Americans love Meat! the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of meat this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Meat Forecast. Prior to 2002 I also loved meat.
Then, in 2002, when I was 32, I was under a lot of stress and for some reason I came to believe that I had heart disease. It partially had to do with star Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kyle dying suddenly of a heart attack. He was 33. My doctor assured me I did not have heart disease. I wasn’t convinced. I read a book that said that a plant-based diet would likely reverse my heart disease. I called my doctor and he confirmed this but said I didn’t need to be a vegan to reverse my heart disease because I didn’t have heart disease. He didn’t convince me – I became vegan immediately and I still am.* That’s why I became a vegan – I was Kinda Bonkers.
There are the three reasons why I am still a vegan 16 years later:
It Is Good For Your Health
- Vegans have much lower risk of cardiovascular disease and there is some evidence a vegan diet can reverse heart disease: American Heart Association – Plant-Based Diet and Heart Health
- Vegans have lower incidence of many types of cancer: Vegetarian and Vegan Diets and Cancer
- Why do vegans have less incidence of cancer? One reason may be that animal protein stimulates insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and reducing IGF-1 in the blood reduces the growth and spread of cancer cells: IGF-1, Vegan and Prostate Cancer A comprehensive article on vegan diets and cancer: Vegan Diets Hugely Helpful Against Cancer
- Vegans have much lower risk of diabetes and switching to a vegan diet may improve diabetes: Going Vegan May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
- Vegans are less likely to be obese or overweight: Plant Based Diets for Obesity Prevention and Weight Loss
- Vegan diets promote microbiome health, which in turn creates many health benefits: Vegan Diets and Microbiome Health
It’s Good for the Animals
- The meat producing industry generally provides horrible conditions for the animals we eat as meat. Much of the conditions are inhumane. Rolling Stone on Factory Farms
- Why do we eat cows, chickens and pigs but not dogs, cats and horses? Pigs are smarter than dogs and by some measures are smarter than chimpanzees: Pigs Smarter Than Dogs and cows have surprisingly complex social lives as cow herds have been found to have complex hierarchies and structures: Social Life of Cows
- About 80% of antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are by livestock. Farmers give livestock antibiotics to fatten them up (antibiotics lead to weight gain) and to reduce infections from the cramped conditions in which they live. This overuse of antibiotics has resulted in some antibiotic resistance and there is concern that it will lead to one or more deadly superbugs: Livestock Antibiotics and Superbugs
It is Good for the Environment
- According to a recent study published in Science, the number one thing each of us could do for the environment is stop consuming meat and dairy: Guardian – Best Thing For Environment
- From the Guardian article: new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.
- The amount of nitrous-oxide and methane produced by livestock is massive and is much more harmful to the environment than CO2. Livestock produce about 1/5th of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions: Meat and Greenhouse Gases – NYT
- Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing!
- Meat is a very inefficient way to produce calories. It takes pounds of grains to produce one pound of meat (it varies by species). Economist – Meats and Greens
- The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing to water pollution and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed. UN report on livestock and water pollution
*I’m about 96% vegan. I eat zero meat and I try to avoid dairy, but if something has a bit of dairy in it I don’t freak out.