Being vegan, I have a confession. I know a lot of vegan people, and I know a lot of those people love being vegan because they don’t want to harm animals. Sorry, vegan friends, it’s not about the animals – at least mostly.
Let me explain, and if you’re not vegan, let me clear a few things up.
Vegan vs. Plant-Based
There is some confusion about what being vegan is. After all, what’s a vegan belt, how do you cook it, and is it tasty?
Vegan means not using animal products. It’s not really about what you eat, although if you eat animal products, you’re using them, right? Vegan means that you don’t take anything from animals – clothing, food, effort, etc. You don’t buy leather boots, ride in horse-drawn carriages, or eat eggs, cheese, meat, etc.
Plant-based means the food you eat is all from plants – so no animal products. In other words, you can be plant-based without being vegan, but you can’t be vegan without being plant-based.
So it would seem that being vegan would be all about the animals. For me and many other vegans it’s not. If you’re a vegan and surprised by that, I just have to say, sorry, vegan friends, it’s not about the animals.
What It’s About
So if you’re here seeing me say it’s not about the animals, you’re probably asking yourself what it’s about. Quite simply, it’s about people for me. Here’s my top three reasons I’m vegan:
- People: Being vegan means that more people have access to food. There is a huge amount of land, water, and energy that is required to raise animals for food. In fact, the amount of land, water, and energy, is orders of magnitude above what it takes for plant-based food. If we eat more plants, we can grow more food and feed more people. Being vegan means more food for all.
- People Again: The thing is we never used to eat this much animal product. Meat and dairy were a luxury and now they are a major part of what we eat. 100 years ago we had 2 billion people. Now we are around 7.8 billion. This is a major contributing factor to Climate Change. In fact, a large part of the Amazon was just set on fire to make room for more cattle. When we care for the Earth we aren’t caring for a piece of rock; we are caring for our home. If someone burned down a room of your house to make room for cows, you might consider that something is wrong. Eating less animal products makes for a better home for all of us. Just ask the people in Bangladesh suffering because of Climate Change.
- Animals. Okay. You got me. I do it for the animals too. In fact, it’s a very close third. I can’t imagine killing an animal for food in the same way Americans can’t imagine killing a dog for food. The only thing that makes killing a dog for food different than a pig is our societal norms. There are so many other options. Why eat meat? You can now be a vegan and eat pretty much whatever you ate before, just without hurting people and animals in the process. It’s a win, win, win.
And if you are already vegan, I just want to say, sorry, vegan friends, it’s not about the animals… well, not completely. To me it’s about all of us existing on this planet together. We can all make a difference for people even more than animals if we just see the truth and work to make the world better.