Many people ask me, why I would want to go vegan. If you read my story on “Why I’m Vegan” you can see I struggled with it too, before making that choice. It’s always a hard one to answer. The reasons why I went vegan are because of animal cruelty issues, the health benefits are icing on the cake. Others consider going vegan for health reasons, religious choices, etc. In this portion of my blog I’m not going to convince you to go vegan. It’s something you need to research on your own and decide if it’s something that is right for you. I will provide you accurate information so you can make your own choices. The purpose of my blog is not to convert people to be vegan, but to help people add meat free recipes to their life if they’re looking for variety or a healthier option. I’d also like people to see that being vegan doesn’t mean you can’t eat the things you love. Trust me, I’m such a picky eater and I’ve adapted to the vegan lifestyle quite nicely. So here are some Frequently Asked Questions that I get and my responses. Feel free to scroll through to the ones that interest you most, you don’t have to read the whole thing unless you feel inclined to do so. I know it’s a lot of information, but keep in mind I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve researched it to death (no pun intended).
How do you get your protein?
This is the question I’m sure most vegans/vegetarians get annoyed with the most. However, in this day and age, it’s a legitimate question. The beef industry has done an amazing job to push advertisements and now make it popular belief that you have to have meat to have protein. Plant-based proteins are high in fiber, free from cholesterol and alkaline the body. Meat based proteins are devoid of fiber which acidify the body, it causes calcium to be leached from your bones, decreases oxygen in your blood and negatively impacts the digestive/lymphatic system. There a lot of myths regarding meat as being a “complete” protein and plant based protein as “incomplete”. The term “complete” protein refers to having all 9 essential amino acids. “Incomplete”proteins refer to foods that have all of the essential amino acids but is low in one or more of them. Plant foods do have “incomplete” proteins, however if you eat a wide variety of plant based proteins i.e. dark green leafy veggies, legumes, beans, grains and fruits our body will take what it needs from each of those and form a “complete” protein. You also get phytonutrients and antioxidants, both are things meat can’t offer. By eating a variety of plant based whole foods, you get the best of both worlds.
Here is a list of great proteins from plant sources:
Beans- kidney, black, red, chickpea, pinto, lima, etc.
Nuts- almonds and peanuts are best but they all have great benefits
Mung Bean Sprouts
Whole grains/rice- Quinoa, brown rice, wild rice
and many many many more!
Are animals really treated that badly?
Animals in factory farms make up 99% of where we get our meat, eggs and dairy. These animals endure a lot of pain, uncomfortable living conditions, diseases and death. Factory farming began in the 1920’s after we discovered vitamin A and D. This discovery made it so that animals could be raised indoors and didn’t need sunlight or a green pasture to roam on. However, the greatest challenge for farmers doing this was that it created a lot of bacteria and diseases. In the 1940’s antibiotics were used and combated this problem. Factory farmed animals are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from spreading diseases, growth hormones to make them big, and fed genetically engineered corn. All of which goes into your body when you consume any product from them. They live in small cages or for cows basically a jail cell. Most animals can’t even turn around. They don’t see the light of day, they’re either in complete darkness or subjected to artificial light. When these animals are transported to slaughter houses by truck they are not fed or given any water. In heat they collapse or even die. In cold winters they can freeze to death, more commonly they live and workers have to pry them off the sides of the trucks with crow bars.
Cows: They live in confinement, they wade around in their own feces while being pumped full of growth hormone and fed a corn diet to bulk them up. Once they are big enough they are sent to slaughter. By the time they get there they’re usually too exhausted to walk on their own. That’s what they call “downer cows”. They’re then tied by the neck or the leg and pulled with ropes or chains into the slaughter houses where they have bolt forced through their skull and then are strung up by their leg to bleed out. The point of the bolt is to stun or kill them, however only about 1/2 of the cows die by being shot with the bolt due to poorly trained workers. So they end up being dismembered while looking around, fully conscious and crying out.
Dairy cows: They are hooked up to machines that pump their milk. These machines are incredibly painful and cause them to bleed. All milk will have blood and pus in it, but thanks to pasteurization it isn’t going to be harmful to your body. These dairy cows are constantly impregnated so they keep producing milk. After their baby is born, it’s immediately taken from the mother and if it’s a male they live in veal crate, if it’s a female they get auctioned off to be a dairy cow. The mother cries out day and night for her baby. Their mammals just like you and I and they miss their babies. Probably one of the worst sounds I’ve ever heard is that of a mother cow having her baby taken away. Once their body is exhausted from being impregnated too many times she is sent to slaughter to endure the same fate as the paragraph above.
