Jordi Casamitjana, the author of the book “Ethical Vegan”, deconstructs veganism and rebuilds it based on a sequence of ascending emblematic numbers

I did not grow up around here.

I have been living in the UK for almost 30 years now, but I grew up in Catalonia. Over there, Christmas is quite different than over here. For starters, Catalonians give big presents on the 6th of January, not on the 25th of December, and not on behalf of Santa Claus, but of the Three Wise Men. On Christmas Eve, Catalonians perform a very idiosyncratic ritual “forcing” a log to defecate sweets and small presents (Tió de Nadal), and on Christmas Day there is a big lunch but is not based on eating a turkey, but on eating a broth with big pasta and pieces of pigs (escudella). They do sing carols too, but, naturally, they are quite different. 

When I moved to the UK I stopped singing in choirs — as I used to do — but then I discovered an interesting elaborate carol that everyone sings around Christmas. One which ends with the following lyrics: 

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.” 

As there is some carnist subtext in this carol I would not find it to be vegan-friendly, so I have never joined in singing it — besides, I am not that keen on Christmas. However, I found this song interesting because it highlights people’s affinity for playing with numbers. I also like to play with numbers — I am people too— so I will attempt to reproduce the numerical spirit of this song but make it about veganism.

Many things in veganism come associated with particular numbers, so I thought it would be interesting to order them from small to big and lay them down here. This will allow me to add links to all the blogs I have written about veganism for Vegan FTA, serving as the perfect article to write in January — the month of retrospect. 

It would be both fun and educational.

The Very Small Numbers of Veganism

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The numbers from one to ten are the perfect stage for the fundamentals of veganism, because, at its core, veganism is a very simple philosophy with very straightforward principles. Here they are:

