The Three Pronged Approach
I talked about the three pronged approach to veganism in my vegan lifestyle post, and it is the best way to. The approaches are health, environmental, and ethical. These three form a strong foundation in which to build a long lasting vegan journey.
In this post I will be talking about the three in more depth in the vegan diet sector. I will be taking meat, dairy, eggs, and honey and breaking these down into each of the approaches as to why you shouldn’t be putting them in your body.
Health is the first, and often the easiest, way to get someone to start a vegan journey. We are all selfish in the respect that we want to know how it will benefit us personally. This is a great start, but what happens when you go over to a friend’s house, or a family get together with all the stuff that you know is bad for you? I know that when I was on a diet I would rationalize. “Oh, I’ll start up again tomorrow,” slowly evolved into weekends, and weeks, and months. So while it is an awesome place to start, it’s not a strong enough base.
Environment comes next. We all want a clean space to live, and our planet is no exception. We don’t want to see it end in our lifetimes, or our children’s lifetimes, or even our grandchildren’s lifetimes. It sets a stronger foundation, but here comes temptation again. This time doubt has also decided to join the party. What could little old me do in the long run anyway? So, we need to add a third element.
Ethical is probably both the hardest and easiest one for me to talk about. Finding that line between getting my point across without turning people off or bursting into tears has been difficult at best. It is such an important aspect though that it cannot and should not be ignored. If you are committed to starting a vegan diet, then this will be vitally important to making sure you are staying on track. For me when temptation closes in and doubt whispers in my ear I can close my eyes and picture what I’ve seen and heard through my computer screen and my resolve will strengthen once again.
It may not seem like much but every day on a vegan diet saves another sentient being’s life. A life that is much like our own. All of us animals on this planet want to live, to live freely, and to live without pain or fear. I give one animal that life every day, and that is what will keep me on this path forever.
At least 65% of the world’s population is some form of lactose intolerant. It contains significant amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which has been shown to lead to heart disease.
Calcium is needed for strong bones, but people need around 600mg a day to maintain bone density, which is easy enough to get from plant foods. A cup of cooked collard greens contains almost half of that amount, while a cup of boiled white beans contains 161mg.
Dairy however actually increases the risk of hip fracture and overall mortality rate. Increased dairy consumption is also linked to a higher rate of cancer, specifically prostrate and breast cancer.
Dairy also contains contaminants from hormones to pesticides. Dairy also contains pus, which is produced when the udders are infected. A cup of milk contains a single drop of pus, while that might not seems like a lot, however I used to have a glass on milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That turns out to be 1095 drops a year. Now that is a frightening number.
The dairy industry has roughly 9 million cows in the U.S.
A cow can drink 23 gallons of water per day. That’s 207 million gallons of water a day! Is it any wonder that we’re so concerned with water conservation? This does not include cleaning the facilities, which can be up to 150 gallons of water per cow per day or 1.35 billion gallons of water a day. This does not include feeding the cows, which racks up to 4,781 gallons per cow per day or over 43 billion gallons of water. Per day.
A single cow can produce 7 gallons of milk a day and consumes 4954 gallons a day. I used to drink a glass of milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was wasting almost 133 gallons of water a day.
So, as you can see, this is a huge strain on the environment, and that’s just from the U.S. alone! This has nothing to do with carbon emissions. Dairy alone counts for 4% of greenhouse gasses.
Is dairy really worth it?
Cows in the dairy industry only live 4-5 years before their body gives out on them and they are sent to slaughter. Why? Well before I answer that I have a question for you. How do cows produce milk?
They produce it the same way that we do. They have to become pregnant in order to start producing milk. They carry their calves for nine to nine and a half months, and in nature, will nurse for about 10 months before their milk starts to dry up. Cows bond with their calves much the same way that woman do to their babies.
In the dairy industry it is common practice to separate the cow and calf within 24 hours. The cow is then milked for 10 months, or until milk rates decline, then the cow will go through a drying up period of 60 days before being forcibly impregnated again. The cycle doesn’t stop, which puts great strain on the cow, and drastically shortens their lifespan. Their baby also getting taken away puts the cow under great emotional stress and grief as they’ve just lost their baby.
So, what happens to the baby calf? It depends on if it’s male or female. Female calves are raised to replace their mothers, which repeats this awful cycle. The male calves are shipped out to become veal at 18-20 weeks old.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meat as a class 1 carcinogen, while all red meats are a class 2. This means that processed meats are highly likely to cause cancer, while red meats are probably likely to cause cancer.
Meat has also been linked to causing obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The cholesterol clogs up our veins, causing heart attacks. This phenomenon can also cause strokes as it reduces blood flow to the brain.
They also are recalled quite often due to contamination and disease. Since mid May 2017 there have been 35 recalls from the USDA. While only 13 of those had to do with possible contamination, they equaled up to 105,000 pounds of meat overall.
Of course protein is important, but let’s look at the facts. A 3 oz serving of hamburger has 22g of protein, 4 oz. of turkey has 29g of protein, a 3 oz. serving of ham has 20g of protein, a half cup of black beans has 20g of protein, and a medium sized potato has 4g of protein.
The beans and ham have no cholesterol and the lowest amount of fat. Black beans have the highest number of calories, but are also the most nutrient dense of all the examples listed above, followed by the potato. Beef has the highest fat content, while turkey had the most cholesterol. Ham has the highest salt content. Ham and turkey have a high vitamin B-6 content, and hamburger has a high vitamin B-12, but they just can’t compare to the black bean.
Cows are by far one of the biggest strains on the environment when it comes to the meat industry. A single pound of meat requires 16 pounds of vegetation and 2,500 gallons of water. Compare this to the 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. This is perfect for drought conditions.
Almost half the land on earth is used for the meat industry. A single cow uses between 2-5 acres of land. Did you know that if everyone in the U.S. went to grass fed beef that we would require all of the U.S. as well as most of Canada and Mexico to be turned into pastures for grazing? That includes cities, roads, and historical monuments.
If you have a small car think about the last time you drove it 20 miles. The fuel you just used in that single trip is what it takes to produce a single hamburger. Over a third of fossil fuels is used in the U.S. is devoted to raising animals for food.
A normal pig factory creates the same amount of waste as a town or city of 12,000 people. Animal agriculture is the number 1 source for water pollution.
The meat industry is the leading cause or deforestation. Did you know that 1-2 acres of rain forest are cleared every second? Almost 70% of deforestation is caused by beef consumption and peoples’ rising demand for it. The meat industry also uses 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. Farm animals in a year are consuming over 28 million pounds of drugs.
The worst thing of all is the meat industry takes 80% of corn and 95% of oats for feed. We could end world hunger if we would stop feeding animals for their meat.
These animals live in very poor living conditions. They are overcrowded, severely confined, and in some cases kept completely from the outside world. They live in pain as they are given drugs to make them grow faster. Many chickens cannot walk more than a few steps before falling down because of their extreme breast size. The extra weight also causes organ failure.
Chicken have their beaks forcefully removed without pain killers of any kind. They are normally kept in overcrowded sheds with no windows. The slaughterhouse is no kinder to them than their handlers are. Chickens have their throats slit, but over time the blades become dull. Many chickens are still alive when dunked in boiling hot water to remove their feathers.
A chicken’s lifespan is 10-15 years, yet in the meat industry they are slaughtered at just 42 days old. 99% of the land animals slaughtered for food in the U.S. are chickens and turkeys. “Free range” means nothing in the meat industry as almost all chickens raised for meat aren’t caged.
Pigs are some of the most compassionate creatures. Some of them are as smart as a 3 year old child, and every single one of them has their own personality just like we do.
Most mother pigs spend their life in small crates that aren’t big enough to lay down comfortably in, and cannot turn around. This puts her piglets in danger. They are normally housed on top of metal grates which is easy for piglets hooves to get stuck in, meaning many die of starvation because they can’t get free to nurse from their mother. Piglets tails and testicles are removed, their teeth are shaved down, and their ears are notched without pain killers.
Piglets are taken away from their mothers at just a month old, well before the natural weaning period. Mother pigs are then impregnated again and the cycle starts all over. They are then housed together where disease runs rampant and they are forced to live in their own feces and vomit. Cannibalism also occurs. Pigs often have arthritis, since they are forced to grow faster. Slaughter is just as bad. The most humane method is called the “gas chamber”. Much like it sounds they are gassed to death. The gas burns their lungs until they cannot breathe and suffocate. Other methods include stunning them before dropping them in scalding water to remove the hair. Many go in still conscious.
