I have no trouble admitting it: Vegan propaganda can be incredibly derisive, overbearing and radical. For example, according to a 2012 article by The Times of Israel, in 2004 PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) was sued for a campaign it titled “Holocaust on your plate.” The disturbing campaign featured the slogan “For animals, all people are Nazis.” The logic that the campaign creators used to come to this conclusion is almost unfathomable. PETA lost the lawsuit in 2009 and was called out for the pain the campaign had caused by comparing the suffering of Jewish people to animals.
The distinction that must be made, I believe, is that animals are sentient, but by no means equal to humans. While this may seem like an obvious observation to most of us, given the extremist views of PETA, it is not obvious to all. The goal of this article, however, is not to throw out the logical arguments for veganism because of the fallacies of radical vegans. Let’s take a moment to look at some balanced, rational reasons for veganism.
A quick disclaimer: I am a struggling vegan at best. The food that is often convenient and comforting is rarely healthy or vegan. But the conditions in the dairy and meat industry have reached a point of inhumanity that calls for action, regardless of how small. Why should the suffering of commonly eaten animals be viewed differently than the suffering of dogs and cats? What makes them different? Our proximity … our affection? These cannot be the only elements that make something worth protecting.
The destructive impact on the environment due to commercial farming rises to the list of good reasons to adopt a vegan diet. According to a recent study by The Guardian, the worldwide cattle industry creates more greenhouse emissions than cars, boats, trains and planes combined. Most of this comes from the massive amounts of waste that livestock creates. Matador Network reports, “The digestive process of cattle releases methane into the atmosphere, which is far more dangerous than the carbon dioxide emitted from cars.”
In addition to wreaking havoc on the planet, the meat and dairy industry is doing an overwhelming amount of damage to humans themselves. CBS News released an article saying that the consumption of meat and dairy may be as harmful to your health as smoking cigarettes, and those who get their protein from animal products show higher risks for growing cancer cells. The study went on to say that decreasing animal proteins in the diet can reduce early mortality rates by 21 percent. The New York Times stated that the more meat products an individual eats the more likely they are to have a heart attack, high blood pressure, arthritis pain, obesity and many other ailments.
Most human beings dislike change. It can be hard to let go of the old ways, the ways we have become emotionally attached to. But change is often a good thing. Perhaps, like me, you have grown up hearing the Seventh-day Adventist health message until you were exhausted and a little jaded. These may be arguments you have heard before, but it is worth considering that the simple, everyday choices we make are consequential.