, Research Paper
“The greatest of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”(Mahatma Gandhi Quotes) Gandhi said this in his book, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, this belief is still valid in today’s modern society.
At the present time in the United States, the concern for the health and well being of animals is drastically increasing. And one of the most substantial indications of this is the increasing number of vegans and vegetarians in our nation. Today there are over half a million vegans and countless millions of vegetarians in the United States alone. There are several different kinds of vegetarians following this practice. A vegan consumes no foods of any kind produced by animals. An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs, but no dairy foods or animal flesh. A lacto-vegetarian eats dairy foods, but no eggs or animal flesh. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian eats dairy foods and eggs, but no animal flesh. These people are most commonly referred to as just vegetarians. A semi-vegetarian eats dairy food and egg and occasionally includes fish or chicken but no other animal flesh.
Aside from dietary habits, a vegan also has several more rules to follow. A vegan cannot use any product made from the body parts of an animal such as leather, ivory, fur, and even pearls. They also cannot use products which have been tested on animals. Vegans are sometimes referred to as an animal’s greatest ally.
Veganism originally started in India in the first century A.D.. Hindus did not become vegan because of deep religious reasons or for personal health reasons, “but because of environmental pressures. It became both uneconomical and unsanitary to raise
animals in so crowded an environment”. Through the centuries veganism never really caught on due to lack of modern medicine and improper understanding of the functions of the human body. Around the beginning of the twentieth century, it is thought that the discovery of vitamins and minerals gave birth to the idea of eating for optimum health and fitness, and thus, the rediscovery of veganism. Up through the 1900’s, more and more people started to say stop to the unfair torture of animals.
Since the dawn of man, humans have used animals to their advantage. Animal flesh has been a good source of vitamins and protein. The skin was used for warmth and shelter. Before several of the modern advances made by mankind, animals were needed to sustain human survival and prosperity. In today’s society, many of the products on our store shelves are tested on animals for safety reasons. Even with all the great uses there are for dead animals, modern nutrition and science has made so many new advancements
in research that it has become completely unnecessary to kill any animal for any reason. Humans can survive solely on vegetation and supplementation. Animal testing is unnecessary due to new DNA and computer graphic research. In this paper three major issues dealing with veganism will be discussed. Whether or not the vegan life style is healthier then the average way of life? Is animal testing necessary or should it be
banned? And should animals be used in the entertainment industry? There is no reason to injure or kill animals for any reason. Americans as a society should be vegan.
One major issue is whether or not the vegan lifestyle is healthier than the average way of life. The average way of life consists of the four major food groups: meat, dairy, grains, and fruits/vegetables. In the vegan lifestyle, meat and dairy foods are cut out of the diet. From a nutritional standpoint, “animal food does have its advantages. For one thing it is nutrient-dense; it is a concentrated source of calories, protein, iron, zinc, copper, and in the case of dairy products, calcium.”
Veganism is actually much healthier than consuming meat and dairy products. Most people who become vegans use improper supplementation and will eventually make themselves sick. It is not denying the body meat that vegetarians and vegans have
problems with, but instead a lack of calories. The human body needs a certain balance of vitamins and minerals to sustain proper health. Usually, when a person decides to become a vegan, they make the transfer automatically. The transfer to veganism must be
made slowly and in parts. First, it’s good to give up red meat, next give up all meats, poultry and fish. After about one year of this, eggs and dairy foods are given up. Through all of this, vegans should take vitamins and protein supplements. The B-12 vitamin is essential and can naturally be found in only meat. Deficiencies of B-12 “can lead to pernicious, megaloblastic anemia, loss of appetite, fatigue, pallor, dizziness,
numbness or tingling in the extremities, and impairment of brain and nerve tissue that may result in permanent neurologically damage. A major concern with B-12 deficiency is that it is not easily recognized before it has already caused physiological damage.” As long as a person watches their vitamin intake, they will retain proper health. But even without monitoring vitamins and minerals, a person who leads a vegan lifestyle will still be healthier than a person who consumes meat. John Robbins, in his new book May All Be Fed, suggests that the hazards of using animal foods, even the so-
called healthier ones, are considerable:
I am frequently asked what I think of eliminating red meat and substituting chicken and fish, cutting the skin off poultry and cooking it in oil without fat, eating primarily low- or non-fate dairy products, and restricting egg-yolk intake to two or three a week … the data leads me to the conclusion that such a strategy is the equivalent of cutting smoking down to one pack a day.
When someone makes the switch to the vegan life style then must understand that:
it is essential to eat a wide variety of yellow and green fruits and vegetables and different grains. If you do that plus make sure that you have an adequate source of vitamin B12 … from fortified cereals, soy beverages, and nutritional yeast, or from a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, you will be meeting all your nutritional needs. It really is not that hard.(Seameons p.3)
The next major issue involved in veganism is whether or not animal testing should be banned. Animal testing is experimentation, using a variable and a controlled group in which household products and pharmaceuticals are given to animals to observe what
results are obtained. Another form of animal testing is dissection; this is the cutting apart of already dead animals for study in the classroom. The proponents to animal testing and dissection say that there are not enough proven alternatives to ensure the safety of new ingredients and products. Proponents say that in the classroom nothing can teach the realistics of anatomy as well as dissection. The major companies say that animal testing is necessary to ensure the safety of all people.
The truth is, every year “more than 14 million dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, monkeys, and other animals suffer in products tests that lead to blindness, severe burns, and eventual death.” (Newkirk p. 10) Out of all of the companies which subject their products to animal testing, Procter & Gamble Inc. is the largest and kills the most animals:
In Procter & Gamble (P&G), cosmetic and household product testing, caustic chemicals are forced into rabbits’ eyes and applied to their raw, shaved skin. Laboratory workers lock the rabbits in restraining devices so they are unable to move while chemicals burn into their eyes and skin. The rabbits are given no sedatives or pain killers to ease their suffering. They sometimes break their necks and backs in a desperate struggle to get away. Those who survive are used again … until they are finally killed. P&G’s innocent victims include rabbits, guinea
pigs, hamsters, and ferrets. Even though these tests are not required by law, P&G insists on continuing their torture. (Newkirk p. 14)
Many of the finest biologists in the country say that dissection is of valid importance in learning anatomy. But they are wrong, dissection is murder. All different kinds of animals such as cats, frogs, and pigs are either raised, stolen, or caught in their
own habitat, this unbelievable amount of deaths often leads to a large decrease in the population of a particular species. Since the intent is to kill a large number of specimens as fast as possible, they are all shoved together into small containers and gassed to death. Some of the animals do not die immediately, but the animals die when they are injected with the preservative formaldehyde, this causes an intense burning sensation. Dissection
is not necessary to learn anatomy, there are alternatives to dissection such as computer simulation and video tape of past dissections to prevent more in the future. Some states, “such as California have laws ensuring that students are given alternatives. Many states are still behind the times on this issue.” (Hepner p. 23)
All of the companies which conduct animal testing claim to be trying to cut down and possibly eliminate the testing altogether. P&G claims to be a world leader in researching humane testing methods. But the reality is that P&G spends more money in seven days on advertising than it has spent in eleven years on alternatives to painful and lethal animal tests. These “cruel and unnecessary experiments are paid for with profits from the sale of P&G products. Every bottle of Pantene, every tube of Crest, every pack of Tampax tampons, and every box of Tide, Bounce, or Bold that is purchased means more money for painful experiments.” (Newkirk p. 20) The three other major companies which conduct animal experimentation are Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Lever Brothers.
Another major issue concerning the treatment of animals is whether or not it is humane to use animals in the entertainment industry. The definition of the word humane is “characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy of other beings, especially for the suffering or undistressed.”(Webster Dictionary) The entertainment industry includes television, radio, movies, and theatrics. Proponents argue that the use of animals for entertainment purposes is perfectly valid. The owners and trainers will argue that all of the animals used are not harmed and are treated quite well. They say that the animals enjoy working and they enjoy their homes and are well cared for.
