This is precisely what vegans aim to do!
We want to live long and healthy lives, and make sure that the people we love can do the same. In fact, many people have come to veganism through researching ways they can improve their own health or that of a loved one. They, like us, very much want to live and let live.
And the ripples go further than our own family and social circles. Today, some 820 million people do not have enough food, and undernutrition contributes to 45 percent of deaths in children under five.1 Why is this relevant? Because the food we eat impacts on the poorest people around the world.
The more meat we eat, the less food there is to feed other people. This is because farmed animals are not efficient converters of feed to meat and we get fewer calories back in meat, milk and eggs than we feed them.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization puts it this way: ‘When livestock are raised in intensive systems, they convert carbohydrates and protein that might otherwise be eaten directly by humans and use them to produce a smaller quantity of energy and protein.’ 2
In all, one-third of the world’s cereal harvest3 and 70 percent of the world’s soy harvest4 is fed to farmed animals. If these crops were made available to people instead, we could eradicate world hunger today. We could live and let live.
We also consider the people whose lives have been turned upside down, and their health compromised, by huge intensive farms called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feed Operations). People like Elsie Herring, the great grand-daughter of a freed slave, suffer debilitating and painful health conditions because of animal farming practices. For Elsie and her family, respiratory illness is common because of the animal slurry sprayed across the land. All too often, these huge and toxic farms are constructed in poor communities of color where residents have little political clout to protest.5 We think about them, too, and their right to live without being harmed, as well as the farm workers who die from inhaling toxic fumes from slurry.6 7
Because animal agriculture needs so much land, and because demand for meat keeps increasing, more and more ancient habitats are being destroyed to make way for grazing, or to grow all those crops needed to feed farmed animals. This destruction is having a huge and devastating impact on wildlife. Humanity has wiped out 60 percent of all animal populations since 1970, and the main culprits are agriculture, killing wild animals for meat and fishing. If we stopped eating all animal products, we could live and let wild animals live, too. 8
And what about those animals stuck inside cages and crates, in filthy factory farms or feedlots where there is nothing for sentient beings to do but stand all day? What about the animals being trucked for days on end, often without food or rest, only to have their throats cut when they reach their destination? These animals do not deserve such treatment. They want to live.
Being vegan is a choice that helps others thrive, too. Our ethos is very much: live and let live.
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