Today I feel like going on with my vegan propaganda. As the Evil Leftist™ I talk about it a lot, I post memes about it on social media, occasionally drop some useful information, and now I would like to make a general post about what are the benefits of plant-based diet that are often overlooked. To the point where you can be asked for example ‘do you care more about animals than people? Why won’t you get interested in human rights, or starving children?’.
Now, for some vegans, this may not be their primary concern. Some vegans simply do it for their health, or for the animals only. But facts are, that their choices go way beyond that, even if they are unaware of it. And most vegans I encounter are aware of all those benefits, and they purposefully choose their lifestyle to fix all of the issues it can fix, because they care.
The results of plant-based diet I am going to talk about, should be widely known, because there are plenty of issues people might care about, but they have no know-how regarding what they, singular individuals can do about it without going as far as to abandon their entire lives in favor of humanitarian work.
It’s quite beautiful, how by doing one, relatively small thing, you can cause so many good things, on so many levels. We all know already that a plant-based diet will not cause suffering of animals that are being killed in the process of dairy and meat production, and that it will make you way healthier. But what about all those ‘but what abouts‘?
Before I start, if you have seen What The Health by Joaquin Phoenix, and you are aware of the issues surrounding making the information about Whole Foods Plant-Based diet public and spread by organizations responsible for public health – let me give you a small update on the state of affairs (and if you haven’t seen the movie , I strongly recommend it):
Nothing else but decreasing our consumption will save the starving people. The situation is recently getting only slightly better thanks to programs such as World Food Programme (you can donate to WFP here), but soon it will get worse, and I have serious doubts if humanitarian programs alone will manage to fix it.
We already know that omnivore, and even vegetarian diets are not sustainable. Somehow this information raises no concerns for people, as sustainability seems like an abstract concept that doesn’t bother them, since they live in a city, there’s still food in the grocery store, their lives seem unaffected. It’s like it goes over their heads that lack of sustainability means, we live on a credit. And the credit is very due.
The fact that we personally don’t feel like we are paying much, means that people elsewhere are paying.
The poorest people in the world rely on two things – either wild fishing, or farming. Those two groups are both at high risk. Global fishing industry is ruining the oceans and killing the fish, which makes it a non-reliable food source for people who have no other means to survive. And all farming lands in poor areas (especially in Africa) are dominated by monocultural soy farming, meant for farm animals, not for human consumption. This results in poor areas being starved from food that they could grow themselves if the greedy corporations didn’t take over their land.
Some food for thought – why would you spend X kilograms of beans to feed one cow or pig a day, and keep it to live for few years before you kill it, to feed just few humans? What if all those lentils were farmed for people?
Also why not leave the fish for people who actually need them, so they can just thrive and be safe where they happened to be born, and where their whole lives are?
I welcome you to follow this link to see the numbers for yourself, how many animals are killed in agriculture. Yearly it’s around 72 billion. How come we can feed 72 billion people and can’t feed 8 billion people? We eat less than a cow, less than a pig. All of them are fed grass, hay, beans, and seeds. It’s nothing humans couldn’t eat, or couldn’t replace with more biodiverse farms of plants for human consumption.
Poor people’s wellbeing
I often hear phrases such as ‘veganism is for rich people’, ‘check your white privilige’, etc. Well, here I am checking it. Or rather other vegans in USA are checking it, as I am a white person from Poland, a nearly all-white country, so the only poor people we have are mainly white people.
In USA, lands used for agriculture are mainly placed in black and hispanic dominant locations. Poor people, in majority people of color, don’t have much of a choice but to live next to pig farms, that leave the stench unbearable, and is a hazard to their health. Lots of them say themselves, that they refuse to eat bacon, since they see where it comes from. The feces from farms pollute the air, the water. The numbers are horrifying.
In Poland low income families also struggle with all this if they live next to a farm area. Nobody ever wants to live next to them. But everyone wants to eat meat. With this many people on the planet we can’t make those two interests to not be at critical conflict.
