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Commentary :: Education
Holistic Health: Why Vegan?
01 Dec 2005
A compilation of ethical, environmental, philosophical, nutritional, and humanitarian reasons to adopt a Vegan lifestyle.
There is a holocaust happening in this country, in every state, the result of which only leads to more deaths through organic physical illnesses such as cancers, degenerative brain illnesses, and diabetes. Twenty-seven million animals are killed each day in the United States, or 19,000 every minute, which equates to over ten billion per year (woodstockfas.org). A Vegan lifestyle excludes the consumption of anything that is a by-product of animal cruelty and rejects using animals in fashion or in the testing of products (this can include anything from toothpaste to medication). Vegans, by their very nature, are a voice for those who have none. There are many reasons to adopt a Vegan lifestyle: for our fellow animals, the environment, and our health to name a few.

The statistic offered at the beginning of this column is an under-representation of the true number of animals slaughtered yearly: It only includes factory farmed animals. The life of a farmed animal is not one that anyone should have to experience. Cows, chickens, hens, turkeys, pigs, deer, fox, fish, geese and many others are subjected to much of the same treatment. Non-human animals, from the time of birth, are transmogrified into commodities – their flesh is food, their skin is upholstery, their hair is clothing insulate, their brains instruments of research, and their bodies test tubes for experimentation. They are subjected to unimaginably cramped living spaces, piled on top of one another, their home becomes a cesspool for disease and infections. They are starved and deprived of water, and the food they are given would not be consumed by their own volition -- often they are fed pellets of plastic or the slaughtered remains of other animals in substitution for actual, and coincidentally more expensive, food. Indeed, this practice of recycling rotting and bacteria-infested animal flesh back into animal feed is the reason for the development the degenerative brain disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “Mad Cow Disease.” On top of this, animals are pumped full of hormones daily in order to raise the bar of production.

Despite how obvious this may seem, our health is directly related to what we are putting into our bodies. So, if you are eating animal flesh or a product that came from an animal that was being fed plastic and rotted carcass whilst injected with hormones and other chemicals (many of which have been proven to lead to birth defects), then you are undoubtedly poisoning yourself. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 70 percent of all food-borne related illnesses are due to the consumption of contaminated animal product. This results in the sickness of over 76 million people, killing five million per year (sustainabletable.org). Although there is an enormous list of ethical reasons to be Vegan, a simple plant-based diet is the only logical conclusion for one to make regarding health. Carnivores, such as wolves, are physiologically designed to consume animal flesh, they have short and simple digestive systems that are only three times the length of their bodies. Humans, on the other hand, have the exact opposite; our digestive systems are twelve times the length of our bodies (jtcwd.com). The reason that carnivores have such simple and short systems is so animal flesh does not putrefy inside of their bodies, festering diseases. Prominent diseases of affluence countries, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and others have all been linked to the consumption of animal products. According to the American Dietetic Association, a plant-based diet reduces all of these diseases by 80-90 percent (eatright.org).

If empathy for our fellow animals and care for our own health is not enough incentive to consider a Vegan diet, then maybe the knowledge of irreparable environmental damage will be: an animal-eating environmentalist does not exist, it is oxymoronic. Due to the inconsiderate and unethical farming techniques of factory farmers, our generation and those to come will be confronted with a slew of environmental problems. Today, not only is our water supply depleted, but because of slaughterhouses and factory farms it is also contaminated and poisoned due to the run-off of heavy metals, phosphorus, and other chemicals from feedlots (veganoutreach.org). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the waste produced by one cow equals that of 20-40 humans (“Notes from Underground,” 2001). The ammonia present in manure is the leading contributor to toxicity in aquatic life and to river and stream ecosystems. Every year, thousands of acres of forest life are destroyed in order to make room for animal death camps and “grazing” fields. In addition, over ten billion wildlife animals are murdered globally per year in order to prevent them from interfering with animal agriculture--and these are endangered animals such as bison, buffalo, wolves, and lions. This figure does not even include the millions of different bird species that are poisoned per year in order to stop them from taking food off feedlots, an amount that does not even skim the profit that government subsidized animal farms make from marketable slaughter (woodstockfas.org).

This is not just a fight for non-human animals, but one for our fellow human animals as well. Like the non-human animals they slaughter, factory farmers and slaughterhouse employees are exploited for their labor in the traditional capitalist way. Workers are subjected to hazardous airborne chemicals that are constantly inhaled, resulting in a 58 percent prevalence rate of chronic bronchitis (factoryfarm.org). According to the US Department of Labor, working in a slaughterhouse is the most dangerous job in the nation (sustainabletable.org). 29 out of 100 workers per year sustain injuries that require treatment beyond first aid. Most of the injuries involve amputation, since they are required to wield sharp blades at extremely heavy partially-mutilated bodies that are moving past them at 300 feet per second, often while standing ankle-deep in the blood of their fellow exploited animals. These factors accumulate to produce a very unstable working environment. In addition, most of these workers are illegal immigrants that have no access to labor unions or means of recovery in case of sustaining a work-related injury. For more information, check http://boston.animaldefense.info/multimedia/mayday_leaflet.pdf.

So, after knowing all this information, can you still eat animal product? Keep in mind, we are all creatures of this earth – not just cogs in a destructive machine of corporate expansion. We are individuals who make choices at every moment, effecting everything. Everyone, everything that has life, everything that has energy, is equally important. In this society, we are made to be spectators, not participants. This system wants you to become apathetic, to believe that you can never make a difference, but that is a fallacy. One person who adopts a Vegan lifestyle is saving the lives of many other animals that would otherwise be exploited. To know that you would be saving the life of just one animal, of just one acre of land, of just one exploited worker, or maybe just yourself – is worth it. You cannot change the world until you change yourself. We are microcosms of possibility, representations of potentiality, the beginning to whatever will come afterwards. So live in the moment, and give each choice that you make the importance that it deserves.

The Boston Animal Defense League is a collective of individuals dedicated to exposing the injustices and hypocrisies of the animal slaughter. To get involved or find our more information about events and direct actions taking place, go to http://boston.animaldefense.info/.
See also:
http://www.thestudentunderground.org/article.php?id=121&issue=53

This work is in the public domain
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Comments

Re: Holistic Health: Why Vegan?
02 Dec 2005
Oops. I stopped listening after you said "Holocaust."
Re: Holistic Health: Why Vegan?
06 Dec 2005
Thank you!! Excellent article!!