feeding lamb

Why Vegan?

Because it’s good for your health; it’s good for the animals; it’s good for the planet.

I have chosen to only use my own photos and not the graphic pictures that show the horrific misery these animals face in their day to day life.

There are almost 7 billion humans on Earth and counting, and every year we raise and kill 58 billion land animals to eat. This is not including the oceans we are draining of fish and other marine life.

Humans are the only species (out of 1.4 million) on the planet to design, build and operate massive killing centres called abattoirs or slaughterhouses, where we routinely murder billions upon billions of animals. These terrified individuals are forced to stand or hang in the queues watching and waiting for their turn to come.

 

Health

Eating animal fats and proteins have been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a number of other illnesses and conditions. The fat and protein content of cow´s milk is very different from human milk – our bodies are not designed for consuming cow´s milk.

Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fibre and other nutrients. There are several plant based foods that are good sources of protein, such as beans, peanuts, and soy, a lot are even higher sources of protein than animal products. After all – these animals raised for human consumption are actually vegan and source their protein from plants – so why not go straight to the source?!

Being Vegan is healthier than any other ‘diet’ possible. Not to mention, I haven’t even covered the hormones and antibiotics used in raising animals for food. Following a vegan diet also is better for your heart, proving to reduce heart disease, and even reverse coronary heart disease.

Dairy products are promoted to consumers as healthy and even as an essential part of our diet to maintain strong bones. But are milk, cheese and butter indeed the wonder foods that the dairy industry wants us to believe they are? A closer look at the research paints a different picture.

Many studies of bone fracture risk provide little or no evidence that milk or other dairy products benefit bone. Moreover, many recent studies have shown that osteoporotic bone fracture rates are highest in countries that consume the most dairy, calcium and animal protein. Contrary to what many are led to believe, several studies show that calcium from plant foods tends to be better absorbed than from dairy. Instead of increasing dairy consumption, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends increasing physical activity, reducing intakes of animal protein, and increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables to promote healthy bones.

There are strong indications that consuming dairy can have some serious negative health effects. Due to its relatively high contents of saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol, dairy products contribute indirectly to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. More directly it may contribute to the risk of ovarian and prostate cancers, autoimmune diseases, and ear infections and allergies in children.

The structure of our skin, teeth, stomach and bowel, the length of our digestive system, the composition of our saliva, stomach acids, urine etc. all prove that human bodies aren’t designed to process animals and their milk/eggs for food. Our body is designed more typical of herbivores than carnivores.

Somewhere though, in our ancient history, we developed tools that overcame our physical limitations and enabled us to kill animals to eat them. We became omnivorous in habit but our physiology, though strong and adaptable enough to handle meat, has remained more suitable to plant foods.

Meat eating is certainly among our most ancient practices, but then so are slavery, murder and war. Most of the world’s human population has always been and still is largely vegetarian. The ancient times of a practice, is neither a guarantee of its morality nor a justification for it.

Despite our omnivorous habits human beings are designed for and thrive on a vegan diet. We can in fact maintain the very best in health without resorting to any animal products whatsoever. That is why veganism is an ethical issue – how can we justify causing the suffering and death of millions upon millions of animals if it is unnecessary?

 

Ethical

Chickens

Lying hens are kept either in cages, sheds or semi-outdoors (called free-range). Their parents (called breeders by industry) are always packed tightly indoors where the hens become red and raw from constant mating. They never see their offspring who are artificially hatched in the industrial incubators. Half of the chicks are male and won’t lay eggs so they are gassed or ground up alive from the moment they are hatched (12 million each year). Laying hens aren’t ‘profitable’ after eighteen months of age so are killed instead of living their 8-10 year lifespan. Their depleted bodies are used for pet food, stock cubes or fertilizer.