Not everyone dreams of working there either. Often animal farms are the only big company that provides jobs for small population density areas. Poland placed itself as the butcher of Europe. We export meat, and exploit people who are economically forced to work for the agriculture industry. Their stories are a sad, hopeless cry for help that doesn’t seem to ever appear. Not unless we massively change our food habits. I don’t think stories like this or that [PL] would appear if the same people were to produce tempeh or tofu from soy beans instead, and we would have a stable demand and supply.
The market knows it can’t rely on steady growth like up to this point. Not only this destroyed our planet, it’s killing people. Especially the poor and uneducated people, that don’t have access to things like people in big cities, rich countries, and stable social and economical structure have. Those are the people that will be affected by food choices demand and supply, because they are in no position to make the informed choices. They will have to survive on bread and processed meat, and will never know that’s what they are dying from later in life.
Stunting animal products industry has caused panic, the corporations are lobbying all they can, they threaten, they sue. In Poland, for example, dairy and meat producers lobbied for a law that will ban naming soy milk ‘soy milk’, in favor of names such as ‘a soy-flavored beverage‘. As if that was going to stop people from choosing the better substitute for a popular drink and food ingredient in polish diet.
The producers take out their frustrations on workers. And the animals. On the quest to optimize and increase the profits they will beat the animals and workers to death. But pandering to them is not the solution. Every infinite-growth market will collapse eventually, nobody will protect them from it. And especially not if such protection means turning Earth uninhabitable, and killing the people. And the animals. There is no justification for that. No amount of happy elderly men in suits, buying their third yacht, is going to be enough of a reason. And that’s really what is the benefit of animal industry. Nothing more.
Those problems arose from capitalism, and capitalism won’t end them. Capitalism is never about people, about humanity, about ethics. And I’m sorry to inform all libertarians or whatever – no, not everyone on Earth can move to New York and become a Java programmer.
Deforestation is one of the issues that cause global warming. Sadly, overally we reached the point where without planting more trees we won’t stop the global warming, but at the same time it’s not going to be enough. Aside from the fact that it’s risky to put your whole faith into planting a forest that might as well burn down the next day, deforestation is there for a reason, and it’s not for furniture production.
Main reasons are, among others, cattle expansion, soy farms for livestock, and oil extraction (like palm oil). It’s only logical that in order to reduce the need for deforestation (and corporations won’t ask anyone’s opinion on the matter), we must reduce the demand for those products.
Vegans are especially picky about avoiding products that contain palm oil. And for the good reasons.
In the interesting links at the end of this post I’ve put some videos you can find on Netflix. As a person who is digging the subject for years now, I find those videos very helpful for putting the necessary information in a pill for a common viewer, who has no time to browse articles at night, study dietetics, or even read too fat books. Those movies are both concerning, as they present very important and disturbing problems, but they are also beautifully done, and with a sentimental intention – as you go on with your busy life, jumping from work to studies, having no time for even taking a walk, it’s so you can appreciate the beauty of our planet, and develop natural, informed care about it, about our home, and spark the hope for a change in you, that will let you make more informed choices, and fuel the changes to your life.
Meat and dairy industry are the biggest threats to antibiotic era. Period.
They are worse than all the doctors who prescribe antibiotics for virus infections, or prescribing them prophylactically. All those animals, be it cows, fish, chickens, pigs, all of them are packed in small spaces, one on another, along with the dead and sick ones. They live in their own waste. The microbiological situation there is a real warfare. To combat this, producers use huge amounts of antibiotics. 80% of antibiotics production worldwide goes to livestock. Those antibiotics accumulate in the flesh of those animals.
The most effective way to create antibiotic-resistant flora of all kind is to expose it to small amounts of antibiotics. The amount that won’t certainly kill them, but will let them adapt, and thrive. That’s what we are doing if we consume animal products.
If you think the law should protect us from it – you are right, except nobody can really execute it. Without those antibiotics the corporations would have to dramatically increase the living space of those animals, pick out every dead and sick one, organize quarantine for the sick animals, improve their hygienic situation. And any viral infection would kill lots of animals that would create massive losses to the profits. Nobody is going to do this. This industry is not for being ethical.
With how fast the production lines go, you also cannot ensure proper inspection of every animal’s health, and the state of their bodies. Which leads to another problem.
Public health concern
Animals accumulate in their bodies all the toxins they come in contact with. If you fear pesticides in your food, do not fear the plants you are eating, but the meat. The higher an animal is in the food chain, the more nasty stuff it’s going to have in it’s meat, fat tissue, and dairy. Sick and poisoned animals are often made into feed for other animals. Fish like salmon, that are assumed to be the healthiest, contain such high amount of heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics, it should not be considered safe to consume by any standards.
There are laws saying how much puss is acceptable in dairy. And is it decided because of how much would be unhealthy? I wish. No, it is based on approval from customers. If you don’t see and feel the puss, it’s alright. The inflammatory response in your body is not anyone else’s concern.
Additionally, the pollution that animal industry creates is so overwhelming, I don’t think people really realize what amounts are those. We have around 8 billion people in the world. Can you imagine waste from 72 billion animals? The waste is not anyhow utilized, because there is no way of doing it. Especially with how it’s filled with all the microbes that live in the environment of sick, dead animals in closed space. All that goes to water. It pollinates the air, it pollinates the water, and along with it it is spread on plant farms. Think about where possibly could your lettuce catch salmonella. It didn’t produce it itself.
About veganism making you healthier I don’t want to talk too much, because this is obvious at this point, I just want to point out that healthcare can be the death or the life of us. With all the systems, be it private or public, being overloaded with the same main issues (diabetes, cancer, heart disease) that can be prevented or reversed with plant-based diet, could really use a break. I know this is not profitable for the business to have healthy people, but again. We can’t rely on ‘infinite growth‘ industries, and your only hope can be that you won’t need them when they collapse.
The mental state
Imagine not having to worry about these things. If everyone in developed countries made a small change that is just finding plant-based replacements for their favorite foods, and incorporate more plants to their diets, in what world we could live in. Imagine it not being considered normal for a 50-year old to die of whatever reason. Imagine yourself being able to expect living to see your grand-grandchildren, instead of worrying that you will only progressively get more sick as you age, and you will just kick the calendar ‘like everyone else’ – at the age that should be the peak of your life, not the end of it.
Imagine seeing the world regrowth. Seeing more animals pop up, the plants grow back, oceans becoming filled with life instead of plastic again. Imagine seeing those powerless, and utterly adorable creatures that rely on us, because they can’t defend themselves against cruelty, that are living a happy life. Knowing you are not separating children from their mothers. You’re not responsible for raping cows. No throat is going to be slaughtered for your deadly pleasure, that brings you no profit except for just a short dopamine rush, and a perspective of shorter life.
And last but not least, imagine being fully aware that your choices are meant to cause least harm. Going to bed content, that each day you did not cause unnecessary harm, to yourself, to other people, to animals. What people rarely talk about is what it really does to your mind. I can only speak from my own experience, but it lets you be way more open about altruism. It opens you up to everyone – to other people, to other sentient and intelligent beings. It’s like with those tricks to increase productivity – when you are procrastinating choose one small thing to do just to check it off your to-do list. Every day you know you can check off the list something really great. Helping others, positively impacting the society and the planet makes you see how easy it is to be charitable. And when you are good to others you feel good about yourself. It really is a straight way for a happier life.
We are not meant to be selfish and cruel. We are a social ape that wants to take care of things. See a child with a pet – it will want to hug and kiss it. You are happy when you see adorable animals. And aren’t all of them adorable?
I recommend watching Our Planet on Netflix, to appreciate the beauty of nature.
Okay, so how do I start?
Luckily, very easily.
- Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment
- Environmental impact of fishing
- How Not To Die – dr Michael Greger [BOOK]
- How Not To Die Cookbook – dr Michael Greger [BOOK]
- How Not To Diet – dr Michael Greger [BOOK]
- What The Health [NETFLIX]
- How Eating Seafood Kills Our Oceans
- FAO: Many of the world’s poorest people depend on fish
- A Five-Step Plan To Feed The World
- What the world land is used for
- Why ‘Eating Just Fish’ Still Harms the Environment
- Before The Flood [NETFLIX]
- Our Planet [NETFLIX]
- A million tons of feces and an unbearable stench: life near industrial pig farms