Why go vegan?

India has the most number of vegetarians in the world (around 312 million people) which constitutes 30% of the total population. Most of the Indians are lacto-vegetarians which means that they do not consume any meat, meat products and eggs but take all sorts of milk and milk products. Most of the vegetarian concept in India comes from the religious motivation but it is also worth appreciating that so many Indians support non-violence against animals. Vegetarianism is based on the concept of  - "Thou shalt not kill to eat".

Around 8 years ago, when I was introduced to North-American vegetarian diet, I heard the term "vegan" which sounded synonymous with "vegetarian" but in fact it was little more than that.  A vegan not only abstains from meat and its by-products but also any animal product such as any dairy product, leather, fur, silk, wool, eggs, honey, cosmetics, lard, gelatin and soaps derived from animal products. It is not only about what you eat but also means respect for all lives. It is also about protecting animals used and killed for human purposes. Avoiding zoos and circuses - where animals are kept captive in the name of education, research and entertainment & cosmetics and drugs - which conduct tests on animals.

India is the number one milk-producing country and the country where cows are considered sacred deity, dairy products are inevitable part of the diet. Although veganism existed in ancient India, it is currently not popular there. In some other countries, the process of milk extraction is not the same as in India. Cows are made to suffer in the dairy farms. They are artificially inseminated soon after they are 1-year old so that they can lactate for another 10 months and then the insemination cycle starts again. Their own calves are fed with milk replacers (which sometimes include cattle blood) so that their mother's milk can be sold to humans. (source: PETA) This is the primary reason why "Vegan" is a popular term in other countries and people choose to be vegan who are compassionate towards animals. Here I am listing some benefits of vegan diet:

Benefits of "Vegan" diet:

  1.  For health: Vegan diet is full of nutritious value. Dairy products and meat contain saturated fats and reducing them in your diet will improve cardiovascular health. Obesity rates amongst vegans are 5-20% less than non-vegetarians. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables also lead to reduced risk of type II diabetes and certain cancers. Cataracts are also prevented eating fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants. Arthritis and osteoporosis can be prevented by cutting off the dairy intake and instead increasing gluten-free and vegan diet.
  2. For the animals: One can contribute towards preventing the exploitation of animals by going vegan. All the responsive creatures have a right to life and freedom. If we can have a dog as a pet why should the chicken be our dinner? Our earth is not only for humans to survive. Avoiding animal products is the most obvious way in which one can stand against animal cruelty. One person can spare about 50 animals a year by eliminating animals from his diet (source). Contrary to some people's beliefs that animals give up their lives after having lived half of their lives happily, animals feel the same amount of pain as humans do while being slaughtered. In over 95% of cases, animals are killed prematurely for meat products. 
  3. For environment: Since world's meat production has quadrupled since 1960, animal production has increased massively. This has an adverse affect on the environment causing global warming, deforestation, land degradation, water scarcity and species extinction. In short, if more animals are reared for meat production, they need more crops, water and farms. We already have so many people dying of malnutrition everyday, how can our planet fulfil everyone's demands. Vegan diet use less resources and 3.5 billion humans could live off the food currently fed to livestock. By stopping the demands of industrial animal production, we can find sustainable ways to use our natural resources to feed the human population which sleeps hungry every night.