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Vegans: We Do Care About Humans!

The following article was written by former PETA intern Jared Misner.

I have a friend who’s passionate about HIV-prevention education. He frequents our university’s HIV-education organization’s meetings, and he’s never shy to recommend a free HIV-screening test to anyone. He invites others who might otherwise be shy to come along for a screening test. And this same friend recycles. He won’t allow any bit of aluminum, plastic, or glass to go into the trash. He reads books about sustainability. He’s not a vegetarian, but he does what he can to help the environment.

It’s not so farfetched to believe that this friend has two distinct passions. Almost everyone has more than one interest in life—whether it be feeding the homeless and protecting the oceans, improving the lives of orphans and reading to the blind, investing in cancer research and cleaning the highways, or any other number of worldly concerns. Almost all of us care about more than just one issue in our lives.

Why, then, is it that vegans—who might adopt such a lifestyle for ethical, environmental, and/or health reasons—are so often pegged as zealous, single-minded fanatics who would rather watch a human die than a sardine? Nothing could be further from the truth, and here’s why:

Sharing is caring. Contrary to what many people believe, many vegans decide to ditch animal-derived products because of their concern for humans. Vegans clearly care a great deal about the lifelong suffering involved in raising animals for food, but we often have a dual passion for improving the lives of humans across the globe. Jean Mayer, a Harvard nutritionist, estimated that if every American reduced his or her meat consumption by only 10 percent for one year, enough grains would be alleviated from the factory farming industry to have the potential to feed 60 million starving people.

And it makes perfectly horrifying sense. Laws of nature dictate that only a maximum of 10 percent of an energy transaction survive from one level of the food chain to the next. So, by feeding animals corn and then eating those animals, we inject an unnecessary thread into our food chain and waste billions of pounds of grains in the process.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also cited animal agriculture as the largest single sector source of water pollution, robbing the world’s population of clean water. Additionally, animal agriculture usurps almost 10 percent of the entire world’s water supply. By going vegan and therefore not supporting factory farming, you can actively help to redirect those grains and support a clean water system for humans everywhere. There’s some food for thought.

An inconvenient truth. Here’s something Al Gore missed. As a vegan, you can do your part to improve the lives of humans across the globe by fighting against the worst source of environmental destruction: the factory farming industry. In 2006, the FAO said that animal agriculture generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the planes, trains, boats, and automobiles in the world combined! That’s bad news for, well, pretty much everybody who likes living on Earth. And it’s especially bad news for the billions of humans living near the world’s coastlines who, the Center for Climate Systems Research says, are at an even greater risk of rising sea levels because of increased greenhouse-gas emissions.

Animal agriculture isn’t just a threat to our atmosphere. According to the FAO, factory farming is a “key factor” in worldwide deforestation, threatening the survival of humans who depend on our rainforests. By going vegan, you can help slow climate change and protect billions of humans, mostly in developing nations, from rising sea levels by not supporting the industry that emits 18 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions.

Our own human health system. With the national brouhaha swirling around the nation’s new proposed health plan, why not develop your own personal plan? Vegetarians and vegans enjoy a lower rate of cancer, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and heart disease. And while you might not think that a vegan diet can impact the health of anyone but yourself, think again.

The Food and Drug Administration called the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farming to boost the production of animals a public-health hazard that fosters microbial resistance in humans and makes infections more difficult to treat. I don’t know about you, but my conscience starts to kick in when I know that my breakfast might help create a sort of mega-infection in other humans. Aside from helping to create superbugs, factory farming also helps spread infectious diseases that are responsible for lethal pandemics every year. In fact, 16 percent of infectious diseases in Asia’s developing countries come from raising animals for food. Simply by choosing a veggie burger over a beef burger, you’re not only potentially extending your life but also helping to end the industry that’s responsible for the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes and global pandemics.

Not so hard to believe that vegans also care about humans now, is it?

