Climate Conscious
Published in

Climate Conscious

Every Reason to Stop Eating Meat Right Now

What we eat matters. We should stop eating meat to save animals, the environment, our health and future.

What we eat matters. It matters in so many aspects that creating an outline for this paper was a challenge. People always say, “you are what you eat,” but even this is an understatement. This paper is an ethical argument on why it’s our ethical duty to stop consuming meat and dairy products. I present objective and factual arguments and anything I say in this paper can be found online with proper research. I argue that we should have a broad point of view of the history of time and not be prejudiced against other opinions. Our high-tech urban-city lifestyle existed for less than 0.001% of human history. Meat as a commodity existed for even a shorter period. It has been only 50 or so years since we started eating so much meat. We consume twice the amount we did in the 1960s, and for chicken, we’re eating 400% more. This could be possible when we took the animals from their natural environment, and put them indoors, and industrialized and mechanized the animal industry. Our current diet is a modern invention; it’s not how our grandparents got their nutrition. So, the argument that eating this much meat is ‘part of our basic human nature,’ ‘always has been like this’ fails.

Now we must ask, why is meat so cheap? How did it become such a commodity that we can get a burger for $3? What is in our food, and is it good for us? What is happening to the animals we eat? Who determines what is commonly known about food? Why are there so many diseases, and it’s getting worse? What impact does my diet has on animals and the environment? Could all this be related to how the world is right now? I am covering as many subjects I deemed relevant and important as possible about the meat and dairy industry in this paper, gathering from many sources. Topics are all interrelated, so understanding all gives a more wholesome view. I want to say that my intent is not to be judgmental; I believe it’s my ethical duty to convey this information I have learned, that you might not know. I didn’t know any of this until recently, and I would want someone to tell me if they knew what is in this paper. My only goal is to increase awareness, that people know the truth, and each can make up their minds.

Contents:

Arg 1: Animal suffering

Arg 2: Industry can’t be trusted

Arg 3: Earth is suffering

Arg 4: Meat is ruining our health

Milk, Cheese, Eggs

Are we omnivores?

Sustainability

New tech opens the door for endless possibilities

Ethical Responsibility

Spirituality

Becoming Vegan, Making the Switch to Plant-Based Diet

Argument 1: What we eat matters, because animals are suffering

Do animals have moral status?

As Darwin showed, humans are part of the animals as well. We don’t have much difference from the rest of the animal world; we share %98.8 of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. We have developed bigger brains, which enabled us to do more complex cognitive functions, which lie in the frontal lobes in the brain. The emotional, sentient part of the brain is in what is called the lizard/reptilian brain, which developed much earlier in the history of time. We share this part with most animals. Does sapient and intellectual part is what makes us suffer? No, it’s the sentient part, which makes us feel. When we are determining what being has moral status, the question is whether that being has a consciousness. The suffering of animals is a matter of questioning their consciousness. In determining consciousness, we usually first look at behaviors. Animals are living organisms that appropriately respond to external stimuli. It can showcase hunger, anger, pleasure, and pain.[1] Animals can recognize people, and some have incredible memories, spatial navigation. Chickens are especially good at withholding a current reward for a better reward in the future (delayed gratification), which requisites an awareness of time and selfhood. Animals also show behaviors of suffering when they are inflicted pain, so there is no reason to question whether they are conscious, sentient beings who can suffer, therefore, have moral status. Lisbon Treaty (2009) recognized animals as sentient beings.

What is actually happening to the animals we eat? Where do they come from?

Almost all animals we eat comes from feedlots, a factory-like intensive animal farming system. They have an unbelievable intensity of animals existing in a confined place. The whole point is to create the most efficient and cheap system, regardless of how it’s done. Taking animals indoors enabled us to have a massive number of animals in a controlled space. Animals grow much faster so that more meat can be produced, and for this, they are confined in a box-like space with food in front of them 24/7. A cow grows typically in 2 years, but in factories, this span is shortened to 4 months. How? Hormones are put into the food animals eat. Hormones in the food are stored in the animal’s tissues, and then is in our bodies when we eat it. What do they eat? Typically outside, in nature, cows eat grass, but in factories, they are given highly genetically modified soy and corn.[2] Cows never ate corn naturally before we fed them. When they eat this highly GMO food, they start to have metabolic syndromes, just like in humans. Hormones, their food, and their proximity to other alive or dead animals cause diseases. To prevent them from dying before the owners need them to die, animals are given incredible amounts of antibiotics. In the US, 80% of all antibiotics manufactured are used for livestock. We also consume these antibiotics when we eat meat, but more on antibiotic resistance in the argument for health.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYxKgvtojdg
(Footage from inside a chicken farm. Can be disturbing to some.)

Treatment of animals in feedlots

Most animals in this system never see the sun or the sky. They are kept in small cages where they can’t move, turn around, or even lie down. They are kept so to save space, and so they will keep eating all the time. Cows are not allowed to move at all to keep their meat tender. They don’t form muscles, and most are unable to stand or walk anymore. To move them, we use electric shock, as the pain inflicted causes nerves to respond, and it stimulates movement. Chicken are kept in even closer proximity where they can’t form their natural social structure, which makes them aggressive. They end up attacking each other, so we cut their beaks and claws. Turkeys have a similar fate, under such circumstances, and because of all the stress from the horrible treatment and torture, they show abnormal behaviors, even cannibalism. Pigs and other animals are left to live in their waste full of bacteria. They suffer from stress and show cannibalism and tail-biting behavior as they are in a cycle of torture. Pigs are one of the smartest animals on earth, smarter than dogs, and three-year-old humans. Several hundred million male baby chickens are killed immediately after birth as they are not suitable for neither consumption nor laying eggs. Chickens live in a space smaller than a piece of A4 paper. A factory chicken lives an average of 42 days. They suffer from abnormal bodies because they gain more than 50g every day, and their immune system, organs, and legs can’t keep up. Most animals have disproportionate bodies because of how fast and badly we feed them to increase productivity. In 1972, one cow averaged 9,863 pounds of milk per year; today, it’s 21,697 pounds. We are playing with their genetics, disrupting their natural selection, evolution.[3] After their life in the hell-on-earth we created, they are then taken to the slaughterhouse. More than 1 million pigs die in route to slaughterhouse each year, and those who are alive are in close proximation to the dead, which is both traumatizing and terrible for the health of the animals. (which becomes an issue of our health) No laws regulate the duration of the transport, frequency of rest, or provision of food and water. A typical slaughterhouse kills around 1,000 pigs per hour. They are slaughtered while they are fully conscious, crippling with fear. This huge number makes it impossible for their death to be painless or humane. They’re conscious when we put them in hot water of defeathering tanks, or while they’re skinned or hacked apart. This constant fear and torment are widespread. Why no one does anything about it? For such a long time, we didn’t even have this information. Because of the increasing number of diseases, people started asking questions about nutrition, and only then we started looking. Now, the industry pushed ag-gag laws to prevent activists from entering their property and film what is actually going on inside. This law is clearly intended to censor animal rights abuses. Activist whistleblowers, who are just showing where the food we eat comes from, are regarded the same way as terrorists under this law. (“Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act”) We should ask why they would need this law. We’ll talk about why we’re not attending to these issues in the next section when we discuss the meat industry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtrvOiuK6w8
(Footage showing dairy cow abusement. Can be disturbing to some.)