It takes about 30 long hours for each of Australia’s 12 million battery hens to produce just one ‘cage egg’ for sale in our supermarkets.

edited chicken left pic

The Industry has done a very good job of marketing ‘free range’ to this incorrect belief that chickens are running around on fields happy and free. ‘Free range’ still allow female chicks to have their beaks burnt off with a hot iron or cut off with no anaseatic. Grounding up and gassing of male baby chicks still happens in the ‘free range’ and ‘organic’ industry.

Broiler chickens are crippled and sickly. They are killed when 6-8 weeks of age but are already heavier than an average adult laying hen. They are selected for fast growth and fed antibiotics daily to keep them alive and to speed growth. Their bones can’t keep up with the abnormal growth rates – it’s like putting a teenager’s weight on a toddler’s legs. The chicks are packed tightly inside large industrial sheds holding 40,000-64,000 birds. Their excrement builds up, the smell is overwhelming, and the ammonia burns their eyes. Their parents never see the light of day either, but their torment lasts sixty weeks. Her ‘living’ space is smaller than one A4 sheet of paper—not even enough space to stretch her wings.

edited chicken right

Those birds who reach the age of 35 days will face the terror of being sent to slaughter. ‘Catchers’ enter the shed and proceed to catch 300 – 500 birds per hour and load trucks as quickly as possible. Each bird is grabbed by one fragile limb and hung helplessly with up to five other birds in the fist of a ‘catcher’ before being forcibly stuffed into a transport crate along with other birds.

The broiler chicken’s first glimpse of the outside world will be as she is trucked for slaughter. Her last glimpse of the world will be hanging upside down with her feet shackled in metal stirrups attached to a moving conveyor belt. Her head will be drawn through an electrified water bath to stun her unconscious before an automatic knife cuts her throat. Some birds are not so ‘lucky’. Those who raise their heads and miss the electrified water bath face the throat cutting machine fully conscious.

 three chickens

Pigs

 

Whilst I may have not written up much information about Pigs and what happens to them when raised for humans to eat; it doesn’t take away the pain and suffering these clever creatures endure. So much so, I’d say it’s almost the worst kind of treatment to any animal.

Australia’s pig industry has been clever at keeping its secrets, knowing that many Australians would refuse to purchase pork, ham and bacon products if informed of the cruelty pigs endure in factory farms and during the slaughter process.

Pregnant pigs can be kept for their entire 4 month pregnancy in a tiny metal stall not much bigger than the size of their bodies and cannot even turn around. Unable to interact with their babies they watch helplessly as their piglets have their tails cut off and teeth clipped without pain relief. Male piglets are castrated without anaesthetic. The ability of these intelligent and sensitive animals to suffer is no different to the family pet. Despite this, consecutive governments have provided legal exceptions to pig farmers to prevent them from being prosecuted for animal cruelty so that they can maximize their profits.

Edited pig troff pic

Pigs have the ability to sense what is going to happen to them before it happens and quite often can be heard squealing once they are put through boiling waters (they are meant to be killed by the stunt gun but this often does not happen).

Studies have proven pigs to be more loyal then a family dog and even smarter than a 3 year old child. In fact – they register fourth on the list of most intelligent animals. You can name a pig and they will respond to the name after only a couple of weeks.

three piggies

Cows

To keep producing milk for human consumption, a dairy cow must produce a calf each year.

As with every other animal industry, it is in the interests of the dairy industry for their customers not to know the reality of the industry. They are keenly aware that many milk drinkers—especially women—would be appalled by an industry that deliberately gets a female pregnant, allows her to give birth and greet her newborn, only then to remove her young—and in most cases send her calf to be slaughtered before they have even experienced a week of life.

Calves are taken from their mothers within 12-24 hours of birth. If nature was allowed to take its course—calves would suckle from their mother for several months, even up to a year. Mother cows, like most mammals have a strong maternal bond. One study found that this bond was formed in as little as five minutes.

When calves are removed mother cows will frantically bellow for the offspring (cry) that they will never see again. Separated calves appear frightened and bewildered. Regardless of how this situation is handled this separation causes enormous stress for both the cow and calf.

