“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where the hogs are killed] for any period of time– that let’s you kill things but doesn’t let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around in the blood pit with you and think, “God, that really isn’t a bad looking animal.” You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up to nuzzle me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them. . . .I can’t care. “
We can sometimes forget there are people that have to take the lives of pigs and cows. This can be a struggle for the workers and they can find themselves “shutting off” a part of themselves. This emotional disconnect can lead to domestic violence, drug & alcohol abuse and severe anxiety (8). Since many of these workers are poor or immigrants it can be very difficult for them to change their jobs. Meatpacking is also considered the most dangerous factory job in America (9).
There are many reasons to go vegan and health can be one of them. Statistically, the more plants we eat, the healthier we get and the longer we live. Heart disease is the number 1 killer worldwide (1). It was also the leading cause of disability in 2014 (4). The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2011 that noncommunicable chronic diseases accounts for most of the disabilities (4).
WHO also state that alcohol, tobacco, diet and physical activity plays a role in disabilities (4). These diseases are often avoidable through a healthy lifestyle and diet. In other words a lot of people live in pain unnecessary and die prematurely.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the western countries. According to the Norwegian heart- and lung association (LHL) and the Norwegian Health association (Helsenorge), you can reduce your chances of heart disease by changing you’re lifestyle. One of the factors are dietary changes. By adopting a plant-based diet, you can minimize your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are two major factors in developing heart disease (5). A diet filled with fiber, which is only found in plants, reduces the risk and helps prevent coronary heart disease & stroke (3 & 5).
Cancer is caused by failure in tissue growth regulation and in order for a normal cell to transform into a cancer cell, the cell needs to be altered. Only 5-10% of all cancers are due to genes. The remaining 90-95% of cancers are due to environment factors, like tobacco, alcohol, diet, inactivity and so on. Vegetarian diets are associated with a lower chance of getting cancer (6).
I covered this topic in a previous blog post called “Cancer & Furious Pete – from a vegan’s point of view”. You can read more about it by clicking on this link.
Diabetes is a disease that you can have for many years and still live a pretty normal life with. However the longer you have it, the higher the chances get to get sick (10). Diabetes can lead to blindness, amputation and premature death.
Food and water
About 800 million people starve every year (2, at 1:13:37). Due to growing prosperity, the demand for grain-intensive livestock products rises. In other words, the richer the country the more meat. The more meat we produce the more food we take away from people that are starving. We could feed the whole planet, but due to politics and our food habits, we dont. We also throw away about one third of the food that we produce.
Animal agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater. Since animals produce massive amounts of manure, it ends up polluting the waters around the world. At the same time 870 000 people die every year due to water related diseases and 750 million people dont have clean drinking water (11).
Consuming animal products contributes to spreading infectious disease, like swine flu and chicken pox. Since the animals raised for human consumption are usually highly stressed and get a poor diet, their immune system gets weak. This makes them prone to infectious diseases which in turn can get transmitted to humans. They also get fed antibiotics to keep them healthy, but this can be counter effective since the bacterias can develop immunity and get more durable. (2) This type of disease spreading is called zoonoses and can only happen between animals.
As already mentioned, workers at slaughterhouses have a risky job. One of the places where diseases often occurs is at farming ranches and slaughterhouses. In fact most of our infectious diseases originate from animals and are spread via animal agriculture (2).
Some scientists and organizations suggest that we avoid giving antibiotics to animals in order to prevent an outbreak of a “super-virus”. They also say we need better control of the diseases before they spread. Many fail to see the obvious solution: Since humans cant catch a disease from a plant via zoonoses, eat plants!
Going vegan has many benefits. Many do it for the animals, but others do it for the people. By not eating animal products you are leaving more food behind for others, saving enormous amounts of resources and helping the planet restoring itself (14).
We are currently entering the 6th mass extinction that this planet has seen (12) and the oceans could collapse within the year 2048 if we dont start changing our eating habits (7). If the oceans die, we die. Since going vegan uses only a fraction of the resources compared a non-vegan diet, it’s the most powerful thing you can do as an individual to protect the planet and ensure the future of the human race.
Sources: (Note, some sources are in Norwegian)
- WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index2.html
- World Watch institute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW7lKh4y17Q
- Nutritional Facts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DCjwIVJmMw (0:30 -0:50)
- WHO (disability): http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/ (download the report, page 57)
- Helsedirektoratet: https://helsenorge.no/kosthold-og-ernaring/kostrad/spis-variert
- Helsedirektoratet: https://helsenorge.no/kosthold-og-ernaring/vegetarisk-kosthold/naringsrik-vegetarkost
- Sciencemag: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/314/5800/787
- James_McWilliams: http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=341
- PETA: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/reasons-go-vegan/
- Diabetes.org: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/?referrer=https://www.google.no/
- Water.org: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/
- USAtoday: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/20/sixth-mass-extinction-study/29028887/
- Helsenorge: https://helsenorge.no/sykdom/hormoner/diabetes/diabetes-og-kosthold
- ALifeConnected.org: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6_hjA4cdjM