As a charity that has strong vegan roots, we wanted to reassure those who don’t understand veganism generally or even, who strongly oppose it. For those who feel that “stupid vegans” are talking nonsense, this article is for YOU!
We’d like to say, first of all, for us at our HQ here in London, in the alpha city, veganism isn’t a new or scary thing at all! It’s quite normal and more and more Londoners are embracing it. There’s vegan chicken shops, vegan restaurants, vegan cafes perhaps that’s just London, as Forbes stated in ’14: Britain is a “second-rate power” which has been in decline for a century – yet London remains the most influential city in the world….(Bravo London), Could veganism then be the future? … perhaps.
First, let’s go back to the past. Some may feel that humans have ‘always eaten meat’, well, contrary to what many may have been told, this is not strictly true. Here’s an out-take from an article and scientific study, to read the full article click here
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University and author of The China Study, explains that in fact, we only recently (historically speaking) began eating meat, and that the inclusion of meat in our diet came well after we became who we are today. He explains that “the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals. This is not nearly as long as the time [that] fashioned our basic biochemical functionality (at least tens of millions of years) and which functionality depends on the nutrient composition of plant-based foods.”
True is the case that convenience may play a part, in a modern world where there are now more meat options than non-meat options, our palettes feel they are ‘missing something’, should they not be able to taste meat. Is it really so? Are we genuinely tasting meat, or rather, what it’s been cured/cooked with? What about antibiotics the animals were given before they were killed? How do we really know what we’re eating? Most of us prefer meat in a sauce or processed into a sausage with added herbs and flavorings. Is it really then, meat that we crave?
Side fact: Typically, craving meat can mean your body needs iron. Cue leafy green vegetables.
Dr. Grant, who is president of the Sunlight Health Nutrition and Research Center, doesn’t opt or promote a vegan diet himself, he’s not a vegan nor shouting veganism from the rooftops but he does acknowledge that:
There are a couple reasons he says that animal products might trigger cancer, one of which is something known as insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. This hormone exists in all animal products and it causes animals—and people—to grow. That’s why, Dr. Grant says, in places like Asia, older populations that were raised on a vegetable-heavy diet are generally shorter than younger populations that have adopted a more animal-heavy Western diet. And just as it makes people grow, IGF-1 makes tumors grow, too.
If we’re considering then vegetarianism, let’s take a look too, at dairy. We shared some insight into this in our earlier post: Dairy & Dementia and heard the advice of Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, a 98 year old vegan. Here’s another doctor’s view on dairy, Dr Michael Klaper…
But what about protein deficiency? Well, to hear more about that and some of the biggest mammals on the planet who are plant based in diet, you may want to check this out.
But what about our ancestors -some say. Well, let’s take a look at our biology.
If you’d rather skip reading the biology explanation, here’s an easy to watch cartoon video explaining our human anatomy and how it functions:
The biology bit
Teeth wise, humans have flat teeth, ideal for grinding, just like herbivores (plant eaters), we also don’t have night vision, most carnivores (meat eaters) do. Naturally, therefore, we wouldn’t be great at hunting down pray and tearing the flesh from the bones with our teeth. Speed wise, we don’t move at a great pace either, so without man-made traps, spears or guns, we can’t race like a cheetah across land to catch pray. One main attribute of a meat eater is the short digestive tract. This enables them to digest the meat faster before the fat content can be absorbed into it’s body. We know that from a health perspective excess fat absorption can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Not ideal, since we know there is a correlation between these two and dementia. You can read more on vascular dementia on our blog. Another amazing (or maybe icky) fact is that carnivores have enzymes that kill bacteria in rotting meat, to prevent them from getting ill. Humans do not have this. More ick is that they really like the way dead animals smell! Humans are not so keen on this! Many think that we have evolved to eat meat, society does of course eat meat but our bodies have not evolved to mimic that of a carnivore. Biologically, we are Not designed to eat it. We can ignore this but as we do, we so too ignore the detriment to our health that eating meat causes.
One of the biggest environmental problems the world faces today is climate change. You can read whole articles on climate change and the meat industry like this one here.
“the majority of future demand appears to be in the countries [like China and Brazil] that are the most receptive to change”. He said it was “pretty disappointing” that in developed countries, where meat and dairy eating is highest, awareness of livestock’s impact on the climate is low and willingness to change is low.
‘Brigitte Alarcon, sustainable food policy officer at WWF said: “Our LiveWell project has shown we can cut a quarter of our climate emissions from the European food supply chain by eating more pulses, fruit and vegetables and by reducing our meat consumption. National governments should improve food education to encourage healthy eating habits and environmental sustainability as a first step.”’
If you’re not into reading up on climate change, here’s a short video on understanding more:
Here’s Ellen Degeneres talking about how she was a meat eater and what changed her life:
But what about bi-products of animals like leather. Well, let’s be clear on this, in most cases, leather (cow skin) contrary to popular belief is Not a bi-product. You can find out more about this here but here’s a snippet of information on how we get leather here in the UK:
Leather is not a byproduct and it is not produced in efforts to minimize waste. It’s produced because it is a highly profitable and lucrative business. A cow’s skin is approximately 10% of her total value, making it the most profitable part of her body. Surprisingly, leather actually makes the meat industry more sustainable (as selling skins is very profitable while meat isn’t always so), not the other way around.
The majority of leather comes from India’s cows, who are abused, beaten and poisoned in order to make leather for high street stores. As India forbids the slaughter of cows, these poor, innocent animals are forced to endure brutal and grueling journeys where they are confronted with an unimaginable end.