Veal calves: They live in crates and can’t see the light of day. They can’t stand up, turn around or even move their legs. The purpose of this is to keep the meat soft. They’re fed a low iron diet so that their meat is tender. They live for 4 months this way until they’re sent to slaughter. If you buy dairy, you support this industry.
Broiler Chickens: These animals are pumped full of growth hormones to make them grow to 3.5 lbs in only 7 weeks. They animals don’t live in cages so they don’t endure the bruised flesh as most caged chickens. Since they weigh so much their bones can’t support their weight and they usually can’t walk. Their beaks and feet are seared off without anesthesia to keep them from pecking other chickens to death. They live in unlit rooms to keep fighting to a minimum. Once it’s time for slaughter, workers come to collect the chickens. The chickens’ bones are frail and workers grab them by wings, their feet, whatever they can grab and throw them into a truck. Many suffer from broken bones or even die during this process. Once they get to the slaughter house they are strung up by their legs and have their throats cut. Due to machine inaccuracies not all chickens are killed this way. 25% are usually still alive for hours until they bleed out.
Layer chickens: They live in windowless sheds with up to 100,000 hens per shed. Up to 10 hens may inhabit one space, which leaves them less than a sheet of paper per hen when they naturally have a 30 in wing span. They get their beaks cut off to keep them from pecking each other to death. They live wired cages stacked on top of each other, they walk in their own feces and usually get pooped on by the chicken above them causing their eyes to burn out. Some chickens’ feet grow around the wired cages causing them to be immobile and starve to death. The male chicks that are born are of no use to the farms so they either die by suffocation from being thrown in trash bags or are ground up alive in meat grinders. Layer hens suffer from tumors, feather loss, blisters, leg deformities, mouth ulcers, osteoporosis, swollen head syndrome, heat stress, mash, mold toxins, etc. veterinary care is non-existenet in factory farms. They die of exhaustion or starvation.
Pigs: They are highly affectionate and social creatures. Much like dogs but smarter, they have the intelligence of a 3 year old child. They develop nervous ticks and cannibalism when confined in cages and unable to have social interactions. Mother pigs are crowded in gestation crates where they can’t move. They are impregnated again and again until their bodies give out then they’re shipped to slaughter. Piglets are ripped away from their mothers at birth, their tails are chopped off, their teeth are ripped out with pliers and the males are castrated all without anesthesia. Then they are sent to live in cages. Once they are large enough they are loaded into truck much like the cows where they endure extreme weather conditions. It’s said that over 1 million pigs die in transport each year and over 420,000 are crippled by the time they arrive. They are then “stunned” then dumped into boiling hot water to make their skin softer. Due to improper methods, many are still alive when dumped into the boiling water and are boiled to death.
Turkeys: Turkeys are intelligent animals who enjoy having their feathers stroked and who like listening to music, with which they will often loudly sing along. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 18 miles an hour, and live up to 10 years. Like chickens, the 300 million turkeys raised and killed for their flesh every year in the United Stateshave no federal legal protection. More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year at Thanksgiving alone, and more than 22 million die at Christmas. These gentle, intelligent birds spend five to six months on factory farms, where thousands of them are packed into dark sheds with no more than 3.5 square feet of space per bird. Turkeys are genetically bred to grow as fast as possible, and they often become crippled under their own weight. To keep the crowded birds from scratching and pecking each other to death, workers cut off portions of the birds’ toes and upper beaks with hot blades and de-snood the males (the snood is the flap of skin that runs from the beak to the chest). No pain relievers are used during any of these procedures. At the slaughterhouse, the survivors are hung upside-down by their weak and crippled legs before their heads are dragged through an electrified “stunning tank,” which immobilizes but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still completely conscious when their throats are slit. If the knife fails to properly cut the birds’ throats, they are scalded alive in the tank of boiling water used for feather removal. Ducks and geese also endure these same horrors in factory farmed conditions.
I’ve chosen not to post pictures of animals enduring such atrocities. Feel free to Google image it, if you want to verify it. I don’t feel I need to look at it, since I don’t support that industry.
Does it really impact the environment that much?
-Factory farming pollutes the earth more than ALL factories COMBINED
-EPA estimates that confined factory farmed animal create 3 times more raw waste than humans, multiply that by the 10 billion animals a year that are used for factory farming and that is a lot of waste. That waste then runs off from the factory farm and can contaminate water and food supplies.
-The use of fossil fuels on farms to grow feed and to intensively raise land animals for food emits 90 million tons of CO2 worldwide every year
-Growing corn requires more nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop, and more than half the corn in the world is fed to animals.
-In the United States, methane emissions from pig and dairy cow manure increased by 45% and 94% respectively between 1990 and 2009. Cows produce 7x the amount of methane that they would produce naturally due to a corn fed diet.
