Happy World Empathy Day! In honour of a day that strives to encourage us to be empathetic to others, let us remind ourselves of why veganism is such an empathetic lifestyle.
1. Reducing farmed animal suffering
(Thunder of Farm Animal Sanctuary)
Sadly, farmed animals suffer greatly in their short lives. Each year, more than 60 billion animals are raised on factory farms, which is 90% of all animals raised for food. Factory farms prioritise profits over animal welfare and as a result animals suffer tremendously. For example, in Europe alone 80% of piglets are routinely subject to painful mutilations, such as castration and tail docking, without anaesthesia; hens that would in natural conditions on average lay 20 eggs in a year produce a grossly unnatural 300 eggs a year; and dairy cows are kept in a state of almost constant pregnancy and have their young ripped from them a day or two after giving birth.
While the majority of animals suffer tremendously in the squalor of factory farms, that is not to say that animals do not suffer also in local or organic farms and there is, of course, no humane way to raise or kill a sentient being that does not want to die.
2. Helping to save the planet
Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transport globally combined and factory farming, in particular, is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide: a greenhouse gas which 296 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. By adopting a vegan lifestyle, you are halving your carbon footprint.
3. Reducing food scarcity
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one in nine people worldwide are chronically undernourished. The feed that is currently given to livestock, could be fed directly to humans, which could feed 3.5 billion humans that are currently undernourished. A typical vegan diet also requires only a 1/3 of the land which is currently used to rear livestock; we could use this land instead to grow crops that could be fed directly to humans.
4. Improvement of Human Health
According to the World Health Organisation more than half of the antibiotics used globally are used on farm animals, with a large proportion being used on healthy animals to try to prevent infection from the crowded, filthy conditions that they are kept in or, in the U.S., to aid in unnatural growth. This has contributed to the build up of bacteria resistance to human medicines. Disease, such as mad cow disease and E.coli, is also rampant in the animals cramped living quarters, which can then also be passed through to humans through their consumption of these animals.
Vegans also lower their risks of certain diseases from their plant-based meals: those who eat plant-based are at a 50-78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes; 15% lower risk of developing cancers; 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure; and 42% less chance of developing heart disease.
5. Factory Farm Workers
(Food Empowerment Project encourage choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources and unfair working conditions for produce workers)
Most factory farm workers are living below/on the poverty line and work long hours in horrific conditions. Factory farm workers are at 30 times more risk of suffering from repetitive strain injuries and are also at risk at developing cardiovascular and respiratory issues from routinely inhaling hazardous levels of particulate matter on the farms. Many factory farm workers in the US are also undocumented immigrants as this appeals to employers as they are less likely to complain about low wages and hazardous working conditions. Workers are also recruited largely from South America through a visa program for agricultural work and so may be reluctant to exercise their human rights in fear of losing their job, which is the grounds for their legal status in the US.