Argument 2: What we eat matters, because we can’t trust the Meat and Dairy Industry

How big is the BigMeat?

The value of the global meat industry was $945.7 billion in 2018, and it’s expected to increase to $1142.9 billion by 2023. It’s so powerful that the industry’s decisions have huge impact on the health, environment, and fates of so many living beings. Robert Martin summarized the meat industry in a documentary as having all the money of BigTobacco and BigPharma and the personality of the National Rifle Association. Because of its size and value, the meat industry has a significant place in countries’ economies. US government spends $38 billion each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, but only $17 million (0.04%) to subsidize fruit and vegetables. In return, NAMI estimates that the meat industry contributes $894 billion to the US economy. Therefore, the industry is tied up in politics, and there comes its political power.

How powerful is the BigMeat?

Politics

The meat industry contributed over $1.7M during the 2014 campaign cycle to deferral candidates. (83% Republicans) The industry spent another $6.9M directly on lobbying the federal government. Power in lobbying enables the industry to create laws and push legislation that doesn’t benefit the people, but laws that will bring in more money. For example, in addition to the ag-gag law mentioned above, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, or better known as ‘cheeseburger bill,’ states that ‘food-producing or retailing corporations cannot be legally held responsible for obesity, heart disease, or other health-related issues caused by consumption of their food.’ It was introduced by Republican Congressman Rick Keller, who received the maximum amount of donations possible from companies including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Bill passed in the House and is sought solely to protect the producer.

The influence of food lobbyists also has power over federal nutritional guidelines, which advise more meat consumption than what scientists advise. Every 5 years, the Department of Agriculture gives an updated dietary guideline. People who make up this committee receive money from companies such as McDonald’s, Dannon, Coca Cola, Mars, American Meat Institute, American Egg Board, National Livestock and Meat Board, National Dairy Council, The Sugar Association, Campbell’s, Hershey, Snack Food Association. We get dietary recommendations from the companies who have the most gain in determining what we eat, and also who produce the food that makes us sick in the first place, which will be discussed under the health argument.

How could we trust such an entity when vast amounts of money are involved? People in government face a dilemma, either protect the producer or protect the consumer, as their interests clash. When looking from their position, the individual lives don’t seem to matter that much. The pressure and expectation to support BigMeat are probably widespread within the government as well. If someone were to dissent, that person most likely won’t have a bright future in politics.

Here, it’s important to note check-off programs, the government-created commodity research and promotion enterprises. They are meant to increase demand, but this is done without any consideration of health or environmental effects. For example, $12M is given to Domino’s to promote the consumption of cheese. For every $1 the checkoff program spends on increasing demand for cheese, farmers get $4.43 in increased revenue. Domino’s adds more cheese on the menu, cheese producers win, government wins, and fast-food producers win. Consumers lose as pizza is definitely neither healthy nor nutritious.

We might think why nobody would know or do anything about this issue if it’s really bad. We didn’t touch upon the health and environmental issues yet, but when we do, it will be evident that this is a subject that needs to be attended. When we’re inclined to believe somebody would do something, we are that somebody. We should remember that this is a giant industry, who has all the money and power in the government. It’s beyond the point to expect large organizations to save us.

Health and Environmental Organizations

For BigMeat, who has so much power in government, it shouldn’t be hard to have ties in the health and environmental organizations. These organizations have a large audience who are trusting, so their word matters. BigMeat isn’t oblivious and is well aware of the effects of its products. If it can control these organizations, it can first avoid a possible catastrophe, and also then can use it as a marketing tool. And unfortunately, in today’s world, you can own anything by using fear and money. BigMeat companies pay millions of dollars to health and environmental organizations, which therefore can’t tell the sick people what is actually making them sick, and to environmentalists how they can actually save the planet. It is probably written in bold in the contracts. BigMeat is putting a huge blockage in between the truth and the people, and that block is piles of money. This doesn’t mean that everybody who works there is a bad person, and people all the way on the top might even want to shout the truth from the roofs, but might not be able to because of the complex politics involved. It is quite sad and disturbing actually to think millions of people who are suffering from chronic diseases have to take a bunch of pills every day. They can be saved, but aren’t because the information they rely on is false.

Sponsors for Health Organizations

American Diabetes Association takes money from Dannon, Kraft (Velveeta, Oscar Mayer, Lunchables), Bumblebee Foods, LLC (processed can meats)

American Cancer Society takes money from Tyson, Yum! (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell)

Susan G. Komen (Breast Cancer) corporate partners with KFC, Dietz & Watson, Yoplait

American Heart Association takes money from Texas Beef Council, Tyson, Kentucky Beef Council, Idaho Beef Council, Nebraska Beef Council, Mars, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Farmland, WhiteWave Foods, Dairy Max, ConAgra Foods, Subway, Perdue, Nestle, Kellogg’s, Kraft.

All of these organizations take money from meat and dairy companies that are associated with the cause of that disease. This is unfortunately the same with environmental organizations. Almost none of them talk about how we can fight climate change by stopping eating meat. Look at the websites of large leading environmental organizations. Chances are that they are not talking about animal agriculture. We won’t be able to save the planet only by turning off the water when brushing our teeth. The scale of the water animal agriculture is just too vast to be compared to our daily use. One positive is that now, when I am looking for information on this subject and the company doesn’t mention animal agriculture, I can infer that I can’t trust them.

Another point I’d like to draw your attention to is how much money is spent on advertising. Aside from check-off programs, all these powerful big companies, of course, engage in vicious advertising. Going into college, I was very interested in marketing, but now I know for all the bad reasons. My current view on it is that marketing became this attention manipulation machine that is a big cause of consumerist culture, envy, and feelings of self-doubt. It creates a need for us to constantly compare ourselves to others. We are all the time seeing ads that tick our basic senses. Our money is used back to us so that we spend even more money.

Relation to BigPharma

The cycle BigMeat and BigPharma are in together is fascinating. Millions of people eat food from BigMeat, which in turn makes them sick slowly over time. They then develop chronic diseases, which is where the money lies. Healthy and dead people don’t bring in money. People who ‘have to’ take pills all their lives bring in money. Pills only relieve symptoms while creating other symptoms without resolving the root cause. BigPharma and BigMeat get their monetary benefits from people being sick. They recommend eating meat then taking pills to relieve the symptoms of the problems caused by the meat. This cycle continues while people give their hard-earned money to both of these industries. People suffer incredibly, live unpleasant unhealthy lives, spend money on medicine, take care and mourn their loved ones, and life quality drops. They win, we lose. I don’t know what to call this, other than a well-elaborated fraud.

The problems about the BigPharma are huge in its own right, and too complex to get in here. They control what doctors are told, and focus on medication and relieving symptoms, not treating nor prevention. I just want to stress its relation to BigMeat and point out how huge of a power that is as well. In the US, treating chronic diseases is a $1.5 trillion industry. Would BigPharma or BigMeat want to eliminate this? Neither wins from healthy beings. Pharmaceutical industry spends more money on lobbying than any other industry: $238M.

Health organizations mentioned above take money from the people who make money out of us being sick for the rest of our lives. It’s a clear conflict of interest, and as I said before, when given a choice between individual lives and huge amounts of money, money wins.

American Cancer Society takes money from Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Abbvie, Merck, Abbott.

American Diabetes Association takes money from Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Janssen, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim.

