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The Importance of Being Vegan

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Some people might attempt to justify consumption of animal products for reasons of health. And yet, an increasing number of medical professionals are beginning to realize that not only are plant-based diets nutritionally complete, but they are actually more nourishing and far less toxic than their animal-based counterparts. In addition, the public is beginning to realize that many of the major dangers associated with diet – heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and many, many more – are exacerbated by the consumption of animal products, and can actually be avoided by adopting a vegan diet.

According to the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, the American Dietetic Association (“the ADA”):

“…Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases… Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

In other words, the official position of the – very mainstream – ADA is that including animal products in one’s diet is not only unnecessary, but can actually be harmful to our health.

What about our other uses of animals? Leather, wool, silk, down, fur, toiletries, cosmetics, entertainment, sport, the vast majority of our experimentation – all of these are also clearly unnecessary under any coherent concept of the word “necessary”, as there are vegan alternatives available for them all.

Veganism is not a fringe philosophy – it is a moral baseline that is consistent with beliefs that most of us already hold. Veganism is a simple matter of refraining from participating in unnecessary and harmful use of sentient beings. As most people are naturally opposed to unnecessary violence, becoming and staying vegan is not a matter of changing any of our basic moral beliefs. It simply requires us to be willing to change the habits we have developed that prevent us from living according to our principles.

Every one of us has been conditioned by the propaganda of a highly speciesist society – a worldwide culture that is extremely prejudiced against the interests of those animals who did not have the good fortune to be born onto this planet in human form. And yet, every one of us has the power to break free from this indoctrination. Becoming vegan is simply recognizing and admitting who we really are – it is the opportunity to become who we would be if no one had ever taught us that it’s okay to turn our backs on the needs and rights of our fellow animals, that it’s okay to ignore their pain if it leads to our pleasure.

Is veganism a sacrifice? Not at all. On the contrary, it is every non-vegan choice that sacrifices our own inherent goodness. Once you make the decision to live consistently with your values, the rewards – in the form of a healthier body, clearer mind, and more peaceful conscience – will be both profoundly apparent and a source of continuing joy.

But even if veganism does require us to give up some of our favorite foods, beloved items of clothing, and cherished habits, does that question really matter? The institution of slavery and the treatment of sentient beings as ‘things’ – whether human or nonhuman – are inherently and gravely unjust.  The changes that veganism requires of us, and the rewards that veganism brings, are irrelevant to the true moral question:

Is the taste of a particular food, or the way you feel in your favorite pair of shoes or your winter coat, more important than the life and freedom of another living, feeling being?

 

with Dan Cudahy

 

Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World – a non-profit educational organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition.

Dan Cudahy is author of Unpopular Vegan Essays: Unpopular Essays Concerning Popular Violence Inflicted On The Innocent.

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Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1743 comments

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6:05PM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

The most intelligent day in my life was the day I became a vegan. The dumbest day was when I allowed myself to be lied to by omnivores who convinced me I couldn't live a healthy vegan life. The happiest day in my life is the day I got tired of being sick, went back to my vegan life and started feeling the benefits of an improved health and a happier sense of being at knowing I no longer would be supporting the murder of animals for food. Some may get angry that I put it that way, but it is the truth. If some refuse to even try the vegan life, that is up to them, but I don't regret being vegan in any way, form, or fashion what so ever. I celebrate it. My doctors and my careful screening of the effects on me from being vegan show that it was the best decision I ever made all the way around.

6:17AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

"I have just been told by one of the members that Angel publishes old stuff and changes the name and publishes it again, and some people don´t seem to like it." ~Cristina S.

Actually, this is done every now and then with many of the authors, some articles are older and are brought back. Sometimes these articles had described something that had occurred a few years ago and at times no update is provided (say, a case involving the treatment of an animal or describing what happened with a person) which can leave people wondering whatever did happen if the article hasn't been updated.

5:43AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

There are many differing viewpoints on any given issues. Given the diversity of the world, there are a number of options to follow, if one eats meat, then simply avoid factory farms.

