Although people’s interest in the vegan lifestyle has grown in popularity in recent years, especially since COVID-19, the Vegan Society was created a very long time ago, back in 1944. People across the world, have lived a vegan lifestyle even before then. What’s even more amazing to me is that the 3 main reasons (animals, health & the environment) for being vegan are equally old.
There were many definitions of veganism but it was not until 1979 that the definition of veganism that we know today was created by The Vegan Society: “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.”
I found this vegan cookbook at the Tears Animal Charity Shop. It is 36 years old, a year older than I am. It is filled with Vegan recipes and also includes some information about the Vegan lifestyle.
On the Introduction page of The Vegan Diet the authors, David Scott & Claire Golding state: “There are three main reasons for following this diet. First, by following a vegan diet we cease contributing to the exploitation and cruelty suffered by animals reared for their flesh and products. This reason is particularly relevant now that such suffering has become an intrinsic, if not intended, part of modern factory-farming methods.”
I did a quick google search and found that Factory Farming started in the 1960’s. This way of farming animals is not new, and the Sentience Institute estimates that 90% of the world’s farmed animals are in factory farms, 31.0 billion of which are land animals and 38.8 to 215.9 billion are fish. Even though this is the reality of the world we live in, so many people still don’t realise the immense suffering that happens every day to these animals.
The Vegan Diet Introduction continues: “Second, we benefit nutritionally because the naturally balanced food we eat, so long as it is not refined, is low in fats and cholesterol and not over-rich in protein. Further, plant food does not contain the chemicals that are fed to animals to ensure that their flesh is of the right colour and tenderness, at the right time, for the market place, thus ensuring the optimum yield per unit according the amount of money invested.”
We have learned a lot more since then. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that proves a well-balanced vegan diet has a large range of health benefits and has the power to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
Since the 1980’s the use of antibiotics added to factory farmed animals has increased immensely, and in some countries 80% of medical antibiotics are fed to animals. This has contributed to the development of antibiotic resistance, as Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in 2017 “A lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak,”.
COVID-19 is believed to be a zoonotic disease, which is a disease that originated from animals and was transferred to humans. There are currently over 200 types of zoonosis with coronaviruses, the plague, rabies, lyme disease being some of the most well-known. The WHO warns that over 70% of emerging diseases may come from wild animals.
When you consider that the underlying risk factors for COVID-19 severity and death is obesity, heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and chronic pulmonary disease, which can all be prevented or reversed by eating a vegan diet, then this really is the perfect time for a global shift towards a vegan diet. Globally since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there has been an accelerated rise in people switching to a vegan diet.
Lastly the Vegan Diet Introduction states: “Third, the vegan diet contributes to a better use of the land available for growing food. Animal farming is an extravagant and ecologically unsound use of our resources. Many of the world’s food problems could be alleviated if land devoted to animal rearing was turned over to plant-food cultivation.”
According to Our World In Data, half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, 77% of which is used to feed livestock. We know that the livestock industry is destroying the planet as it contributes to deforestation, species extinction, water pollution, air pollution, global warming, desertification, erosion and greenhouse gases, to name a few environmental issues.
Currently it is estimated that livestock are responsible for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gases (GHG) which is almost as much as the transportation industry which is 15-20%. Given the environmental crisis we are facing it is of utmost importance to turn to what is on our plates, for the solution.
On the one hand it makes me sad to think that for decades we have known the environmental, health, ethical and moral implications of eating animals, and have had resources like this vegan cookbook, yet as a species we continue to consume animals. On the other hand, since going vegan in 2011 I have personally witnessed a global shift towards a vegan diet, although to be honest, it is a lot slower than I’d hoped. My own vegan journey started from an environmental and ethical stand point, and not long after, it also included the undeniable health benefits which I’ve seen in myself.
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