-According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37% of methane emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions
-The use of antibiotics in factory farms are causing viruses to mutate and get more severe. Endangering human health.
-Although the EPA is tasked with regulating factory farms, it has done little or nothing to control the environmental damage caused by factory farms.
-Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500 gallons
Cost of hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by US taxpayers: $35/pound
-The water required to produce just ten pounds of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.
These are just a few facts, please feel to google for more information. The amount of damage done to the earth due to factory farms is a real atrocity and rarely makes it onto the news.
Why should I substitute meat, eggs or dairy instead of having the “real” thing, aren’t eating those things better for me?
Well this all depends. I would obviously say no, eating meat, dairy and eggs is not better for you. But this all depends on what you’re eating. Let’s say instead of eating meat you’re eating a meat substitute. The real meat is pumped full of antiobotics, genetically modified foods and growth hormones (unless you buy organic). The meat substitute does not have those things, although it could have genetically modified ingredients depending on the brand (Morning Star Farms and Boca in the red packaging are genetically modified, but Gardein, Light life, Yves, and Boca in the tan packaging is not…just read labels if it says it’s not genetically modified, it’s not. If it says nothing, it is). However, even when comparing the different types of meat/”meat”, regular meat has a lot of other things that are bad for you. It has cholesterol and more fat. The vegan alternative generally has 1/3 of the fat and never any cholesterol. Now let’s say we compared regular meat to a whole food protein such as spinach, then there’s really no comparison. Eating meat is completely toxic compared to eating whole foods…nutritionally one causes cancer, can build up plaque in your arteries and the other (whole foods) has antioxidants to fight all of that.
Now let’s compare something like almond milk vs. regular milk. Regular milk has blood and pus in it, they pasteurize it so it’s safe to consume. However through pasteurization it’s stripped of the nutrients for your body to be able to digest it. It’s estimated that 70% of people are allergic to milk, but it presents itself in different ways. It can cause acne, asthma, upset stomach, gas, indigestion, hives, vomiting, nausea, etc. those are all signs of a milk allergy. Since your body lacks the enzymes to digest milk it causes constipation and that can lead to colon cancer. It also has cholesterol that can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, plaque in the arteries, strokes and other cancers. Milk also has sulfur in it, it’s naturally occurring and can’t be stripped out of the milk. This causes the milk to actually extract calcium from your bones. So no milk does not do a body good and actually causes osteoporosis. Look it up, it’s true! In countries where people do not consume cow’s milk, there are no cases of osteoporosis. Almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, etc. do not have such things, they have just as much calcium as milk but they don’t extract it from your bones so it’s better for you. It also has a sweeter taste and is rich in protein and fiber.
Eggs also have the same problem as meat and dairy. They cause cancer, high cholesterol, clogged arteries, stroke, heart attacks, etc. If you want an egg scramble I suggest using tofu as a substitute and you’ll get a high protein, low calorie treat. If you’re baking substitute eggs with applesauce, bananas or olive oil. You’ll save yourself unwanted calories and your heart and arteries will thank you later.
What kind of health consequences do meat, eggs, dairy cause?
This is just in case you didn’t read the last post. But I will list out every ailment that vegans don’t suffer from if you have a prolonged vegan diet. Obviously if you have high cholesterol then you go vegan it won’t be resolved over night but with time, it will resolve itself, no pills needed. We were born with the exact amount of cholesterol we need so anything we add to it is going to raise our cholesterol.
Eating dairy, eggs and meat can cause:
-Type 2 diabetes
-Damage to kidneys due to excess protein
-High blood pressure
-Cancer (80% of studies show a common link between meat consumption and high rates of cancer)
We have canine teeth, so aren’t we supposed to eat meat?
A lot of people argue that since we have “canine” teeth, we’re supposed to eat meat. However, have you ever tried to tear through the flesh of another animal? If you have, I suspect it did not go well. Animals that have true canine teeth also have sharp claws and can kill another animal with their teeth. We can’t do this and we also can’t eat raw meat very well either. Actually, many herbivores have “canine” teeth. Panda Bears have sharper canine teeth than we do and they strictly eat plants. Other herbivores that have canine teeth are gorillas, deer, horses, antelope, hippos, wild boar/other pig species and many more.
Isn’t our digestive system built to process meat?
Actually it’s not. No human being has the digestive enzymes to process red meat or dairy. Instead, they sit in our colon and cause bacteria to grow. Usually causing cancer or polyps. Our colon is long and winding, like other herbivores. It’s meant to process plants slowly, whereas a carnivore’s colon are very short to immediately process the meat and eliminate it.
If you have any questions that I haven’t answered, please feel free to ask me in the “Comments” section and I’d love to answer.