American Heart Association takes money from Merck, Pfizer, Lilly, Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Chiesi, Daiichi-Sankyo, Bayer, Amgen, Takeda, Novartis, Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

We have lost our ability to choose what to eat. We are given surreal cheap prices, and we’re constantly bombarded with messages to create the perception of how much meat and dairy we should be consuming by misleading messages. There are so many externalized costs that are not owned by the meat and dairy industry. Externalized costs are costs that the consumer and society pays for the industry. We don’t ask them to do it, neither does the government, so we all pay their debt together. David Simon calculated this cost: it’s $414 billion each year. When we account health care, environmental damage, subsidies, and cruelty. If producers were required to internalize this cost, a $4 big mac would be $11, a $5 carton of eggs would be $13. No matter what you as an individual eat, we’re all paying their debt while they make huge profits. Less the price, more the demand, which is what they want.

Argument 3: What we eat matters, because Earth is suffering

We can save Mother Earth only by stopping consuming meat and dairy. It’s not a secret that climate change is real, happening right now. If we want human species to continue existing in the beautiful world we live in, we must take action now. The industry is not sustainable, from whatever aspect you look. In this section, I’ll lay down the facts and numbers and talk about different aspects BigMeat is contributing to the destruction of our planet. I believe by knowing what is actually happening, we can each decide what we want to do autonomously.

The human population grew exponentially. In 1812, there were 1B people on the planet. In 1912, it was 1.5B; in 2012, the number is 7B. Overpopulation is a problem for its own sake, but it can’t be the scapegoat for climate change.

Every day:

Human population drinks 5.2B gallon water and eats 21B pound food

1.5B cows alone drink 45B gallon water and eat 135B pound food

10,000 years ago, which is a pretty short time considering the life on earth existed for much longer, humans were %1 of the biomass in the world, while the rest %99 were free-living animals. Today, humans and the animals we own as our property account for %98 of the biomass, while free-living animals are only %2.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of human-caused climate change when we account the loss of carbon sinks, respiration, and methane.

15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

45% of the earth’s total land area is used for animal agriculture.

30% of global freshwater consumption is used for animal agriculture.

91% of Amazon Rainforest destruction is due to animal agriculture.

UN reported that livestock is the leading cause of resource consumption and environmental degradation.

Greenhouse Effect

Normally, greenhouse gases are good and necessary for us. Without it, the temperature on earth would be -18 degrees C. It keeps the heat from the sun inside the atmosphere so that we can enjoy warmth during the night as well. But we produce a lot of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide that disrupt the balance. This increases the amount of radiation that is sent back to earth, and heat is unable to escape. Typically, Earth’s temperature fluctuates — ice ages to warmer times. The problem is that it increased unusually fast in the last years, and this is unprecedented. This results in global temperatures increasing, sea levels rising, and ice caps melting.

Climate scientists say the maximum safe level of emissions for CO2 is 350 parts per million of CO2, and, right now, we’re at 400ppm. Methane is 86 times more destructive than CO2. Cows produce 150B gallons of methane per day because of their digestive processes. Animal agriculture produces 65% of the world’s nitrous oxide, which is a gas with global warming potential 296 times greater than CO2. Worldwatch Institute estimates animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse emissions. This is more than all transportation (cars, planes, ships, trucks…) combined.

Land Usage

Animal agriculture uses 30% of land on earth (size of Asia!), %50 of habitable land, and 80% of agricultural land in the US. Most of which is to grow food to feed the billions of animals we’re manufacturing. We could nourish an additional of 3.5B people if we just ate what we feed to animals. We are currently producing enough crops to feed 9.8 billion people. It’s unbelievable how much land we use to give food to the animals we are going to kill in just couple months. It is so inefficient, unsustainable, and unnecessary when we could eat the crops we are producing. If we were to eliminate animal agriculture altogether, we would have a much healthier land, produce better crops that is good for human consumption, and have so much extra land that could be reversed back to being a forest. This could help reverse climate change, clean the air, and give back their homes to many endangered animals.

We grow genetically modified soy and corn on %23 of the land we use for animal agriculture, 93% of which are genetically modified in some way. While we do that, we cause such damage to the land. The production on all this land is non-stop, which gives no time for the soil to recover. We are using pesticides and herbicides on these crops which then contaminates the soil as well. All the minerals in the soil are lost, all bacteria and life under the soil die. There is another world under the soil, which is so necessary for the health of the plant. This is an issue that permaculture addresses and tries to resolve. I have seen first-hand that respecting the life under and around the plant is beneficial to the plant, and the environment. The resulting plant is much better, good looking, and healthier to consume. People care even less about the food that their food eats, so how corn and soy are not good at all, we wouldn’t eat it for sure. Soil is being depleted irreversibly, which means that in any kind of natural disaster, drought, or flood, humans will face a worse situation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7NEqjJZzwY
(Drone video showing massive feedlots)

Water Usage

The water that goes into animal agriculture is beyond comprehension. It is so much. For example, 1 pound of beef uses 2,500 gallons of water. Think how much time you need to drink that much water. Eating 1 pound less beef saves as much as not showering for 6 months. One burger is equal in water usage to around 2 months of showering. About 70% of the world’s water usage is used for animal agriculture. 55% of fresh water in the US is used for animal agriculture (to compare, private homes account for 5%) This is shocking considering there is so much talk about when our clean water will end and thinking about so many people around the world have no access to clean water. How can we use this much water when people are actually dying from dehydration.

Habitat Destruction and Species Extinction

This is mostly a result of land usage. I was shocked to learn 91% of the Amazon rainforest we destroyed is because of animal agriculture, which accounts for a large portion of Brazil’s economy. Rainforests are essential to our survival; they are our world’s lungs. They breathe in CO2 and exhale O2. Every second, an acre (size of a football field) of the rainforest is cleared. Animals living on that land lose their homes, and their possibility of existing. Many animals who have been in that environment for millions of years are evolutionarily adapt solely to that environment, which then makes them extremely vulnerable even if they can find somewhere else to live. The is the largest mass extinction in 65 million years, and it’s human caused. Another cause of species extinction is overgrazing, which happens when plants are exposed to grazing for an extended period of time without having the chance to recover.

This is not only on land either. We took 28 billion animals from oceans last year, so we are definitely overfishing. The main problem is due to the enormous demand, we’re using massive fishnets, and for every targeted 1 pound of fish, up to 5 pounds of untargeted species, like dolphins, whales, turtles, and sharks are caught as bycatch. Sea Shepard Conservation Society says there is no such thing as sustainable fishing. Their motto is, “If oceans die, we die.” We will see fishless oceans by 2048 if we don’t do something about it.

Amazon Rainforest

Ocean Dead-Zones

When water approaches two parts per million or less of oxygen — considered low-oxygen conditions. Eutrophication happens when excess nutrients enter a water body. Extra nitrogen and phosphorous encourage algae growth, which first results in algal blooms. As the algae die, bacteria start to decompose the algae. Much of the dissolved oxygen in the water gets used up in this process, causing drops in oxygen. Few or little life in our oceans can survive such circumstances as marine life need oxygen to survive. How it’s caused by animal agriculture? We cause excessive nutrient pollution. We have billions of animals, and they produce incredible amounts of waste. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that roughly 335 million tons of manure are produced by livestock in the United States each year. We don’t have good waste management systems, so for producers, it’s easy just to flush that waste into water. That accounts for 335 million tons of extra nutrients. The second part of the story is about half of the fertilizers in the corn and soybean animals eat end up in the oceans as well. There are at least 500 identified dead zones in the world, completely devoid of line. Dead zones have been doubling each decade since the 1960s when our current agricultural practices began. As Lucia von Reusner said, “These dead zones will continue to expand unless the major meat companies that dominate our global agricultural system start cleaning up their supply chains to keep pollution out of our waters.”

