why go vegan

why vegan

People are at times curious about why I went vegan… To share that information, I’ve decided to create this post with reasons and links to short films that have made veganism make sense to me… It’s a working document and I will keep adding to it over time… But here it is so far…

Background:
I grew up eating meat like most people. I loved cheese and bacon and fried chicken… I ate my morning cereal with milk throughout my school days. I loved Hawaiian pizza, sticky spare ribs and milkshakes. Christmas was all about gammon and gravy for me, I loved my grandparents’ mutton curry, I loved my aunt’s trifle and chocolate cake, I loved braais/BBQs… sausages, burgers, steaks… We went to circuses, we went to zoos, … And I never really considered anything was wrong with that…

Introduction to veganism:
It began with curiosity in 2013. I realised that I had never consciously chosen to eat meat. I did it because I was born into a culture where it is the norm. As a creative person, I decided I wanted be creative and actively choose what I do and be aware of what I am doing.

I asked a vegan friend, Johanna, WHY? Why would anyone want to do this to themselves. It seemed rather extreme. She kindly gave me some recommendations of films to watch and books to read to do my own research. Then another friend, Hermione, gave me another book recommendation… And that’s how it all started…

These are the films I first watched:

And I read a book called Kind Diet and another called Skinny Bitch.

Racism, sexism, speciesism…
I had never heard of the term “speciesism” until 2013.. Some of the earlier films discuss it quite well and this is a talk by Dr A Breeze Harper who takes it further. Veganism from a black perspective and why it’s important to think more deeply about the label cruelty-free:

Veganism and intersectionality…
I am for an intersectional approach to veganism. Where all forms of oppression are seen as connected. We can not merely stop the consumption and exploitation of animals and feel good about ourselves… but we must also become conscious consumers, avoiding the exploitation of human beings in, for example, coffee, chocolate, wine, fruit, vegetable and other purchases… And support the empowerment of disadvantaged groups through our choices. We have to go further than just removing animal suffering from our plates and look at how we still support human suffering and structural forms of racism, sexism, etc. Human exploitation is very difficult to avoid as consumers in a capitalist society. I have chosen to start with avoiding eating animals and avoiding purchasing products that have been exposed as exploiting humans and animals.

I include females of other species in how I view intersectional feminism. What we are doing to the bodies of females of other species is unacceptable… Thinking about animals of other species in this context, as equals, was new for me and these films are great to watch to understand intersectionality:

It’s not natural…
To raise animals that are profitable as food, their natural growth rates have to be sped up. Irrelevant of whether they are free range or organic…

Pigs are slaughtered at 6 months. Their natural lifespan is 6-10 years.
Chickens are slaughtered at 6 weeks. Their natural lifespan is 1-3 years.
Cattle are slaughtered at 18 months. Their natural lifespan is 18-25 years.
Lamb are slaughtered at 6-8 weeks. Their natural lifespan is 12-14 years.

If we translate the chicken’s slaughter age and natural lifespan to humans it looks like this: If humans live to about 70 years old, it would mean that we would need to grow to our full adult size way before we even hit the age of ten.

Water…
In times of water shortages and droughts, reducing or removing meat consumption has more of an impact on your personal water consumption than how long you shower…

1 kg of dahl (lentils) requires 50 litres of water to produce
1 kg of chicken requires 4325 litres to produce
1 kg of pork requires 6000 litres to produce
1kg of beef requires 15000 litres of water to produce.

water_02

water_01
Illustrations by Egle

Land…
Almost half (40%) of all global grain is used for livestock feed. What could feed people is used to feed animals… Feed production uses a third of the world’s arable land… The land that could be used to grow plant-based food for people is used to grow food for animals. And the meat from those animals does not feed enough people to justify the amount of water and land used, and pollution created. To produce vegetables of any quantity requires 70% less land than beef of the same quantity. At the moment 1 in 9 people are hungry according to the World Food Programme. That means over 11 percent of the world do not have enough food.

peta
Illustration from Peta

Greenhouse gases…
Cows produce more greenhouse gases than the whole transportation sector combined. Livestock produce 18% of all greenhouse gases. Pulses reduce greenhouse gases, use less resources and feed more people:

Diabetes and heart disease…
I found these statistics very interesting because people pump a lot of money into security in South Africa but this is how murder compares to heart disease and diabetes here:

49 people are murdered in South Africa every day
210 people die of heart disease in South Africa every day
58 people die from diabetes in South Africa every day…

Eating more vegetables, beans, lentils and whole foods, going plant-based vegan reverses heart disease and diabetes. There’s a lot of research to prove this but it’s not profitable for anyone if we know this… so we aren’t given this information. Watch these video for more details:

Protein and calcium:
We’re told that we need meat for protein and dairy for calcium and strong bones. But in countries where the most milk is consumed, cases of osteoporosis are the highest. Some of the countries who consume the most milk are in Scandanavia and also have the highest number of hip fractures and incidences of osteoporosis.

I think a lot of information we have like “we need meat for protein” and “milk for calcium” is false, and only serves to support the meat and dairy industries. I love that there is a movement of people, eg Torre Washington and Chakabars whose goal is for the mainstream to rethink protein:

chakabars

Other films I found useful over time:

Fat, sick & nearly dead:

Food Inc:

That’s all for now.

If you have any comments or suggestions to add to this, feel free to email me at parushanaidoo@gmail.com