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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why Vegan, Living Vegan




What is a VEGAN? A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.

Why VEGAN? Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Living vegan provides numerous benefits to animals' lives, to the environment, and to our own health–through a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle.

FOR THE ANIMALS

Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially-raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, whether factory-farmed or 'free range,' are slaughtered when their production rates decline.


FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Animal agriculture takes a devastating toll on the earth. It is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.

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FOR THE HEALTH

The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions. Cows' milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans.




LIVING VEGAN There are many alternatives to leather, wool, and down. And many are available at local stores. For example, Payless Shoes is a dependable source for inexpensive vegan shoes. Higher quality vegan shoes, whose longevity and comfort may be closer to leather shoes, are available from Moo Shoes and Otsu, as well as Vegan Essentials , The Vegetarian Site, and Pangea (both also sell a variety of vegan products, including clothing, accessories, food, personal care items, cleaning products and more). Acrylic and 'polar fleece' are popular alternatives to wool, available at many clothing stores. Sleeping bags and coats stuffed with Thinsulate, Polyfil, and other synthetic insulation are often warmer than those stuffed with goose-down. In addition, synthetic insulation retains its properties when wet. Most outdoor stores carry many options.

Big factory pig farms are some of America's worst polluters





It's an investigative piece on how Smithfield Foods, America's largest hog slaughterer, circumvents law, pollutes like crazy, and creates antibiotic and vaccine-laden pork products that feed our country. I don't intend to become one of those annoying vegangelicals who tries to convert everyone to tempeh, but this was just a fascinating read:

Smithfield's holding ponds -- the company calls them lagoons -- cover as much as 120,000 square feet. The area around a single slaughterhouse can contain hundreds of lagoons, some of which run thirty feet deep. The liquid in them is not brown. The interactions between the bacteria and blood and afterbirths and stillborn piglets and urine and excrement and chemicals and drugs turn the lagoons pink.

Even light rains can cause lagoons to overflow; major floods have transformed entire counties into pig-shit bayous. To alleviate swelling lagoons, workers sometimes pump the shit out of them and spray the waste on surrounding fields, which results in what the industry daintily refers to as "overapplication." This can turn hundreds of acres -- thousands of football fields -- into shallow mud puddles of pig shit. Tree branches drip with pig shit.

Some pig-farm lagoons have polyethylene liners, which can be punctured by rocks in the ground, allowing shit to seep beneath the liners and spread and ferment. Gases from the fermentation can inflate the liner like a hot-air balloon and rise in an expanding, accelerating bubble, forcing thousands of tons of feces out of the lagoon in all directions.

The lagoons themselves are so viscous and venomous that if someone falls in it is foolish to try to save him. A few years ago, a truck driver in Oklahoma was transferring pig shit to a lagoon when he and his truck went over the side. It took almost three weeks to recover his body. In 1992, when a worker making repairs to a lagoon in Minnesota began to choke to death on the fumes, another worker dived in after him, and they died the same death. In another instance, a worker who was repairing a lagoon in Michigan was overcome by the fumes and fell in. His fifteen-year-old nephew dived in to save him but was overcome, the worker's cousin went in to save the teenager but was overcome, the worker's older brother dived in to save them but was overcome, and then the worker's father dived in. They all died in pig shit.

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