A New Year’s Resolution: One Year and Counting - Guest Column

Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think you want to torture and kill an animal, or see anybody else do it, or have anybody else do it for you. You are also informed enough to know that the food you eat is likely the result of extreme cruelty to animals.

That last sentence presumes that you are not a vegan, given how few vegans there are. So it looks like you are caught up in some kind of contradiction, does it not?

Believe me, I know what it’s like. For most of my 60 years on this planet I have known that there are slaughterhouses, and yet I continued to eat various animal products.

It is only relatively recently, however, that I learned that during the course of my lifetime, animal agriculture has become completely mechanized.

Hardly any meat, milk, cheese or egg that you can eat today comes from an animal that has lived a normal life. Most likely the animal has never even been outside. And in any case the animal is killed in the prime of his or her life.

Enough of that. You have read about it, seen it on television … and filed it under "Forget." It seems like one of those overwhelming phenomena that fill the front pages but over which you personally can exercise very little control: tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wars, famines, poverty, plagues, you name it.

But this is not so. You can simply stop eating animal foods.

"Simply?" you say. It is not so simple. Even if one resolves to abstain, it is a real question whether one can stick to it. Our food must appeal to our taste buds. Furthermore, we must consider our nutritional needs.

Here is what you need to know. First, there are countless appetizing dishes that are entirely free of animal ingredients, and most of them are a cinch to prepare.

Second, in a press release last summer the American Dietetic Association stated that "aappropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."

I myself decided to take the plunge a year ago. It was my new year’s resolution. I did not exactly go cold turkey, so to speak, because I had abstained from eating mammals for decades.

But my original motivation had been health and humanitarian. I had read about the cholesterol advantages of avoiding meat, and also about the inefficient production of protein by feeding grains to animals in a world where millions of people were starving.

Only much more recently did I learn about factory farming, and also that by far the most numerous abused creatures on this planet are poultry and fish. T

here was nothing for it, then, but to give up eating all animals as well as dairy and eggs.

I am very happy to report that I have been able to stick to my resolve. Indeed, at this point it would be difficult for me to return to a non-vegan diet, so satisfied have I become with my new way of eating.

I have discovered from my own experience that there are additional unanticipated benefits. For one thing, a vegan diet costs less. For another, it consumes less of my time to prepare meals. Most surprising and delightful of all: both my mind and my body feel more energetic.

My thinking is more alert; I feel motivated to take on new projects; my sleeping is more restful.

When you consider also that animal agriculture is a leading cause of environmental degradation, including global warming, the conclusion seems inescapable: Let your New Year’s resolution be to go vegan.

Joel Marks is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of New Haven and a resident of Milford. He can be contacted through his Web site at www.TheEasyVegan.com.