There isn't just one way to be.

Why vegan ?

Why vegan ?

 

It took me a little bit of time to finally sit down and write this article because I wanted it to be perfect. This topic has become highly important to me – even though I think it was always here hidden somewhere in the back of my head – and I don’t want to spread the wrong message. I see the image that people have of vegans, I also see the ridiculous “arguments” meat eaters use against the vegan community, and what I want to come out of this article is just you wanting to know more, just you thinking that maybe probably one day you will go vegan too. It is now clear for most vegans (the open minded ones) that the reason why we are not all vegans today is misinformation,. It is big companies with very good marketing teams, tricking you into believing everything they say is true. And as a vegan, as any vegan, our job is to spread the love, communicate the information most people don’t have about what is really going on and what you are really doing to your body, to the animals and to our planet. Because very few people were born in a vegan family, we all grew up eating meat, thinking meat was essential to our health, and never really linked that cute little pig face with the slice of bacon on our plate. The key here is to get informed, it’s to know the truth, and this is the purpose of this article, giving you the information that has been hidden from you and making you want to know more.

So, yes, I am vegan, and no this is not a label (for those who have read my “About” page  or the one before I went vegan) it is our lifestyle. We both are vegans since around 3 months now, and we absolutely love it. We feel so much better for it, especially Helen who used to have very bad stomach ache, or had to take enzyme tablets before every meal. She is now free of tablets and pain! But it’s not all, because health wasn’t the first reason why we went vegan. There are so many reasons why a vegan lifestyle is the right choice but before we start talking about them I just want to make something clear. Even though I can get very fiery when it comes to animal welfare, I still agree and encourage any small step in this direction. Anything you will decide to change in your lifestyle that will diminish your impact on our beautiful planet and on the animal’s suffering, is an amazing thing no matter how small. Because Rome wasn’t built in a day, we all need to make these changes at our own pace in our own time, and it’s ok! Though bare in mind that there is some kind of dead line here for us and for our planet so sooner is always better than later 😉

So why did we go vegan in the first place? Well, after cutting out most of our meat and fish intake for around 1 year, after watching Cowspiracy, we then watched the great documentary “what the health?” on Netflix, and that was it. Like most people who have watched this documentary we just decided on the spot that we will not be a part of this ever again. It appears clear to us that vegetarianism wasn’t enough because the dairy and eggs industry are as bad if not even worse than the meat and fish industry. Technically speaking it wasn’t such a huge change for us as most dairy products were already out the house because of my partner’s intolerance. But turning vegan, on top of being cruelty free, and greener, meant for me to also be healthier. So it was, and still is, a very exciting challenge to change my way of cooking, discover new ingredients, but most of all to learn heaps of new recipes. And the amazing thing is that we rediscover the taste of real food, because vegan food is just sooo delicious! And it is a bit like finding your taste buds back after quitting smoking, everything is just so much more flavourful!

Be aware that this is not an exhaustive list of the reasons why a plant based diet and vegan lifestyle is important, otherwise you would still be reading the article tomorrow. There is, to me and according to all studies that I have been reading, 3 main reasons why going vegan is the future of a prosperous Earth. These are ecological, ethical and health related.

Ethical reasons: the obvious one, stopping cruelty towards animals.

Please keep in mind that what I am talking about here is not from 50 years ago, it’s not related to one type or farm or one country only. No, this is what any meat / fish / dairy product you will find on your plate actually means.

Big news, animals have feelings! They feel pain but they also feel fear and anxiety, which I believe you absorb when eating meat, which is linked to how uncomfortable you can feel after eating a heavy meat based meal and how depressed and frustrated meat eaters are.

We have enslaved animals so that they meet our “needs”, sometimes even genetically modify them for that purpose; to lay more eggs (from max 20 per year to 300), give more milk, grow more wool, get fatter quicker, etc… For example, a sheep in real life doesn’t need the man to cut its wool, because the growth of the wool regulates itself to the sheep needs, but we have genetically modify them to grow more wool for our needs, putting their life at risk. Another example is with milk cows who don’t need to be milked by man to be more comfortable, they have babies for this, and in real life they just stop milking when the calf is wean, but as we take the baby away from its mum at birth, we then milk the cow ourselves giving her hormones to keep the milk coming.

