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Julia Williamson


English, Period 4


Convert: Why You Should Be Vegan!


Hello. This is an unadulterated, brutally honest outlook about the life choices of most of the

people on this planet. Im going to try to convert you, my dear reader, to something that most people

wouldnt consider; however, at the very least, I believe that this paper has the potential to pique your

interest on veganism. There is one caveat: if you enter this essay with the belief that you cant get me,

you dirty vegan!, then this essay will appear less as an eye-opener and more as an elitist, omniscient,

scathing rant. This warning is also for viewer discretion, because Ive decided to include some images

that will disturb every viewer. Overall, I believe that you should become a vegan because it will benefit

animals, your well being, and it will help save the world.

To begin, The term veganism was invented in 1944 by Donald Watson . He originally wanted

to coin the diet that excluded dairy and eggs, because a strain of tuberculosis had been found in 40% of

Britains dairy cows (A Brief History). Merriam Webster defines the word vegan as a strict

vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals; also:

one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather) (Vegan). While this is one definition,

and most in the same vein, here are a few additions from a fellow vegan: 1) some vegans choose to eat

honey, 2) vegans dont typically use products created from the results of animal testing (or from a

company that animal tests with other products), and 3) many vegans wear leather and use other animal

products if they purchased it before going vegan. Finally, many vegans choose their lifestyle for health

reasons, not for animal activism purposes.

Animal Suffering

First of all, any animal product you will find in your local Walmart are at the expense of an

animal that has already suffered. By avoiding animal products, vegans make the decision to not fund

animal agriculture or the continuation of animal suffering. Animal exploitation, suffering, and murder are

the reasons as to why an animal-activist vegan chooses their lifestyle. This is a small list of things that

many animals in US animal agriculture must endure:

Up to 90% of animals used in U.S. labs are not counted in the official statistics of animals

tested (11 Facts).

For conserving space on farms, many animal agriculture facilities place animals in cages where

they are physically unable to turn around (Shocking Images).

With a world population of ~7 billion, humans manage to kill +56 billion farmed animals

annually (Food).

97% of newborn dairy calves are forcibly removed from their mothers within the first 24 hours

[post-birth] (Capps, 10 Dairy Facts).

Buffaloes, ewes, pigs, swine, sheep, goats, cows, and bees are all inseminated artificially in

order to reproduce in lieu of natural mating- i.e. theyre all raped to benefit non-vegans

(Artificial Insemination).

In the United States, nine billion chickens are slaughtered annually (Chickens Used). While

many of these end up as different items on a McDonalds menu, all of them have one thing in common

they have feelings. Similar to most animals thought to be unitelligent and simple, experiments have

shown that chickens are empathetic: Female chickens showed clear signs of anxiety and upset when their

young were in distress (Derbyshire). These creatures understand the struggle and strife humans put them

through. The pictures below reveal the parts of the chicken industry that people dont usually know about.
Figure 1.1- Grinding chicks(Rousseau) Figure 1.2- Suffocation (Occupy for Animals!)

Since the industry has little use for baby male chicks, theyre separated from the females and

ground up alive. According to the National Chicken Council, this practice is euthanasia considered

acceptable by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian

Pathologists, Federation of American Science Societies, Agriculture Canada, World Organization for

Animal Health and the European Council (Rousseau). Another common form of baby male chick

euthanasia, seen in Figure 1.2, is when industry workers throw the chicks into bags and suffocate them.

Figure 1.3- Baby Chicks (Debeaking Birds) Figure 1.4- (Capps, Debeaking)

The following images are part of the debeaking process, where the beaks of baby chicks are

removed. That way, they cant peck at their fellow prisoners.

This is a conveyer belt on which chickens are

shackled and slaughtered. Theyre hung upside

down, so when their throats are slit, they bleed out

and die faster.

Figure 1.5- Slaughter (Chicken)

Was that hard to look at? This is a wake up call: any animal product coming from an animal

youve seen above most likely had to suffer in the same or similar way. It may be hard, but non-vegans

must realize the truth: that they are the direct cause of animal suffering, and the only way to stop this

cruelty is by not purchasing animal products and funding animal agriculture.

Whats Really on Your Plate

Every day, non-vegans consume products without knowing or wanting to know what theyre

actually eating. This cognitive dissonance is part of the reason that enables them to eat animal products.

Here is what some of non-vegans beloved foods actually are:

Hot dogs are "the raw meat materials used for precooked-cooked products are lower-grade

muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible

slaughter by-products" (Precooked).

Much to your dismay, bees that produce honey have two stomachs, one for digestion and one for

honey; once they return to their hive filled with honey, they regurgitate it into other bees through

the process of trophallaxis in order to be stored (Trophallaxis). In laymans terms, honey is

just a bunch of bee puke.

Gelatin, a product used in marshmallows, jello, candy, and many other foods is made from

boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water... from cows or pigs (What Is


Finally, if I havent disgusted you enough, a chickens egg is really just its menstruation (i.e.,

your sunny-side up breakfast is a chicken period). Even more gross, a chickens feces digestion

tubes are separate from the tube that produces eggs, but both exit through its anus (i.e., the period

youre eating comes from the same hole through which the chicken poops) (Mkwags).

All of these foods are common in a non-vegans diet, and, given the full definitions, are

absolutely nasty. Your body is a temple. If youre unwilling to know or learn exactly what youre using to

fuel it, consider switching to foods with simple, non-menstrual origins. Play the cognitive dissonance

game all you want, but now youll think of me whenever youre making an omelet.


On a slightly unrelated to veganism tangent, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a raunchy

sitcom about the lives of the owners of Paddys Pub, a dive bar in Philadelphia. In one episode, Dennis,

one of the pubs owners, ends up on a talk show after a segment with a puppy. The puppy approaches

him, and an animal-activism conversation between Dennis and the talk show host ensues:

Chet [Talk show host]: Not a dog lover, Mr. Reynolds?

Dennis: Yeah. Well, if you're asking me if I like wild animals slobbering all over me, then,
yeah, I guess I'm not really a... not really a dog lover then.
Chet: Wow. I have never met a person who does not like dogs before.
Dennis: Yeah. Yeah. There are plenty of us out there, uh, Chet. Okay, trust me. We're just
afraid to admit it because we feel like we're gonna be judged by people like you.
Chet: Well, let's take a break.
Dennis: You know what? Actually, I'm not done. Uh, Chet, are you a vegetarian by any
chance? No. Oh, so you're a hypocrite. Yeah. See, I find that most people that are whining
about dog fights are actually the same people going to football games and UFC fights,
watching human beings beat the ever-loving shit out of each other while eating, uh, fried
Chet: So, wait. Are you saying you're an animal rights activist?
Dennis: No, I'm actually the opposite, pal. I can't imagine a bigger waste of peoples time
and energy. I mean, Chet, if you can eat fried chicken, then I should be able to eat me
some fried dog. Know what I'm saying? I should be able to eat a bucket of fried dog at a
chicken fight. (laughs) Yeah. All I'm saying is, look, let's just, you know, let's be
consistent. (Its Always Sunny)

This excerpt is in no way pro-vegan speech, but it introduces an idea that many would scoff at:

speciesism. Speciesism is defined as discrimination in favor of one species, usually the human species,

over another, especially in the exploitation or mistreatment of animals by humans (Speciesism). In

other words, speciesism is a large part of the cognitive dissonance for not being a vegan; just because

something is different from you, it doesnt justify harming it.

Now, Id like to introduce Gary Yourofsky, one of the worlds most prominent vegan activists.

As part of his activism, he gives speeches to people internationally and is well known for his talk entitled,

The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear. While I highly recommend this speech as conversion material,

Id like to discuss the most important words he utters: Habit, Tradition, Convenience, and Taste (Best

Speech). These four words are, in his opinion, the excuses one uses for a non-vegan diet. Here is my

breakdown of each excuse, and its relationship with becoming vegan:


Non-vegan excuses: Im used to eating non-vegan foods on a regular basis. I cant imagine what

it would be like to change my diet, and I sure dont want to start now!

My reasoning: Ever had a bad habit? If youre committed enough to a cause you believe is ethical

(veganism), then it shouldnt be that hard. Believing is the hardest step; once you decide that you

want to change your lifestyle, youll get more accustomed to smoothies for lunch and salads for



Non-vegan excuses: My parents raised me to love meat and dairy! I follow a religion and take

part in non-vegan religious practices. The vast majority of my community is non-vegan.

My reasoning: In the history of humankind, people have passed traditions over time down onto

their offspring. If your parents do something morally wrong, and they raise you to do it, too, then
its your responsibility to right this wrong and change. As far as religion goes, most people that

practice religions of today arent practiced to a tee- changing your religious lamb sacrifice to a

slab of tofu will not affect your worship. The hardest excuse in this category is community- since

veganism is typically looked down upon or made fun of, it makes sense that you wouldnt want to

put yourself in that position. If you think that its a just cause, however, getting over the social

barrier shouldnt be too difficult.


Non-vegan excuses: Takeout is amazing! Restaurants have such little vegan food on the menu!

Vegan foods are so much more expensive and out of the way!

My reasoning: Just because something is within your close proximity doesnt mean you need to

consume it. Next time, spend less time in the ice cream aisle and more in the produce! On cost

point- from an outsiders perspective, getting fru fru salads at every meal definitely sounds like a

money drain. There are two things to consider here: 1) produce is cheap if you learn how to cook

basic meals (which everyone should probably know how to do anyway, and 2) once you learn

how bad animal products are for your health, any extra money you spend on healthy food will

save you from medical bills later.


Non-vegan excuses: If I became vegan, Id have to say goodbye to foods that I love! Plus, I cant

imagine casually eating huge hunks of lettuce on a regular basis.

My reasoning: This, in my opinion, is the hardest excuse to shake. There are vegan substitutes to

most non-vegan foods youve come to know and love. Tons of supermarkets offer tofu in many

formats, including tofu burgers, tofu dogs, and tofu nuggets. Almond and soy milks are great

substitute for cows milk, and theyre also used in the making of vegan ice cream (Ben & Jerrys
PB and Cookies is my personal favorite). Finally, if you live on the wild side, you can alter menu

items at restaurants to make them vegan or you can go to restaurants with an all-vegan menu!

Your Health

The one question non-vegans ask me that makes me want to jump off a cliff is but, like, where

do you get your protein? Well, the average female needs 46g daily, and a male needs 56g (Busting the

Myth); this quota can easily be reached by eating plant-based proteins such as lentils, seeds, nutritional

yeast, nuts, beans, and soy products (10 Plant-Based). If that isnt enough, according to Ellen Kanner

of VegKitchen, most Americans get twice that [daily protein quota] (Busting the Myth). Even further, believes that excess protein may fuel weight gain, yeast overgrowth, and cancer (The

Very Real Risks). Protein deficiency may seem like a problem for vegans, but its just a phrase thrown

around that perpetuates the malnutrition myth that non-vegans associate with veganism.

Honestly, vegans can get just about everything they need in terms of nutrients if they eat a

balanced diet. The only vitamin most vegans must take regularly in order to avoid deficiency is B12.

Vitamin B12 helps keep the bodys nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA (Office of

Dietary). Many animal products are fortified with B12, so vegans are highly recommended to take a

supplement a few times a week. What may shock a meat-eater is that 20% of American adults are

approximated to have a B12 deficiency later in life (Allen). Regularly taking a B12 vitamin is a

necessity for vegans, but its also a decent idea for non-vegans to take them for preventative measures,


Cancer and other serious ailments are also a major worry when it comes to meat consumption.

A 2014 study showed that respondents aged 5065 reporting high [animal] protein intake had a 75%

increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years

(Levine). In addition to this daunting information, the study concluded that eating a diet heavy on meat

and cheese may be as harmful to you as smoking a cigarette (Castillo). Its interesting that eating meat
and dairy products is normally seen as healthy and normal, when this data clearly shows that it's the

opposite. Keep in mind: at one point, smoking was also seen as a societal norm, and people only started

quitting when science proved it to be a hazard. Is that Supersized Big Mac really worth it?

The Worlds Health

The animal agriculture is insanely wasteful. Here are some quick facts about the destruction of

the Earth at the hands of animal agriculture:

Water It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. Furthermore, Youd
save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you would if you didnt shower
for six months (35 Mind-Shattering).

Fossil Fuels It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal
protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein (35 Mind-Shattering).

Waste At a minimum, every 60 seconds, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by

Production animals raised for food in the US (15 Insanely Important).

Greenhouse The animal agriculture industry likes to fudge the numbers on carbon emissions quite
gases a bit. Upon David Steeles further examination, carbon emissions caused by animal
agriculture are at a minimum 30.4% of the worlds total emissions (A
Figure 1.6- The Enviornment

These are just a few facts as to how detrimental animal agriculture is to our planet. For all of

those tree-hugger Earth-lovers reading this, veganism is one of the easiest, most effective ways to do your

part in preserving this planet.

So What?

I said it earlier, and Ill say it again: people are vegan for many different reasons. Whether its

because they love animals, they oppose the cruelty of the animal agriculture industry, theyre health

conscious, they care about the environment, or they were raised on a vegan diet, they have a reason that

makes them passionate about their lifestyle. I urge you to consider veganism for any of these reasons.
If you dont end up a vegan after this essay, Im giving you the obligation of reflecting on your

current lifestyle. This task isnt as much a guilt trip as it is the duty to defend your non-vegan stance.

Think about the cognitive dissonance youre relying on as you eat your next bucket of chicken, and

seriously consider what your opinion is on a bucket of dog. Think about what went into that package of

pork, and decide if the suffering of that poor pig was worth your enjoyment. Think about how much your

health would improve with a balanced vegan diet, and how much you could help protect the Earth if you

stopped chowing down on that cow.

As scientist and animal activist Carl Sagan once said, All of us cherish our beliefs. They are, to a

degree, self-defining. When someone comes along who challenges our belief system as insufficiently

well-based or who, like Socrates, merely asks embarrassing questions that we havent thought of, or

demonstrates that weve swept key underlying assumptions under the rug it becomes much more than a

search for knowledge. It feels like a personal assault (Vegan and Vegetarian). Its likely that many of

the topics discussed in this essay strongly oppose your beliefs. By far, the hardest thing to get past in this

essay is the barrier between your beliefs and mine. Nevertheless, if you reflect on what you are doing, and

why you are doing it, youll realize that veganism is a win, win, win scenario: for the animals, for you,

and for the Earth.

Works Cited

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