Why I am (Still) a Vegan

by | Jul 24, 2018


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

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.


  1. This comment is not really about being a vegan, but about the production of meat. I agree with you about the inefficient way of producing meat. I have been a proponent for some time of growing hams not pigs. With todays genetic capability’s, it seems silly to keep growing the whole hog. Science can now grow several different human parts for transplant. It seems to me that capability should be adapted to growing hams.

  2. While not a vegan/vegetarian, here are my top picks on the South Side:
    1. Lulu’s Local Eatery
    2. Lona’s Lil Eats
    3. Pizzahead (which I didn’t even realize was all plant based until after my 3rd time eating it!)

  3. Another solid post, Jennings. Also interesting having just listened to a podcast episode of The Ezra Klein Show called “The Green Pill,” that looks at the issue mostly through a cultural / moral lens.

    Anyway, my question to you is what are your favorite places to eat given that you follow a vegan diet??

    • I like Frida’s, Seedz! Revel Kitchen, crazy bowls and wraps,

  4. This question is coming from a personal curiosity.
    From the vegan perspective, if you don’t eat meat or dairy, what is the purpose of cattle, for example? Wallets, shoes other leather products?
    Just wondering.

    • I guess if you don’t want to have cattle as a pet then they are not needed. I guess we’d have a lot less cows.

  5. I like Michael Pollan’s suggestion…
    “Eat food,. Not too much. Mostly vegetables. “

  6. I’m inspired. But I gave up being a vegetarian because I could figure out a gracious way to attend a dinner party. Any suggestions?

    • * could NOT figure out a way . . .

    • It’s hard. We have great friends who often make us some vegan food. We usually offer to bring our own food which we do. Sometimes we just eat the side dishes. And we probably don’t get invited to as many dinner parties.

  7. Very enlightening. Thanks


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