7 reasons to change your diet on World Animal Day

| 4th October 2018
If everyone ate the crops directly – rather that feeding them to animals and then eating them – we could feed nearly half of the world’s population
https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=215663&picture=pigs
Statistics can inform, surprise and amaze but in the Internet age, it’s easy to get lost in the abundance of often conflicting data out there. The Vegan Society’s DOMINIKA PIASECKA presents some findings that will make you think twice about your diet

In the six years of being vegan, I’ve learned more about the world and myself than I ever have, and it’s important to me to share this knowledge with as many people as possible.

Every year on 4 October people around the globe celebrate World Animal Day. It is a particularly special day for me as it marks the day I decided to go vegetarian in 2010, and then vegan in 2012.

In the six years of being vegan, I’ve learned more about the world and myself than I ever have, and it’s important to me to share this knowledge with as many people as possible.

I remember watching a documentary about sustainability called ‘Cowspiracy’ – still available on Netflix – and being blown away by the facts and figures presented in the film.

I was amazed that my relatively new lifestyle choice could benefit the planet this way and I wanted to know more. The scale on which animals are used is truly mind-blowing, as I’m hoping to illustrate in this article.

Here is a selection of facts and statistics for the three major reasons why people are increasingly turning to veganism:

THE ENVIRONMENT

1. Feeding crops to people rather than farmed animals could feed three billion more people.

While veganism is of course an animal rights movement, it can help people too. Vegans are often very unfairly accused of not caring about people but, in fact, our lifestyle can help combat world hunger.

People in developing countries are starving; partially because of our greed for meat, dairy and eggs. If everyone ate the crops directly – rather that feeding them to animals and then eating them – we could feed nearly half of the world’s population!

2. For every 100 calories we feed to animals, we receive back only 12 calories from their meat or milk.

Animal agriculture is inherently wasteful and unsustainable. For every 100 calories fed to animals, we receive back only 12 calories by consuming their flesh and milk.

The dairy industry, far from its perception as an innocent by-product, is every bit as environmentally destructive as meat. Dairy alone accounts for about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, over half of which is methane - a highly potent greenhouse gas emitted by cows.

We need to be far bolder than “eating less or ‘better’ meat” if we are to protect our precious planet. 

ANIMALS

3. We don’t know how many animals we kill every year.

This one is a non-statistic really but, perversely, it’s the most shocking one. There is no accurate estimation of how many animals die at our hands. We as a society do not value animal lives enough to even note their passing.

There are at least two rough estimates for the number of farmed animals killed every year for ‘food’: 56 and 150 billion. Both are striking and neither includes the number of marine animals killed, which is so great that it’s measured in tonnes. The conclusion is just that we do not know the harm we cause.

4. Milk production per cow has doubled over the last 40 years, with cows typically worn out after just three lactations. 

The exploitation of female cows for their reproductive capacities by the dairy industry is one of the cruellest forms of injustice we perpetrate on animals. Drinking cow’s milk means contributing to the killing of a child, the breaking of a new mother’s heart and abuse of the miracle of bearing children.

With today’s intensive farming systems constantly seeking out ways to minimise costs and maximise profit, cows have been cross bred to the point where they produce much more milk than they naturally would, leading to terrible health consequences.

5. More than 40 million day-old male chicks are killed in the UK by either being gassed or being thrown into a macerator.

We may think that buying organic or free-range eggs means we’re not contributing to animal suffering but the reality is that every egg consumed shows support for the cruel and exploitative egg industry.

The practice of killing day-old male chicks occurs in all egg farming systems, including organic and free-range. Hens’ welfare is compromised as they’re specifically bred to produce two or three times as many eggs as they naturally would. This depletes them from calcium, meaning bone fractures are sadly very common.

HEALTH

6. If the world went vegan, it could save eight million human lives by 2050 and up to $1,000bn per year on healthcare.

A vegan world would not only be a kinder place for everyone, but also very beneficial to our health. Oxford University experts found that billions of dollars could be saved if no one ate animals.

There’s a disconnect between what we’re told we should be eating and the food we’re producing. Animal farming is sadly being prioritised, whereas governments should instead provide support for growers who produce food for human consumption.

7. Eating just 50g processed meat per day - two rashers of bacon - increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18 percent.

You’ve likely heard about the World Health Organisation report in November 2015 that classified processed meat as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco. The news caused many people to make changes to their diets.

While all diets are individual, an off-the-shelf vegan diet is often perceived as one of the healthiest.

Ultimately, every action we take is with a view to make ourselves happy – it is human nature to make choices that personally benefit us. While my decision to become vegan was motivated by my refusal to contribute to animal exploitation, you may find that you care about the environment or want to live a healthier life. Veganism is a great choice for all of us who care about these issues.

If you’d like to learn more about veganism, take up our seven-day challenge this World Animal Day here.

This author

Dominika Piasecka is Media and PR Officer at The Vegan Society and a keen vegan activist.

Help us keep The Ecologist working for the planet

The Ecologist website is a free service, published by The Resurgence Trust, a UK-based educational charity. We work hard - with a small budget and tiny editorial team - to bring you the wide-ranging, independent journalism we know you value and enjoy, but we need your help. Please make a donation to support The Ecologist platform. Thank you!

Donate to us here