If you think it’s wrong to hurt animals, you already believe in veganism.
Is it wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily?
Here’s the problem: When we live nonvegan, we are hurting animals unnecessarily! Please let that sink in. When we live nonvegan, we are hurting animals unnecessarily. We are not living according to our own values nor are we respecting animals’ inherent right, as sentient beings, not to be used as resources.
After thousands of years of using animals in many ways (food, clothing, entertainment, etc.), we now know that we can live healthy and happy lives without using animals! That is wonderful because using animals always results in unnecessary suffering and killing.
We kill 1+ trillion* animals per year, mostly for food. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 animals per year. And, as you can imagine, the process of turning living, breathing, feeling animals into products is horrifically violent.
Is a vegetarian diet (with dairy and eggs) the solution?
Oftentimes, people think the way to respect animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet (no flesh/”meat”), but they do not realize that:
- “Laying” hens are bred at hatcheries where the male chicks (50% of the chicks who hatch) are killed shortly after hatching because they will not lay eggs and are therefore considered “worthless” and “unprofitable.” This is part of the reason why “backyard” chickens are not the solution.
- “Dairy” cows are forcibly bred at dairy farms where the male calves (50% of the calves who are born) are killed shortly after being born because they will not produce milk and are therefore considered “worthless” and “unprofitable.” Cows must have been pregnant to produce milk, just like humans, but if their remaining female calves drink their mothers’ milk, it can not be sold in the form of dairy products. The male calves are killed, and the female calves are separated from their mothers until they are old enough to be impregnated when the devastating cycle begins again. Dairy production requires the exploitation of the reproductive system and the breaking of the mother-baby bond…all for a product humans do not need to consume. This is part of the reason why “humane” dairy products are not the solution.
- Both “laying” hens and “dairy” cows are killed when their production wanes, when they become less profitable.
- A vegetarian diet means not consuming someone else’s flesh/”meat,” but flesh/”meat” is only one part of the problem. Contrary to popular belief, there is no moral difference consuming someone else’s flesh/”meat” and any other animal product or use–all of it means hurting animals unnecessarily.
Are “humane” animal products the solution?
In addition to people mistakenly thinking the way to respect animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet, they think the way to respect animals is to buy animal products they believe are humane like free-range “meat,” cage-free eggs, “humane” certified animal products, or organic animal products. Those animal products are certainly marketed to seem more humane, but research reveals they still involve a tremendous amount of suffering and killing (including the killing of the male chicks and male calves as well as the killing of the remaining animals when they become less profitable). All animal products mean hurting animals unnecessarily so, in essence, seeking out “humane” animal products (which do not exist) is looking for the right way to do the wrong thing. Instead of looking for “humane” animal products, channel your care for animals into going vegan.
What is the solution?
The solution, if we think it’s wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily, is to go vegan. We can live healthy and happy lives without using animals. In fact, not only is it possible, it is easy and wonderful.
Using animals for food is completely unnecessary. Humans can easily get their nutrition from plants (and other nonanimal sources).
Vegans do NOT eat:
- Flesh (meat including fish)
- Other animal ingredients/byproducts
Vegans DO eat:
- Grains (oats, rice, wheat, etc.)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, etc.)
- Nuts, Seeds, and Mushrooms
The following statements* have been made by both public and private sector organizations (alphabetical order by organization name).
* In the following statements, please note they are using the term “vegetarian” as in “strict vegetarian” (i.e. no animal products), not as in “lacto-ovo vegetarian” (i.e. including dairy and eggs vegetarian).
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” — Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association)
“A vegetarian diet can be healthy as many plant foods are low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre.” – Dietitians Association of Australia
“A vegan eating pattern is based on grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), seeds and nuts. It excludes meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs or products containing these foods and any other animal products.
A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems. This eating pattern can take some extra planning. Vegans must make sure that enough nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins D and B12 and omega-3 fats are included. A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors. A variety of plant foods eaten during the day can provide enough protein to promote and maintain good health.” – Dietitians of Canada
“A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs.” and “A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women.” – Mayo Clinic
“With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.” – NHS (National Health Service UK)
“Vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients.” – USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)
Not only are animal foods not necessary for optimal human health, many studies show animal products are detrimental to human health. Vegans get their nutrition exclusively from plants (and other nonanimal sources), and they do not miss out on flavor, texture, or variety. To the contrary, many vegans comment on how much more flavor, texture, and variety they enjoy after going vegan.
Using animals for clothing is completely unnecessary. In addition to not eating animal products, vegans do not wear animal products. Vegans wear clothing made from a wide variety of natural and synthetic materials.
Vegans do NOT wear:
- Skin (fur, leather, etc.)
- Fibers from animals (angora, cashmere, mohair, silk, wool, etc.)
- Feathers (down, etc.)
- Other animal products
Vegans DO wear:
Entertainment and All Other Purposes
Using animals for entertainment and all other purposes is completely unnecessary. In addition to not eating or wearing animal products, vegans do not support using animals for entertainment (e.g. circuses, horse racing, marine parks, zoos, etc.). On the surface, using animals for entertainment may seem harmless, but it is not. Animals suffer tremendously from being used for entertainment. And even if they did not suffer tremendously, that would not make it harmless–being used for entertainment violates one’s inherent right not to be used as a resource.
Many people like to imagine idyllic scenarios where animals are used for food, clothing, entertainment, testing, or other purposes but not harmed, but they are not acknowledging the harm inherent in using sentient beings as resources in the first place. Using sentient beings, humans or nonhumans, is inherently harmful. We do not tolerate it for humans, which is why we abolished race-based slavery. We should not tolerate it for nonhumans either because species is not a morally justifiable reason to disregard another sentient being’s interest in not being exploited.
“[T]he word ‘veganism’ denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.” – The Vegan Society (1979 memorandum)
Go vegan. It’s easy (much easier than you think!) and wonderful. And if you think it’s wrong to hurt animals, it’s the only way to live according to your own values.
While going vegan results in one not eating or wearing animal products, being vegan is not just about not eating this or wearing that or a list of Do’s and Don’ts. It is about doing right by animals with our actions.
Click here to learn how to go vegan.
If you have any questions, please Contact TAVS.
* The “1+ trillion animals per year” statistic is probably too low. It includes both land and water animals, and we derived the statistic from here. (Please note we do not endorse fishcount.org.uk.)
* “Vegans DO eat” photos credit: © 2014 The Simple Veganista. All rights reserved. Used with permission from The Simple Veganista website.