Image of an ocean-dead zone

Waste

We just mentioned one effect of the huge amounts of waste. All the waste produces incredible air and water pollution. Their urine and manure emit around 400 different harmful gases into the atmosphere, and because of the huge numbers and close proximity of animals, the concentration of gasses increase and is awfully dangerous. In the giant lagoons of waste, waste breaks down and produces ammonia gas, which breeds bacteria and forms nitric acid. It builds up in the atmosphere and returns as acid rain, which harms soil, forests, and waters. One example of water contamination is from the hog farms in North Carolina. There are as many pigs as there are people, but pigs produce ten times more waste than humans. There is almost no waste treatment; pigs are forced to live in their waste in the farms, then it’s pumped into giant waste pits which goes into the rivers. Like this is not enough, factories then use this water without filtering onto fields, further polluting the environment and health of everyone around. The pollution from waste in the rivers kills marine life, as it is in Burnt River. Hog farms are around neighborhoods of low-income families, where mostly African American families live. When we look at the area where the farms in North Carolina are, everybody has a disease, either cancer or asthma. They don’t have the chance to move to somewhere with cleaner air. Animal agriculture creates this pollution that increases diseases, which then helps the BigPharma, as they can now sell more drugs to ‘treat’ these diseases.

Right now, our world is suffering, and we are the ones making it suffer. There are dangerous levels of air pollution, CO2 levels, storms, melting ice caps, wildfires in Amazon, California, Australia as we keep cutting trees. The acidification of oceans is on its way to be 150% higher than normal, resulting in a pH level oceans haven’t seen in 20 million years. Countries will go underwater, millions of people will have to relocate, we will lose some of our history and culture. Nature is the ultimate giver; it gives us food, water, everything we could ever need, and asks nothing in return but compassion. We will die if we don’t take care of nature. We must realize the effects of our actions; it’s our responsibility to learn. Ignorance shouldn’t be bliss. We are currently living in Holocene extinction, sixth mass extinction in the history of Earth, which is now caused by human activity. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates. We are global superpredators, killing anything we deem unimportant for our aims. We first caused the extinction of megafauna and now have even more power to cause loss of biodiversity through our industrialized activities, overfishing, climate change, and of course, meat consumption. We are all in this together. This, of course, affects some people more than others, but eventually, it will affect us all. We can’t live without our environment; we can’t survive without mother nature. We must ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in? A world of rainforests, animal diversity, clean air, co-existing with animals, with normal climate events, or a world where we have to fight for clean water, food, while causing mass extinction of animals and live in drought.

Most environmental organizations aren’t doing anything that will reverse what is done as they are also taking money from meat and dairy companies. They need funding, so they take the money, and as they already have many oppositions, they don’t want to be branded as anti-meat even though that is what the world needs. That would piss off a whole new group of powerful individuals, so we must take it in our own hands. We can’t expect somebody else to save us. I believe we must take action rather than just do the talking.

Argument 4: What we eat matters, because it’s ruining our health

“Let food be thy medicine” — Hippocrates

We have a huge misunderstanding of what we really need to eat because the producers control nutrition guidelines. We are not receiving diet advice from scientists who do the correct research. In this part, I will talk about the effects of consuming meat and dairy on our health.

Antibiotic Resistance

Because of the excessive antibiotic use in animal agriculture, bacteria are evolving to become antibiotic resistant. Before antibiotics, millions of people died of infections that we can now easily resolve. We now treat antibiotics as a commodity, but it was a revolution in medicine. Millions of lives were saved with the invention of antibiotics, but now when people are infected with an antibiotic resistant bacterium, this life-saving drug won’t have any effect. When a bacterium gains resistance to its corresponding antibiotic, we fight it with a more potent antibiotic. For example, one last resort strong antibiotic called Colistin was rarely used to avoid creating even stronger bacteria that can fight it. In 2015 in China, resistance against Colistin was discovered. Resistance to Colistin could mean the deaths of a lot of people. How did this happen? Millions of animals in Chinese pig farms were given Colistin for a long time, and their bacteria gained resistance, which then was spread to us. Through extensive use of antibiotics in animals, we now created more bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. In the US, 80% of all antibiotics are fed to livestock to keep them from dying early because of all the diseases they develop. The antibiotic they consume create irreversible changes in their body, and it causes the adaptation of bacteria that affect both them and humans to become antibiotic resistant. This is a major problem and a health risk, as we also don’t know how fast bacteria develop resistance towards common antibiotics. Many people die from this problem each year already.

Pandemics

There is a natural order of things. Viruses existed far longer than humans, animals, or even single cell organisms. When the natural order of things is disrupted, problems start to happen. We, humans, disrupted this way of things by manipulating environment so much, that we find ourselves in surreal situations. We’re not changing humans, but it’s naïve to think while changing how animals live, we’re not disrupting anything. We have destroyed natural habitat of many animals, as discussed under habitat destruction. Viruses are host specific, they have existed in the animal they chose for thousands of years. Viruses don’t randomly affect any living being. They act to live as well, they need the host to survive so that the virus can survive. Their aim is not to kill their host. Herpes is a virus that we live with, and it manifests when we’re under stress. All other animals have different type of viruses that they carry. When we change the environment animal lives in, the virus on it is subject to evolve. When a virus evolves, it can change its host preferences. When we put a snake near a dog next to a bat, alive, or recently dead, the viruses these animals carry can evolve, because these animals are not meant to be in this close proximity in nature. Disrupting this ecosystem comes with a cost, one that we’re all seeing right now. When the virus evolves, it has the possibility to choose human as a host, and because human isn’t the organism that virus evolved to live with, then it causes disease, and death. Perhaps, this will be our undoing. When we disrupt the ecosystem, treat animals like stuff, be unrespectful to their way of life, the result is unnatural situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic right now. At some point in the future, most probably, the virus will evolve to live with humans without killing, but until that point, so many lives will be lost. I can’t stop to think that this massive change in lifestyle, disruption of the economy, lives that are lost are because we put an animal next to other animals that weren’t supposed to be together and ate that animal that we weren’t supposed to eat. Mad cow, Avian flu, Coronavirus, and so many more. I ask, is it worth it?

