Voice for Animals encourages everyone to adopt a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. The majority of animal use and some of the most egregiously abusive exploitation takes place in the food industry. Just look at food items like battery cage eggs, veal, and foie-gras, as well as the sheer numbers of animals killed in Canada alone for food. One of the most effective ways you can exact change for animals today is by not eating them.
Below we outline the following issues dealing with vegetarian/vegan living:
Humans are natural omnivores; this ability to eat both plants and animals developed out of a need to adapt to environments with little plant based food. It is a good thing for us, since this ability got us through some tough times in human history. However, there is a distinct difference between what we can do, and what we need to do. We can eat meat, but we definitely do not need to eat meat. As you will see below, there are very convincing heath and ethical reasons to adopt a diet without meat.
In T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study, Campbell shows frequently through research how human ailments such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and obesity are all strongly correlated to the amount of animal-based protein a person has in their diet. People often feel that vegetarians and vegans lack sufficient protein in the food that they eat, however, as was pointed out in Campbell’s book, the only people who have to worry about a lack of protein are people who are starving to death, which is definitely not the case in Canada where upwards of 2.8 million Canadians are obese.
Every plant, root, vegetable, fruit, nut, and seed contains protein. As long as the plant-based diet is varied, that person will have sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to live a healthy life.
There are some legitimate concerns however. On a plant based diet, a person must be careful with two things: omega fatty-acids, and B12.
Omegas – Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty-acids that we must acquire from our diet. We also require omega 9, however, our body can manufacture this particular fatty-acid. Omnivores address this need by eating fish, or eggs from hens fed omega fatty-acid rich foods. It is not necessary to eat animal products to get these nutrients however. A vegetarian/vegan can eat a diet rich in dark leafy green vegetables (i.e. spinach, kale), flaxseed oil/seeds/meal, hempseed oil/seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, and canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined). Learn more.
B12 is controversial because some people say that B12 deficiency is not something people have to worry about, while others do say you do need to worry about it. B12 deficiencies are very slow acting (it takes many years for a B12 deficiency to show up), but the damage from a B12 deficiency is quite severe, causing nerve damage or pernicious anemia. Therefore, to be safe, many vegans (vegetarians still eat some animal products, so they are generally considered less at risk) add a B12 supplement to their daily routine, or eat foods fortified with B12.
Our food choices matter, not just to our health, but to BILLIONS of animals around the world. Have a look at the figures for Canada alone: Approximately 1.5 million hogs, 300,000 veal calves, 600 million broiler chickens, 97 million turkeys, more than 100,000 tonnes of farmed fish, and 3.1 million cows are slaughtered every year in Canada for food. In addition 1.06 million dairy cows, and 26 million laying hens live in Canada so that we might consume their milk and eggs.
There are many welfare concerns regarding the raising of animals for food in this country. Farms are getting bigger, and the number of farms is getting smaller, causing these new larger farms to house animals in more concentrated/less natural conditions. For specifics on animal welfare issues in Canada and North America, please visit the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals and Vegan Outreach for more information.
It is easy for a person to feel overwhelmed by the welfare issues of animal agriculture, but by excluding meat and animal products from your own life, and educating people on their food choices, is the easiest and most effective way for you to exact a positive change for animals.