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Vegan FAQ

May 27, 2008

Q: Why are you vegan?

A: There are many good reasons to go vegan. I am vegan so that I am not eating animals or funding the killing of them.

I don't eat eggs because the chickens raised for eggs are kept in tiny, crowded cages and never get outside. I've seen videos of workers treating them cruelly - chopping their beaks off (so they don't peck each other) and throwing them by their legs into cages.

I don't eat dairy products because dairy calves are taken from their mothers and killed for veal so that people can have the milk from their mothers.

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I don't wear silk because it's made by killing the silk moth larva, and I don't eat honey because bees work hard to make their honey to keep them healthy over the winter.

I also don't use wool. Shearing doesn't kill the sheep, but on large sheep farms, the sheep are treated cruelly.

Studies show that a vegetarian diet also promotes good health by reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and several common cancers (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999. This study included people who ate dairy and eggs).

A vegan diet also helps the environment. Animal farming consumes a lot of resources. It takes about seven pounds of corn to produce a pound of beef, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In some parts of the world, trees are cut down to make room for grazing cows. And manure, pesticides and animal waste contaminate our water systems and affect sea life.

Some studies suggest that large-scale animal farming is contributing to global warming (Science Daily, 2008; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006).

Q: What do you eat?

A: Many things. Obviously, all fruits and vegetables are okay. But don't think that's all we eat. There many kinds of bread and pasta that are vegan. There are also substitutes for non-vegan foods. I eat vegan versions of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ice cream and many other foods. If you want something more complex, there are many vegan cookbooks that can help you satisfy your gourmet taste.

Q: If you don't eat eggs, where do you get your protein?

A: It's hard not to get enough protein. Many Americans get too much meat-based protein, which can lead in some women to kidney disease (Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003) and osteoporosis (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001). Some of the best vegan sources of protein are soybean products, beans, oatmeal, corn and mushrooms.

Q: If you don't drink milk or eat dairy products, how do you get calcium?

A: Vegans skip the middleman. They get their calcium from the same place cows get theirs. Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are very good sources of calcium, as are some green vegetables such as broccoli, and some seeds and nuts.

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