Inflammation

Almost all chronic diseases start with inflammation in the body. Everything that causes inflammation in the body has the potential to trigger a disease. As a lifestyle, it’s something that must be averted. Air pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and stress are some examples that can result in inflammation. The one we’re focusing on here is the inflammation caused by meat products. The toxins in the fat in the animals are inflammatory. All animals, us included, by our nature, create toxins when they engage in metabolic activity and produce energy. This is the cycle of life; we create toxins as waste when we produce energy. It is how mitochondria work, and this is why we die. If we didn’t create toxins, we would reverse aging. Plants are the purest form of nutrients we can take, and their rate of toxin production is much lower. Animals produce toxins, and when we eat them, we take in the toxins they create as well. Whatever grass-fed beef we buy, this is the case. Now, it gets worse as the meat we buy isn’t up to the standards. First, the herbicides and pesticides used in the corn fed to the cow are toxins. Second, because of the horrible treatment of animals, the stress animal goes through creates even more toxins. (just like we do) All these toxins we consume cause inflammation in our bowels, and by eating constantly, bowels can’t handle it, and it spreads to the whole body. First, it’s low levels of inflammation, but when the cause is left unattended, as we usually do, inflammation finds a weak spot and then becomes a chronic disease. Chronic diseases are not like traumas (breaking a leg); they develop over time, and they can’t be resolved immediately. For example, a type of chronic disease, type 2 diabetes, can take years to develop, and it can take years to treat. It results from the damage of inflammation on the cell walls, which become resistant to insulin. Once the cell walls are resistant to insulin, they cannot uptake the glucose in the blood, and this creates a foundation for a set of metabolic problems. Decreasing inflammation in the body is one of the most promising changes diabetic patients can do.

Cancer

Cancer, one of the diseases that cause the most deaths every year, has been associated with meat consumption in literature. Studies are showing two reasons why meat consumption may be related to cancer. First, the growth hormoneused in cattle production is causing human cells to proliferate without control. Second, the toxins that are accumulated inside the animal tissue have the potential to mess up with the DNA of human cells, which can give rise to tumors. One of the worst things we can eat is processed meat. Any meat that is cured, salted, smoked, fermented, dried, or canned is processed. Bacon, ham, sausages, burgers, salami, nugget, ground beef are all examples of processed meat. Rule of thumb should be not to eat any processed meat. World Health Organization classifies processed meat as group 1 carcinogen. Some group 1 carcinogens include arsenic, benzene, radiation, and smoking. Red meat is classified as group 2, so it’s not good either, but processed is much worse.

Chronic diseases must be taken seriously. Top 5–10 deathly diseases include mostly chronic diseases, which include auto-immune diseases, allergies, Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes, etc. 1/3 of Americans have diabetes. We must also care about this, as chronic diseases are one of the biggest expenses as the patients are bound to take multiple drugs for the rest of their lives, and it’s where BigPharma makes its most money. As it’s commonly said, if you don’t invest in your food first, you will pay that later to drugs.

In medical journals and newspapers, the benefits of these drugs are always talked about, because most studies are conducted and sponsored by either BigMeat or BigPharma, who get the most benefit from these problems. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor many different scientists to conduct research to establish the credibility of their drug. On the other hand, the studies that aim to show you can resolve these issues through nutrition don’t receive any funding; thus, people don’t know much about it and don’t understand its importance. People commonly believe that drugs can solve the problem, and that diet has no place in the cause of the disease nor in treatment. This is a huge problem in the medical world. The lack of thorough studies causes the situation now, where we don’t know what is correct and what is wrong.

One effect of this issue is that the more drugs we put into our bodies, the more we disrupt the natural system the body has. Each drug adds something artificial to our body. All drugs are only aimed to get rid of the symptom, and as we get rid of the symptom, the root cause remains, but we are only left oblivious to the problems our body is trying to tell us. No drug is designed to either treat the cause or to prevent the disease from happening. For example, cholesterol drug aims to lower the cholesterol, not to understand why it’s elevated in the first place. Think of this; when we’re healthy, we are not aware of our inner organs. We can’t feel our stomach or our kidneys because it’s evolutionarily not necessary. We’re always aware of our mental states (introspection), but it’s only when there is a problem that we can sense the inner state of our body. (interoception) When our body is telling us something, we must listen and try to find the cause, not shut it down by relieving symptoms. Each drug creates other problems and symptoms as it relieves one, and therefore people are left with so many drugs that they have to take for the rest of their lives. What is not commonly known, but I completely believe in, is that given the right nutrition and time, the body has the capacity to heal itself in most conditions.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas Edison

The reason why alternative medicines such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and functional medicine became so popular in recent times is not because it’s proven scientifically. It’s because people realized that we are continually taking drugs, but things are not getting any better, so we try to find some other way to heal and turn to alternative options. It was through experience that people realize drugs are not doing anything good to do body, and if anything, doing something bad. Chronic disease numbers are increasing worldwide. Alternative ways are gaining popularity because the options we have are not helping. We don’t know how good or bad the alternative options are as there are not enough studies to prove their effectiveness. There is a lack of information because, unfortunately, the main point isn’t health, but it is money, so we are left to try and find what works through trial and error. Health is very important, but yet we are so bad at it. We must leave our preconceptions, personal gains, and actually work to find the truths by treating each option equally. We must listen to our bodies and get to the root cause of the problems. Our aim shouldn’t be to get rid of the symptoms but to understand and resolve so that body can function normally again.

I have made my main four arguments about why we should stop consuming meat and dairy. I talked about animals having a moral status, what happens to the animals we eat, animal cruelty; the meat and dairy industry’s power in politics and organizations, its relations to BigPharma; in what aspects BigMeat contributes to climate change, how the world is right now; the health problems consuming meat causes, talking about antibiotic resistance, inflammation, and cancer.

Now, I turn to specific subjects and talk briefly about each to have an even more wholesome view on the subject. The more we know, the better we can make decisions, right?

Milk, Cheese, and Eggs

Milk

Milk is one of the biggest hoaxes of all time. Many studies have proven that it is risky to drink milk, and contrary to common belief, it doesn’t protect bones. But actually, people who drink milk have higher hip fractions, eczema, constipation, acid reflux, iron deficiency, anemia, and live shorter lives. It causes many types of cancers, especially those linked to hormones: breast, prostate, ovarian cancers. Milk increases a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer by 34%, and for women who had breast cancer, one glass of milk per day increases their chance of dying from the disease by 49% and dying from anything by 64%. Aside from that, most people in the world are lactose-intolerant (73% of African Americans, 95% of Asians, 53% of Hispanic Americans), because why would our body create this enzyme to digest lactose if we don’t need it. This fact alone shows that we are not supposed to drink it.

Think about it, the purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65-pound calf into a 400-pound cow as fast as possible. Cow’s milk is, as Dr. Michael Klaper calls it, baby calf growth fluid, and it is the lactation secretions of a large mammal who just had a baby. Everything in it, hormones, lipids, proteins, sodium, growth factors, insulin-like growth factor are for that calf to grow; it doesn’t exist for humans to consume. Whether it’s in the form of yogurt, cheese, or ice cream, it’s still milk. Maybe you could be thinking, milk is the first thing we drink, so shouldn’t it be fine? But it’s the milk from one’s mother, created for that child. Human milk, which is the perfect food for the infant, designed and perfected for millions of years through evolution, is very different than milk from other animals.

Looking from the environmental perspective, it is not sustainable at all. One gallon of milk requires 1000 gallons of water to produce. The industry is so focused on making money that Ryan Shapiro and Jeffrey Light exposed e-mails from people high in the hierarchy in the American Egg Board that AEB considers the alternative egg company Just as “a crisis and a major threat” and wrote suggesting murdering the CEO of Just, Josh Tetrick, writing “Can we pool our money and put a hit on him?” How and why would AEB be this scared from a start-up providing an alternative option?

