Why Grow and Eat Veganically?

The Environment

To address global warming, it is urgent that we reduce our carbon emissions and help sequester carbon by protecting forests and regenerating our soil. With the meat industry responsible for about 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and industrial agriculture wreaking havoc on the planet– it is urgent that we eliminate animal products from our diets and that we shift to regenerative, agroecological, plant-based farming methods. The environmental movement currently promotes small-scale animal agriculture as being a quick fix, despite the fact that raising animals for food at any scale is a highly inefficient use of land and water. If we want to tread more lightly on this planet, we need to do better.

Animal agriculture requires more resources than does plant agriculture, considering, for instance, the land required to raise animals and to grow feed for these animals. One calculation suggests that British agricultural land needs would drop from 18.5 to 7.3 million hectares, should Britain switch to vegan organic cultivation (a veganic approach) to produce a vegan diet (Fairlie 2010).

All types of animal agriculture, including small-scale and organic, have a suite of other negative environmental impacts. For example, livestock grazing in Western US rangelands has diminished water quality, degraded soils, and decreased native floral and faunal diversity (Donahue 1999). Manure obtained from conventional farms can contain synthetic hormones
and antibiotics and is commonly used in organic agriculture. Once spread on the plot or field, these compounds enter soils and waterways, and can disturb terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems—for instance by affecting the reproductive biology of aquatic species (Kemper 2008, Kjær et al. 2007).

Your Health

Farmed animal wastes and remains can harbor antibiotics, other drugs, and pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli. Feather meal from chickens that have been fed arsenical drugs can contribute to arsenic exposure in farmers, gardeners, and consumers (Nachman et al. 2012). Crops can be contaminated by pathogens that survive in manure, transmitting bacteria to consumers (Nicholson et al. 2005).

Animal Rights

Tens of billions of land animals are raised and slaughtered for food globally every year. These animals live and die under horrific conditions, including painful bodily mutilations, broken bones, heat stress during lengthy transport, and live skinning and scalding (Dillard 2008, Terlouw et al. 2008). Animal suffering and exploitation occurs at industrial-scale intensive operations as well as at small-scale and organic farms and abattoirs; in refraining from the purchase of animal manures and remains from any of these sources, veganic growers avoid subsidizing these injustices.

Human Rights

Animal farming and processing operations produce dangerous and stressful working conditions for a low-wage labor force. Serious bodily injuries and psychological trauma result from work environments characterized by frightened animals, sharp knives, high processing speeds, and the visceral reality of killing hundreds of animals per day (Dillard 2008). Further, these industries have historically relied heavily on immigrant labor as these workers have lower bargaining power and are less likely to protest conditions (Champlin and Hake 2006). Veganic growers avoid supporting these types of labor exploitation through refraining from the purchase of animal-derived fertility from these operations.