  • The 1 fundamental principle of veganism: One word summarises the most basic principle of veganism: ahimsa. It is a Sanskrit word that means “do no harm”, and sometimes it is also translated as “non-violence”. This is a very important tenet of many ancient religions (such as Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism), but it is also veganism’s most fundamental philosophical principle. The reason why vegans avoid the exploitation of any other sentient being is that we believe such exploitation harms them, so to follow the ahimsa principle we seek to stop any exploitation altogether (and not participate in them in any way).
  • The 2 main types of “vegans”. Considering there is an official definition of veganism finalised by the Vegan Society in 1988, there are two main types of vegans: those who follow this definition to the full, called Ethical Vegans, and those who only follow it in their diets, called Dietary Vegans. Although the latter may not be considered vegans by some, the fact is that the Vegan Society (which created the word vegan) accepts both ethical vegans and dietary vegans as voting members for its AGM, which means that only those who do not follow the definition of veganism to the full but at least follow it regarding their diet are considered “vegan enough” to be able to vote. This is because dietary vegans are seen to be transitioning to becoming “proper” vegans, but if that is not the case, if they consciously reject progressing towards fully embracing veganism, then it may be better to call them plant-based people (PBP) — many of those who eat what vegans eat but reject veganism identify themselves using this term. Therefore, the wider interpretation of the term “vegan” (in inverted commas) goes beyond ethical vegans — who are also known as full vegans, true vegans, or lifestyle vegans.
  • The 3 main tenets of veganism. Under the fundamental principle of ahimsa, there are three pillars, axioms or tenets from which the philosophy of veganism is based: 1) All animals should be considered sentient beings with the capacity to suffer, 2) Speciesism (discriminating individual animals for the species or group they belong to) is wrong, and 3) All animal exploitation should be avoided (regardless the purpose). These pillars are often disregarded by dietary vegans — and this is why many do not consider them to qualify as vegan.
  • The 4 social scopes of veganism. When we apply the adjective “vegan” to people, we may apply it to four different social scopes: 1) Individual, 2) Household, 3) Community, and 4) Society. Most vegans are individuals who manifest their veganism by themselves, some live in vegan households where everyone and everything is vegan, and a few live in fully vegan communities (often quite isolated). The ultimate aspiration of the vegan movement is to create “the Vegan World”, which would be the final expression of the fourth scope. The building of such a world is the objective of the transformative socio-political movement veganism has become in the 21st century.
  • The 5 gateways into veganism: People enter veganism from five different gateways that cover the five dimensions of the philosophy: 1) Animals, 2) Environment, 3) Spirituality, 4) Health, and 5) Social justice. The dimension they chose to enter through veganism may remain their favourite, but after some time most vegans end up embracing the five dimensions (or may end up exploring all the rooms of “the vegan mansion”, a metaphor I often use to explain this). Historically, the first gateway ever opened was the spirituality one, then the animals and health one followed, while the environment and social justice gateways are the most modern.  
  • The 6 phases of veganisation: Becoming vegan is a process called veganising, and in humans, I think it goes through six phases: 1) Carnist, 2) Pre-vegan, 3) Rooky vegan, 4) Junior vegan, 5) Experienced vegan, and 6) Livelong vegan. These are all loose stages that may be experienced differently in different people, who may take a different time in each of them, but they are the consequence of accumulating information and experience. I define the latter phase as “senior people (60+ of age) who have spent more than three-quarters of their adult lives as ethical vegans.” By going through these phases vegans become better at reducing their blood footprint
  • The 7 long-term goals of the vegan revolution: In my book Ethical Vegan I created a diagram (and an associate chapter) that depicts seven long-term goals I think must be achieved before we can say we have reached the vegan world. These are 1) Mass Extinction averted, 2) Most pandemics averted, 3) World hunger averted, 4) No more systemic carnism, 5) Racism and speciesism abolished 6) All ex-exploited animals in reserves, and 7) Climate crisis averted. 
  • The 8 boosters to reach the vegan world:  When I was writing my book I identified eight current socio-political trends that I believe will boost our efforts to create the vegan world. These are, 1) Climate awareness (specifically humanity’s contribution to it), 2) Pandemics awareness (specifically their causes), 3) Progressive equality laws, 4) Accessible social media, 5) Increasing vegdiversity (more types of vegans from wider backgrounds), 6) More and better vegan alternatives to animal products, 7) Human health studies (proving that the vegan diet is the healthiest), and 8) Mainstreamism (veganism becoming mainstream). All of these are happening now, and they are likely to continue in the near future.   
  • The 9 materials vegans avoid in clothing: Generally speaking, these are the nine materials used for clothes and fashion accessories ethical vegans avoid: 1) Leather from any animal (including suede), 2) Fur of any animal (including wool from sheep and, alpacas, cashmere from goats, angora from rabbits, mohair from goats and horsehair), 3) Feathers of any bird (including down), 4) Teeth (including elephant ivory), 5) Silk from invertebrates, 6) Horns, 7) Antlers, 8) Tortoiseshell, and 9) Real pearls from oysters. 
  • The 10 basic identities of vegans: People who identify themselves as vegans often add the gateway they chose to enter veganism as part of their identity. Others add to it what they additional seek to exclude beyond what all vegans exclude. Both ethical vegans and dietary vegans do that, so I have identified the following ten vegan-related identities: 1) Animal rights vegan, 2) Eco-vegan, 3) Spiritual vegan (including Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and Yogi vegans), 4) Social justice vegan (including intersectional vegans), 5) Ethical fruitarian, 6) Abstinent vegan (including Straight Edge vegans), 7) Whole-Food-Plant-Based vegan (WFPB), 8) Low-Fat vegan, 9) Raw vegan, and 10) Macrobiotic vegan. There may be many more identities, but these are the ones I think are more numerous and better defined — and are the ones I describe in the chapter of my book titled The Anthropology of the Vegan Kind

The Small Numbers of Veganism

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The numbers from 11 to 100 represent small numbers that could cover a variety of subjects, from some aspects of the socio-political movement of veganism to particular events with some individual animals or humans representing something emblematic of veganism. After all, for vegans, each individual animal matters (and this is what may differentiate vegans from conservationists who seem more focused on species and ecosystems). From this section on, we will begin to skip some numbers to avoid making this article too long.