I also believe it is the easiest thing to make the change, as there are so many possible options that it’s impossible not to like one of them. I am in love with oat milk, it goes amazing with coffee, and also prefer soy milk if oat isn’t available. Some other options are cashew, coconut, almond, rice, hazelnut, and macadamia milk.

Cheese

Cheese contains everything bad about milk, is also highly processed, naturally has a lot of saturated fat, and we add a lot of salt into it. There is a strong link between dairy products and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, and rheumatologic problems. Dr. Neal Barnard explains a disturbing finding about why we seem to love cheese a lot. Scientists found that the casein protein that is the main protein in the dairy products (especially cheese) breaks apart to create casomorphins. They are casein-derived, morphine-like compounds that go to the brain and attach to the receptors that heroin attaches to. This explains our love and addiction to cheese, and casomorphins may play a role in sudden infant death syndrome and autism, which is why giving an infant cow’s milk is a terrible thing to do. Human breast milk has 2.7 grams of casein per liter, while cow’s milk has 26 grams.

Eggs

Eggs contain saturated fat and cholesterol (about 200mg in one egg), which are linked to cancer and diabetes. About 60% of the calories in eggs are from fat, most of which is saturated. One study found that people who regularly eat eggs have a 19% higher risk for cardiovascular problems; another found that people who eat eggs regularly have high coronary artery calcium scores, which is a measure of heart disease risk. The high fat in the egg can contribute to insulin resistance. People who consume most eggs have a %68 higher chance for diabetes. Dr. Michael Greger uncovered documents where USDA admitted that eggs could not legally be called ‘nutritious,’ ‘low fat,’ ‘part of a balanced diet,’ ‘low calorie,’ ‘healthful,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘good for you,’ or even ‘safe.’ I liked eggs and thought they were essential. My mom would push me to eat eggs as I didn’t like it when I was little. Now, I was putting two, three eggs in my omelets so that I could get protein and everything else good in it, right? Well, it turns out I was wrong, and I’m usually pleased to be wrong in life so that I can make the right choice. It’s sad that eggs are bad for us, but it is what it is, and at the end of the day, living a healthy and quality life is more important than having eggs benedict.

Are we omnivores?

Let’s compare the anatomy of true omnivores (who eat both plants and animals, like bears and raccoons) to frugivores. (who eat almost exclusively plants, like chimps and other primates) Frugivores’ teeth are flat molars for chewing plants, while omnivores have long and sharp teeth for stabbing tearing flesh. Frugivore jaws can move forward and back and side to side. Omnivores’ can only up and down. Frugivores have much less acidic stomach acid than omnivores. Frugivores have intestines 9 times the body length, while omnivores’ are only three times their body length. We fit every requirement to be a frugivore. Human’s closest relatives are chimps, who take 97% of their calorie intake from plants and rest from eating insects. The idea of having to eat meat to be strong is not true in nature. The largest, strongest animals are herbivores: elephants, bison, rhinos, giraffes. Biology can’t lie, and this seems like a pretty good argument to me that we are frugivores.

Sustainability

We have talked about many problems the meat and dairy industry causes to the environment, and how much resources it uses. There are people supporting sustainable animal agriculture, but thinking about the demand and the growing population, I don’t believe it’s possible, nor necessary. To reiterate, 1 kg of beef requires 150 square meters of land, and 15,000 liters of water, and generates 27 kg of CO2, which equals to driving your car more than 100 miles. In the same land, we can grow either 37,000 pounds of veggies or 375 pounds of meat. We can produce 15 times more proteinfrom plant-based sources than meat on any given area of land. All the proteins that we eat are already coming from plants as well because only plants have the ability to take nitrogen from the air, break those molecules apart, and incorporate that into amino acids and make protein. When we eat animals, it’s just recycled protein. This means we can get all the protein we need from plants. When this is the numbers we have, while also considering all the other reasons I wrote about, it doesn’t make sense. Around 216,000 more people are born every single day, and in a typical American diet, that would mean we need 34,000 acres of new farmland to feed those people every single day. It doesn’t make any sense to use most of our farmland to produce food for the animals so that we can eat those animals when we could produce food that we can directly eat, especially when you consider so many children are starving in the world. Right now, there are 843 million undernourished people in the world. (and more than 1.7 billion overweight people) We don’t have a lack of food; we’re just feeding it to the animals. Of course, there is a lot more that can be said about sustainability, but I believe this whole essay has the undertone of sustainability and, therefore, doesn’t need any more explanation here. Sustainability is very important to me, because I used to be so focused on efficiency, and thought that was the most important thing, until I met the concept of sustainability and understood what it is, not only in environmental issues, but in many aspects of life, and especially technology.

New tech opens the door for endless possibilities

All said and done, it’s normal to still have in mind that we might still want a burger or enjoy an eggs benedict. I certainly do. We have traditions and cultures around food, as it is something very important that brings us together. Animal products are very much in our lives, and it’s also not easy to live without some food. Luckily, we are developing new technologies every day, and there are smart and caring people working on this. Let’s talk about plant protein. We have developed ways to turn plant so that it brings the same taste, texture, and protein of meat.

Beyond Meat: This company makes products similar to chicken, beef, and pork sausage. They say it’s a ‘perfect substitute for meat.’ It has a very similar nutritional profile of beef from animals, has similar texture and taste. You can find their products in restaurants all around the US. I had a “Beyond Burger” before, and it tasted almost identical to beef. They said, “Why do you need an animal to create meat? Why can’t you build meat directly from plants? It turns out you can. So we did.” They are in Target, TGIFridays, Whole Foods, Bareburger, and many more places.

Impossible Food: Honestly, eating Impossible Burger, I couldn’t tell any difference from a burger made from an animal. The typical veggie burger doesn’t fully look like beef, but Impossible’s cooks and tastes like a beef patty. They used neuroscience to understand what makes beef so good, and worked to get the same sensory experience, so neither brain nor the person can tell the difference. Their burger is even red and bloody as they found out what makes animal beef red and aromatic is heme, and that you can extract the same thing from soy plants. Impossible is both in groceries and in restaurants.

Just: They decided to go after eggs, as 1.1 trillion eggs are laid worldwide each year. 99% of our eggs come from battery cage facilities. They realized the problematic system going on of thousands of chickens in little cages left for a life of hell and wanted to revolutionize the system completely. They are now producing a plant-based scramble, that scrambles and taste like eggs. I can’t wait to try it!

What is also good about these startups is their mission is not the make the most money regardless of what is in the food, but actually create something that has value, and won’t harm people, animals, or the environment. Companies like these show that we don’t have to give up the pleasure we take from eating meat and eggs, but we can choose to do it differently. We have the technology; we just need to put the effort in it. I really hope that more and more companies start to focus on plant-based substitutes, and this would motivate people who are unsure to make the change in their diets. I love eggs, and I am very happy that I get to chance to have scrambled eggs or cook waffles or crepes as I wish.

Impossible Burger!

Cultured Meat: It’s important to note that there is a whole different option that we might have in the stores soon. It is meat produced by in vitro cell culture of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals. It’s a form of cellular agriculture and uses the same tissue engineering techniques we use for regenerative medicine. It’s not available yet, as it’s expensive and still in progress to make it better, but people are working on it, and it has been done and tested before. Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats, SuperMeat are several companies working on it. What I’m concerned here is that we most likely will have a negative public opinion on it, probably deemed as ‘unnatural,’ as the industry will place the seeds of doubt. I, personally, would definitely eat it. Still, supporters are numerous, as the funding of €250,000 for one research came from the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin.

