean’s die, we die. These issues are reversible if we could all stop consuming animals and eat a plant based diet. (Empty Oceans)

I can’t change the world, but the world is changing anyway and at some point we won’t have a choice anymore. We can’t ever have too much love and compassion and no matter what your driver is for choosing a plant based diet; emotional, health, or environmental, significantly reducing your meat and dairy intake goes a very long way.

Are you going Vegan?  Please share your RESPECTFUL thoughts and comments below.

8 comments:

  1. Your post is about something that breaks my heart. I am vegetarian, but vegan when eating at home. Thank you for getting the word out.

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  2. It's great to read such a well thought out and written post that goes into so much detail! A lot of the time people are totally misinformed about stuff like veganism and therefore develop warped opinions because they either don't understand or have been given bad information. Good for you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive piece!

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  3. I've never tried going vegan (I think that would be really tough for me), but I was pescatarian for a year. It wasn't too difficult living in LA, but I did have a hard time cooking meals for myself that didn't often revolve around bread or pasta. Maybe I'll try it again one day.

    www.wonderlandsam.com

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  4. I am vegetarian and this is really a well written post. people usually misunderstood these things :)

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  5. I am dairy-free and egg-free and often cook/bake vegan food. I've seen so many documentaries that make me want to ease into a vegan lifestyle. It's a process for me but I believe that research and informing others of this is key!

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  6. I am not vegan but I am vegetarian, I try to cut back on dairy because of many of the points you mentioned. It's SO much more environmentally sustainable and humane to be vegan that's for sure!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your perspective and so much thorough research! I wouldn't classify myself as a vegan, but I eat vegan 90% of the time and plant-based all the time. For me, I just really didn't miss meats once I started cutting down on them. And if I could help the planet while eating lots of smoothie bowls, potatoes and buddha bowls? Why not?

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  8. Wow. What a fine outstanding comprehensive article. I would like to see this article shared everywhere, and not just for right now, but repeatedly and continually. I am vegetarian at times and slowly making the break from many things you talked about in this well researched and well-written article. I am even working on a children's picture book about a baby seagull who is different. I really hope to have it published one of these days when I can afford time and efforts. I think the key is you have to start with the awareness at a young age. Thank you so much for the time you spent to share this message.

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