 

 

 

 

They are treated like worthless “things” without ever using painkillers or anaesthesia: cutting off their beaks or their horns , living in horrible conditions in a crowded environment or cages, cutting off tales & teeth, having abscesses bigger than a baby’s head growing on them because of sanitary conditions, turning them into cannibals, and so on. On dairy farms, cows can’t move from their boxes where they will spend their whole life – around 5 years instead of 20 to 30 years because they physically can’t make it till then-, the calf will be taken from the mum on the day of birth. This is the most traumatic day for a cow (and I’m sure the mums and dads reading this will relate), and she will have to live it over and over again every year, every time she gives birth. The mum and the baby (if it hasn’t been killed yet) will be desperately crying for days, the cow will go back to the same place she lost her baby, looking in the same direction she last saw him/her, crying. And all this, just so that humans can drink the milk –and all the blood / pus / antibiotics that goes with it – that was meant for the calf. Just a quick FYI here, a calf weighs around 30kg at birth and will put on 30kg per month to reach an average weight of 250/300kg at 9 months old, this is why it needs its mother’s milk, this is also why we don’t need it! We are not meant to grow that much, that fast, and our body is not meant to receive that much fat and nutrients, which is the reason why we get so many heart diseases! And all this to be chained then slaughtered soon after because, well we don’t need males so… If it is a female, then she will be treated exactly like her mum and killed as soon as she doesn’t give enough milk.

 

For those who are thinking “that’s ok, I only buy free range eggs / ethical meat”, bad news, humane animal farming doesn’t exist, it is just marketing tricks to make you feel better and less guilty about your purchase. And as long as we will kill animals that we have NO NEED to survive, this will be an unnecessary harm to them and will never be humane anyway. “Humane” means with compassion, killing a living being who doesn’t want to die, even if it is not painful, can’t be humane.

Ecological reasons: This is a topic that I already approached in my article about “how to help protecting our planet”.

Being vegan, for most vegans is about animals, but I think it is very important that we see it is also about our planet and the 800 million people who are still starving when we are throwing food away every single day. 2/3 of our agricultural lands are used for animal farming or for the production of their food. While we need 323m square to produce 1kg of beef, we only need 16m square for 1kg of bread, which mean we are wasting huge amount of our resources (water included) for nothing more than creating pure suffering. All this spare land is more than what we need to actually help feeding the nations in need with plants and legumes. Without livestock to feed, we would have 50% SURPLUS of food that could help developing countries.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, animal farming is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gases emissions –mostly methane-, which is more than all the transports in the world put together. We can then agree that intensive animal farming is one major reason for the climate change and the natural disaster that accompany it. Having a plant based diet means reducing by 2 to 3 your ecological footprint. In fact, even if we were to cut out all sources of CO2, the climate will still increase 1.5 to 2 degrees because of methane, which the biggest source is ruminant (by breathing not farting!). Just by stopping eating red meat, we could slow down the global warming in only 25 years.  Another example that shows how much damage eating meat does to our planet is, if everyone in the US ate no meat or cheese for just 1 day a week for one year, it is like not driving 91 BILLION miles or taking 7.6 MILLION cars off the road.

Going vegan will not only reduce your carbon footprint, it will also help save the world’s forests that we are destroying at the moment. Those lands will be used to create agricultural land to feed the livestock (back to using way too many lands for nothing!). 84% of the world deforestation is for agriculture and 80% of this is only for livestock and its feeding. By the way we use our land at the moment – so intensively that we turn soil into dust – they only have 60 years left and the rainforest only have 100 years left. A little bit of science reminder, rainforests are “the lungs” of our planet, they absorb the greenhouse gas to transform it into oxygen, and without them we can’t exist. And we are at the moment increasing our greenhouse gas emission AND decreasing the size of our “lungs”, do the maths.

Health reasons: I think this is one critical point, if you haven’t been convinced by how we torture animals for our own good, there is still chances that you are concern by your health and the one of your loved ones.

This is also one of the most documented point lately, as the UN, the WHO and multiple health associations like diabetes.co.uk or the American Dietetic Association are recommending adopting a plant based diet for its health benefits. This is because a vegan diet can significantly reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart attack, and some types of cancer.

It has now been proven, by the thousands of people, doctors, dieticians, health organisations, athletes, etc that are following a plant based diet, that we DO NOT need meat to survive and thrive. Anything you need can be found in plant based food, all the nutrients, proteins, vitamins etc are found in plants, and are even better sources of them than animal flesh. Unlike what most people would think, you will find less anaemia in the vegan community than among meat eaters. You will find lots of people who use to have iron deficiency before going vegan and are now absolutely fine. See, the reality is that, if you adopt a well-balanced plant based whole food diet, low in high processed food, you will be for sure giving your body a lot more goodies that if you were on a western diet.