“We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” -Winston Churchill

Ethical Responsibility

“… compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other,” said Schopenhauer. Which one has more intense feelings about it? He says the intensity of pain always outweighs the pleasure, so we must avoid inflicting great pain to gain a lesser pleasure. Think of the joy you get from eating meat in your dinner, how long does it last? Is it even something special anymore, as it was 50 years ago? Is it anywhere near the pain inflicted upon that animal? We are responsible for the mess we created. Not one of us individually is responsible, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. If there are billions of living, feeling, sensing animals who are in pain, all the time, at any given time, we have the responsibility to do something about it.

This whole essay started with me wanting to give ethical arguments to stop eating meat. When I started researching for this essay, I was still occasionally eating fish, eggs, and cheese. I had some knowledge on the issues mentioned here, but while researching to be thorough, my conscious didn’t let me eat any of that anymore. I can’t possibly enjoy any of that knowing what is behind the curtains, and because what is behind the curtains is true, and gives rise to pressing issues, we can’t turn away from it. Ignorance isn’t bliss, because in this case, ignorance is killing us, animals, and the environment.

317 animals are killed every second in the US.

I honestly believe that from the point of view of the universe, we are not more important than any other living being. Perhaps even less so, as we are consuming, killing, and polluting, while trees are supporting life, and other animals live in accordance with each other. All animals derive from a common ancestor. We must acknowledge that all living beings have the desire to live, and they feel pain, joy, grief, and pleasure. They all can feel pain; they all can suffer. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a pig on the factory farm. Just close your eyes and think of the life story of that pig. We must stop deliberately inflicting suffering on all other living beings for our selfish gains and desires. Are my taste buds more important than their lives?

“Do to others as you would have them do to you”

If you can’t kill an animal with your hands and take it apart, why should anybody do that for you? When you have beef in front of you to eat, if you don’t like thinking that it was a living being on your plate, you shouldn’t eat it. We must acknowledge meat for what it is, that it was a living being that lived a horrible life and is killed so that you can eat. It’s a cow, not steak; it’s chicken, not wings; it’s a pig, not bacon. The meat industry decontextualizes meat from the animal itself and the process, so you don’t overthink it and can buy with ease. But we must bring back to our minds that under all this mechanization, industrialization, branding, marketing, and the illusion, there are animals suffering incredibly.

Why do we eat cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys when dogs and cats are our friends. The animals we eat are not so different from dogs, as they also love to play, learn, and have self-awareness, can communicate. They are fully aware of the horrible conditions, and they know what will happen when they enter a slaughterhouse. There is no nice or humane way to kill a being that doesn’t want to die. As Philip Wollen said, “I discovered that when we suffer, we suffer as equals. In their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig, is a bear, is a boy.”

Because of the suffering, the environmental impact, the games played by the industry, and also other lives impacted, the diseases and the money spent on it, and how we can eradicate world hunger through stopping eating meat, I argue that it’s our ethical duty to do so.

“I think we come to view eating meat in the way we now look back on the Roman games. Having crowds of enthusiastic people cheering on the lions as they slaughtered the Christians or gladiators fighting each other to the death.” -Peter Singer

Spirituality

Every year, 56 billion land and 90 billion marine animals are killed for food. We didn’t consciously choose to eat meat; it was mostly given from culture, habits, and family; it was normal. But we are smart beings, and we can learn to make better choices in our lives. I have come to realize that selflessness, kindness, compassion, love, considerations of other living beings are what make us human. It’s not money that is at the core of being human. We all have the capacity to foster compassion and kindness. When I was in Thailand at the Mindfulness Project, I experienced first-hand that we can enlarge our love and compassion to people we don’t know, people across the globe, but also to all animals. I could feel instant warmness to and from these people I didn’t know; when we listen, care, understand, and actively engage in being non-judgmental, the world becomes a different place. Even though I wanted to stop eating meat for a while, I went vegetarian for the first time there, and I was more mindful of my eating. Also, our food was so good that it made me realize it’s completely possible! I believed that we are all living beings existing in the same planet, and nothing makes us better than other animals, but now it was time to practice it. Practice what you preach, they say, and that is right.

Our minds guide us, and its goal is to make us survive. So, our brains create this boundary between what is my in-group and out-group. We have the tendency to want the best for ourselves and those around us, but we fail to enlarge that compassion to people different from us. We attribute good meanings to the actions of people we like, and negative to those of the people we don’t like. But realizing that we are all just living beings who are capable of suffering, there is no reason to draw a line. You could just look, listen, and love because that living being has a completely different subjective experience, but nothing makes his/hers less valuable than yours.

I don’t want to deviate too much, but I believe it’s so important to see ourselves more than just the body and the everyday experiences. We have a soul, we have consciousness, which I believe is beyond the everyday life, and perhaps something non-physical. We all have subjective experiences that start with our sensory information, which then gives the tools to our brain to create a model of the world in the mind. Understanding difference in subjective experience is critical to being non-judgmental and being open-minded towards other opinions and possible truths. No one point of view is correct, or better than any other. From the point of view of the universe, a human is no different than a cow. Why would my point of view, my wants and needs be more important, valuable, or correct than that of the cow?

We’re interconnected with other living beings, in many layered levels. I argue in another paper that we’re connected in an atomic, cultural, and biological level.[4] We can’t exist in total isolation and be who we are. There is no language with one person. There is no O2 without trees. There is no life without bees. We can see all other human beings, and all other animals as part of us, because we exist together, exchange atoms with each step, with each meal, with each breath. The idea of an independent self is simply not accurate.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” ― Nikola Tesla

It also inherently makes sense not to cause damage to other living beings, as we are all interconnected. We are part of something bigger than ourselves; we share this planet, this energy. What happens to the environment affects us all; what happens to other people affects us all. Diseases affect us all, as we have seen in 2020.

We usually don’t think about what we can’t see. We avoid the emotional pain of empathizing with the animal, even though we know they are being killed. We are sort of lying to ourselves, denying the truth. When I asked my family to watch a documentary talking about animal agriculture, my mom’s response was, “I’m not eating a lot anyway, I don’t want to learn and make the experience of eating meat worse.” This denial causes a struggle inside that we are not consciously aware of.

When we’re doing things that hurt other living beings, we are wrong.

Adopting a vegan diet will make you compassionate towards animals, but also towards other human beings. It makes you more conscious of your eating habits, which can carry on for the day and makes you more mindful throughout your day. There is a lightness coming from knowing you are not causing more suffering into the world, not causing more harm to the environment.

We don’t see the face in the food.

I’d like to share two things we said in the Mindfulness Project. Perhaps it will resonate with you.

First is a practice of loving-kindness meditation. It’s meant to enlarge our love to everybody, and saying it repetitively makes you feel so good, that I understood and embraced in me that what makes people happy is giving, not taking.

“May all living beings be full of love and kindness. May all living beings be healthy and free of physical pain. May all living beings be calm, relaxed, and without fear. May all living beings be happy, content, and really free.”

Second is sort of like a prayer or dedication before meals. It serves as a reminder that nature provides everything we need, and we have responsibility to give back.

“Thank you mother nature for providing this food. I eat this beautiful meal not for joy or pleasure, not for beautification or purification, but only to maintain my physical body to serve animals, environment, and people who need our help so badly right now.”

