Feature

The big reasons to go vego

Green Lifestyle magazine

More Aussies are ditching meat for a plant-based diet than ever before. We take a look at the three big ticket reasons to make the switch.

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The big reason no.1 to go vego: animal rights.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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The big reason no.2 to go vego: a healthy diet.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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The big reason no.3 to go vego: sustainable sustenance.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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Ellen DeGeneres is one. So too are Sir Paul McCartney, Natalie Portman and Missy Higgins. And Leonardo da Vinci was one. The common thread? All are proud vegetarians (or vegans). According to a 2010 Newspoll survey, five per cent of Australians say they are vegetarian, not to mention the growing number who limit their meat consumption to a couple of nights a week. Why? For myriad benefits to animal welfare, our health and our environment.

ANIMAL RIGHTS
The pioneers of the vegetarian movement, animal rights activists campaign for a stop to animals as food on ethical grounds. According to Animals Australia, demand for cheap meat has led to the greatest cause of animal suffering in Australia today – factory farming.

“Factory farms by their very nature produce animal products at the lowest cost for the highest return, treating animals merely as units in a production line rather than living, feeling beings,” says Lisa Chalk from Animals Australia.

“Many people would be shocked to learn that animals raised for food are denied the same legal protections that are afforded to our pets at home – purely for commercial reasons. This is despite the fact that they share our capacity to suffer.”

Annually, over 500 million Australian farm animals are subjected to practices that animal rights groups say would warrant cruelty charges if the victims were cats or dogs. Many cows are branded with hot irons, have their horns cut off and are separated from their calves. More chickens are raised for food than all other land animals combined, and these birds live in cramped, dirty quarters with little access to fresh air. Fish, ducks, turkeys and pigs are also subjected to terrible living conditions.

“Almost all the meat produced and consumed in Australia today comes from factory farms,” says Claire Fryer from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Australia. “There, animals are systematically abused and treated as commodities rather than living beings. Large numbers of cattle, pigs and chicken are kept in cramped, often filthy warehouses and deprived of everything that is natural and important to them, including the freedom to move without restraint, socially interact, play, nest and raise their children.”

“Many of them see the sun and the sky for the first time only at the end of their miserable lives, when they are roughly crammed into trucks taking them to their final terrifying slaughter.”

Adhering to a vegetarian diet can save up to 100 animals per person annually and every meal provides an opportunity to make a compassionate choice, says Chalk. Plus, switching to
a cruelty-free diet is easier than you might think.

“One of the simplest ways to start the transition is to continue making all the meals that you would normally do, but substitute the animal content for a cruelty-free alternative,” says Chalk. “For example, instead of using mince meat in your pasta sauce, use a lentil, bean and vegetable mix.”

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