Though, if you are completely new to the vegan world, you probably don’t know that there is one thing, and only one that vegans needs a supplement for. Supplement they can also find in fortified food. And it is vitamin b12. Opposite to what people think, it is not healthier to get you vitamin b12 from meat, and here is why: vitamin b12 comes from the soil, if you were eating cows that had eat grass their whole life, then you will get some natural b12, though probably not enough. But very rare are those cows nowadays, so to counterpart this, the industry if feeding cows b12 supplements. In conclusion you and I are both having b12 by supplements, the only difference is that I choose mine and it is a vegan and good quality one, when yours is the cheapest one on the market.

In case you haven’t heard it yet, the world health organization has classified processed meat – “any meat which has been modified in order to either improve its taste or extend its shelf life”, includes bacon, ham, hotdogs, sausages, salami, pate, any aromatised meat, etc – as a group 1 carcinogenic product to humans, just right next to cigarettes. In 2016 the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund revealed that consuming processed meat increased the risk of certain type of cancer. The Australian Cancer Council says in 2010 that 1 of 6 new bowel cancer in the country is linked with the consumption of red meat and processed meat. Beef, lamb and pork are classified by the WHO as very probable cause of cancer.

In numbers :

Chronic disease are responsible for 60% of deaths, fortunately you are 40% less likely to develop cancer if you are vegetarian, 32% less risk to have heart disease if you are vegetarian and 70% less risk to have diabetes if you are vegan.

This is without mentioning that 50% of the world antibiotic production is used by the animal farming industry. I don’t know what you think about this, but after all the scandals we had linked to pharmaceutical companies, I decided a few years ago to drastically reduced any types of medicines (apart from natural one) in my life, and only use them in case of emergency. So when I learnt that, I thought “I’m not avoiding antibiotics in my life to get it from my food”! Add to that, all the pesticides they use to grow livestock food that also end up in your body.

One on my last point, will be for those who are watching their line. Being vegan is not a “get skinny” diet, but if you do have a balance plant based diet, low in processed food and high in whole food, then yes you will lose weight until you reach your natural weight. This is not rocket science, it’s just plain logic, as meat contains much more fat than plant based food. On average, a vegan will weight around 9kg less than a meat eater. I’m saying it’s not a “get skinny” diet because unlike those ridiculous and dangerous diet that you can find in any woman’s magazine, being vegan will keep you fit, energised and healthy on the long run not just for the summer months.

I have used the words “plant based diet” and “vegan diet” a lot more than vegan lifestyle, because I want this article to touch as much people as possible. But please remember that this isn’t just about being on a diet. Animal exploitation is in everything from our clothes to our make-up, house cleaning products, medical experiments, entertainment (zoos,marine parks, or circus)… This is why adopting a vegan lifestyle is the way to go.

For those for whom the first thought will be “I can’t live without cheese / steak / bacon” or “I don’t have the time / the energy / the cooking skills / the money” so I can’t go vegan. I’d like to say: Bullshit! Though, I do understand where you’re coming from because it use to be my excuses (before I had the information I just gave you), and anyone who isn’t born in a vegan family have to go through this. But it is important to remember that we are not vegan because we don’t like the taste of meat or cheese. I mean, I’m French ffs, cheese is like part of my DNA, and don’t even get me started on Foie gras, duck breast or beef tartare! But I made the choice to be more compassionate because I understand that my taste buds aren’t more important than another being’s life. I cannot justify that a poor little calf will be taken away from its mum after only a few hours, to get killed in the most horrible condition, just for me to be fed on its flesh. I cannot justify that a cute little monkey will be caged and used for experiment its whole life, just for me to wear that pink lipstick.

And, I also don’t accept all the shit they feed the animals with or let in the flesh, to end up in my body, like faeces, blood, pus and more.

So this is why we went vegan. Like everything new in your life, it will ask some time and a bit of effort to put into places. But fortunately, today is the best time to become vegan, thanks to all these new companies that are creating new vegan products every day to make our lives easier.

Being kind is cool, so let’s all be cool together to create a better planet for us and for the animals.

 

If you are curious and want more information, I recommend you watch these documentaries:

What the health ?

Cowspiracy

Earthlings (warning, it’s very graphic, but then if you are one of those who still think eating animal flesh is ok, it would be very hypocritical of you to say “I can’t stand slaughter house images”)

Forks over knife

Food, inc.

Blackfish

The Cove