People go vegan for various reasons. Some do it for environmental reasons, others do it for their health and there are also those that do it for the animals. They don’t want to see animals being slaughtered or exploited in any other way.
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While some may argue that going vegan doesn’t do much for the animals, there is a lot of evidence that says going vegan really does help animals.
How exactly does veganism help animals? Keep on reading to find out.
How Do Vegans Save Animals?
Being vegan is about saving animals, right? That’s the general notion when differentiating between the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant based’.
By adopting a vegan lifestyle and without physically going from farm to farm freeing animals, the saving part is less visible to the naked eye. Demand for meet and animal produce decreases every day when animal-derived products are not bought – it’s that simple.
Perhaps the most visible impact is not imminent, but it is there.
Animals meant for slaughter are bread intentionally, and in order to meet demand. If the demand goes down, so does the breeding. We vote with our feet and shopping habits. When we decide against animal products, trends eventually start to change.
Speaking of trends, sales of fresh meat, fresh milk and fresh cheese are all down – in the US alone, sales of meat have been declining for a decade, and that trend is spreading across the world. Think of it as a long-term investment. We won’t see direct results in a year or two, but change is on the horizon.
How Many Animals Do Vegans Save?
One of the most often asked questions one gets asked as a vegan is along the lines of – how many animals do vegans save anyway.
There are several ways of calculating one’s impact. Many organizations and websites make it very graphical, informative and clear. You can use the Vegan calculator as a fun way of calculating according to the data they hold. It goes a step further and gives you an idea of how many pounds/kg of meat was saved as well as CO2.
They also claim that each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forest, 20 pounds CO2, and one animal life. That is a good estimate, and should give an idea to anyone trying to ascertain the impact on animal life.
What would be the impact of a single person going vegan for one year?
Let’s start with one month.
By going vegan for a month, you would not only save 30 animal lives, but also 620 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet of forest, and 33,481 gallons of water.
Using the calculator, it says one year of veganism will save 365 animals, 3,340 square meters of forest, 16,436 pounds of grain and 401,766 gallons of water.
In a world where natural resources are becoming more and more a concern, this is reassuring data to show we can make a change by changing the way we live. Granted, there is a lot of data out there that will show the impact, and it can vary slightly. The main takeaway for vegans should be that each day a difference is made – not only for animals, but also for the planet we all call home.
How Are Beauty Products Tested on Animals?
Being vegan encompasses many aspects of one’s life choices. It’s not only food, but also clothing, medicine, home furnishings, and, of course, personal care.
Animal testing in cosmetics is an area where there is much noise on the international level at the moment, and it has seen much change in recent years. As many ingredients have already been tested, some countries have completely banned testing on animals, with others, hopefully soon following suit.
There are different methods used to test cosmetics on animals, and they are categorized differently based on the type of the area(s) the product will be used on.
According to PETA, a single test for a cosmetics ingredient can use over 1,000 rats or rabbits. The notorious Draize tests involve placing rabbits in restraining stocks so that they cannot struggle or wipe their eyes. Experimenters pull their eyelids apart and apply chemicals onto the eye.
In the similarly horrific skin test, experimenters typically apply chemicals onto the shaved skin of rabbits to check for the severity of the reaction.
After the test is over, they kill the animals.
Horrible, right? Still feel like supporting the beauty industry that tests their products on animals? I made my choice 10 years ago and, in our home, we use only beauty brands that don’t test on animals.
Does Vegan Mean Not Tested on Animals?
When buying cosmetics, you will find two terms on the outer packaging. One is ‘cruelty free’, and the other is ‘vegan’. They are not to be confused as having the same meaning.
If a brand is ‘vegan’, they still might have tested their product on animals, whilst ‘cruelty free’ brands don’t use animal testing at all. They might, however, contain animal-derived products.
