Veganism and Animal Rights: How Your Diet Affects the Lives of Animals

While there are clear environmental and health benefits to veganism, the most compelling argument for removing animal products from your diet is ultimately an ethical one. Animals — yes, even fish — are complex creatures that are fully capable of experiencing pain and joy. The farm animal industry would certainly like us to ignore this fact, but when we look at the realities farm animals face, it’s clear that adopting a vegan diet is the only truly humane choice.

Factory Farmed or Free-Range — Animals Suffer When You Eat Meat

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re already aware of the horrible conditions — including cramped, unsanitary living quarters, lack of sunlight and persistent disease — encountered in factory farms. While free-range and other supposedly “humane” types of farming are advertised as an alternative to this, in fact they only prove what animal rights activists have known all along — namely that cows, chickens, pigs and other “livestock” are all highly intelligent, social creatures deserving of a long and happy life. If we are to honor this fact, avoiding the use of animal products entirely is the logical choice.

Animal Agriculture Kills Wild Animals, Too

It’s not only farm animals that suffer at the hands of the agricultural industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 3 million animals — including endangered species such as golden and bald eagles, as well as domesticated cats and dogs — are killed by Wildlife Services (a federal agency) in an effort to eradicate “nuisance” wildlife that could potentially attack “livestock”. These animals are often killed indiscriminately, often in painful, drawn-out ways. The current trend of free-range farming will only mean more collateral damage to animals living freely in nearby areas.

Eggs Aren’t Harmless

Taking a stand for animals can’t end with cutting out meat. If we are to be truly informed and ethical eaters, it is necessary to understand the harsh realities of egg farming, too. Here are some facts you might not be aware of:

  • Hens in industrial farms are forced to lay up to 30 times more eggs than they would naturally
  • 95% of all egg-laying hens live out their lives in cramped battery cages, where they are often cruelly de-beaked and frequently suffer from broken bones, hemorrhaging and dehydration
  • Every year, 200,000,000 male chicks are killed by the egg production industry — typically by suffocation or ground up alive in industrial macerators

Neither is Dairy

The situation in a modern dairy farm is no less grim. Most newborn calves are forcibly removed from their mothers within 12 hours so that milking can begin.  This separation is extremely distressing to both the mother and her calf.  They often call for each other for days. Then, the calf will spend the first 2-3 months trapped alone in a small pen and fed a special milk replacer engineered to fatten them up for production as quickly as possible.

Once they are old enough to lactate, they begin a cycle of forced impregnation that takes an increasingly heavy toll on their bodies. When production declines around age four or five — less then a quarter of their natural lifespan — most dairy cows are unceremoniously slaughtered and sold for meat.

Vegan Diets Save the Lives of Animals

Every day — often without thinking — we make a series of small decisions about the foods we put in our bodies. Recognizing that you alone decide what to eat is the first step in ending animal cruelty. While many people find this intimidating, it can also be empowering.

To learn more about the link between veganism and animal rights issues, keep browsing our website and explore some of the resources we’ve put together for anyone who wants to make more responsible, humane dietary choices.

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