Calves in Victoria can be killed legally by having their rib cages stomped in to get to their heart or their skull bashed in with a hammer type tool to get to their brain.

edited calf standing pic

New mothers are returned to the milking herd… The milk that nature destined for the calf is then processed for human consumption. I have since learnt that farmers can dock the cow’s tail purely because the tails (often used to swat files away in the paddocks) can be ‘irritating’ to the farmer.

Around three quarters of a million unwanted dairy calves, not wanted for herd replacement or rearing for pink veal, are slaughtered each year as ‘waste-products’ of the dairy industry — usually at around the tender age of 5 – 6 days old. Dairy calves are not valued as they don’t grow at the same rate as beef calves and their meat quality is considered sub-standard by the beef industry.

As soon as calves reach their fifth day of life (after separation from their mothers they are fed a milk substitute) the Australian livestock transport standards allow the calves to be transported to abattoirs and saleyards.

While Standards and Guidelines are written to protect the welfare of animals during transport, these fall far short from protecting these young vulnerable animals from suffering.

edited calf and lamb pic

The natural lifespan of a cow is up to 20 years, yet few cows live beyond the age of seven years, and many younger animals go to slaughter.

Selective breeding, and more recently genetic manipulation, has resulted in the selection and production of cows which produce enormous amounts of milk. The modern dairy cow can produce about 35-50 litres of milk per day—about ten times more milk than her calf would actually need.

Producing large quantities of milk puts a significant metabolic strain on the animal. The great weight of the udders often causes painful stretching or tearing of ligaments and frequently causes foot problems and infections.

 

In some ‘dairy’ regions, such as Gippsland in Victoria, the ‘docking’ (surgical amputation or using elastic rings) of a cows tail is quite common—sometimes only a small part of the tail is left intact. It is done because dairy farmers don’t like to be swished in the face with a dirty tail whilst in the milking shed, and a mistaken belief that dirty tails contribute to higher bacterial contamination and perhaps higher levels of mastitis. New shed designs and research have made both reasons redundant—yet the practice still continues. A 2005 national survey found that 20% of dairy farmers routinely dock cows tails, but that the practice is declining.

Dairy breeds of cattle will usually grow horns and in the jostling involved during the herding process for twice a day milking, they may injure other cows. Therefore, heifer (female) calves being raised to enter the milking herd will usually undergo ‘disbudding’ at an early age (less than 6 months of age). This is usually done by applying heat cauterization to the horn buds, or by using a knife or scoop tool to remove all the horn growth tissues in the horn bud. Currently this painful procedure is done without analgesia or sedation (though pain relief regimes have been developed for this procedure).

If dairy calves are not ‘disbudded’, older dairy cattle may be ‘dehorned’—a painful and distressing procedure that also carries a higher risk of infection and even blowfly infestation in some regions. The Code of Practice recommends dehorning without analgesia should not occur in cattle over 6 months of age—but this routinely occurs (in the beef industry and to some extent in the dairy industry). Researchers have shown that dehorning adult cattle has ‘severe adverse effects on welfare’. Pain relief is not routinely used because it would add to costs and time to conduct the procedure.

As with other farm-based businesses the industry has grown dramatically over the past few decades while the number of farms reduced by nearly two third (64%) from 22,000 in 1980 to 7,511 in mid-2010; the average herd size has increased from small family farms with an average of 85 cows in 1980 to 220 in 2009/10. The national dairy herd of 1.6 million cows pumped out 9,023 million litres of milk in 2009/10. This means that every cow made 5,445 litres of milk.

One thing is for certain, milk is not necessary for humans after weaning and the nutrients it contains are readily available in plant foods such as beans, grains and many vegetables.

calf three pics

 

Environment

Animal industries are one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems. Here are some facts:

790 million people in the world are chronically undernourished. About 27,000 children under 5 die of poverty and starvation every day -

Most edible grain is used to feed animals for meat, dairy and egg production. We grow enough edible grain to provide 50% more than is required for every person in the world. Most of this edible grain is used to feed animals for meat, dairy and egg production. As a result, the price of grain has risen by hundreds of percent in recent years, pricing poor people out of the market of basic foods.

