Mohan Gurunathan

  • Funds Raised: $2,283
  • Fundraising Goal: $5,000
Hello Friends,

My name is Mohan. I grew up as a typical American kid, eating the same kinds of food that typical Americans eat. I ate hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, mac 'n cheese, spaghetti with meatballs, and many other of the "classic" American meals. I was friends with some vegetarians, but secretly thought they were overly sentimental out of touch with modern society. After all, animals are here just for humans to control and exploit, just as we do every other natural resource on our planet, right? And as for vegans - people who eat no animal products whatsoever - I thought they were downright crazy.

Fast forward to my 30's, when I was picking up take out food at a restaurant, and I came across a leaflet from a group called Vegan Outreach called "Compassionate Choices." I read through this leaflet, which was full of startling information as well as pictures I had never seen before. The pictures were of "factory farms" in America, places where millions of animals are raised in utterly miserable conditions by the meat, dairy and egg industries. The information was new to me, and completely shocking. In fact, I did not believe it at first; I did not want to believe it. So I did my own research. Hours upon hours of it. And I found that everything I read in that leaflet was true.

Here are some of the things I learned. In the United States alone, we raise and slaughter over 9 BILLION land animals every year. To put that in perspective, that is nearly 25 Million animals EVERY DAY. The vast majority of these animals (over 98%) live their entire lives in filthy, miserable, cramped conditions in factory farms all over the country. These animals are denied everything natural to them: fresh air, sunlight, social interaction with their kind etc. Many animals are confined in stalls or cages so small that they cannot stand up or turn around. When ready for slaughter, animals are often transported to the slaughterhouse for days without food or water. And the slaughter lines run so fast and so recklessly that animals are frequently sliced, scalded, dismembered or skinned while still conscious.

I learned that to produce milk, cows are artificially made pregnant so they will lactate. And when the calf is born, it is immediately taken from its mother, and often sent directly to slaughter. Dairy cows cry for days over the separation from their calves, all the while being milked for every drop she can produce. And when the cow's milk supply declines, she is impregnated again. All of the dairy products that we enjoy - milk, butter, cheese, ice cream - are based on this repeated cycle of forced impregnation and violent separation of a mother from her calf.

I learned that every day, the US egg industry disposes of over 700,000 unwanted baby chicks by grinding them up alive. And that 99% of egg laying hens spend their entire 2-year lives trapped in a cage so small that they cannot even open their wings.

The scale on which we exploit, manipulate and abuse animals is truly staggering. But it turns out the animals are not the only victims. By raising and slaughtering billions of animals, we are destroying the earth as well. There are about 7 Billion humans living on earth, but collectively we raise over 20 BILLION farm animals. The vast majority of our agricultural system exists to feed animals, not humans. The food energy we get from raising animals for food is far less than the food we feed to the animals. These animals consume enormous amounts of grain and water, and produce astronomical amounts of poop and methane. In the US alone, farm animals produce more than 100x more poop than the entire human population. To feed all these animals, we are cutting down rainforests and destroying thousands of delicate ecosystems, all to make more farmland for our farm animals. One example is the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Every 1 second, an acre of the Amazon is razed. The primary driver for this is to create more farmland for the beef industry.

It turns out that our massive production of farm animals is responsible for nearly every major environmental problem faced by the world today: deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, ocean dead zones, fresh water scarcity, fisheries depletion, the list goes on and on. And YES - do not forget Climate Change. Animal Agriculture has been implicated to be responsible for *at least* 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and possibly up to 50%. Don't believe me? Just Google "meat and the environment" and read the top 5 articles.

The last thing I learned is that it is completely unnecessary for us to be raising so many animals for food, because we don't need to eat animal products to survive. And in fact, our health is better when we don't eat them! Vegetarians and vegans experience strikingly lower rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer, and many other diseases. In fact, the most prevalent diseases killing Americans today - heart disease, obesity, diabetes and various cancers -- have all been directly linked to over consumption of animal protein. We don't need animal protein to survive, and we function better without it. A new generation of vegan super-athletes and body-builders are living proof of this.

If you've read this far, thank you. It is no exaggeration to say that coming across that leaflet from Vegan Outreach changed my life. I did not become vegan overnight, but did it gradually. And it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Armed with this information I feel like I have woken up from a deep sleep and am seeing the world clearly for the first time. I feel great about my life, my health, and my impact on the world with every meal I eat. I feel like I am setting a wonderful example for my 2 daughters and working towards a better world for their future. And I still enjoy burgers, pizza, mac'n cheese, and chicken nuggets -- but all plant-based now. With the amazing variety of vegan food options available, I don't miss out on a single thing.

I am part of Team Vegan to raise money for this amazing organization, Vegan Outreach, which changed my life and is changing the lives of millions and humans and animals through their Veg Advocacy work. Please donate whatever you can to help raise awareness of these important issues. No amount is too small. Thank you for reading my story, and I hope your journey is as inspiring as mine has been.

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