57 billion is not the number of vegans in the world, but the number of animals eaten by humans per year (and that doesn’t include aquatic animals, which number an extra trillion p.a.). That’s a hell of a lot of suffering. (See the home page for current data – much higher now.)
And that’s without all the welfare issues in relation to our rearing, treatment, transportation and killing of animals. It’s hard to justify ethically the consuming of meat and animal products in the affluent Western world; and it’s also not necessary for good health.
Meat-eating is also not an efficient use of land. To feed an equivalent number of people on a non-animal-based diet would use only one-tenth of the land we currently use. Of course, this would also address global hunger, AND allow rewilding. (it should be said that we also need to address population growth, and these figures shouldn’t condone the latter.) And we know that intensive animal farming contributes immensely to deforestation, climate change, soil erosion and water pollution.
How would it be for the planet if we as a species shifted our view from the unconscious Judeo-Christian belief that animals sit lower in the hierarchy of being and were put here for our use (‘dominion’), to the more inclusive ‘Indra’s Net’ approach? In this interconnected picture animals, like us, form a vital part of the web of being, and have intrinsic rights and needs that are nothing to do with our appetites. If we see them in this way, surely it makes their suffering at our hands unthinkable.
Taken to logical limits, this concern seems naturally to lead to an ethic of veganism. This is seen as ‘extreme’ in our culture; but isn’t the rearing, killing and eating of 57 billion animals per year the more extreme position? Just because something – in this case meat-eating – is a dominant ideology doesn’t mean it’s OK. Look at slavery, child labour, racism, sexism.
The blogs on this site will record my own transition from lacto-vegetarian to vegan (and my lapses). The site is also and primarily intended to act as support and a kind of clearing-house for information for people who feel there’s another way to live – one that doesn’t involve the vast amount of suffering animals experience at our hands; and could do with input to go about making the changes.
Included (bit by bit) will be information on the raising and killing of animals (and the environmental costs); why the dairy option doesn’t go far enough; myths and facts about veganism; nutritional info; the health benefits of a vegan diet; the implications for addressing global poverty and starvation; compassionate alternatives in larder, medicine chest and wardrobe; recipes; bibliography and resources; and related info on animal welfare.
Down the line, I hope to include a section on the immense gifts of the plant realm.
I’ll be adding material to this site as and when I can. If you have a considered contribution to make, tips, recipes, book recommendations or links, or details of your own experience, I’d welcome it; please offer it initially via the Comments box.
For possibly the best article ever on the vegan cause, click here.
One thought on “The case for veganism”
This is a very welcome blog and so relevant in today’s climate where the human influence on the world needs to be constantly questioned. I offer a note of an experience which has radically changed the course of my view of the world, my diet and my health.
In early July 2015 I was supposed to be attending a very sociable garden party at the blocks of flats where I live. As food was being prepared and laid out I became unwell and had to rest. I became very unwell and was in great pain which subsided over many hours later. I saw a doctor the next day – then had an ultra-sound scan to reveal gallstones and that basically meant too much fat in my diet. No, I did not want any invasive surgery, thank you!
Instead, after much research, I decided to become almost vegetarian and to give up eating dairy foods. Joy, oh joy, I now feel much more energised, lighter and physically and mentally well. But, I still have much work to do as there are times when I eat some fish and eggs and I will think about maple syrup instead of honey, though there are the air miles (as mentioned on this blog). So, not only was my medical crisis a ‘wake up call’ but also a powerful signal in how I will relate to the beings and the world around me.
So, full marks 57billiondotorg, I will watch out for more thoughts, news and yes, recipes too!