Most simply, a person following a vegan lifestyle avoids eating or using animal products. A vegan ethic is one that takes animals into consideration within all aspects of life choices. Those adopting a vegan ethic seek to minimize harm to animals as much as possible by not eating or using animal flesh or byproducts, including eggs, dairy, leather, fur, and wool. Many also eschew products tested on animals and forms of entertainment involving the killing or exploitation of animals.
Besides the wish to avoid harming another conscious life, there are substantial health, environmental, and human rights reasons for veganism. Industrial animal agriculture is, if not the largest, one of the most significant contributors to human-created global climate change. Animal agriculture is also a poor use of agricultural resources, including land and water, and consumes far more of these resources per calorie than most foods of plant origin. Moreover, factory farms are extreme polluters, and are often placed near lower income communities that do not have the financial clout necessary to battle powerful agribusiness corporations.
The production and consumption of animal products are responsible for a multitude of human health harms, from an increased risk of heart disease and other serious ailments, to the creation of super bugs on overcrowded factory farms, potentially leading to pandemics.
Also, according to Human Rights Watch, workers in the U.S. meat and poultry industries “endure unnecessarily hazardous work conditions, and the companies employing them often use illegal tactics to crush union organizing efforts.” Industrial animal agriculture is one of the most dangerous and unregulated industries in the world.
If one is concerned with the liberation of animals, the protection of the environment, and human well being, veganism is the best choice and an important starting point for serious activism.
- Why Should We Care?
- Animal Testing
- Companion Animals
- What to Do?