The case for veganism


I’m vegan and I went abroad for my febmester. Sometimes I struggle figuring out which of these to tell someone first when I meet them. At this point, I’ve decided to just go with both and berate people with my amazing cultural experiences and moral superiority.

I’ve been vegan for a year and a half. When I jumped in cold tofurkey last year, the only thing I thought I knew about veganism was that vegans are loud, annoying and can’t stop talking about veganism. I decided it would be fun to play up that character and jokingly be the annoying vegan around my friends. But as most things go in my life, what started as ironic is now entirely unironic. This is because over the past year I’ve learned that veganism is way more important than I thought. It blew my mind how little I or the average person knows about the impact of dietary choices. I want to share a few of the mind-blowing facts I’ve learned about the three tenants of veganism (environment, health, and ethics) and describe why I’m not afraid to be an annoying vegan.

Veganism is way more important than I thought.”

A vegan diet is by far the diet with the smallest impact on the environment. If we all consume animal products at the rate we are now, we will never see our world overcome the climate change crisis. Scientific studies have shown for years that the most effective way to benefit the environment (besides not having kids) is to cut back on animal products in your diet. This is because production of all types of animal products is incredibly less efficient than plant products. If we took all of the land that is being used to raise animals or grow crops for those animals and instead used it to grow crops for human consumption, we could meet the food requirements of the entire world multiple times over. The animal agriculture industry is responsible for 18% (some say upwards of 51%) of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than all cars, trains, planes and every other vehicle in the transportation industry combined.

However, environmental impact goes well beyond just carbon footprint. It’s commonly stated that our oceans are dying, but it’s a little known fact that the majority of the trash in the ocean is fishing nets and equipment. Overfishing is destroying coral reefs and vital ocean ecosystems. Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon deforestation. The animal waste runoff from factory farms pollutes rivers and is destroying ecosystems. It takes 56 gallons of water to produce a single egg and 1,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk. It’s time for Middlebury to stop blindly thinking that our animal product consumption is in line with our environmental ideals.

There are huge health benefits from switching to a healthy vegan diet even from a healthier standard American diet. A vegan diet helps prevent thirteen of the fifteen leading causes of death in the United States, including cancer, diabetes, stroke and especially heart disease. That’s not vegan propaganda; there are a multitude of studies to support this claim. The American Dietetic Association states that a plant-based diet is appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and childhood. In other words, according to nutritional experts, you will not get any deficiencies with a well-planned vegan diet. Additionally, you can easily get your protein needs on a vegan diet. Fifteen members of the Tennessee Titans NFL team are vegan. There are many vegan super athletes and many super athletes going vegan.

It’s time for Middlebury to stop blindly thinking that our animal product consumption is in line with our environmental ideals.”

Animals in the agriculture industry are subject to the most brutal pain and suffering you can imagine being inflicted on a living being. The phrase “humane slaughter” is an obvious oxymoron, and the entire concept is a myth. Due to the demands for efficiency in the butchering process, slaughtering methods are almost always performed sloppily, leading to excruciating pain and immense fear in the animal. The footage of factory farming that you’ve hopefully seen (if not, watch the film Dominion), is not the extreme footage. It’s the industry standard. Over 90% of farm animals in the United States live on factory farms with these brutal practices. Local farms are also far from being cruelty-free. The production of dairy requires the non consensual impregnation of cows and for calves to be taken from mothers immediately at birth. Hens have been bred to lay eggs twenty times more than what is biologically normal for them, leading to painful health complications. In the vast majority of cases, male chicks that are born in the egg industry are immediately (like moments after birth) tossed into a meat grinder. If you’re against animal abuse, you’re against the animal agriculture industry.

These facts are only the tip of the iceberg. Most people say that they’re fine with people being vegan as long as they’re not annoying about it, because diet is a personal choice. But diet is not a personal choice. You’re literally choosing the fate of other living beings and the fate of the environment. So I’m not going to be shy about telling you to be vegan. Every day we are destroying the environment a little more. Every day people are being killed or crippled by preventable diseases. Every day millions of sentient, feeling animals are being born into a life of pain and misery. There’s no time to be shy.

Please contact me if you have comments or questions. I’m always willing to talk about these issues.

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was previously published with the headline: “Why I’m an Annoying Vegan.”