Cheryl M said: "If most go to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, those people will most likely be healthier than their omnivorous friends." This is not necessarily true as vegans are not immune from health problems. Cristina S stated: I wonder why you, Valentina R, are in this site, when you have no regard for any rights but yours, obviously you don´t give a damn about anything but yourself...A total shame of human being you are. You should be on a "Couldn´t Care Less Carnivore Site." Just because others are not vegan, does not mean that they are selfish. It is the stock and trade answer from some vegans that 'only vegans care' about this or that and everyone else, be they vegetarian or omnivore needs to go off Care2. This is not a vegans only site and everyone has a contribution to make. Humankind is diverse and no one option will be the only one available to people.

Some vegans are full of self-importance if they assume that only their way of doing things is valid. I have vegan friends who are not judgemental.

5:30AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Interesting article.

Veganism is one option for some, however, the world is now comprised of vegetarians, omnivores and vegans and it appears that it will always be this way. Chose the option that you are comfortable with.

Since three percent of the world's population is vegan, it is not an option that most are following. Modern day farming both animal and veggie needs a lot of changes.

Colin W, I am nowhere near the ocean, all three oceans are over 1,000 kilometres from where I live, so there is no surf, up or down. Just because some people disagree with you, does not make them trolls, stop being so simplistic when it comes to a proper and concise debate. People have different ideas on any given topic. Not everyone plans on being vegan and people have been eating meat for eons. If you do not wish to, by all means do not eat it, but to assume no one is going to be eating meat in the future is wishful thinking. One can get rid of factory farms and go back to small farms, pasture-raised. Get rid of GMO agriculture as well and get back to organic farming.

5:30AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Billy Vincent B stated: ..."life may well be longer free of meat consumption heart attacks, strokes, liver kidney failure and so many more problems being a carnivore."

Not necessarily true as vegans are not immune from strokes and other illnesses and many omnivores live long and healthy lives if they follow a well-balanced diet. Given today's food industry and the high amount of highly refined foods, HFCS, etc., seen in foods that are not even animal products, one has to be careful of what one eats, too many GMO's etc., therefore eating organic foods seems to be the way to ensure good health.

Many people don't seem to be aware of basic nutrition and eat too much meat, potato chips and the like... the proper serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards. You won't have health problems if eating non-factory farmed meat, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise well. There are no problems being an omnivore if one observes a well-balanced diet. People are omnivores not carnivores unless one is Inuit, they eat mostly meat and very little else.


11:39PM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

What humanity needs to do is to come of age and end the insanity of hunting and killing animals, we are no longer Neanderthals...further more we need many more Vegan restaurants and shops in malls and shopping centres....Being a Vegan is a joy and a lot healthier, no animal suffers and life may well be longer free of meat consumption heart attacks, strokes, liver kidney failure and so many more problems being a carnivore...billy vincent berman....i too am on Facebook sharing as many petitions as i can and welcome people to use any material on my file and i like too very much the work of and care of care2 and the petitioners....billy vincent berman

12:38AM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

Thank you!

2:54AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

Hi, Erica..........long time, no read. Welcome back. Yes, I had checked the top box in this discussion a very long time ago, when it was a NEW discussion. Never thought I should have to manually UNCHECK discussions that should just die out, automatically, so was a bit surprised when a new comment made to this article showed up in my C2's IN BOX. Hope you're doing well. Thank you for the support. It IS mind-boggling to contemplate why some think coming into and stirring up the "pot" after such a long time and in such a hostile, negative and insulting manner could impress anyone or "convert" them to their beliefs, isn't it?

2:41AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

I can't believe this article is still being kept alive...by a very angry vegan no less. Diane, you are SO spot on. I mean, geez, I'm a vegetarian and thought Colin's comment was totally inappropriate...AND he is a tad late in getting in on the conversation. He should have participated when people still actually CARED about the discussion. And that goes for Cristina S too.

12:31AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

"as soon as someone writes an article about Veganism, Meat Troll 1 through 9 come in and start telling everyone why Vegans are so bad and eating meat is The Greatest Thing Ever"............"AS SOON AS"? Colin, you must have missed the fact that this article was posted over 2 YEARS ago. Nobody who disagrees with Angel Flinn is a "meat troll", but since you've just popped in and completely misconstrued and incorrectly interpreted everyone who is NOT vegan, I'd question you as possibly fitting that description. Not a single non-vegan who has posted has called any vegan "bad" or suggested that eating meat is the "greatest thing ever". Geez, Colin, has it taken you TWO years to read this article or any of the comments here, or take you two YEARS to compose your snarky and disrespectful response?.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-importance-of-being-vegan.html#ixzz2b4qQuMtA

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