My 1-Year Veganniversary
I decided to go vegan in late March 2020. Now that it’s been one year since I made the switch, I thought I would take a look back and recount what convinced me to go vegan.
My now being vegan is somewhat ironic because I was the kind of person who used to make fun of vegans. “But where do you get your protein?”, and “Silly vegans, eating meat is natural for humans” were my typical responses to the idea of veganism.
I was convinced over a period of about 2 weeks. I had been watching a lot of videos on Alex O’Connor AKA CosmicSkeptic’s YouTube channel. I had first heard of Alex when I watched a debate between him and and Christian apologist Frank Turek on the Unbelievable? channel. I later watched his videos on the philosophy of religion and and was impressed by his clarity and rationality. I developed a lot of respect for him and his thought process, so when I saw that he had several videos on the case for veganism I decided to hear him out rather than dismissing it outright as I might have done in the past. The videos I watched which were the most influential were “A Meateaters Case for Veganism” and his “Why It’s Time To Go Vegan” speech.
There are several kinds of arguments for why people should go vegan. I find the moral/ethical argument to be most convincing. A condensed version of the argument is as follows. The animals which are used in modern agriculture are sentient beings which experience incredible suffering for the production of meat, dairy, and eggs (there are many documentaries which outline the horrors of factory farming, such as Cowspiracy and Earthlings, which are both on Netflix). Because animal products are not strictly necessary for human health (the existence of olympic athletes who are vegan proves as much), the suffering experienced by animals in modern agriculture is therefore unnecessary suffering. The reasons why people choose not to eat a vegan diet are essentially societal conditioning/habit, taste pleasure, and convenience. Conditioning/habit, taste pleasure, and convenience are not sufficient justifications for the infliction of unnecessary suffering. We wouldn’t allow conditioning, pleasure, or convenience as excuses for causing other kinds of unnecessary suffering (other kinds of animal abuse, stealing, assault, etc.), so it is inconsistent to use these as justifications for the unnecessary suffering inflicted as a result of animal agriculture. Therefore, partaking in the industries of meat, dairy, and eggs in morally unjustifiable and should be avoided.
Other considerations which are pretty timely during these times of the COVID19 pandemic include the facts that factory farming creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria and is a major risk for the transmission of zoonotic diseases. Because so many animals are crammed together in unhygienic conditions in factory farms, they receive chronic treatment with antibiotics in order to reduce the likelihood of infections. However, chronic antibiotic treatment is a strong evolutionary pressure for microbes to develop antibiotic resistance, which is a major problem not only for the health of the animals but also for human health as well (for more info). In addition, factory farming and butchering puts humans in close contact with animals and their bodily fluids, which greatly increases the risk of zoonotic transmission of animal-borne viruses to humans, which can result in pandemics. For example, the virus which caused the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic jumped from pigs to humans, hence the name (see also this interesting Nature article). These issues are virtually nonexistent for plant agriculture.
After watching Cosmic Skeptic’s vegan videos, my response was basically “well, damn, I’m convinced, now I need to change my behavior so I’m congruent with my beliefs.” Because I was pretty motivated by the ethical case for veganism, switching to a vegan diet wasn’t actually that difficult for me. The idea of giving up the taste of meat, dairy, and eggs wasn’t as bad as the practical issue of finding new recipes for meals to make. At the time I was eating a meal of egg whites and a meal of chicken breasts every day, and didn’t have very many meals in my cooking repertoire in general. I asked my sisters for meal ideas (my sisters are mostly plant-based) and started from there. My vegan recipe repertoire has expanded to curry, stir fry, and homemade vegan pizza, just to name a few. I’ve been doing a lot more cooking (I’ve also dabbled in some baking) since I went vegan which has been pretty fun.
Vegans often say they feel so much healthier after going vegan, and after telling friends and family that I’ve switched to veganism one of the first questions they would typically ask is “How do you feel now that you’re vegan?” Physically, I think my overall health is about the same compared to where it was a year ago. Psychologically, it feels good to act in alignment with my beliefs and take a moral stand on something that goes against the grain of society. I’m looking forward to many more years of veganism to come.