Veganism can be quite the controversial topic, specifically in Alabama. I would say one of the most controversial topics in the area. A bold claim; I know, because there are so many topics that are highly debatable. But if I started to tell all the stories of judgment, assumed stupidity and assumed protein deficiency, people might understand and even back this statement. Personally, I have been vegan for almost a year. Before that, I was pescetarian and then vegetarian.
I will be the first to say that there are so many reasons for this change. I have noticed that sometimes in conversation it is assumed that the reason for veganism is to prevent, or not promote, animal cruelty. While the said issue is prominent in today's society, this injustice is not the only reason for people to want to eat a plant-based diet. Other animal product issues include: infectiously sick animals continuing to be put to slaughter despite their illnesses, chemical and hormonal injections residing in animal products, and the human body's natural inability to process animal products rather than plant-based options.
I feel that I need to address animal cruelty, but I will keep it brief. The way animals are being farmed today has declined in the past decade: animals are kept in inhospitable conditions, they are malnourished and dehydrated, and are killed inhumanely. Everyone has seen the horror videos and probably has a mental image for where I am going with this. But to list some specifics; the majority of genetically modified chickens are unable to walk because their legs become deformed, caged chickens are kept in cages with the floor space size of an iPad, dairy cows are killed after three lactation cycles, almost ten percent of hens die due to forced molting, newborn animals are habitually mutilated with no use of anesthetics, etc.
Animals are denied the right to express themselves in nature, or in any kind of natural way at all. Slaughterhouses throw masses of animals into grinders, inhumanely killing the lives of farm animals. The industry is forced to focus on productivity, output, and efficiency. However, these businesses neglect to value the lives of animals as anything more than a number to make money. Some argue that there are cage-free farms, there are farms that kill humanely, and there are local farmers that go above and beyond for their animals. These are all great attributes, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of this industry in our country is not held to these standards.
These cruel living standards only create more problems. Studies have found that about eighty percent of pigs go to slaughter with pneumonia. This fact absolutely baffles me. A slab of bacon that you pick up at the local Walmart could be the meat from a piglet living in its own, and other pigs, feces which could create dangerous gases in the air that contain high levels of ammonia that cause the pigs to develop pneumonia.
Maybe it's just because I have been hospitalized with pneumonia on many occasions, but I have no desire to put any into my body that has pneumonia. Going back to the idea that the animal production industry is only focused on economics, it is very common that sick or injured animals are left untreated because veterinary care is not viewed as a necessity. Animals develop conditions and illnesses due to their corrupt environmental conditions. Instead of these animals being treated by a veterinarian, or the environmental conditions being improved, many farmers overload all of their animals routinely with antibiotics to prevent illness onset. However, these antibiotics also affect the life and health of these animals. Thus, the nourishment value that people receive upon ingesting is affected, as well.
Before an animal goes to slaughter, it has been genetically modified and injected with hormones and steroids. These modifications and injections can be harmful and even fatal. While this process does the most damage to the animal being treated, these chemicals and hormones affect human bodies once the meat or eggs or dairy is ingested. In other words, not only are people eating decaying flesh, but the chemicals and stimulants such as steroids and hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and their synthetic versions. Hormones are key in development and growth for every species. There are naturally occurring hormones in animal products such as milk. Nonetheless, these hormones are designed to feed and nourish a calf. Therefore, when drinking animals milk, people are ingesting the hormones that help calves grow and also the added hormones. That is a heavy decision that some people don't realize they are making when they drink something, like milk, that is so common in the area.
The human body asks for fiber, essential fatty acids, unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and cholesterol-free protein. These standards can be met with a plant-based diet by eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Although the human body can find these same criterions while eating a diet that includes meat, there are also dangerous factors. Humans lack the strong stomach acid that carnivores have that kills the bacteria living in meat; this deficiency can lead to food poisoning and disease. Furthermore, someone can consume a cup of black beans, that contains the same amount of protein as a steak, but their body will absorb and intake more protein from the cup of beans than they would the steak. This process occurs because beans contain proteins that are packaged in such a way that the human digestive track can efficiently break down, absorb, and use all of the ingested nutrients. When a steak is eaten, the consumer is responsible for much more work.
Animal flesh and meat have to be broken down without the means to do so (i.e. short intestines and sharp teeth). The stomach is responsible for killing bacteria, conversely, without the strong stomach acid that kills bacteria, this process is sometimes ineffective and results in food poisoning. Cholesterol and fats found in meat build up and clog the arteries, causing the body to work harder but also more unproductively. Finally, the body also has to sort through animal proteins that are less efficiently packaged, such that only some of the ingested proteins can actually be absorbed and put to use in the body.
Overall, the process of consuming meat can be tasteful, cultural, and energizing. Nevertheless, the choice to eat meat is a choice to support the animal processing industry that abuses animals and feeds the community with genetically modified and steroid injected products. Consumption of meat also requires more work from the body with less reward because of the inadequately packaged proteins, cholesterols that veggies lack, harmful chemicals from processing and preservation, and humans' lack of physical carnivore traits.
No judgment - no matter where your opinion lies on veganism, but knowledge of animal production, animal processing, and animal digestion allows for a mindful choice to be made on the subject matter; rather than a mindless choice that is derived from habit and unawareness.