What Is Veganism?

A Vegan is someone who, in addition to not eating animals, doesn't consume other animal
products and by-products, such as eggs, dairy, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, feathers, cosmetics
and soaps derived from animals, and cosmetic or chemical products tested on animals. Veganism
is more about what people choose than about what they avoid because vegans choose to
demonstrate respect for all life. The word "vegan" is a shortened version of "vegetarian," and
was coined in the 1940's by a vegetarian society in England to distinguish members who chose to
consume absolutely no products derived from animals. The number of Vegans in the United
States is estimated to be between 500,000 and 2 million people. Vegans strive for a cruelty-free
lifestyle, as being vegan provides numerous benefits to animals' lives, the environment, and to
our own health-through a healthy diet and way of life. Veganism can be thought of as an extension
of vegetarianism.

Why being a vegetarian isn't enough:

Vegetarians only omit meat from their diet. It is a common belief that drinking milk and eating
eggs does not kill animals, but this is untrue. Commercially-raised cows and egg-laying chickens,
whether factory-farmed or "free-range," are slaughtered when their production rates decline.
Vegetarians who eat eggs contribute to the death of 200 million male chicks each year. Since
there is no such thing as a "layer rooster," these animals serve no purpose in the egg industry and
are killed shortly after hatching. Most layer hens are kept five to a tiny battery cage, where they
must stand and sleep on a wire floor 24 hours a day. Living under these horrendous conditions, a
hen needs about 30 hours just to lay one egg. Even thought a chicken can live five years, most
hens are killed before their second birthday, because their egg production declines with age. With
cows, the story is similar. Just as hens lay fewer eggs as they age, dairy cows produce less milk as
they get older. Even though a cow can live twenty years, most dairy cows are sent to the
slaughterhouse at age five. Additionally, the veal industry could never exist in its present form
without the existence of the dairy industry. Each dairy cow produces about five calves during her
lifetime, only one of which on average will become a dairy calf. Male calves-since they cannot
become dairy cows, are often sold to the veal industry for about five dollars each. The flood of
cheap calves created by the dairy industry allows the veal industry to survive in its current form.
Many vegetarians are not aware of these facts. Once you become aware of the truth, it is hard to
justify consuming animal by-products even if you do not eat the animals themselves.
Unfortunately, eating milk and eggs, and using animal by-products all come down to the
same thing: cruelty and death for animals. Many vegans started out as vegetarians, and became
vegans because of this reason. A compassionate person who does not eat meat because of ethical
reasons, cannot avoid the reality of their other choices, and the consequences they make on the
lives of animals. By refusing to purchase or use these products, we send a strong economic
message that profiting at the expense of our health, our environment, or the lives of animals will
not be tolerated.

Ethical, Health, and Environmental advantages to becoming vegan:

Ethically, becoming a vegan truly is the best thing a person can do, for themselves, the animals,
the planet, and generations to come. A vegan diet eliminates a tremendous amount of killing and
suffering. The average U.S. resident eats more than 40 chickens a year, as well as a substantial
amount of beef and pork. Thus, one person switching to a vegan diet keeps dozens of animals out of
the slaughterhouse each year. Regarding health, it's important to note that both eggs and milk products
contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat-the two major culprits that also give meat
products an unhealthy name. And regarding the environment, cattle grazing is widely considered
among environmental advocates to be the largest single cause of wildlife and acreage destruction
in the United States. Animal agriculture takes a devastating toll on the earth. It is an inefficent 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.
In its 1996 position paper on vegetarian diets, the American Dietic Association reported
that vegan and vegetarian diets can significantly reduce one's risk of contracting heart disease,
colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a
number of other debilitating conditions. Cows' milk contains ideal amount of fat and protein for
young calves, but far too much for humans. And eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food,
making them a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease.
Vegan foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans, are low in fat, contain no
cholesterol, and are rich in fiber and nutrients. Vegans can get all the protein they need from
legumes (e.g., beans, tofu, peanuts) and grains (e.g., rice, corn, whole wheat breads and pastas);
calcium from broccoli, kale, collard greens, tofu, fortified juices and soymilks; iron from
chickpeas, spinach, pinto beans, and soy products, and B12 from fortified foods or supplements.
With planning, a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we were taught as schoolchildren came
only from animal products..

information on this page was sourced from http://www.freetheanimals.com