A vegan diet is definitely healthier. One of the biggest studies of nutrition ever undertaken (the China Study) showed that a diet which avoids meat, fish and dairy products is the healthiest in terms of longevity and avoidance of disease. A vegan diet contains zero dietary cholesterol, thus significantly reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Vegans also tend to eat a diet high in wholegrains, fresh vegetables and fruit, which helps to prevent macular degeneration, cataracts and high blood pressure. Vegans suffer less from arthritis, osteoporosis (yes, really!) and Type 2 diabetes. A plant-based diet is often recommended as part of the holistic management of many types of cancer. And by avoiding meat, you also avoid all the antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals ingested by the animals and eliminate your risk of catching animal-borne diseases, such as e-coli, salmonella or BSE.
A vegan diet is more compassionate and truly cruelty-free. Billions of animals are killed each year for meat .The vegan and vegetarian website Happy Cow features a shocking real-time update on the exact numbers of animals who have died since you logged on (www.happycow.net/why_vegetarian.html ). Millions of cows also suffer and die each year as a direct result of the dairy industry. To keep a cow producing milk, she must give birth regularly – these babies are taken away at birth and the males are killed for meat (www.milkmyths.org.uk). Far from the idealistic image of contented cows munching grass in a pasture or little lambs frolicking in the fields, animals in both the meat and dairy industry are often kept in overcrowded and inhumane conditions, deprived of space, sunlight, veterinary care, access to the outdoors or contact with their mates or young. Animals, like us, are sensitive, intelligent creatures with emotions and feelings. A pig, for example, is judged to be more intelligent than a dog or a three-year old child. Animals Australia have created a series of chilling radio spots about Lucy the pig, who speaks about her experience in the voice of a three-year old (www.animalsaustralia.org/lucy_speaks).
A vegan diet is also better for the environment. On the most fundamental level, it simply takes fewer resources to grow vegetables than it does to raise animals. Plus, the production of meat is responsible for some of our worst environmental problems (polluted water systems, soil erosion, over-intensive farming and overgrazing). Avoiding meat and dairy is also one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions since cows emit a significant amount of methane (a greenhouse gas much more damaging than carbon dioxide). By switching from a meat eating diet to a vegan diet, you save around 2 tons of CO2 per person each year.
Veganism makes sense to me. Of course you would only want to put foods into your body that do not harm you, that lead you on a path towards optimum health. Foods created without harming other creatures, for how can simply liking the taste of something over-ride compassion when making food choices? And foods that are grown without harming the Earth, our precious home.