When travelling by train, anywhere up to 900 cows are crammed into a wagon that is supposed to hold a maximum of 80 to 100, and upon arrival 400 to 500 come out dead. On some routes they don’t bother with trains and instead they tie them and take them on foot. The cows are not allowed to rest or drink, so to keep them moving workers beat the animals across their hip bones where there is no fat to cushion the blow, break their tails to force them to rise, and torment them by rubbing hot chilli peppers and tobacco in their eyes.
You can find out here and in various studies published online how going vegan saves 600 gallons of water a day. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, if you need more scientific evidence, The Science Mag can help to explain how Veganism Could Save The World. The earth’s supply of water is not endless.
“Going vegan could solve world hunger”. How true is this statement? It is said that if all grain currently fed to animals in animal agriculture were not to be fed to the animals, it could be fed to starving people in third world countries. Gentle World have more facts on this matter.
It is estimated that a staggering 925 million humans around the world are suffering from the effects of hunger (mostly in the poor and underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa), and out of that original number, 870 million are affected with malnutrition. Those original 925 million actually outnumber the combined populace living in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Think about that for a moment. That means that there are enough hungry people on this planet to fill up almost two entire continents. Furthermore, it must be made clear that this is not just benign hunger; the type felt by a person in the rich, developed world when they’ve missed their lunch break. Every year, starvation claims the lives of over 2.5 million children under the age of five.
Not convinced? Here’s an info-graphic which helps break down the facts:
Supply and Demand
What we have heard said before, believe it or not is: “But the meat is there in the supermarket anyway, to not eat it would be a waste.” To understand why this is a mute point / does not make sense, one has to understand the basic principles of supply and demand. The meat industry is just that, it’s an industry. If there is a need for something, companies will provide it because they can see a way to make money. How do companies gauge whether there is a need? They look at sales figures. If all of the meat is being sold, then that tells them that they need to create more. The more you buy, the more animals are killed to supply You, the customer. If meat weren’t sold or sales decreased, would that meat go to waste? Perhaps but eventually it would reduce the demand on the industry, a reduction on demand would at least allow for the meat to be more ethically produced, as production would slow down and over time if people stopped buying meat, the meat industry would cease to exist. An industry only exists when there’s money to be made. That’s business.
At the moment, the world is producing so much meat and animals are killed in “high speed slaughter” to meet this demand. There is no way high speed slaughter can minimize suffering. To meet the need of the world’s desire for meat in such high volume, millions of animals must be killed in fast paced, often poor conditions. Of course no animal Wants to die. Which is another matter, we can get to later. Animal Equality Statistics:
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.
Factory Farms Slaughterhouses
Feel free to Google: Factory Farm. See what comes up. The facts are not hidden. It’s all there for anyone willing to research.
The treatment of animals all over the world, in the meat industry is horrendous. Firstly, animals are artificially inseminated against their will. In human terms, we call this: rape. After this, females are usually kept alive until they no longer serve to breed over and over in a repetitive cycle and males are killed shortly after birth for meat or fattened up and then killed for meat. Animal transportation, live export and slaughterhouses represent scenes from a horror movie. But do not take anyone’s word for this, the best way to experience for yourself whether this process is fair or not, is to visit factory farms and slaughterhouses. Factory farms are not the only way of rearing animals for people to eat them but they are the most common. It would be impossible to meet the huge human demand for meat, if we only ate organic, free range or “wild” animals. Factory farms were therefore invented to “serve” us as humans. And just like that, these animals became a product instead of sentient living creatures with souls, just like our pets at home. Animal Equality go into farms and factory farms as well as slaughterhouses and take footage of the animals living there. You can watch this (below). This is not an overly graphic video, just a general look at what Animal Equality do. Most people believe in Animal Equality and are against animal abuse, so this isn’t too difficult to watch.
Lions Eat Meat
Often people state that: lions eat meat so humans should too. As we explained earlier, to understand this, first you must consider the biological make up of a lion and that of a human. One is a natural carnivore (meat diet), the other a natural herbivore (plant based diet). In fact, 75% of all animals are herbivores and do not eat meat. But let’s take a look at lions anyway, just out of interest. Lions usually hunt and kill their pray, ripping raw flesh from the carcass, they’ll usually only eat once every three days after a big meal of raw flesh. If lions deliver young (a baby lion) that is weaker than the rest, called “the runt” they will kill their own cub. Runts are usually killed. This is not uncommon. Lions also sleep in trees, clean their own body and genitals with their tongues and lions in the wild reside in desolate environments that humans would perish in. Humans are not like lions in any way. We don’t have whiskers, night vision, or long tails. This confirms that we are humans.
We might have covered this in the previous category, but if you feel we haven’t, PETA can show you some footage which depicts animal cruelty / the meat industry in true form. We don’t expect anyone to take anyone’s word for anything and we know that there are skeptics out there, so we would encourage anyone to visit their local slaughterhouse and see for themselves how their meat is produced.
Taste & Options
As we touched on, taste accounts for a lot with humans. Though now more than ever we have a wider variety of choices than we’ve ever had. In London, vegan restaurants and food options are popping up everywhere. Just as trends filter down from the global force that is Nylon Kong (New York, London, Hong Kong) to the rest of the world, more are becoming aware of this. Most meat replacement so closely represents it’s meat equivalent that it’s difficult to tell which is which. As such, we can really enjoy the vegan food we’re eating and not feel like we’re missing out. Linda McCartney foods offer great options for those wanting meat replacement. A favorite blogger of ours with recipe tips to cook for yourself from scratch is Earthy Andy … in addition, stay tuned for updates, on the way soon, as our founder is trying out Vegan Dishes (a pre-cooked meal delivery service) for the next two weeks!
Thank you for reading about veganism today.