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  • Autumn says:

    This is a beautiful article and it helped me to understand better that PETA does care about people just as much as animals. I used to beleive the rumors that peta hated people. I didnt think this of vegans/vegitarians though. It was being illinformed and a lack of research that lead me to that beleif. I now know that I was wrong and I am happy to admit that. My only discrepincy with the lifestyle choice is that I feel very strongly that plants are equally as important as any other living thing. I feel in order for me to survive (without becoming a breathatarian) something must die in order for me to live. Plants however are easier to replace, observe, and tend than animals so I have recently decided to try being a vegitarian. I hope that everybody will take into consideration that plants are Alive too and just as sacred as everything else. <3

  • Autumn says:

    @Tina I just want to say that I feel you are over estimating the government and not viewing the world as a whole by your statement. Children and adults get thrown out of their homes all over the world becuase they don’t have the finacial support they need. Homeless shelters DO get full and then families are forced to sleep on the streets. People DO get put down in prison or just plain murdered on the streets. People all over the world are starving and suffering just as much as animals and as far as the children are concerned they are equally as innocent as any animal in their suffering. This is all do to a LACK of this Abusrud Government funding you were talking about. I am not attacking you but you seem to have closed your eyes to whats going on with the people on this planet when (from my understanding) going Vegan/Vegitarian is about further opening our eyes to all living things.

  • emma wallace says:

    Getting rid of meat, dairy and eggs from your diet helps free up precious grain supplies to feed the hungry; your diet helps humans as a meat and dairy and egg-free (vegan) diet is healthier; finally, cruelty is cruelty, no matter what the form of the species. The animals and humans are waiting for you to go vegan.

  • Greg M Atkin says:

    Many people may not buy into the global warming risk idea. However, there are plenty of other great points offered in this short article that have not been so politicized.

    I think that one of the key truths that I would point to is that all people that are involved in giving of their time, talent and treasure have a loving concern for others. This heart felt need to give is expressed in the many activities that we see, including eating less animal products.

    As it may turn out, eating a Vegan diet may be the very best solution to many of society’s tough problems. This choice improves out personal health and this helps to ensure that we will be around longer and, therefore, continue to be of good service.

    Viva Vegan!

  • kathy says:

    One thing I never understood was accusations at PETA for being extreme. My theory is the people who say that have never been exposed to the animal rights movement/philosophy before, which has been around long before PETA ever existed. It’s not extreme to alleviate suffering and not exploit other species.

  • marisa says:

    I believe that in caring for animals we are also caring for people as well. It’s a known fact that people who abuse animals are more likely to abuse people. To say that we do not care about people is quite ridiculous. However, for heartless people to abuse them, does make me angry and believe they should be punished severely.

  • Tina says:

    Another reason I support animal rights, animals, in general receive no government funding while human organizations receive astronomical amounts of government funding. You would never read about a human going hungry or thrown out into the cold wilderness because their owners no longer want them. No, there are no shelters for animals if they are full. You never hear of a human being put to sleep for lack of space or caring. So rahter tahn donate to human charities I donate to animal charities, and when someone asks me to donate to human charities I tell them so.

  • Nicholle says:

    I find this a great article with a really rich, usefull and convincing content. Yes,indeed I believe all of us vegans and vegetarians have been falsely accused of of being heartless,not caring for humans when that is obviously not the case. Yes, we care a lot about animals, those who can’t speak for themselves, those that are unable to save themselves, why? because WE LOVE LIFE! and every creature in this world that we all share deserves to live a dignified life, and that includes HUMANS. It is hurting when people you know or even when your own family tells you that they believe you care more about animals than humans, or how they firmly affirm(with not even a little sense of tact) that you enjoy humans dying? or that the life of an animal is more valuable to you that that of a human…I simply don’t know why people come to these unreasonable conclusions, I like to think that it is because they are ignorant about vegetarianism or veganism, or maybe they just want to mess with you by saying cruel, senseless things; either way it is wrong…more than wrong it is outragious to trhow cruel accusations at you without any previous and well thought statements. WE DO CARE ABOUT HUMANS, AND ALSO ABOUT ANIMALS.

  • Ozzie says:

    As a Vegan, it is hard sometimes to relate to non Vegans, as it is non Vegans that have contributed to how this world has developed today. Such as world hunger, disease, displaced persons/refugees, pollution and so on. Being a Vegan Animal Rights Advocate – and one of many the only thing on our minds is to see the end of factory farming and justice for abused animals. There are always humans to take care of humans, there is not enough out there who are committed to animal rights causes.

