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Veganism bites back during November

World Vegan Day falls on Nov 1 each year, and this entire month is dedicated to veganism.

Animal lovers may naturally go vegan because they are against animal exploitation and cruelty, as well as unacceptable farmed animal practices.

Others may join the vegan movement because they have become concerned about related environmental issues.

Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has listed streaming movies to inspire people to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

Directed by Bafta winner Alex Lockwood, The End Of Medicine As We Know It (2022) shows how using animals increases the odds of zoonotic and chronic diseases as well as antimicrobial resistance.

The documentary shows how zoonotic diseases can rapidly spread, and warns how pandemics can be caused by consuming animals.

Its producer Keegan Kuhn is also known for making Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014). Kuhn and Kip Andersen co-produced the feature-length documentary, which uncovers how animal agriculture is a destructive industry and its environmental impact.

They also made the sequel What The Health (2017), which exposes how pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and processed animal food companies play insidious roles in keeping people sick.

Academy Award-winner Louie Psihoyos directed The Game Changers (2019), while James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul teamed up as executive producers for the project.

The documentary is about James Wilks, a former combat instructor for the US military and UFC winner. After an injury, he researched for a diet to help his recovery and came across a study that concluded how Roman gladiators known as Hordearii, or Barley Men, ate little or no meat.

To find the optimal diet for human performance, Wilks travels around the world to meet athletes and experts, who confirm how eating plant-based foods is generally the best way to excel in sports and life.

Switching to a diet centred around plants provides optimal fuel, increases blood flow, improves muscle efficiency and speeds recovery by lowering inflammation.

Considering the bigger picture, obtaining protein from animal agriculture takes its toll on the planet.

There are many other vegan-related movies that raise awareness of how consuming more plants, and less meat and dairy, is better for health as well as the environment.

Being a vegetarian is not enough because of the suffering of factory farmed animals in the dairy and egg industry.

Donald Watson believed in non-dairy vegetarian diets and lifestyles since the 1940s. Along with five other non-dairy vegetarians, he pioneered the vegan movement. Their meeting in November 1944 led to the establishment of The Vegan Society in the UK.

The 50th anniversary of the society in 1994 was marked by the first World Vegan Day, designated on Nov 1. It was later extended to a week, and then World Vegan Month became an annual celebration in November.

This month, the observance is celebrated with its “Vegan And Thriving” campaign that reinforces how a vegan diet can fuel an active lifestyle and make people feel their best.

Veganism is not only about food and the diet. The Vegan Society defines it as a philosophy and way of living that excludes, as much as possible, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for products or any other purpose.

Vegans shop for clothing, jewellery, shoes, toiletries, cosmetics and other products that don’t contain animal-derived ingredients and are not tested on animals. They also don’t support animal exploitation in any form, such as for pet breeding, entertainment or sports.

The boom in plant-based foods and vegan products from the fashion, cosmetic and other industries now makes it easier to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Just like the Roman gladiators, you can beef up yourself with a meatless diet.

Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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