definition of Wikipedia
pratique alimentaire (fr)[Classe]
|Origin of the term||November 1, 1944, with the foundation of the British Vegan Society|
|Early proponents||Donald Watson (1910–2005)
H. Jay Dinshah (1933–2000)
|Description||Elimination of the use of animal products|
|Subject||Diet, health, ethics, animal rights, animal welfare, vegetarianism, environmentalism|
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. Ethical vegans reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, while dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) eliminate them from their diet only. Another form, environmental veganism, rejects the use of animal products on the premise that the industrial practice is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
The term "vegan" was coined in England in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of the British Vegan Society, to mean "non-dairy vegetarian"; the society also opposed the consumption of eggs. In 1951, the society extended the definition of "veganism" to mean "the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals," and in 1960 H. Jay Dinshah started the American Vegan Society, linking veganism to the Jain concept of ahimsa, the avoidance of violence against living things.
It is a small but growing movement. The number of vegan restaurants is increasing, and some of the top athletes in certain endurance sports—for instance, the Ironman triathlon and the ultramarathon—practise veganism, including raw veganism. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada regard a well-planned vegan diet as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle. Well-planned vegan diets have been found to offer protection against many degenerative conditions, including heart disease. They tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. Because plant foods tend not to contain significant amounts of B12, researchers agree that vegans should eat foods fortified with B12 or take a daily supplement.
Paranthropus boisei, an extinct human relative probably ate grasses and seeds (they probably were graminivores and grazers).  Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess write that the first Western ethical argument against eating animals can be traced to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c. 570–490 BCE). A believer in the transmigration of souls, Pythagoras warned that eating an animal might involve eating a human soul; therefore, he argued, human beings ought to regard all living beings as kindred souls.
The word "vegetarian" seems to have come into use in England in the early 19th century; The Oxford English Dictionary attributes one early reference to the actress Fanny Kemble (1809–1893) writing in 1839. In 1838 James Pierrepont Greaves opened Alcott House as a boarding school with pupils required to follow a vegetarian diet. They used "vegetarian" to describe a 100 percent plant-based diet; a vegetarian was simply someone who lived on vegetation.
The first Vegetarian Society – formed by supporters of Alcott House, readers of the Truth-Tester temperance journal, and members of the ovo-lacto vegetarian Bible Christian Church – held its first meeting on September 30, 1847, at Northwood Villa in Ramsgate, Kent. The meeting was chaired by Salford MP Joseph Brotherton (1783–1857). In 1886 the society published the influential A Plea for Vegetarianism by the English campaigner Henry Salt (1851–1939)—widely known as the first writer to make the paradigm shift from animal welfare to animal rights. In it, Salt acknowledged that he was a vegetarian, writing that this was a "formidable admission" to make, because "a Vegetarian is still regarded, in ordinary society, as little better than a madman."
Vegetarians who avoided eggs and dairy products, as well as meat, were known simply as strict or total vegetarians. In 1851 an article appeared in the Vegetarian Society's magazine about alternatives to using leather for shoes, which the International Vegetarian Union cites as evidence of the existence in England of another group that wanted to avoid using animal products entirely.
The first known vegan cookbook, No Animal Food by Rupert H. Wheldon, was published in England by C.W. Daniel in 1910. In it, Wheldon argued that, "it is obvious that, since we should live as to give the greatest possible happiness to all beings capable of appreciating it and as it is an indisputable fact that animals can suffer pain, and that men who slaughter animals needlessly suffer from atrophy of all finer feelings, we should therefore cause no unnecessary suffering in the animal world."
Leah Leneman writes that in 1912 the editor of TVMHR, the journal of the Vegetarian Society's Manchester branch, started a debate among readers as to whether vegetarians ought to avoid eggs and dairy. He summarized the views of the 24 vegetarians who responded, writing: "The defence of the use of eggs and milk by vegetarians, so far as it has been offered here, is not satisfactory. The only true way is to live on cereals, pulse, fruit, nuts and vegetables." The journal wrote in 1923 that the "ideal position for vegetarians is abstinence from animal products," and that most of the society's members were in a transitional stage. In 1935 it wrote that the issue was becoming more pressing with every year.
