To eat meat or not to eat meat–that is the question

A student shares their view on veganism

What comes to mind when you think of a vegan?  A vegan is a strict vegetarian, or someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all.  Being a vegan myself, I’m constantly asked questions along the lines of “How do you live without all those foods?” Well here’s the secret: When you care about making a difference, you’re willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary.  And trust me; there are many reasons why you should care about veganism.

Veganism  obviously helps animals. Most people understand why the meat industry is detrimental to animals, but they do not understand why vegans take such drastic measures to cut out all other animal products. Vegans refuse to eat eggs because by doing so you are supporting the slaughter of about two hundred million male chicks per year in the U.S. alone. Because male chicks are too expensive to care for until adulthood and they do not produce eggs, they bring in no profit for large scale farms. And bringing in no profit in the world of factory farming means a rather cruel death. Another thing some people don’t understand is why vegans leave milk/dairy products out of their diets. Even though dairy cows aren’t slaughtered, they’re still horribly mistreated. Most calves are taken from their mother the day they’re born, and their mother is impregnated again about 60 days after she gives birth so she can continue to produce milk for profit. There are also countless videos of cows being kicked or hit by workers, and some are even rammed with the blades of a forklift. So even though animals like dairy cows and egg-producing chickens aren’t killed, they are treated in the worst way possible in order to produce the most profit.

And as an added benefit, being a vegan is a perfectly healthy and sustainable diet choice. The fact that society has ingrained in people’s minds that meat and milk are the only sources of protein and calcium is appalling. When you’re a vegan, getting protein and calcium is the very least of your worries. The Institute of Medicine recommends that no more than 35% of your daily calorie intake should come from protein. This amount is all too easily achieved through a vegan diet. Vegetables, non-dairy milk, (soymilk, almond milk, etc.) nut butter, (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.) lentils, beans, and tofu are vegan-friendly sources of protein and calcium.

Of course, it’s understandable that many people can’t give up these foods all at once. But by participating in Meatless Monday, (where some people choose to leave meat off their plate every Monday) both animals and other people can be helped. Every little bit counts, and each step taken is a step in the right direction. This difference will mean a better life for both people and animals.