To the editor,
I’d like to provide a brief argument for why you should go vegan.
Most agree we should prevent “unnecessary” suffering to animals. Sounds reasonable, right? But as Gary Francione points out, were we to truly abide by such a maxim, it would unquestionably end almost all animal use. We consume animals’ flesh and secretions for the sake of preference. We wear their fur and skin for the sake of vanity. We lock them in zoos and circuses for the sake of entertainment. The list goes on and on. But none of these uses could be considered “necessary” by any sense of the word.
Biomedical research is the only animal industry with even a tenuous claim to need. The suffering animals endure, so the argument goes and will eventually lead to a cure for deadly human diseases. Suppose we accept this reasoning. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we’d approve of such experiments on humans with severe mental retardation. Their intelligence is roughly equivalent to that of some animals and they too are incapable of entering social contracts. Should we experiment on these humans? My guess is that most would say no, that such utilitarian treatment is immoral. So it is with animals.
While respecting animals’ most basic right not to be treated as “things” is the primary reason to go vegan, there are a multitude of others. Let’s touch on a few of these.
First, abolishing animal agriculture could effectively end world hunger.
“It takes only one-sixth of an acre to supply a vegetarian with food for one year. It takes three and one quarter acres to supply a meat eater with food for a year,” Francione writes. “Every day we feed enough grain to American livestock to provide two loaves of bread to every human being on earth.”
Second, there is no better way to reduce your carbon footprint than giving up animal products. As the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization states, “livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport.”
Finally, a vegan diet is beneficial to your health. According to the American Dietetic Association, those who don’t consume meat have “lower body mass indices ... lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and prostate and colon cancer.”
So go vegan. Do it for the poor, the environment and your health. But most of all, do it because there is no greater violence, in depth and scale, than that we perpetrate against animals. By not taking part, history will look on you favorably, as one capable of seeing past the prejudice of our time.