Cows do not have it easier in terms of living a full life. Their horns and testicles are cut, or sometimes in the case of horns burned, off with no pin killers. They live in their own manure in either cramped sheds, or fenced in yard with no grass in them. While living outside in the harsher climates in the north can freeze in the winter and in the south can die of heat in the summer.
Cows on feedlots are fed grain and corn to fatten them up quickly. They are crowded by the thousands with very little room to move. At the slaughterhouse they are stunned and hung upside down. Many cows are still fully conscious when they have their throat slit.
All of these animals arrive at the slaughterhouse the same way. Cramped on trucks, and left with no food or water, sometimes for up to a full day. This is an awful way to spend your last few hours on earth for any being.
The fish industry isn’t any more friendly either. Many large commercial fishing vessels drag around these huge nets that reach all the way to the floor of the sea, and pick up everything in it’s path. Many of the seafood, including dolphins and turtles, don’t survive since they’re packed in so tightly they suffocate. If it’s not the type of fish they’re looking for it gets thrown back into the sea. By this point though they’re mostly dead.
Eggs have hardly any nutritional benefits, and many health hazards. They aren’t high in potassium, or any other vitamin that we can’t get from somewhere else. The highest vitamins an egg has are D and B-12. Vitamin D is easy to get from the sun, and farm animals are given a B-12 supplement, something that we could easily take ourselves.
What eggs are high in is cholesterol, especially for the amount of calories that are in a large egg. The high cholesterol, 186mg, and fat content, 4.8g, in the amount of calories, 72, can cut a person’s life significantly short, and has been equated with a smoking habit as far as early mortality is concerned. Also, it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
As far as the environment goes, eggs are probably the least damaging, but that doesn’t mean that it’s particularly good. 100 chickens require an acre of land for food, but with 300 million chickens that adds up to an astonishing number. Also there will be waste, and that pollutes water.
Egg laying hens spend two years continuously making eggs. The chicks are separated at hatching. The females get to live, and the males get ground up alive. Since egg layers and the chickens that are kept for meat are two different things due to genetic modification the male chicks are considered worthless and are disposed of.
Hens have their beaks burned off with a red hot clamp. The baby chicks that have their beaks burned off can suffer from starvation and dehydration as their beak heals. There are two main options for hens. They are either housed in cages that are just 18 by 24 inches and can hold up to 10 hens, or locked in an overcrowded shed with no windows.
The light and even their feed is manipulated to produce as many eggs as possible. After two years egg production drops as the hen’s body gives out on her. They are then set to the slaughterhouse to have their throats slit. By this time they are mostly too damaged to be used in the normal food industry as these hens suffer from broken bones, but they can be used by the National School Lunch Program.
Much like eggs are for the environment, honey is the safer option when it comes to your health. However there are still some side effects that you should be concerned about. They are: abnormal heart rhythms, changes in white blood cell count, blurry vision, changes in taste, spike in blood sugar levels, allergic reactions, and tooth decay.
Honeybees are not native. They were imported from Europe. However bees as a whole are necessary to pollinate plants. That being said they are very vulnerable to pesticides.
The other part of that is CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, which is where the worker bees just disappear, leaving behind the queen and a few nurse bees to take care of the queen and the immature bees that are left behind. While this has dropped a little bit it is still a cause for concern since the queen bee is the breeder of the hive. The worker bees do the work in making sure the queen has food and is protected, so them disappearing isn’t a good thing.
Just like the other categories that I’ve talked about bees are given the short end of the stick. They have been domesticated and genetically modified. They are forced to reproduce. The queen sometimes has her wings removed. The honey, which is the bees source of sustenance, is taken from them and they are fed an inferior diet of sugar water.
Queens can live as long as 7 years, but some beekeepers kill a queen off at 1-2 years to prevent the decline of honey production.
The three pronged approach is one of the best ways to start a vegan journey and to stay on it. It is neither healthful, ethical, or environmentally friendly to stay on an omnivorous diet. We could solve so many problems by just eating a little differently. It’s not easy, but for the future, it is a must if we want our planet to survive.
If this helped you in any way, or if you have any questions please comment and I will be more than happy to elaborate!