Compassion is my motivation for being vegan. The decision to become vegan has been one of the best choices I’ve made in my life. For me, it boils down to this:
- I feel that it’s wrong to kill or cause any suffering or exploitation of the creatures we share this planet with, whether those creatures are non-human animals or people.
- I’ve learned that massive suffering and exploitation of animals exists today in industrial agriculture, and also in so-called humane farming.
- I don’t need to consume or clothe myself with animal products to live a good life.
- I have the opportunity every day to decrease consumer demand for products that embody cruelty, by choosing not to spend my dollars on:
- eating animals or animal products
- purchasing clothing, cosmetics, or any other items made from or tested on animals
- Side benefit: My consumer choices affect the health of my planet, and public health.
- Side benefit: I’ve learned that eating a whole foods plant-based diet free of animal products is a healthy choice (of course, I still have to make well-balanced dietary decisions, like anybody else.) And I feel great on a vegan diet, but it’s not my motivation for staying vegan.
- Side benefit: I get to eat an endless variety of delicious food.
- My vegan life is not about being perfect or judging others for the journey they’re on; it’s about living my convictions through daily, even hourly, small choices. It’s about being a practical example for others who may be heading my way. It’s about speaking up about injustices that many people turn a blind eye too, and remembering that I once was ignorant to what was happening too.
I like the way that World Peace Earth has answered the questions of why vegan and what is veganism, because they’ve emphasized the compassionate rationale behind the lifestyle choice. From World Peace Earth:
“What is veganism?
Veganism is a way of life which embodies kindness, generosity and respect for each other, the planet and all living things. Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as practical and possible—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.”
“Why go vegan?
Go Vegan for the ANIMALS: Over 27 million animals are slaughtered each day in the US to supply the consumer demand for flesh, eggs & dairy. All animals, whether from land or water deserve the same freedoms as humans and their best interests should be taken into consideration. All of us have a unique purpose and contribution to make, just as these animals do. How can we believe that slavery is wrong and then enslave millions of kind, gentle, helpless animals?
Go Vegan for the PEOPLE: Over 40,000 people die each day of hunger while we feed enormous amounts of grain to farmed animals so that we can eat their flesh, eggs and milk. We could feed the world human population with all of the food we are feeding to farm animals. Did you know it takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of flesh? Over five times the entire US population could be fed by the grain and soybeans consumed by the livestock just in the US.
Go Vegan for the EARTH: According to the FAO & United Nations environmental report, animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas emissions than does the use of gasoline in cars, trucks, and all other vehicles used for transport combined. Whether it be animals from land or from water, the use of them for food, clothing, entertainment and the like largely contributes to air and water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation and the waste of enormous amounts of energy.”
And also, from The Vegan Society:
What is a vegan?
A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals – no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool, silk and other animal products for clothing or any other purpose.”
“[Why vegan?] It’s compassionate
Many people become vegan through concern at the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves.
Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviours. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.”
For more information on how cruelly animals are being treated in factory farms today, read this short piece on The Problem With Animal Products
If you are interested in exploring veganism for yourself, here are some good resources to get started with: