Your annoying vegan friend is probably onto something

Lorrin Johnson, Editor-in-chief

“Don’t you miss meat?” “How are you going to get enough protein?”
For the past ten years, I have faced a barrage of questions—and dirty looks— each time I inform someone that I don’t eat meat. Recently I’ve had the joy of facing even more questioning as I’ve made the switch from vegetarian to full-on vegan.
Making the choice to cut out animal products is confusing and perhaps even crazy in the eyes of most of the carnivorous population, but a bit of education can make almost anyone want to cut out meat—or at least make people feel bad about continuing to eat it.
The first heart-wrenching reason that people become vegetarian is because of the fact that animals bred for the purpose of our consumption are, more often than not, treated horrifically. In an investigation performed by PETA, farm workers were caught slamming piglets on the ground, a practice designed to kill weak baby pigs and that often results in squirming, bloody piles of piglets. Though PETA is often deemed to be on the extremist end of animal rights, this horrifying practice is just one of many of the disturbing techniques used on some American farms to produce the meat you may regularly enjoy.
Bill Haw, the CEO of Kansas City’s National Farms (which operates one of the largest cattle feed operations in the country) admitted that “the slaughterhouse is not a pretty thing… animals come there to die, to be eviscerated, to be decapitated, to be de-hided – and all of those are violent, bloody and difficult things to watch… the initial stages of the packing house are very violent.”
Another reason—and the most compelling by my standards—to become vegan or vegetarian is the fact that through our cruel slaughtering of animals, we are simultaneously destroying our environment. To put this issue into perspective: cows have become more of a threat to our existence than the CO2 emissions from cars according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as the huge amount of methane released by cattle is far more dangerous than CO2. And confining so many of these animals into one place can only heighten the problem, as well as produce so much waste that water and air surrounding slaughterhouses are exceedingly dangerous to consume.
Being vegan is more than just avoiding chicken nuggets and hamburgers; being vegan is about respecting all living creatures and the environment we share. So before you give your vegan peer a disgusted eye roll, consider why they may be choosing that lifestyle, and why you should probably consider it as well.