In 1888, Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) arrived in London to study law. Before he left India, his mother asked him to swear an oath that he would eat no meat or eggs. He wrote that after reading Henry Salt's A Plea for Vegetarianism he was glad he had taken the oath, and that the spread of vegetarianism became his mission. He became friends with other leading vegetarian campaigners, including Anna Kingsford (1846–1888), author of The Perfect Way in Diet (1881), and in 1931 he addressed a meeting of the Vegetarian Society—attended by Salt—arguing that it ought to promote a meat-free diet as a moral issue, not as an issue of human health. Norman Phelps writes that this was a rebuke to those members of the society that focused on the health benefits. Gandhi argued that "vegetarians had a habit of talking of nothing but food and nothing but disease. I feel that this is the worst way of going about the business. ... I discovered that for remaining staunch to vegetarianism a man requires a moral basis."
Although Gandhi himself continued to drink cow's milk—calling it the tragedy of his life that he could not give it up—Phelps argues that his speech was a call for the society to align itself with Salt's views on animal rights, and a precursor to the ideas of Donald Watson and the first Vegan Society in 1944.
In July 1943 Leslie Cross, a member of the Leicester Vegetarian Society, expressed concern in its newsletter, The Vegetarian Messenger, that vegetarians were still eating dairy products. A year later, in August 1944, two of the society's members, Donald Watson (1910–2005) and Elsie "Sally" Shrigley (died 1978), suggested forming a subgroup of non-dairy vegetarians. When the executive committee rejected the idea, they and five others met at the Attic Club in Holborn, London, on November 1 to discuss setting up a separate organization, which they decided to call the Vegan Society.
Other suggestions for a concise term to replace "non-dairy vegetarian" included dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivore, and beaumangeur, but Watson decided on "vegan" – pronounced "veegun" (/ˈviːɡən/), with the stress on the first syllable – the first three and last two letters of vegetarian and, as Watson put it in 2004, "the beginning and end of vegetarian." The word was first independently published in the Oxford Illustrated Dictionary in 1962, defined as "a vegetarian who eats no butter, eggs, cheese or milk." Fay K. Henderson published Vegan Recipes the following year; it was the first recipe book with the word "vegan" in the title.
The first vegan society in the United States was founded in 1948 by Dr. Catherine Nimmo of Oceano, California, and Rubin Abramowitz of Los Angeles. Nimmo had been a vegan since 1931, and began distributing the British Vegan Society's Vegan newsletter to her mailing list within the United States.
In 1951 the British Vegan Society broadened its definition of veganism to "the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals." Leslie Cross, the society's vice-president wrote that veganism is a principle, that it is "not so much about welfare [of animals] as liberation." The society pledged to "seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man." Members were expected to declare themselves in agreement with this, and to live as closely to the ideal as they could, but without making specific promises about their own behavior.
In 1957, H. Jay Dinshah (1933–2000), the son of a Parsi from Mumbai, visited a slaughterhouse and read some of Watson's literature. He decided to give up all animal products, and, on February 8, 1960, he founded the American Vegan Society (AVS) in Malaga, New Jersey, incorporating Nimmo's society, and explicitly linking veganism to the concept of ahimsa, a Sanskrit word meaning "non-harming." The AVS called it "dynamic harmlessness," and to stress the connection with veganism named its magazine Ahimsa. Two key books explained the philosophy: Dinshah's Out of the Jungle: The Way of Dynamic Harmlessness (1965), and Victoria Moran's Compassion, the Ultimate Ethic: An Exploration of Veganism (1985), the latter first published as a series of essays in Ahimsa. Today the word "veganism" is still used to refer either to the plant-based diet or to a lifestyle that seeks to eliminate animal use entirely. Since 1994 World Vegan Day has been held every November 1, the founding date of the British Vegan Society in 1944.
In 1997, three percent in the U.S. said they had not used animals for any purpose in the previous two years. In 2005, The Times of London estimated there were 250,000 vegans in the UK, and in 2006 The Independent estimated 600,000. In a 2007 British government survey, two percent self-identified as vegan. The Netherlands Association for Veganism estimated there were 16,000 vegans in the Netherlands as of 2007, around 0.1 percent of the population. A 2008 survey for the Vegetarian Resource Group reported that 0.5 percent of Americans, or one million, identified as vegan.
Ethical vegans entirely reject the commodification of animals. The Vegan Society in the UK will only certify a product as vegan if it is free of animal involvement as far as possible and practical.
An animal product is any material derived from animals, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk. Other commonly used, but perhaps less well known, animal products are beeswax, bone char, bone china, carmine, casein, cochineal, gelatin, isinglass, lanolin, lard, rennet, shellac, tallow, whey, and yellow grease. Many of these may not be identified in the list of ingredients in the finished product. There is disagreement among groups about the extent to which all animal products, particularly products from insects, must be avoided. Neither the Vegan Society nor the American Vegan Society considers the use of honey, silk, or other insect products to be suitable for vegans, while Vegan Action and Vegan Outreach regard that as a matter of personal choice.
Ethical vegans will not use animal products for clothing, toiletries, or any other reason, and will try to avoid ingredients that have been tested on animals. They will not buy fur coats, leather shoes, belts, bags, wallets, woollen jumpers, silk scarves, camera film, and certain vaccines, etc. Depending on their economic circumstances, they may donate such items to charity when they become vegan, or use them until they wear out. Clothing made without animal products is widely available in stores and online. Alternatives to wool include cotton, hemp, rayon, and polyester. Some vegan clothes, in particular shoes, are made of petroleum-based products, which has triggered criticism because of the environmental damage associated with production.
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Any plant-based dish may be vegan. Common vegan dishes prepared without animal ingredients include ratatouille, falafel, hummus, veggie burritos, rice and beans, veggie stir-fry, and pasta primavera. Ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan are widely used in vegan cuisine. Plant cream and plant milk—such as almond milk, grain milk, or soy milk—are used instead of cows' or goats' milk. Vegan recipes will use apple sauce, ground flax seeds, mashed potatoes, soft or silken tofu, or commercial starch-based egg-substitute products, instead of chickens' eggs.
Meat analogues, or "mock meats," made of soy or gluten—including vegetarian sausage, vegetarian mince, and veggie burgers—are widely available. Since, however, some meat-free vegetarian foods, including some vegetarian sausages, may include eggs or dairy products, they would be part of an acceptable diet for vegetarians but not for vegans. Cheese analogues made from soy, nuts, and tapioca are commonly used. Vegan cheeses like Teese, Sheese, and Daiya can replace the taste and meltability of dairy cheese in various dishes. Joanne Stepaniak writes that cheese substitutes can be made at home, using recipes from Vegan Vittles, The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, and The Uncheese Cookbook.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends what they call the "Four New Food Groups." They suggest that vegans and vegetarians eat at least three servings of vegetables a day, including dark-green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, and dark-yellow and orange such as carrots; five servings of whole grains (bread, rice, pasta); three of fruit; and two of legumes (beans, peas, lentils).
Winston Craig, chair of the department of nutrition at Andrews University, writes that vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a vegetarian diet is associated with lower levels of obesity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada said in 2003 that properly planned vegan diets were nutritionally adequate for all stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation, and provided health benefits in the treatment and prevention of certain diseases. The Swiss Federal Nutrition Commission and the German Society for Nutrition do not recommend a vegan diet, and caution against it for children, the pregnant, and the elderly.
Physicians John A. McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal D. Barnard, Dean Ornish, Michael Greger, and nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell, argue that high animal fat and protein diets, such as the standard American diet, are detrimental to health, and that a low-fat vegan diet can both prevent and reverse degenerative diseases such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. A 2006 study by Barnard found that in people with type 2 diabetes, a low-fat vegan diet reduced weight, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol, and did so to a greater extent than the diet prescribed by the American Diabetes Association.
The 12-year Oxford Vegetarian Study of 11,000 subjects recruited between 1980 and 1984 indicated that vegans had lower total- and LDL-cholesterol concentrations than did meat-eaters. Death rates were lower in non-meat eaters than in meat eaters; mortality from ischemic heart disease was positively associated with eating animal fat and with dietary cholesterol levels.
According to the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada, diets that avoid meat tend to have lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, and higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and phytochemicals. People avoiding meat are reported to have lower body mass index than those following the average Canadian or American diet. From this follows lower death rates from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancers.
A 1999 meta-analysis of five studies comparing mortality rates in Western countries found that mortality from ischemic heart disease was 26 percent lower in vegans than in regular meat-eaters, compared to 20 percent lower in occasional meat eaters, 34 percent lower in pescetarians (those who ate fish but no other meat), and 34 percent lower in lacto-ovo vegetarians (vegetarians who ate no meat, but did eat animal milk and eggs). The lower rate of protection for vegans compared to pescetarians or lacto-ovo vegetarians is believed to be linked to higher levels of homocysteine, which is caused by insufficient vitamin B12; it is believed that vegans that get sufficient B12 should show even lower risk of ischemic heart disease than lacto-ovo vegetarians. No significant difference in mortality was found from other causes.
A large 15-year survey that investigated the association between diet and age-related cataract risk in the UK found that vegans had a 40 percent lower risk of developing cataract compared with the biggest meat eaters.
The American Dietetic Association indicated in 2003 that vegetarian diets may be more common among adolescents with eating disorders, but that the evidence suggests that the adoption of a vegetarian diet does not lead to eating disorders, rather that "vegetarian diets may be selected to camouflage an existing eating disorder." Other studies and statements by dietitians and counselors support this conclusion.
The Vegan Society and Vegan Outreach recommend that vegans eat foods fortified with B12, such as fortified soy milk or cereal, or take a supplement. B12 is a bacterial product that cannot be found reliably in plant foods, and is needed for the formation and maturation of red blood cells and the synthesis of DNA, and for normal nerve function; a deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including megaloblastic anemia.
Iodine supplementation may be necessary for vegans in countries where salt is not typically iodized, where it is iodized at low levels, or where, as in Britain or Ireland, dairy products are relied upon for iodine delivery because of low levels in the soil. Iodine can be obtained from most vegan multivitamins or from regular consumption of seaweeds, such as kelp.
Vegans are advised to eat three servings per day of a high-calcium food, such as fortified soy milk, almonds, and hazelnuts, and take a calcium supplement as necessary. The EPIC-Oxford study suggested that vegans have an increased risk of bone fractures over meat eaters and vegetarians, likely because of lower dietary calcium intake, but that vegans consuming more than 525 mg/day have a risk of fractures similar to that of other groups.
A 2009 study of bone density found the bone density of vegans was 94 percent that of omnivores, but deemed the difference clinically insignificant. Another study in 2009 by the same researchers examined over 100 vegan post-menopausal women, and found their diet had no adverse effect on bone mineral density (BMD) and no alteration in body composition. Biochemist T. Colin Campbell suggested in The China Study (2005) that osteoporosis is linked to the consumption of animal protein because, unlike plant protein, animal protein increases the acidity of blood and tissues, which is then neutralized by calcium pulled from the bones. Campbell wrote that his China-Cornell-Oxford study of nutrition in the 1980s found that, in rural China, "where the animal to plant ratio [for protein] was about 10 percent, the fracture rate is only one-fifth that of the U.S."
Regarding vitamin D, Vegan Outreach writes that light-skinned people can obtain adequate amounts by spending 10–15 minutes in sunlight each day; dark-skinned people 20 minutes; and the elderly 30 minutes. Otherwise, supplements of between 400 and 1,000 IU are recommended, because most vegan diets contain little or no vitamin D without supplements or fortified foods.
The iron status of meat-eaters and vegans appears to be similar, and body absorption processes may adjust to lower intakes over time by enhancing absorption efficiency. Molasses is a high-iron food source and many vegans take it in spoonfuls as an iron supplement.
To ensure adequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, Vegan Outreach advises vegans to consume 0.5 g of alpha-linolenic acid daily by eating, for example, 1/4 teaspoon of flaxseed oil, and to use oils containing low amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, such as olive, canola, avocado, or peanut oil.
The American Dietetic Association considers well-planned vegan diets "appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation," but recommends that vegan mothers supplement for iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. The Vegan Society recommend that vegan mothers breastfeed to enhance their child's immune system and reduce the risk of allergies. Vitamin B12 deficiency in lactating vegetarian mothers has been linked to deficiencies and neurological disorders in their children. Some research suggests that the essential omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid and its derivatives should also be supplemented in pregnant and lactating vegan mothers, since they are very low in most vegan diets, and the metabolically related docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential to the developing visual and central nervous system. Pregnant vegans may need to supplement choline.
A maternal vegan diet has been associated with low birth weight, and a five times lower likelihood of having twins than those who eat animal products, though the article cited concludes that it is the consumption of dairy products by non-vegans that increases the likelihood of conceiving twins, especially in areas where growth hormone is fed to dairy cattle. Several cases of severe infant or child malnutrition (resulting in spine malformation and fractures), and some infant fatalities, have been reported in families in which parents fed their child and themselves with a poorly planned vegan diet. Dr. Amy Lanou, nutrition director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and an expert witness for the prosecution in one case, wrote that vegan diets are "not only safe for babies; they're healthier than ones based on animal products." She wrote that "the real problem was that [the child] was not given enough food of any sort."
Dietary vegans eat an entirely plant-based diet—either for health reasons or out of concern for animal welfare—but may continue to use animal products for other purposes. Joanne Stepaniak, author of Being Vegan (2000), argues that to place the qualifier "dietary" before "vegan" dilutes its meaning—like using the term "secular Catholic" for people who want to practise only some aspects of Catholicism. She writes that people should not call themselves vegan simply because they have embraced the diet: "Practising a vegan diet no more qualifies someone as vegan than eating kosher food qualifies someone as Jewish."
The Associated Press reported in January 2011 that the vegan diet is moving from marginal to mainstream in the United States, with vegan books such as Skinny Bitch (2005) becoming best sellers, and several celebrities exploring vegan diets. According to the AP, over half the 1,500 chefs polled in 2011 by the National Restaurant Association included vegan entrees, and chain restaurants are starting to mark vegan items on their menus.
Oprah Winfrey went on a vegan diet for 21 days in 2008, and in 2011 asked her 378 production staff to do the same for one week. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton adopted a vegan diet in 2010 after cardiac surgery; his daughter Chelsea was already a vegan. His diet followed the advice of Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, and T. Colin Campbell: mostly beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruit, and a daily drink of almond milk, fruit, and protein powder. In November 2010 Bloomberg Businessweek reported that a growing number of American CEOs were becoming vegan, such as Steve Wynn, Mortimer Zuckerman, and Russell Simmons.
Ethical vegans see veganism as a philosophy, lifestyle, and set of principles, not simply a diet. Bob Torres, author of Vegan Freak (2005), writes that ethical veganism consists of "living life consciously as an anti-speciesist."
Carol J. Adams, the vegan-feminist writer, has used the concept of the absent referent to describe what she calls a psycho-social detachment between the consumer and the consumed. She wrote in The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990), described by The New York Times as a bible of the vegan community: "Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. The 'absent referent' is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep our 'meat' separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep the 'moo' or 'cluck' or 'baa' away from the meat, to keep something from being seen as having been someone."
The philosophical debate about the moral basis of veganism reflects a division of viewpoints within animal rights theory between a rights-based or deontological approach and a utilitarian/consequentialist one. Tom Regan, professor emeritus of philosophy at North Carolina State University, is a rights-theorist who argues that animals possess inherent value as "subjects-of-a-life"—because they have beliefs and desires, an emotional life, memory, and the ability to initiate action in pursuit of goals—and therefore must be viewed as ends in themselves, not a means to an end. He argues that the right of subjects-of-a-life not to be harmed can be overridden only when outweighed by other valid moral principles, but that the reasons cited for eating animal products—pleasure, convenience, and the economic interests of farmers—are not weighty enough to override the animals' moral rights.
Gary L. Francione, professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, is also a rights-theorist. He argues that "all sentient beings should have at least one right—the right not to be treated as property," and that adopting veganism must be the unequivocal baseline for anyone who sees nonhuman animals as having intrinsic moral value; to fail to do so is like arguing for human rights while continuing to own human slaves. He writes that there is no coherent difference between eating meat and eating dairy or eggs; animals used in the dairy and egg industries live longer, are treated worse, and end up in the same slaughterhouses. Francione is critical of consequentialist positions that admit of occasional exceptions to vegan principles.
Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, approaches the issue from a utilitarian perspective. He argues that there is no moral or logical justification for refusing to count animal suffering as a consequence when making ethical decisions, and that the limit of sentience is "the only defensible boundary of concern for the interests of others." He does not contend that killing animals is wrong in principle, but that from a consequentialist standpoint it should be rejected unless necessary for survival. He therefore advocates both veganism and improved conditions for farm animals to reduce animal suffering.
Unlike Francione, Singer is not concerned about what he calls trivial infractions of vegan principles, arguing that personal purity is not the issue. He supports what is known as the "Paris exemption": if you find yourself in a fine restaurant, allow yourself to eat what you want, and if you're in a strange place without access to vegan food, going vegetarian instead is acceptable.
Singer's support for the "Paris exemption" is part of a debate within the animal rights movement about the extent to which it ought to promote strict veganism without exception. The positions are reflected by the divide between the animal protectionist side – represented by Singer and PETA's consequentialist approach – which argues that incremental change can achieve real reform, and the abolitionist – represented by Francione's emphasis on rights – which argues that apparent welfare reform serves only to persuade the public that animal use is morally unproblematic. Singer said in 2006 that the movement should be more tolerant of people who choose to use animal products if they are careful about making sure the animals had a decent life. Bruce Friedrich of PETA argued in the same year that a strict adherence to veganism can become an obsession. Veganism should not be dogma, he wrote:
[W]e all know people whose reason for not going vegan is that they "can't" give up cheese or ice cream. ... Instead of encouraging them to stop eating all other animal products besides cheese or ice cream, we preach to them about the oppression of dairy cows. Then we go on about how we don’t eat sugar or a veggie burger because of the bun, even though a tiny bit of butter flavor in a bun contributes to significantly less suffering than any non-organic fruit or vegetable does or a plastic bottle or about 100 other things that most of us use. Our fanatical obsession with ingredients not only obscures the animals’ suffering—which was virtually non-existent for that tiny modicum of ingredient—but also nearly guarantees that those around us are not going to make any change at all. So, we’ve preserved our personal purity, but we’ve hurt animals—and that’s anti-vegan.
Francione writes that this position is similar to arguing that, because human rights abuses can never be eliminated entirely, we should not safeguard human rights in situations we control. By failing to ask a server whether something contains animal products, in the interest of avoiding a fuss, he argues that we reinforce the idea that the moral rights of animals are a matter of convenience. He concludes from this that the PETA/Singer position fails even on its own consequentialist terms.
People who adopt veganism for environmental reasons often do so because it consumes fewer resources and causes less environmental damage. Organizations such as PETA point out that animal agriculture is linked to climate change, water pollution, land degradation, a decline in biodiversity, and that a commercially available animal-based diet uses more land, water, and energy than a strictly vegetarian one.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a report in November 2006 linking animal agriculture to environmental damage. The report, Livestock's Long Shadow, concluded that the livestock sector (primarily cows, chickens, and pigs) was one of the two or three most significant contributors to the planet's most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. According to the report, it is responsible for at least 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, as measured in CO2 equivalents. Livestock sources (including enteric fermentation and manure) account for about 3.1 percent of US anthropogenic GHG emissions expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents. This EPA estimate is based on methodologies agreed to by the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC, with 100-year global warming potentials from the IPCC Second Assessment Report used in estimating GHG emissions as carbon dioxide equivalents. In June 2010, a report from United Nations Environment Programme declared that a global shift towards a vegan diet was needed to save the world from hunger, fuel shortages and climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions are not limited to animal husbandry. Plant-based sources such as rice cultivation cause similar problems. A 2007 study that simulated the land use for various diets for the geography of New York State concluded that, although vegetarian diets used the smallest amount of land per capita, a low-fat diet that included some meat and dairy—less than 2 oz (57 g) of meat/eggs per day – significantly less than that consumed by the average American – could support slightly more people on the same available land than could be fed on some high-fat vegetarian diets, since animal food crops are grown on lower-quality land than are crops for human consumption.
Steven Davis, a professor of animal science at Oregon State University, argued in 2001 that the least-harm principle does not require giving up all meat, because a plant-based diet would not kill fewer animals than one containing beef from grass-fed ruminants. Davis wrote that cultivating crops also kills animals, because when a tractor traverses a field, animals are accidentally destroyed. Based on a study finding that wood mouse populations dropped from 25 per hectare to five per hectare after harvest (attributed to migration and mortality), Davis estimated that 10 animals per hectare are killed from crop farming every year. If all 120,000,000 acres (490,000 km2) of cropland in the continental United States were used for a vegan diet, then approximately 500 million animals would die each year. But, if half the cropland were converted to ruminant pastureland, he estimated that only 900,000 animals would die each year—assuming people switched from the eight billion poultry killed each year to beef, lamb, and dairy products.
Davis's analysis was criticized in 2003 by Gaverick Matheny and Andy Lamey in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. Matheny argued that Davis had miscalculated the number of animal deaths based on land area rather than per consumer, and incorrectly equated "the harm done to animals ... to the number of animals killed." Matheny argued that per-consumer, a vegan diet would kill fewer wild animals than a diet adhering to Davis's model, and that vegetarianism "likely allows a greater number of animals with lives worth living to exist." Lamey argued that Davis's calculation of harvesting-related deaths was flawed because based on two studies; one included deaths from predation, which is "morally unobjectionable" for Regan, and the other examined production of a nonstandard crop, which Lamey argued has little relevance to deaths associated with typical crop production. Lamey also argued, like Matheny, that accidental deaths are ethically distinct from intentional ones, and that if Davis includes accidental animal deaths in the moral cost of veganism, he must also evaluate [claimed] increased human deaths associated with his proposed diet, which Lamey argued leaves "Davis, rather than Regan, with the less plausible argument."
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"In prospective studies of adults, compared to non-vegetarian eating patterns, vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes—lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure.
On average, vegetarians consume a lower proportion of calories from fat (in particular, saturated fatty acids); fewer overall calories; and more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C than do non-vegetarians. In general, vegetarians have a lower body mass index. These characteristics and other lifestyle factors associated with a vegetarian diet may contribute to the positive health outcomes that have been identified among vegetarians."
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