If you’re one of many earthlings across the globe who made the pledge and took part in Veganuary 2016, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed very second of it, learned a whole lot and, of course, have decided to continue on into February! To help keep that momentum, or perhaps remind those who’ve gone back on their pledge why they may want to give it another try, here are ten reasons why I choose personally to live a vegan lifestyle.

  1. Animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change.
  2. Turkey hens now lay 120 eggs a year and chickens lay over 300. That’s two or even three times as many as in nature. After that first year, they are killed because they won’t lay as many eggs in the second year — the industry figured out that it’s cheaper to slaughter them and start over than it is feed and house birds that lay fewer eggs.
  3. One-third of the land surface of the planet is dedicated to livestock.
  4. All told, farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population — roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals — no toilets, obviously, but also no sewage pipes, no one hauling it away for treatment, and almost no federal guidelines regulating what happens to it. (The GAO reports that no federal agency even collects reliable data on factory farms or so much as knows the number of permitted factory farms nationally and therefore cannot “effectively regulate” them.)
  5. All male layers — half of all the layer chickens born in the United States, more than 250 million chicks a year — are destroyed.

    animalcrate2

    A replica of a veal crate. Photo taken during a tour at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

  6. Commercial fishing is responsible not only for the depletion of 70 percent of the world’s fish species, but also for serious injury to other species of animals. Some fisheries use dynamite or cyanide in lieu of nets, but such methods can destroy entire ecosystems.
  7. In 2008 the livestock industry contributed over $8 million to congressional candidates.
  8. Meat production is a leading cause of every significant form of environmental damage: air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, erosion, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and depletion of fresh water.
  9. To be exact, U.S. agribusinesses slaughter ten billion animals per year, and that’s not including the estimated ten billion fish and other sea animals that are killed annually. That’s 19,011 animals per minute, or 317 animals per second. In the time it took you to read these three paragraphs, nearly 60,000 more animals were killed.
  10. In 2005, for the first time ever, Human Rights Watch issued a report criticizing a single U.S. industry—the meat industry— for working conditions so appalling they violate basic human rights.

[Source: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran FoerDominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew ScullyWhy We Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy.]