If you would like to ensure you are buying cruelty free and vegan products, be sure to look for the icons declaring that, and check the PETA website to research the brands. Don’t be shy when you are asking companies about animal testing – the more they get challenged, the faster the change will happen.
How Do Vegans Feel About Animals Eating Animals?
You wouldn’t believe how many times people asked me, how I feel about animals eating animals. »It is a part of nature, Gregory. It is the same with humans eating animals.«
I would disagree. Let me explain why.
When a lion leaps and kills a zebra, it is, to a vegan, something that is most likely difficult to watch. The lion is, however, designed to hunt and kill zebras and would not survive by eating grass.
The hunters in the animal kingdom do so because of their animal and survival instincts, and they have no alternatives. They also, in general, don’t stockpile and kill just for the sake of killing. They eat what they kill.
We, as humans, do have a choice, and we have the mental awareness of the consequences of our actions. We have the data and knowledge to know that meat is not healthy, and that we are depleting the world’s resources in the process of pursuing a few fleeting moments of ‘pleasure’ on a plate.
When looking at animals, should we interfere with the way nature has worked for thousands of years, or should we be the ones to adapt and change our ways in order to save the planet, and, effectively, our health?
The choice is yours, of course.
What Would Happen if Everyone on Earth Went Vegan?
The apocalyptic vision of billions of animals (yes, billions!) being released in one day, if the world suddenly became vegan, is something that belongs in a Hollywood Studio.
This is not likely to happen in a day, let alone a year.
The world could become vegan, however, it would be a slow process. Animals would not be bread intentionally, which would decrease the number of animals born. Those already bread could either be released or sent to sanctuaries. Some would, inevitably, be slaughtered, and some would be kept to live out their days on their respective farms.
Captivity has rendered many animals incapable of surviving in the wild. In time, however, nature would find a balance and harmony would be restored.
Take one example of bringing back grey wolves into the Yellowstone park. When the grey wolf was reintroduced into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995, there was only one beaver colony in the park, said Doug Smith, a wildlife biologist in charge of the Yellowstone Wolf Project.
Today, the park is home to nine beaver colonies, with the promise of more to come, as the reintroduction of wolves continues to astonish biologists with a ripple of direct and indirect consequences throughout the ecosystem.
The grey wolf was killed off in the 1930s, which resulted in the loss of a great predatory presence. The elk did very well, which had a knock-on effect on the rest of the ecosystem.
This is only one example of how nature can work its way when left alone.
Those arguing in favor of managing forests and forest animals should also be aware that the animals there are being fed and kept mainly for the entertainment of the hunters and to keep that specific economy alive. If we were to leave the natural predators in forests and animals alone, the harmony would return.
What would be the impact on the world’s food-related emissions? Some calculate it would drop as much as 70% by 2050, according to the recent report from the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It goes on to discuss the economic value of these emissions, with a saving of around £440 billion.
What About Health Aspect of the Whole World Going Vegan?
We cannot ignore the health benefits of going vegan. Diseases most commonly associated with meat-eating are strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and, most prominent, lower coronary heart disease.
A healthy and balanced vegan diet could save up to 8.1 million lives each year worldwide.
To really illustrate the impact of feeding animals destined for slaughter, we need to look into how much food they eat.
Dr Walt Willett, professor of medicine at Harvard University, says we could eliminate the worst cases of world hunger today with about 40 million tonnes of food – 760 million tonnes is fed to animals on farms every year.
How is it, that, as a world collective, we produce enough food to feed the planet, and yet, we still have people dying from hunger?
There is no doubt it would take a lot to change the way the vast majority of people live, to move to a balanced vegan lifestyle and, most importantly, shift their mindset.
Being vegan is not all for the benefit of animals, but it is also for the benefit of people and the planet.
When approached well, it is a lifestyle that brings health benefits and has long-term positive consequences for the world. The satisfaction of knowing that by being vegan, each day you haven’t contributed to the mass killing going on in the world, is very special. I hope you feel it too!