Ethics:Eating plants but not animals and refraining from using anything like fur, milk or leather that comes from animals results in enormously reduced suffering and cruelty to animals. Animals are innocent and vulnerable. They do not deserve to be treated the ways they are treated when they are exploited as food or for other reasons.
While we would like to believe that animals who are farmed to become food or other "products" for us to use are treated well, live long happy lives, and die peacefully, the truth is they suffer greatly while alive. And they die when they are mere children. The current system which provides 99 percent of the food most people eat and the animal-based products we use is rife with abuse and pain. This is especially tragic because humans can and do thrive - we actually live more healthy lives - when we take animals off our plates. And any product like food, leather or fur has crulty-free non-animal alternatives that function just as well.
Some people think that as long as animals are not outright killed as they are for meat, it is acceptabe to eat foods like eggs and dairy products. And so some people become vegetarian, still eating animal products but no actual meat. Or because they think fish do not feel pain, which is an erroneous assumption, they eat fish but no other animals. Fish, like all living animals want to live their own lives. Animals feel pain. They suffer. They form bonds with other animals. They have their own communities and social connections that are meaningful to them. Intentionally harming and killing them is wrong.
The misconception about animals not suffering or dying for a vegetarian diet is tragic, since eating foods like dairy and eggs results in actually more suffering for the animals since they are kept in cages and are exploited their entire lives. Then, after a miserable life, they are killed. When they stop producing the milk or the eggs or whatever they are being caged to produce, they are killed because they are not useful any longer. So the vegetarian goal of not killing animals is not happening, at all.
In a nutshell, we can choose foods, clothing, furniture, entertainment and other things we need to live that do not come from caging, exploiting or killing animals. If we can live healthy and happy lives without involving animals, it is the ethical thing to do.
Animals are not the only ones who suffer when people continue to eat meat, eggs and dairy foods. Millions of people literally go hungry because the grain that could be used to feed them is instead fed to animals who are then slaughtered for people in richer areas to eat.
Slaughterhouse workers are often some of the most vulnerable and oppressed workers. Slaughterhouse workers have some of the highest rates of serious injury. Many of these workers have no other choice but to do the soul-ripping work of repetitive, violent killing, which often results in workers having PTSD and other emotional challenges that come from performing such traumatic, dangerous work. Communities surrounding slaughterhouses often have higher than average rates of suicide, domestic violence, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
Slaughterhouses and factory farms are often situated, by design, in poorer areas. Residents in these areas cannot afford to move elsewhere and so they remain trapped in environments that have astronomically high environmental toxicity. Animal farms create extensive water and air pollution. They have large manure and urine lagoons to capture massive quantities of stinking waste. Often, this waste is sprayed into the air, to distribute it across nearby land. People who have the misfortune of living near these places often cannot go out into their own yards or even open their windows because of the overpowering stench waste lagoons or the presence of fecal particles sprayed and suspended in the air. And these residents have statistically higher rates of illnesses like cancer and asthma from being exposed to these toxins.
Eating animals hurts and kills animals and humans alike.
Ethics are powerful reasons to be vegan. Combined with learning about the personal health and worldwide environmental problems that come from eating and using animals, veganism becomes a win on every level.