We both went vegan in our late teens. Once we found out what happened to animals in the meat and dairy industry, as animal lovers, it was a no brainer, we both turned vegan overnight and we never looked back!
There are many reasons to go vegan, here are just some of them.
Over 85% of meat comes from factory farming and over 80 million animals are living in intensive farms at any one time in the UK. Factory farming is a system of using highly intensive methods to prioritise profit. Conditions are poor, animals are overcrowded, poor hygiene is standard, disease is rife and there is no environmental enrichment. Animals usually live in industrial sized sheds with no access to outdoors or fresh air.
Factory farming can also mean animals are selectively bred to give the farmer the maximum production. E.G. Many animals such as poultry are bred whereby their bodies are too heavy for their legs (this gives the farmer more meat on the bird to sell), this means the animal will suffer crush injuries resulting in lying in their own urine, causing painful, burnt skin. Animals can often end up on a concoction of antibiotics/drugs to keep them alive long enough to slaughter (these drugs are then in the food chain).
Animals live a life of misery in the farming industry. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Red Tractor’ or ‘RSPCA’ certified farms, they are often exposed by leading animal rights groups as having living conditions just as horrendous as any other farm. Even if you eat organic meat, all animals end up in the same slaughter houses. Abbatoirs have routinely been exposed of cruelty over the years, such as kicking animals, punching them, stubbing cigarettes out on them and more. Remember if these people had any respect for animals they wouldn’t be doing this type of job!
For more information about each individual species that is factory farmed and the conditions they will be living in, please see https://viva.org.uk/animals/introduction-factory-farming/.
The amount of fish in our oceans has halved since 1970. After chickens, it is believed fish are the second largest number of animals to be killed for food in this country. Fish can be wild caught or farmed. It is a fact that fish can feel pain and fear. However almost no consideration is given to their welfare. Fish farms are filthy, overcrowded and often riddled with flesh eating lice. The desire and instinct to swim, migrate and follow natural instincts is completely taken away. Wild caught fish are captured using trawlers or using lines. Trawlers can often chase fish into exhaustion, in their panic from escaping lines/nets they can collide with nets or each other causing damage to their scales. Many fish can suffocate from the weight of other fish caught on top of them and some suffer decompression injuries as they are hauled out of the water, this can cause burst swim bladders. Other animals can be injured by fishing practices, such as birds getting caught on hooks whilst trying to feed or dolphins/marine animals get caught in nets.
Different species of fish are killed in different ways. Some are asphyxiated, some are stunned with a club, some are live chilled, some are cut up whilst still alive.
There is so much information about fishing and seafood so please see https://www.viva.org.uk/animals/aquatic-wildlife/fish/ for much more detailed information.
To produce milk a cow must have a calf. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated every year, she is pregnant for 7 months, once her baby is born it is taken away from her 12-48 hours later (to prevent it from drinking the milk that the farmer wants to sell for humans). Cows have an extremely strong maternal instinct and will call out for many days after her baby is taken away. The dairy cow is then milked on average for 26 litres of milk a day (46 pints), this is an unnatural amount for her to produce. Due to the stress a dairy cow is under, many suffer from painful mastitis. This results in many being killed at a younger age and made into cheap meats such as pies.
The baby calf is a ‘by product’ of the dairy industry. Many calves are shot dead not long after birth, some are sent to be reared for beef but many find themselves shipped abroad where they are reared for veal. A cow would naturally live up to 25 years old. In the dairy industry they life a traumatic lifestyle as described above and are then killed at anything up to 5 years old.
Let us not forget the UK badger cull which is linked to the dairy industry. Every year for between 6-8 weeks (although some supplementary zones are most of the year) the government grants licences for badgers to be shot dead. The reasoning behind this is that badgers are scapegoated for carrying and transferring TB to dairy cattle. Many studies have refuted these claims and it is believed that it is poor hygiene and poor husbandry of the farmers that is actually the main cause of Bovine TB. Every year up to 64,000 badgers are needlessly slaughtered across the country for the dairy industry.
For more information about dairy please see https://viva.org.uk/animals/cows/dairy-cows/.
It is believed that egg laying hens are the most abused animals in the world. They are born into overcrowded sheds, never able to move around properly, some can barely stretch their wings and they certainly can’t express any natural desires or behaviour.
In the wild a hen naturally lays 10-15 eggs a year. In factory farms they are forced (through a concoction of high protein diets and constant lighting) to produce between 300-500 eggs a year. Despite their natural lifespan being anything up to 12 years, egg laying hens are exhausted and slaughtered at 2 years or less. They suffer massive calcium loss through over egg production, suffering from osteoporosis and broken bones (to which no treatment is given) until slaughter is a welcome release.
A lack of space combined with horrendous boredom means many hens turn on each other. They end up bald with painful, open wounds which can drive hens to cannibalism. This often leads the farmer to de-beak their flock. This is performed using a red hot blade to the super sensitive beak using no anaesthetic, causing unimaginable extreme pain.
