Posted on 4 Sep 2014

Below are a few articles we have written in which we advocate for vegan diets. Plant-based diets are the most humane toward animals, the most environmentally friendly and most healthful diet for people to consume.

Vegan diets are most compassionate.

A vegan diet consist of only plants and foods produced from plants; it excludes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products and all other animal – derived ingredients.
Every year, approximately 58 billion animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy and cruel confinements systems and killed in factory farms and slaughterhouses worldwide to produce meat, eggs and dairy. In the US alone, 10 billion land animals are abused and slaughtered every year in the food production industries.
As animal advocates, we naturally do not want to contribute to the suffering of any living beings by consuming or using animals or their products for any purpose. Consequently, AIA promotes a vegan diet as a central element of animal advocacy.

Vegan diets are best for the environment

Another strong argument for eating vegan is that vastly fewer resources are needed to grow plants for consumption than are used in the production of meat and dairy.
The production of meat and diary is very resource-intensive and inefficient. Huge amounts of water and feed are required to raise livestock for meat and to produce milk – much more than what is required to grow fruits, vegetables and legumes for direct consumption. Furthermore, experts estimate that about 18% of all green house gas emissions are a result of animal agriculture, which is more than produced by the entire world’s transportation industries combined. Additionally, around the world, natural habitats and forests are being cleared at alarming rates to make grazing land for livestock.

Humankind’s seemingly insatiable appetite for meat and dairy is literally destroying the earth we and non-human animals share.

By adopting a vegan diet, you are truly doing one of the most environmentally conscious acts possible. Marilyn Ramos’ article below, Why Every Environmentalist Should Also be a Vegan, describes in greater detail the connection between eating and the environment.

Vegan diets are good for you

Finally, the scientific evidence is quickly accumulating that plant-based diets are the healthiest for people to adopt, being associated with lower cancer rates and cardiovascular disease, as well as imparting a host of other benefits. The article below by Drs. Kirshner and Spiegel reviews the cardiovascular benefits of vegan diets. Vegan dining is becoming increasingly popular, with more vegan restaurants open than ever before, more tasty supermarket items available, and a wealth of cooking and nutritional information available on-line. If you are not yet vegan, please consider giving it a try. There has never been more compelling reasons to go vegan, and it is easier and more tasty than ever before!


Lori L. Kirshner, MD and Peter H. Spiegel, MD

no-plant-based-options-1-300x225Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the US. Growing scientific evidence supports plant-based, or vegan, diets in halting and even reversing cardiovascular disease. There is also increasing interest among the public about the purported health benefits of vegan diets, in part due to many celebrities who have publicly gone vegan. With this come numerous misconceptions about plant-based diets. In this article we outline the cardiovascular benefits you may enjoy upon consuming a healthy, low fat, plant–based diet.

Meat, eggs and dairy contain cholesterol and saturated fats, which aid in the development of atherosclerosis. Cholesterol is, of course, needed by our bodies for many essential functions, but our livers manufacture all the cholesterol we need. Excess cholesterol promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques on the inner surfaces of our arteries in the body. When the coronary arteries are affected, heart attack risk increases and carotid artery involvement increases stroke risk. Even worse, saturated fat, predominant in animal food products, stimulates the production of more cholesterol.

Many people underestimate how much saturated fat they consume. For example, approximately 70% of the calories in cheese are from fat. Even in skinless chicken, 23% of the calories derive from fat. In contrast, less than 10% of calories in grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are from fat, and these foods are cholesterol–free.

Fiber is also important in this equation. Animal-based foods add no fiber to the diet. Plant-based foods are rich in fiber which decreases both the absorption and production of cholesterol. Good fiber sources include oats, barley, beans, fruits and vegetables.

Research by Dr. Dean Ornish and others demonstrates that coronary artery disease can be stopped and even reversed by adopting a low-fat plant-based diet. Many people can reduce their need for angioplasties, coronary artery stents, and bypass surgeries by changing their diets. Health care providers now understand the power of plant-based diets in reducing the atherosclerotic disease process, something procedures and surgeries cannot do. Big bonus for patients – the adoption of a plant-based diet often automatically results in weight loss, lower blood pressure and increased energy levels!

A common misconception is that plant-based diets don’t provide adequate protein or calcium. In fact, you get ample amounts oplant-based-diet-2-300x225f protein in whole, natural plant-based foods such as soy, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, whole grains. What you will not get is the excessive amount of protein found in the typical western diet, which can lead to osteoporosis and other health issues. Additionally, many leafy green vegetables and beans are rich in calcium, and in a form better absorbed than in dairy.

It is easy to get started on a vegan diet. Try doing it with a family member or friend and commit to at least a three-week trial. Your taste buds will change as you come to enjoy the lighter, healthier tastes, and you will feel better and more energetic than ever before.

Recommended: Forks Over Knives, the film documentary by T. Collin Campbell, author of The China Study and Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD of the Cleveland Clinic.

 Dr. Kirshner is an Ophthalmologist and host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Animals Today. She is Founder and President of Advancing the Interests of Animals. Dr. Spiegel specializes in Pediatric Ophthalmology, produces Animals Today, and serves as Vice President of Advancing the Interests of Animals. Their websites,,


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Why Every Environmentalist Should Also Be a Vegan

By Marilyn Ramos

Those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests.… “ Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1990

∞ Did you know that the typical American diet generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet?

∞ Did you know that the livestock industry (which includes all farmed animals – i.e., pigs, birds, egg-laying hens, and dairy cows) is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is more than the 13.5% contributed by the transportation industry (including aviation)?

∞ Did you know that plant-based diets only use around one-third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet?

∞ Did you know that adopting a vegan diet actually does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car?

∞ Did you know that one hamburger costs as much water as 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle?

Would you open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of food, throw away 15 of them (approximately 94%) and then just eat the remaining one plate of food? Would you clear 55 sq. ft. of rain forest for a single meal? Would you discard 2,400 gallons of water down your sink to produce one meal? No, right? You would not knowingly do that. However, that is exactly what occurs if you consume pigs, cows, turkeys, fish, chickens, eggs or milk. You are aiding in wasting resources and destroying our environment.

The United Nations recently reported and concluded that a major shift to a vegan diet will be required to combat climate change. They are not alone in their conclusion. University of Chicago researchers also reported that switching from a S.A.D. lifestyle (Standard American Diet) to a vegan diet would be more effective in the fight against the worst effects of climate change. The impact of such a change would be more effective than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. Even the meat-loving Germans concluded, in 2008, that a diet consisting of meat contributes more than seven times as much greenhouse gas emissions as a plant-based diet.

Also in 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production completed a 2 ½ year study which concluded that factory farms pose unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and animal welfare.

The negative impact of animal factory farming, the irrigation of feed crop and land expansion for livestock production is clear. Our environment is being harmed, potentially irreversible, when we support these practices. This is why AIA believes that any environmentalist who truly wants to change the world for the better should espouse a vegan lifestyle.

Simply put, switching to a plant-based diet is an effective way to help the environment. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal products to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.

A 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options”, found:

Climate change: With rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting icecaps and glaciers, shifting ocean currents and weather patterns, climate change is the most serious challenge facing the human race. The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia emissions.

Water: The livestock sector is a key player in increasing water use, accounting for over 8 percent of global human water use, mostly for the irrigation of feedcrops. It is probably the largest source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication (this is a natural process that occurs in an aging lake or pond as that body of water gradually builds up its concentration of plant nutrients. Cultural or artificial eutrophication occurs when human activity introduces increased amounts of these nutrients, which speed up plant growth and eventually choke the lake of all of its animal life), “dead” zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. The major sources of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feedcrops, and sediments from eroded pastures.

Land degradation: Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder. It should be noted that the United States imports roughly 200 million pounds of beef from Central America every year. Aside from the fuel used in transport, grazing land is needed for all of these animals. That grazing land comes from clear-cutting forests and rainforest. As a side note, the necessity for more grazing land means that every minute of every day, a land area equivalent to seven football fields is destroyed in the Amazon basin.

Biodiversity: The livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the growing scale of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) contributes negatively to the environment and human health. Pollution associated with CAFOs degrades the quality of water, threatens drinking water sources, and harms air quality. CAFOs include piggeries (hog lots) that make the air so unbearable in some rural communities that residents wear masks when outdoors. By definition, CAFOs produce large amounts of waste in small areas. For example, a single dairy cow produces approximately 120 pounds of wet manure per day. This manure, and the wastewater carrying the manure, harms rivers and streams. Manure contains ammonia which is highly toxic to fish. Algae blooms carrying nitrogen and phosphorus block waterways and upon decomposition deplete oxygen. This devastates entire aquatic food chains killing fish and other aquatic organisms.

Another dark side to CAFOs are the crimes and environmental violations perpetrated by the meat industry. Over the years, many have been found guilty of misdemeanors or felonies including bribery, destruction of records, distribution of contaminated meat, animal cruelty, fraud and pollution.

The pollution charges included allowing millions of gallons of liquefied feces and urine to seep into or rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater thanks to collapsed, leaking or overflowing storage lagoons. The manure spills alone account for millions of dead fish. Unfortunately, weak state and federal law enforcement and lack of meaningful investigations allows too many of these CAFOs to get away with malfeasance.

The number of livestock found on our planet today is mind blowing – nearly 1 billion pigs, 1.3 billion cows, 1.8 billion sheep and goats, and 13.5 billion chickens. This has led to vastly altered ecosystems and massive resources dedicated solely to supporting the growing number of livestock. Think about it? These animals need to be fed. They need water to survive. They need land for housing. All of this massive concerted effort just so that you can eat a steak or pork chops at your local restaurant.

Here are the numbers:

∞ it takes 1 pound of grain to make 1 pound of bread.

∞ it takes approximately 16 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef.

∞ it takes up to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish flesh.

∞ it takes roughly 200 times more water to make a pound of beef than a pound of potatoes.

∞ 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.

∞ It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat.

∞ it takes only 25 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat.

A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.

Clearly, the huge amounts of grain, water and farmland used to grow meat could be better used to feed humans. If the 670 million tons of the world’s grain that is fed to livestock were reduced by 10 percent, the resulting grain could feed 225 million people. If each American reduced his or her meat consumption by just 5 percent, roughly equivalent to eating one less dish of meat each week, enough grain would be saved to feed 25 million people, which is the general estimate of the number of people who go hungry in the United States each day.

The verdict is in: If you care about the environment, one of the single most effective things that you can do to save it is to adopt a vegan diet.

With water and land becoming scarce around the world, hunger is increasing and is commensurate with the rising population on the planet. It is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.

Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the Worldwatch Institute, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and even Al Gore’s Live Earth—have recognized that raising animals for food harms the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it’s the overuse of resources, global warming, massive water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the earth.

The irrefutable conclusion is that every environmentalist should also be a vegan. AIA encourages meat eating environmentalists to do their due diligence and explore the information on this website to help make that transition to becoming an Envirovegan.

Smart Driving for the Environment?

By: Peter Spiegel

As a follow up to the fine essay by Marilyn Ramos (“Why Every Environmentalist Should Also Be A Vegan”), I wanted to direct readers to a pertinent podcast from Freakonomics Radio having to do with signaling theory. It is really worth a listen so I link it here:’re-driving/

To summarize, Economists Alison and Steve Sexton sought to discover the value green–leaning hybrid drivers place on the signal their cars convey about them.

They coined a phrase, “Conspicuous Conservation” to refer to efforts made by environmentally conscious people to show the world how they feel. Keep in mind that we all make efforts to manage our images, but the Sextons’ research focused on Democratic districts (as a proxy for environmentally concerned areas) in Washington and Colorado.

They concluded that in Colorado, the unique appearance of the Prius (which almost everyone knows is a hybrid) added an additional 21% to 33% of market share compared to the comparison vehicle, the Honda Civic hybrid (which looks just like the standard drive model except for a small badge). People pay to give off the signal the Prius conveys about them.

Another example of Conspicuous Conservation is placing rooftop solar panels on the street side of a house (that is, where it is visible to all), when the other side would generate more power. The podcast concludes with a few comments from Tim Harford (author of four economic books, presenter of the BBC series, Trust Me, I’m an Economist, and writer of two columns – “Dear Economist and The Undercover Economist”) about how it is difficult to know exactly what to do if you care about the environment. Nevertheless, he concludes with an illustration concerning an innocent breakfast meal decision, reminding us that vast amounts of methane gas (a powerful greenhouse gas) are produced and emitted by cows for your glass of milk!

Listen to the podcast and I bet you will begin to think more critically about many of your daily choices as a consumer and citizen, perhaps (we hope) including what you eat.

Note that in the updated version of the podcast, no mention is made of food. Its here

And, there is a great a South Park episode from 2006 titled Smug Alert, which covers some of this material in that unique South Park way. In it, the car in question is called the Pious. (Sorry if you have to watch a Jack in the Box ad first!!)

Food for Thought!

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