  • Patricia Austin-Puccio says:

    Very well done, thank you. It was informative in a respectful manner, to all choices that people make, which is extremely important and can be VERY challenging. I think as a vegan, our passion can sometimes come across as aggressive and exclusionary, some of the reactions may be guilt that turns into defensiveness, but I also know that I have caught myself sounding quite self righteous without even realizing or intending to. The issue of compassion is central for vegan’s, and that compassion is for all living things. Unfortunately, that is no longer focused on, or articulated within our discourse. When I became vegan in the 80’s, the primary purpose was to alleviate suffering for all, even one’s mind. To be conscientious in all things-what you wore-were animals or people exploited, what you ate, used, what you exposed yourself and others to. Your intent was to tread as lightly as possible. There was an emphasis on “natural” fruits and veggies (what we call organic today) because of the damage chemicals caused to our bodies and the environment, & it supported local farmers who were almost extinct at that point. Also there was a lot of talk about reduction of calorie intake, how precious food was, and the consequence of taking more than one really needs, not to waist-reuse, volunteering, and generous thoughts just reading it sounds self righteous!). It is a lot of fun to see a new popularity of veganism, it makes me beam with joy! I just wish we could get in some of those core elements back into the message. Then again-who am I, maybe it was a NYC, west village, 80’s thing! Lovely to see the mature side of PETA, as always great job! Thanks again, great comments everyone. Love, Peace and Laughter.

  • Jackie Thipthorpe says:

    Well written article and lots of good arguments. It always amazes me that humans think they’re better than everything else on the planet. What arrogance. I shouldn’t have to defend being kind, they should have to defend why they are not.

  • VegetarianFriendly says:

    I typically tell them sarcastically that I do care more about animals than I do humans. But it is true, I do feel more sorrow for animals then I do humans 1/2 the time because we do this to ourselves and them.

  • Janice says:

    Yes, thank you Jared for taking the time to break down the many reasons why we are vegan (aside from loving animals so much we don’t want to eat them). I, too, get accused of not caring about humans, blah blah blah. I believe these comments come from people with guilty consciences who don’t want to face the facts and have to sacrifice their bacon or whatever they are into. They know exactly what the benefits of being vegan are. They are just selfish. It’s blatantly obvious just by looking at a vegan vs. meat eater how beneficial being vegan is. People act as though you are asking them to give up all of their limbs (and not just hamburgers).!

  • Aliesha Alexandar says:

    I have just completed an extensive Yes to 1130 Campaign to end the suffering of millions of caged hens in Washington State. I was out collecting signatures multiple times per week and heard this comment many many times. The “Why don’t you focus on humans” cry has been answered by this thoughtful article. Thank you. By the way, a historic agreement has been made by us and the United Egg Producers to improve the lives of 280 million birds across the country.

  • Anon says:

    I, for one, feel that while humans have a direct control over the choices they make in life, animals do not. So, I feel that they need to be protected and not exploited. The actions of PETA may seem extreme but it is nowhere near as extreme as the torture and horror that animals endure. People who judge PETA do not see that extremity.

  • kathy says:

    “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
    – Mahatma Gandhi

  • kathy says:

    Being vegan shows that a person has compassion. It’s so bizarre and truly irrational that some people try to make vegans out to be heartless people. I do think that people do this either out of their own guilt, or to try to make themselves look better by putting other people down.

  • Karo says:

    on the other hand…why do we have to prove that we care as much for humans as for animals…humans can defend themselves, animals cannot…humans are the cause of animals and other humans suffering…I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anybody.

  • Maddi says:

    I love this, THANK YOU. So many people believe that vegans and vegetarians or even people who fight for animal rights would rather have humans die/be in discomfort than animals. It’s definitely not true, and these reasons are great ones that I can tell my friends and family who pelt me with these stupid accusations. Lovely article.

  • Zoe says:

    Such a great, well made article. Thanks so much for putting such thoughtful research and good writing into such an all encompassing, important topic.

  • Christinetfh says:

    I have gotten that question but I just tell them what I do for a living. I run a non-profit school/center for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. That usually shuts them up.