However, the complete opposite is true. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that animals do not enjoy being electrified, kept in tiny spaces and burned. Amazingly enough, these practices are commonplace in the entertainment industry. Wild animals are kept in unnatural environments and usually fear and pain are their primary motive to perform.” (Kiley p. 15)
Famous animal stars such as in “Free Willy”, “Babe”, and “Flipper” seem to have a good life in which no one mistreats them, but in reality Willy was held in captivity for seven years in tanks an average of three times his body size until he was finally released into the wild once the movie production was completed. That is hardly a natural or enjoyable environment for a mammal. Babe, the pig, was confined to a small cage. He was often beaten into submission and was finally rewarded by being sent to a nice house owned by his trainer. Flipper was also kept in a small tank and he died in captivity. In all fields of animal related work ,the animals suffer, “Animals do not escape abuse even when they are used for entertainment. Circus animals suffer the most from the harsh conditions during training, transporting, and captivity. Meanwhile, animals used for television and films are also maltreated during filming.” (Derly p.5) There are many different types of abuse animal actors must endure when they are voted into being actors. When an animal is captured in the wild usually tranquilizer darts are used which induce nausea. Once an animal is captured the hardships it endures is
connected with the field of entertainment it works in. For example,”horses are fitted with painful bucking straps in rodeos, and the front paws of circus bears are burned to make the animals stand on their hind legs. Elephants are often beaten until they follow their trainers’ instructions.” (Kiley p. 15) Elephants are possibly the most abused animal in the entertainment industry. Animal rights activists are trying to improve the living conditions of circus elephants and to “stop the practice of making them do humiliating tricks. Inhumane treatment has led
many circus elephants to become aggressive often causing death or injury to people.”
(Derly p. 10)
Even though America’s entertainment industry is the greatest in the world, we have always been willing to do anything in order to achieve this. Animal torture is not entertainment, it is sick. Americans must not allow themselves to be entertained by such gruesome atrocities. However, the average American is totally unaware of the abusive treatment that entertainment industry animals go through. It will take a great deal of education to bring this problem to the attention of the American public.
Americans as a society should be vegan. We have discussed whether or not veganism is healthier than the average way of life, whether or not animal testing should be banned, and finally, whether or not it is humane to use animals in the entertainment industry. Many people “view veganism as simply a restrictive diet, a list of products and ingredients to avoid. Actually, it is part of an affirmative, compassionate philosophy of life. Veganism is the embodiment of ahimsa — non-violence towards and respect for all sentient beings.” (Braunstein p. 30) Mankind can do something about animal cruelty. First everyone must become vegan in order to save the lives of countless animals. When meat and dairy products are consumed, the industry sees that they must kill more and more animals. If nobody ate these products, no animals would have to die for the sake of being consumed.
Many of the products of today’s market are tested on animals, and we must put a stop to this. When in a supermarket, buy products that bear the label “cruelty-free” and boycott all of the companies which use animal testing. A boycott is when a group of people refuse to buy a product or service for a particular reason. Four of the largest companies which use animal testing are: Procter & Gamble 1-800-543-7270, Colgate – Palmolive 1-800-221-4607, Johnson & Johnson 1-800-526-3967, and Lever Brothers 1-800-451-6679. Another way to put a stop to animal testing is to alert the companies that we are partaking in the worldwide boycott.
Animals in captivity need to be released into the wild where they can live their lives free from abuse. As consumers, we have power: “a circus will not come to town if no one will attend the show. Choose to attend entertainment events which are not
dependent on animal fear and distress.” (Kiley p.16)
Founded by veterinarian Dr. Elliot Katz, In Defense of Animals(IDA) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of animals by defending their rights, welfare, and habitat. Through protests, boycotts, lobbying efforts, lawsuits and civil disobedience, IDA promotes justice and compassion for all creatures. Many people have joined the IDA in hopes of making their friends and communities more aware of animal abuse in every day life.
Many people our age are overwhelmed by problems the world faces and don’t feel that we have the power to affect real change. Fortunately, there are things we can do to make a significant and lasting difference. By adopting a compassionate lifestyle, we can
directly help animals and the ecological state of the earth:
The most powerful tool we have in working for a better world is our positive example. If you do not think we are making a difference, just compare the world currently to that of only twenty years ago. Vegans used to be extremely rare, but today almost everyone knows at least one vegan. Society is becoming more vegan friendly all the time. (Braustein p. 50)
Braunstein, Mark. Radical Vegetarianism. Los Angeles,CA, Panjandrum Books, 1983.
Kiley-Worthington, Marthe. Animals in Circuses and Zoos—Chirons World.London,
Little Eco Farms Publishing, 1990.
Hepner, Lisa Ann. Animals in Education: The Facts, Issues, and Implications. Albuquerque, NM, Riichmond Publishers, 1994.
Newkirk, Ingrid. Free The Animals,PETA: Story of the Animal Liberation, Los Angeles, CA, Panjandrum Books, 1996.
Derly, Pat.(1996,July-August). “The abuse of animal actors.” The Animal Agenda,16, n3,v16.
Seameons,Dan.(1992,Nov/Dec)”Eating For Optimum Health.” East West Natural Health, 1-8
Mahatna Ghandi Quotes. Retrieved December 3, http://web.mahatma.org.in/quotes/quote