Whether the hens are caged, enriched caged, barn hens, free range or organic the fate of male chicks is all the same (please see https://www.viva.org.uk/animals/chickens/egg-laying-hens for full details on all of these types of egg laying factory farming and read why free range is a con regarding animal welfare – it is as awful as the rest of them!). A certain amount of eggs will be hatched to create new laying stock. However male chicks are surplus to requirements as they cannot lay. Therefore all male chicks are routinely killed within a day of birth. Around 40 million male chicks are killed in the UK every year. Killing methods in the UK and around the world are either mass gassing of the baby chicks or putting them in a fast moving grinder (pretty unbelievable eh). There is no such thing as an ethical egg.
Bees make an 8 th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime and have to visit millions of flowers to make it. One teaspoon of porridge on your porridge is the lifes work of 8 bees.
Honey is the energy source for the bees, it provides essential nutrients to keep them going over winter or during bad weather. When honey is extracted it is replaced using a sugar substitute which lacks nutrients and contributes to poor health. Queen bees often have their wings clipped and many farms artificially inseminate queens. Queens can be sold and delivered in the post to people replacing their queens. Many keepers use smoke to extract honey, if the smoke temperature is too high then the bees wings melt. Other farms use machinery for extraction which crushes many bees.
There are many other reasons not to eat honey, please see https://www.plantbasednews.org/blog/is-honey-vegan for more detailed information.
Veganism is a lifestyle not a diet. Vegans boycott all products that are tested on animals. There are many species and many ways animals are used in laboratories, they can be poisoned, gassed, burned, electrocuted, infected with disease or used in cruel psychological experiments. There are many alternatives to using animals and many products are available that are cruelty free.
Please see https://www.animaljusticeproject.com/vivisection for more detailed information about vivisection and how science can and should move away from using animals.
Vegans do not wear real fur. Whilst fur farming is illegal in the UK, it is legal to import fur items. Millions of animals around the world are trapped in fur farms awaiting to be killed for a new coat. Fur farmers keep their animals in filthy, cramped conditions in wire cages. The animals can be so bored and frustrated that they self-harm or injure each other. Farmers like to use the cheapest killing methods which includes gassing, electrocution, suffocation or poisoning. Some fur comes from animals caught in steel jaw leg hold traps. Animals caught in this way can be left for days before they are found. During this time they are in agony (some animals have been known to gnaw their own limbs off in fear), they can suffer from frostbite, gangrene, dehydration and infection. Dog and cat fur is on the increase and can often be wrongly labelled as fake fur. People buying items such as bobble hats, pom pom scarfs etc need to be vigilant on how to check if fur is real or not. Canada Goose is the ‘fashionable’ coat to wear at the moment. The amount of suffering to make these coats is unreal. Not only are they filled with down (birds reared in horrendous factory farming conditions, feathers plucked until they are red raw and then eventually slaughtered for meat), but the fur trims are made of coyote (a type of dog). These animals are farmed or wild trapped facing the agonising life and death as described above.
Please see https://www.caft.org.uk for why fur is cruel, how to tell the difference between real and fake fur and how you can help end the cruel fur trade.
Vegans do not support animals held in captivity. This is another form of animal exploitation and is not about conservation. The majority of animals in zoos are not endangered and zoos almost never reintroduce animals back to the wild. Animals are cramped, caged and cannot follow their natural instincts. They can become bored, frustrated and show stereotypical behaviour.
Please see https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk for full details of why captive held animals/marine parks/aquariums etc are cruel, unnecessary and should be closed.
In the wild sheep would usually grow enough wool to keep them comfortable. In the wool farming industry farms are overcrowded, lambs have their tails removed and males are castrated without anaesthetic. Shearers are often paid by volume rather than by the hour resulting in fast work with no regards for animal welfare. Shearers have been secretly filmed punching sheep and have even been seen to shear sheeps faces off.
See https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/whats-wrong-with-wearing-wool for more information.
Silk is the fibre silkworms weave to make cocoons. To obtain silk the worms are boiled alive. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/whats-wrong-with-silk.
In an ideal world every four legged friend would have a loving home. However, tens of thousands of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and many more animals are sitting in rescues abandoned and awaiting a new home. An unimaginable number of these ‘unwanted’ pets are put to sleep due to a lack of rescue space and not enough homes. Meanwhile breeders continue to churn out litter after litter simply to line their pockets. If you would like a companion animal then please check all your local rescues and wait until the right one comes along! (Many rescues rehome nationally now so it is worth looking further afield). Also bear in mind that anything from farm animals to hamsters are always looking for loving new homes! Always neuter your pet to prevent any unwanted and unplanned litters.
There are many, many reasons to go vegan, compassion is just one! There are so many health and environmental reasons too!
For more information check out these links: