Good afternoon everyone!
I was asked to submit a 8-10 page (double-spaced) rough draft of my freshman level english course's final project, a research paper, and to build off the feedback. If possible, I would like the reviews to focus on what I could do to improve my paper, 3 areas of weaknesses in my writing, what you would change if you were writing this paper, and an evaluation of how well I used and cited sources. I appreciate your help and I will be sure to reply to your critique.
Professor Colleen Koblinski
English 102: Section 29080
18 April 2020
Veganism: Humanity's Ascension
Even the best of us have failed ourselves, the animals, and the world without even knowing or trying. Every day, over 200 million animals are slaughtered for consumption around the world, totaling over 72 billion annually (Zampa). How did we get to the point where we kill almost ten times the amount of humans in sentient innocent creatures every year? Is this necessary? Maybe this would be justifiable if the murder amounted to a healthy population and a planet free from the ravages of climate change. Maybe if this genocide amounted to an improved human condition, it would be ok that we continued our breeding and subsequent killing of child-like creatures. Fortunately and unfortunately, this is not the case. There is an alternative, one we have likely all heard of. Veganism, although it may seem extreme or radical at first, is much closer to the opposite of those connotations. It is often misunderstood and harmful stereotypes perpetuate the idea of the "weak vegan," the protein deficient soy boy who has sacrificed his gains to appease some idea of ultra-hippie bullshit that is ideologically unsound, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Veganism is not the opposite of carnism (the belief that people should eat meat) nor is it the same thing as vegetarianism (a person who does not eat meat) but is instead generally defined as "a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose" (The Vegan Society).
While doing research, many of my non-vegan sources would begin their arguments with an opening like "while there has been lack of research on the subject" or "this hasn't been clarified yet" and it is this lack of information that has contributed to such negative public perception. Behind part of this misunderstanding is the knowledge that most people worldwide consume animal products. Carnism is truly convenient and you can find animal products almost anywhere, which can't be said for vegan products, and the proliferation of this concept that meat is something we need to consume is spread by this consumerism. Without a higher percentage of the population representing as vegan, especially as fit athletes, it will remain commonplace to see carnism as the only viable healthy lifestyle choice. It is with this wisdom in mind, that I strive to prove that not only is veganism the best possible lifestyle, but that it more positively contributes to overall health and the health of the planet than omnivorism, whether it be vegetarianism or carnism. Humanity must strive for a vegan world to reduce the significant environmental destruction caused by animal consumption, the negative impact on the morality of the human race, and to reach peak physical condition.
We will begin with a focus on the negative drain animal consumption exerts on the planet's resources. Every year, over 72 billion animals are murdered globally for food (Zampa) and this requires a large amount of manpower and materials. These animals must receive food, water, antibiotics, and possibly medical treatment while being cleaned, managed, and cared for. Raising these creatures for months or years with all the necessary resources they require forces us to use far more of our work force and their time than we would need to cultivate plants that we would directly eat.
This brings me to my next point, which is that it is not more efficient to feed an animal food and then proceed to eat the animal in an attempt to collect those nutrients for yourself. Animals are not machines designed to perfectly store nutrition for future dispersion, but living creatures, who do not perfectly absorb and subsequently maintain every nutrient. Like humans, animals excrete waste which amounts to lost calories. Also, like humans, animals burn energy (calories) by moving around, breathing, eating, and simply existing. Treating animals as a middle-man to obtain our necessary macros and micros simply wastes a gratuitous amount of time, energy, and materials.
Beyond the degradation of humanity's most vital supplies, methane and other greenhouse gases are produced by raising livestock in addition to soil degradation and deforestation. Even worse than this, the regular consumption of animal products and the financial support of the anti-environmental organizations that breed and farm animals create a self-feeding destructive pattern. "Greenhouse gases from food production create a vicious cycle: As Earth gets hotter, farming gets more difficult in many places, which forces farmers to clear more land to grow food" (NPR). A perfect example of this surfaced late last year, when the Amazon burned and the whole world lamented over social media. It was the expansion of cattle farms in the beloved rainforest that led to this environmental holocaust. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), best describes the cruciality of the situation. "Habitat conversion, commonly referred to as deforestation, lies at the crux of what is shaping the future of the Amazon Biome. Extensive cattle ranching is the number one culprit of deforestation in virtually every Amazon country, and it accounts for 80% of current deforestation" (WWF).
What could we possibly do to stave off the abhorrent annihilation towards our planet? Grass-fed and organic farming are proposed as a solution to the heavy environmental toll that factory farming enacts, but these solutions are not "better" for the environment, simply less bad, and they are often inaccessible. "Alison Van Eenennaam, a specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California, Davis, says grass-fed makes more sense in a country like Australia, which has a temperate climate, large tracts of land, and no corn belt" (NPR). This however does not apply to the U.S., as we have a corn belt that is susceptible to the cold when winter rolls around. If the U.S. is meant to be the leader of the free world and we are unable to manage these agricultural methods, how could we expect the rest of the world to follow suit? In addition, "cows raised on factory farm feedlots are able to reach market weight in three to six months (cattle are usually around one year old when they enter feedlots). Grass-fed cattle (the more 'sustainable' option) require several years of foraging to reach similar weights" (One Green Planet). Because these animals live so much longer, grass-fed farming creates a negative environmental impact comparable to factory farming.
It is a horrible thing to watch the world fall apart due to human hands, but far worse is to view ourselves and those around us behaving as impudent children, treating child-like creatures not with malice, but with apathy and disregard. The quality of humanity suffers when we decide the temporary pleasure of consuming sentient life outweighs the worth of that creature's life. If it is wrong to needlessly beat an animal, something most humans agree on and find abhorrent, that implies the quality of life of each individual animal carries an inherent value. This further implies we must seek a lifestyle that seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all the variables that decrease an animal's quality of life in order to be a kind and intelligent race. There is no universal definition of what is and isn't ok to do to an animal because circumstances change and sometimes we must protect or feed ourselves, but pursuing the most morally sound and least damaging option as a lifestyle choice will lead to the most positive consequences more often than not.
Continuing on this tangent, it is common to find people who disagree with the use of factory farms, even amongst carnists. "MFA investigations have uncovered routine abuse and frequent torture at these facilities, including cows kicked, punched, and dragged by the neck; piglets' tails cut off with dull blades; chickens stabbed and stomped to death; and fish skinned and cut open while still conscious and able to feel pain" (Mercy for Animals). Factory farms are cruel and by financially supporting these organiztions with our purchases, we are playing an active role in perpetual torture and genocide. "Billions of farm animals suffer in factory farms globally, confined their whole lives to cages so small they can barely move" (Humane Society International). Assuming the typical person eats only 3 meals a day and each meal only calls for the death of one animal (a gross simplification generous to the opposing view), that is almost 1,100 animal deaths an individual is associated with for one year out of the many years a human tends to live, which makes it very likely that a consumer would devour an abused animal, even if they are conscious about the sources they use for food.
The most powerful and intelligent species on the planet should not be pursuing regular consumption from such barbaric methods, yet as was discussed earlier, we know grass-fed and organic farming is not a sustainable method of agriculture. There is a lot of praise for these products, but the definition of "grass-fed" does not actually represent what the public thinks it means. According to NPR, "about 75% to 80% of grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. is grown abroad, from Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America" (NPR). This isn't exactly local or sustainable, and due to USDA processing laws, these animal remains are passed off as U.S. products, which is a lie wrapped in bureaucracy. In addition, being "grass-fed" is typical for most of the lives of most of the cows anyways as "the diversion of grass-fed and grain-fed beef occurs when the cows are 'finished,' which is a term for the time before they are sent to slaughter. This can last anywhere from two months to a year. Before this time, all cows raised in the U.S. start off eating grass" (One Green Planet). If animals being raised as grass-fed can lead a life so drastically different than one might expect, can we trust the farmers and ranchers to provide an objective description of both the quality of life of these creatures and the details of their 'product' that is truthful and not based on their desire for economic gain?
Yet, compelling arguments could be made against the negative environmental impact and the morality of animal consumption if it was a requirement to live. After all, vegans are deficient in protein, B-12, and iron, so it would make sense to burn the planet and torch our ideals if it meant our survival, right? Fortunately and unfortunately, this is misinformation and it has spread due to centuries without proper scientific research. Veganism is not dismissable due to general population health concerns and a plant-based diet has actually been proven to have tremendous positive effects on physical health. Protein deficiency among vegans is a myth that has been disproved and iron, an important nutrient involved in the energy used while lifting, is actually more likely to require supplementation for non-vegans than vegans (Nebl, Josefine, et al.). In a study comparing the benefits of omnivorous, vegetarian, and vegan diets, it was found that plant-based diets promoted lower BMI and the vegan diet in particular was less susceptible to allergies and that their food choices were based more on quality health (Wirnitzer, Katharina, et al.).
In addition, there are many professional vegan athletes who have pushed the boundaries of human capability. James Wilks, a UFC Champion, followed in the footsteps of the predominantly vegetarian Roman Gladiators (who were called "bean and barley munchers") to recover from an injury that incapacitated him for over half a year (Game Changers). He was able to rise far beyond his previous omnivorous life and now serves an an instructor for the U.S. Marines, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Swat Teams, and U.S. Navy Seals, providing some of the most dangerous combat training in the world. Scott Jurek, arguably the most prestigious ultra-marathon runner of all-time, won the Western States 100-mile race 7 years in a row on a plant-based diet (Game Changers). Heroes like James and Scott have proven that a plant-based diet has superior benefits to one with animal products.
Some may suggest "baby steps" or to grass-feed animals but these are ineffective methods to bring about serious and real change in the world. When you are still consuming these products, it is difficult to convince someone that they are committing moral wrongs and that they should stop or reduce doing something that you are actively doing yourself. One may also find that transitioning to veganism did not bring about the change that they were hoping for, as dead animals will still be for sale at every market they visit and will be commonplace in the lives of the friends and family they hold dear. This can make the world seem hopeless and as if it were the destiny of humanity to burn everything it touches, but rejoice, for there are accessible ways to solve these issues.
To save the world and ourselves, we need a global movement dedicated to education and action. This requires activism from everyone available with donations and support to key organizations. The Humane Society International and PETA have done incredible things for animals in the time that they have been active. Both organizations make it easy to get involved in different ways, so that one may support them with financial means or with their time. Nothing in my life is more important to me than veganism. I would not eat an animal, not for my parents, siblings, dearest friends, or soulmates. It is unnecessary, cruel to the animals, devastating to the planet, and plays negatively into our lives. When I ran my first marathon this year, I felt such a powerful sensation of love and solidarity. For most people, it was not a competition or a race against others, but a beautiful display of the determination of the human spirit and the incredible things we can accomplish. There was kindness and comradery, a sharing of individual experiences, occasional advice from a well-meaning stranger, and a common desire to achieve a human accomplishment and that is the kind of world I want to live in. It is with this intent, nothing less than the salvation of our planet and the ultimate beautiful vision of humanity, that I wrote this paper. Animals are dying, the world has entered a new age of depression, and the planet is crumbling, and the solutions to all these problems are in our reach.
"Factory Farming." Humane Society International, Humane Society International
Farr, Sara. "Here's Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Just as Bad for the Environment as Grain-Fed." One Green Planet
Hersher, Rebecca, and Allison Aubrey. "To Slow Global Warming, U.N. Warns Agriculture Must Change." NPR
Matsumoto, Nancy. "Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Better For The Planet? Here's The Science." NPR
Nebl, Josefine, et al. "Exercise Capacity of Vegan, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian and Omnivorous
Recreational Runners." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Psihoyos, Louie, director. The Game Changers. Netflix
"The Problem." Mercy For Animals
"Unsustainable Cattle Ranching." WWF
Wirnitzer, Katharina, et al. "Health Status of Female and Male Vegetarian and Vegan Endurance
Runners Compared to Omnivores-Results from the NURMI Study (Step 2)." Nutrients