The world’s cattle alone consume enough food to feed 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population.

It takes more kilograms of plant protein fed to a cow to produce a single kilogram of beef protein. 80-90% of food energy protein available in plants is wasted when converted to meat for human consumption. It is much more efficient for people to consume foods lower in the food chain (to consume the plant foods directly) than the protein in animal sources and does not contribute to problems such as heart disease.

Over 67% of water in Australia is used for agriculture industry whereas only 9% is for household use.

It takes between 50,000 and 100,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef.

In Victoria, 77% of agriculture water is used for pasture and hay production for grazing animals raised for meat and dairy products. In comparison, only 10% is used for the production of fruit and vegetables for human consumption.

The world’s animal industries produce over 50% of global gas emissions.

Animals raised for food in Australia produce approx. 3 mega tonnes of methane annually. Methane produced by animals is also a substantial contributor to climate change.

Nearly 60% of the Australian continent is grazed by animals raised for human consumption. This is in addition to the land that is cleared and used for the production of hay and other food for animals.

Clearing of forests and bushland for animal industries results in habitat loss throughout Australia, which is the major cause of wildlife species becoming threatened, endangered and extinct.

According to the CSIRO and the University of Sydney a massive 92% of all land degradation in Australia is caused by animal industries. Plant agriculture, mining, forestry, manufacturing, residential buildings and all other industries account for the small remainder.

Today’s fishing techniques create enormous ‘by-catch’, which is the unintentional capture of sea animals such as non-target fish species (whales, dolphins, turtles, seals and sea birds). Many of these species are facing extinction due to fishing.

Fish farming concentrates faecal contamination in specific areas of the ocean and rivers, promoting the rapid spread of disease and parasites, to both captive and wild fish populations.

Fish farming can also result in non-native fish species escaping and damaging the surrounding environment. Worst of all, farmed fish eat fish – 5kg wild fish is needed as feed to produce 1kg of farmed fish.

If we reduced or eliminated feed and livestock industries, we could regain abundant land, some of which could be used for reforestation, forestry and the production of plant-based fuels, materials and fabrics.

The production of milk has a major impact on the environment. Cows produce a lot of Methane and Nitrous Oxide in their digestion system. These are greenhouse gasses that are about 21 and 296 times as strong as that of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) respectively. Because of these emissions the dairy industry alone contributes 3% to global greenhouse gas emissions (and that is when excluding post-farm (dairy processing) and land use emissions).

Expressed in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) quantities, the greenhouse gas emissions for every kg of milk range from 0.9-1.8 kg CO2, varying between countries and farming systems. This is equivalent to driving between 10 and 20 km in a Toyota Prius.

Cows also produce a lot of manure which pollute water and soil and can disturb the natural nutrient balance needed for normal plant growth. A single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of wet manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20–40 people. With a dairy herd of 1.6 million cows, this means that the Australian dairy industry produces far more manure than the entire Australian human population.

Another impact of the dairy industry on the Australian environment is by its massive use of water and land area. In 2004-2005 the dairy industry was responsible for 19% of all the water used in Australian agriculture. This is more than 12% of all the water used in Australia. Cows need a lot of land to graze on (if they get the opportunity) and the production of their feed also takes up a lot of land area. The production of cattle feed is a major reason for deforestation and is putting pressure on nature both in Australia and overseas.

earth

 

Bottom Line

It takes a great deal more fuel to produce a kilogram of beef compared to a kilogram of grain or vegetables.

Studies show that vegetarians outlive their non-vegetarian counterparts by between 5-10years.

An organic vegan diet produces 94% less greenhouse gas emissions than the average meat and dairy diet.

Animal industries are eating up the world, we must change it!! Avoiding meat and dairy consumption is the most effective way for individuals to make a real difference.

Feeding Cow