Why Veg

Plant strong

Eating a plant-based diet is one of the best things we can do to for our health, the environment and our fellow animals. We explore the reasons in greater detail below, but this short video gives a good overview.

Health

A well-planned vegetarian diet is not just suitable, but also beneficial for everyone including athletes. Just ask Murugiah Rameshon, who set a marathon record at the South East Asian (SEA) Games in 1995, or Desmond Koh, who has thrice represented Singapore in the Olympics. Internationally, athletes who embrace a plant-based diet include tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams, and nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis.

But going veg is not just for sportsmen. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other forms of degenerative disease are so common today that most of us personally know a family member or friend who has suffered from one these diseases. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 30% of all deaths in 2011. Heart disease accounts for 16%. What is truly sad, however, is that we have come to see these ailments as a necessary evil of modern life, enduring the grief and billions of taxpayer dollars they cost – without realising how easily we can prevent them.

Degenerative disease is closely linked to lifestyle choices such as exercise and dietary habits. The World Health Organisation found that people on a well-planned vegetarian diet are significantly less likely to develop cancer compared to meat eaters. The human body is not adapted to the consumption of meat and other animal products, due to the nature of animal protein, high amounts of saturated fat, and carcinogenic compounds formed during cooking. In contrast, a plant-based diet greatly increases the body's ability to suppress cancerous cell growth. Plant-based diets are also extremely effective in countering obesity and diabetes.

It is common to think that these diseases will not happen to us, especially while we are young. After all, they are the result of many years of poor lifestyle choices. Sadly, by the time we are able to detect cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases, it may already be too late.

Environment

Perhaps the single most effective thing you can do to help the environment is to stop consuming meat and other animal products. The United Nations reported that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change, calling the western diet of meat and dairy highly unsustainable.

A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transport system (cars, trucks, trains, and planes) combined. A single person going vegetarian would eliminate 1.5 tonnes of C02 equivalent gases a year.

Livestock production is also a major source of land and water degradation. Irresponsible disposal of manure and animal corpses, for instance, has led to the pollution of many rivers, affecting the lives of many people who depend on them.

Meat production is also extremely wasteful. On average, farmed animals must be fed over 6 kilograms of food crops to produce 1 kilogram of meat, along with large amounts of water and energy – precious resources that we could directly consume. Animal agriculture is responsible for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use and 85% of soybean production. In fact, the world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population.

Ending world hunger is not an unrealistic goal. We just need to be smarter about how we use our resources. At the same time, we need to think about the kind of world we want to leave our children. Earth is the only planet we know that is able to support life, and it has done so for billions of years. It is terrifying that we have made it so inhospitable to many forms of life in only a few hundred.

Kindness

Perhaps the most compelling reason for giving up meat is to show kindness to our fellow animals. We care about animals. We know that they are smart, playful, and loving. We know that they are capable of feeling joy and pain. That’s why, in children’s books and nursery rhymes, we think of farm animals happily being raised on open pastures. On milk cartons and egg boxes, we see cartoon pictures of smiling cows and chickens. We tell ourselves that “happy” animals make “delicious” meat.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of the hundreds of million animals we consume each year comes from factory farms - large, filthy warehouses where animals are deprived of everything natural to them, including sunlight, family, and even the ability to turn around. This allows a single farmer to manage up to thousands of animals at once, which is the only affordable way to meet the global demand for meat.

The consequence, however, is that these animals are treated as objects that are incapable of feeling anything. They suffer neglect and mutilation. They die slow, agonising deaths from overcrowding during transportation. And the only thing that awaits the survivors is a gruesome death in the slaughterhouse.

Every single animal experiences the kind of unimaginable pain that matches or even eclipses that of the worst forms of human torture. Every single animal leads an unfulfilling life without regard for their emotions and feelings. And this happens to more than 150 billion animals globally, every single year.

Contrary to what we believed as children, there is no love for these factory-farmed animals whatsoever. Make the compassionate choice and choose to go veg.