Four reasons to be a vegan:
1. Spiritual: It hurts me to hurt others. Eating animals for meat, or milk, butter, cheese, eggs and honey all exploits animals. Meat violates the first precept, and dairy violates the second precept. The point of ethics in spirituality for me is to allow me to go deeper into spirituality. My meditation is deeper when I'm in harmony with the world. When I think about my impact on the world, I recognize the interconnectivity. The rudeness in which a dairy farmer can exploit the milk from a cow is quite horrible. Someone said, what if plants feel. OK, I think they do feel. But if you really care about plants feeling, you would only eat plants, because animals eat more plants. To reduce the harm to plants, and the environment, you would eat plants. You gotta eat. Just like, I don't think, you need to allow bacteria and viruses plague your body, or let mosquitos feast on your blood, I think you also need to eat. The least harmful way is to eat plants. But people who bring up that plants have feeling aren't really concerned about them. They are into carnism, and the best argument for that is "I want to and it's not illegal yet." But I think it's import to make their own ethical choices, and I'm not perfect. I just wish to develop and feel the gladdening of not harming others. It may seem puny, but I think everyone has an impact in the world.
2. Ethical: It's just wrong. I don't really want to elaborate more on why. We don't need meat. We don't need that much protein and it's one of those things we will look back in the future and say, "... and they also had slavery." The ethical can be part of spiritual, but in this secular age, people can get nervous when people talk religion. So lets talk ethics. What is the greatest good--utilitarianism. The amount of suffering off weighed by the pleasure of eating meat surely cannot be justified. Your taste buds change when you stop eating meat and dairy, and you get the same pleasure. So the pleasure you get form eating meat is artificial, and can be changed. How about principles? The idea that we are the superior species and that we have a right to eat the non-humans is just wrong. You can align such thinking with slavery and sexual abuse. You can quote any religious source, but what makes that true? I'm arguing outside my Buddhist ethics, in a secular ethics, utilitarianism. You can't make a Kantian deontological argument either for meat eating. Vegan diet is the most ethical approach to eating.
3. Environmental. You may notice these all overlap. Spiritual, ethical, environmental and health are interrelated, and I'm not trying to perpetuate a dualism. As I wrote, I'm trying to remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing because there's quite a pull towards not doing it. Going that extra step from vegetarian to vegan is quite hard for me. I'm from Wisconsin and I love cheese. I love butter. I love eggs. I love honey. Giving up meat is one thing, but giving those up too, is a hard thing. You basically can't eat out any more. Which is generally good, because it's well known that eating out isn't the healthiest thing to do and costs more, and the culture of America is meat eating ("Christian", Materialistic, Racist, Sexist, etc.). I prefer to fight the good fight, and I love the environment, this glorious earth that sustains us earthlings. I sing the Sesame Street song when I say earthlings. I take my sons hiking so they can get more of a connection, but I wonder if people who live in the city feel the connection others do. My aunt and uncle built a house where there was none, to appreciate the great outdoors, but by doing that they reduce the colonized by humans aspects of the world. I think the best thing you can do for the environment is to live in the city. It should come as no news that we're destroying the earth with our short sighted decisions, and corporate greed is one of the sources of that. Getting wholesome food from farmers is an antidote to that. Reconnecting from the land to the table is part of that. Thinking about our own impact on the environment is part of that. I love Thoreau, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold. I have been to the Amazonian rainforest. My hope is that we can treat the world as precious, be smart and work with nature. Not create frankenfood and try to sustain an unsustainable lifestyle.
4. Health. I know the least about this one, but I do know my partner read The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, and became a vegan. I guess I thought cheese and butter were not as bad as meat, but I think that this study suggests that going vegan is the healthiest thing we can do. It's almost taboo to suggest that anything less than that is wrong on 4 different levels, and I'm afraid to make bold pronouncements, because I could cave in, and not be a good representative. Even when I'm not vegan, I wish I were. I hope I have to fortitude to pull it off.