What kind of world do we want to live in?

Becoming Vegan, Making the Switch to Plant-Based Diet

This paper became very important to me. It wasn’t long ago that I stopped eating meat in Thailand and decided to continue as a pescatarian that when I got back. I was feeling so sure when I was saying, “Well, fish have less capacity to suffer, and I just love shrimp a lot” When someone asked me why I stopped eating meat, which was considered unusual, as no one I know is neither veggie nor vegan, I gave the three arguments: animals, industry, environment. I didn’t want to add more suffering. While I was giving the same arguments to one of my mom’s friends, I thought to myself, why not write about this? I was feeling very passionate about the subject as equality, environment, sustainability, and ethical lifestyle are important to me. I spent some time doing research, then some time writing. While I was researching, I learned so much more about the cruelty and the health problems that I just knew I had to stop altogether and become a vegan. It just wasn’t worth it. If every time I want a shrimp, I am killing 5 other marine animals as bycatch, it’s not worth it. I also learned alarming health problems, therefore decided to add an argument talking about it. I am not saying by any means that anybody is a bad person for eating animals. I was thinking of myself as caring for animal rights and the environment, and now I see it’s impossible to call myself either if I’m eating animal products. I wasn’t a hypocrite; I just didn’t know better. I wish I knew about these before, and that’s why I decided to compile everything I read, watched, and learned under clear titles. I am no expert in any of these subjects by any means; I’m just someone who wanted to learn what seems right and share this knowledge. Don’t take my words as any well-established or medical advice, as I didn’t came up with anything I talked about, and I’m not formally educated on any of these topics. I just love to learn about what is important, and feel the need to share what I learned. We covered a lot of subjects, and I thank you if you got all the way here. This was my first serious writing venture that I am doing just for its own sake. I know it was pretty long essay, but I really think everything I wrote are incredibly important to get the almost-thorough story.

Here is some data on going vegetarian or vegan:

Per year:

Land usage: You can use 18 times less land.

All vegan: 1/6 acre of land

All vegetarian: ½ acre of land

Average American: 3 acres of land

CO2 savings: (to compare, solar-powered house saves 1.4 tons, using an electric car saves 2.5)

By removing beef only: 1.4 tons

All vegetarian: 1.6 tons

All vegan: 1.8 tons

Every single day, by choosing to go vegan, you can save

1100 gallons (4164 liters) of water

45 pounds (20 kg) of grain

30 square feet (2.8 square meters) of forest

10 pounds (4.5 kg) of CO2

1 animal’s life

You can eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains. Making the switch will make you healthier, more compassionate towards the environment and animal life. Overall, vegetarians have a longer life expectancy, lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. The average male’s risk of death from heart disease is 50% if omnivore, 15% if vegetarian, 4% if vegan. It is the single most important action you can take as an individual to save the planet. You’re not becoming a different person or giving up something that makes you a human. If anything, you’re connecting with yourself, with the planet, and the animals.

Let’s foster empathy, kindness, and compassion.

When we’re altruistic, when we do things for the greater good and we’re not selfish, it comes around and benefits me too. It feels good, it is coherent with our nature. We’re connected. Hurting an animal, hurts us too. Even if we don’t feel it right away, it hurts us, it hurts the environment little by little.

Make your own mind about what you believe is right for you, but remember that we are all in this together. Your choice matters a lot, and you get the chance to vote red or vote green. You are the customer; you are the demand. With less demand, they will have no choice to lower the supply, which could save lives.

It’s up to you to make that choice and make a difference.

[1] There are some theories of consciousness that to be conscious, and therefore have a moral status, a being must have thinking ability, or self-consciousness. For example, higher-order theory of consciousness claims a thought about the state one is in is necessary for that state to be conscious. I disagree with such theories.

[2] Why “grass-fed” beef is more expensive

[3] It’s true that we always genetically modified our environment through selective breeding. How animals and plants are today is very different than how it was several thousand years ago. Problem is, now we have larger number of animals, less regard for their well-being, and high industrialization.

[4] https://medium.com/@aleynadogan/identity-is-an-illusion-death-is-trivial-18a5cef50a6c

I’d like to give a special thank you to my amazing friend Esin Baskaya, who is a forthcoming nutritionist and one of the few people I know who loves what they do and learn something new every day. She is the person I trust with anything food related. She introduced me to a lot of things I didn’t know about food, health, and life and supported and helped me incredibly with this paper. You can follow her @nutritionbeatz on Instagram, and soon on Youtube!

Note: Feel free to write to me if you have something you think is important to add, if you have an updated or different data in hand, or if there is a conflict somewhere in my essay. I did my best to be thorough and accurate, but mistakes happen!
Please don’t give hate and respect other opinions.
All images taken are taken from the web.

Resources

I have used data and facts from many different resources, but most came from “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health” documentaries on Netflix. I have also used information from several videos from the Kurzgesagt Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1DcFmUrxUQ

https://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/Why-Veganism-and-Spirituality-Go-Hand-in-Hand

https://interestingengineering.com/here-are-5-things-you-should-know-about-lab-grown-meat

https://www.originalsoulvegetarian.com/blog/2014/07/is-meat-the-new-tobacco/

https://blogs.wwf.org.uk/blog/wildlife/meat-the-past-present-and-future/

https://www.wwf.org.uk/what-we-do/food

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406946/

https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/welfare_en

https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare/animals-factory-farms

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/chart-of-the-day-this-is-how-many-animals-we-eat-each-year/

https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-livestock/cant-cow-stand/

https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/news/10-facts-you-should-know-about-factory-farmed-chickens

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/pigs-intelligent-animals-suffering-factory-farms-slaughterhouses/

https://kinder.world/articles/you/the-meat-and-dairy-industry-is-cruel-costly-and-ineffective-19768

https://www.statista.com/statistics/502286/global-meat-and-seafood-market-value/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy

https://qz.com/1802977/climate-concerns-put-public-funding-for-meat-industries-into-question/

https://www.opensecrets.org

https://qz.com/523255/the-us-meat-industrys-wildly-successful-40-year-crusade-to-keep-its-hold-on-the-american-diet/

https://www.worldometers.info

https://www.theverge.com/2016/1/7/10726606/2015-us-dietary-guidelines-meat-and-soda-lobbying-power

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X00001119?via%3Dihub

http://www.veganvillage.org/Article-Are-Humans-Frugivores.html

https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/98443/1/Conservation_Biology_2014_early-view.pdf

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/facts-about-animal-agriculture-and-air-pollution/

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/dead-zone/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/04/oceans-suffocating-dead-zones-oxygen-starved

https://theconversation.com/us-government-pushes-pizza-to-help-the-cheese-industry-23154

https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Future-of-Food

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouAccsTzlGU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZbcwi7SfZE&list=PLFs4vir_WsTyY31efyHdmtp9l7DpR0Wvi&index=10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGiQaabX3_o

https://www.rollingstone.com/interactive/feature-belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists/

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/chart-shows-worlds-land-used/

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-21803580

https://ourworldindata.org/less-meat-or-sustainable-meat

--

--

Bringing people together from around the world to discuss solutions to the climate crisis and to build a collective vision for a better tomorrow.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aleyna Dogan

Aleyna Dogan

philosophy with psychology and tech