There is a fascinating article from the Website Counting Animals.com about the number of animal lives saved by going vegetarian. After crunching a lot of figures about animal deaths and the number of animals consumed per person, the author of the article concludes that vegetarians save about 404 animal lives per year. In other words, at least one animal a day is saved by switching to the vegetarian lifestyle.
The author, Harrish, concludes:
My numbers are larger than the ones previously quoted in animal advocacy circles (usually 50, 95 or 100), but I have not seen these quotes accompanied by a detailed explanation of methodology or pointers to their sources. Given how conservative my methodology is and how much larger my numbers are, vegetarians have been undercounting the number of animals they actually save and short-selling their impact on animal lives. Yet, this estimate is a work in progress. With more data becoming available and more meticulous tabulation of some things ignored in this post (such as bycatch), the estimated number is actually bound to increase.
The article includes a lot of stark statistics, such as the following:
When you're dealing with numbers in the billions, it becomes miles to Pluto. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around so many animals being slaughtered. And for what? Because we human beings think they taste good? What an appalling reason to commit murder. Cannibals used to use the same reasoning to eat human beings. When will carnivorism go the way of cannibalism?
When you start to consider that each one of the above animals is a sentient being, with feelings and emotions, and they form bonds with each other and savor life as much as you or I, then it's easy to become overwhelmed with the brutality of human beings.
Yet it is also encouraging that a growing number of people are removing meat from their diets. By doing so, they're saving lives. And if a vegetarian is saving more than 400 lives per year, imagine how many lives a vegan is saving. Remember, dairy is extremely destructive. Dairy cows are kept pregnant to continue giving milk, and their newborns are ripped away from them and turned into veal, and the mothers are murdered when they can no longer give milk.
The chicken egg racket is equally violent. Huge numbers of male chicks that can't lay eggs are routinely thrown alive into huge garbage cans or grinders. Egg-laying chickens live absolutely miserable lives, eventually cut short by death.
Alas, vegetarians who consume milk and egg products are perpetuating this destruction, even as they are saving lives.
A wise person (whose name I can't remember) once said, "The only true vegetarian is a vegan." But even vegetarians are to be commended for saving so many lives.
Vegans deserve even higher praise, for saving lives and being 100 percent consistent in their practices.
And the above study shows that just one person changing his or her lifestyle can save a lot of lives. Which just goes to show what we vegans have been saying all along: Veganism is not just a diet. It truly is, in the last analysis, a way of life. The way of life.