  • The 12 stages of veganism awareness: In my book, I also describe different groups of people with different attitudes toward veganism. Using their awareness and acceptance of what veganism represents, you could order them from less acceptance to deeper understanding:  1) Vegan ignorants, 2) Vegandeniers, 3) Veganphobes, 4) Reducetarians, 5) Flexitarians, 6) Pescatarians, 7) Vegetarians, 8) Dietary vegans, 9) Basic ethical vegans, 10) Abstinent ethical vegans, 11) Social justice ethical vegans, and 12) Ethical fruitarians. The latter (who may be more aspirational than real) should have extended so much their circle of compassion that they apply ahimsa (“do not harm”) to plants as well, trying to eat their fruits and seeds without killing them (even at the risk of their own health).  
  • The 14 vegan activists arrested in May 2021 for blocking four McDonald’s distribution centres in the UK. This is one of the many examples of one type of direct action activism described above that some vegans take part in which may lead to arrests and even convictions. Source
  • The 15 pigs rescued from a truck crash in August 2022 in Mexico who are now recovering in an animal sanctuary. This is one of many examples of animals being rescued by vegans and taken to vegan animal sanctuaries where hopefully will live the rest of their lives in peace. Source.
  • The 16 pounds of grain needed to produce 1 pound of meat. This is one of the classic data arguments vegans use to show the wasteful component of meat production, and how replacing animal agriculture with plant agriculture can produce more food. Source
  • The 17 horses rescued by Mumbai police in India in 2018 after being abused during illegal rides. This is one of many examples of illegal animal abuse and exploitation that vegans can stop by using the legal system and collaborating with the authorities. Source.
  • The 18 cities and estates endorsers of the Plant-Based Treaty at the end of 2022. This is an example where vegan organisations can persuade political decision-makers in helping build the vegan world, as these cities and states have committed themselves to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture, to promote a shift to more healthy, sustainable plant-based diets and to actively reverse the damage done to planetary functions, ecosystem services, and biodiversity. Source 
  • The 19 vegan activists who invaded the Carey Bros Abattoir near Warwick, in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. This is one of the many examples where big groups of vegan activists engaged in direct action against facilities of the animal agriculture industry, but nevertheless not all of them were convicted of any crime. Source
  • The 20 medium-term goals of the vegan revolution. At the end of my book I show a diagram in which, in addition to the long-term goals for the vegan world mentioned earlier, I also describe medium-term goals that need to be achieved first. These are the following (in no particular order): 1) Rewilding, 2) Human population is no longer increasing, 3) Wildlife Trade banned, 4) Hunting banned, 5) Zoos banned, 6) Exotic Pet Trade banned, 7) Plant agriculture replaced animal agriculture, 8) Veganic farming replaced organic farming, 9) Flesh is no longer consumed, 10) No more omnivorous humans, 11) No more typical vegetarians, 12) No more reducetarians and flexitarians, 13) Equality, equity and equanimity for all, 14) False news and misinformation eliminated, 15) Ahimsa politics replaced conventional politics, 16) All vegans embraced intersectionality, 17) All ex-farmed animals in vegan sanctuaries, 18) Animal experimentation banned, 19) Factory farming banned, 20) All vegans are eco-vegans. Source
  • The 22 personal care and household products’ ingredients ethical vegans avoid. These are the animal-derived ingredients commonly present in cosmetics and household products that vegans should avoid: 1) Beeswax, 2) Honey, 3) Gelatine, 4) Shellac, 5) Animal fats, 6) Fish compounds, 7) Dairy products, 8) Cochineal (carmine), 9) Lanolin, 10) Non-vegetable glycerine, 11) Casein, 12) Squalene, 13) Guanine, 14) Oleic acid (a.k.a. oleyl stearate, oleyl oleate or tallow), 15) Stearic acid, 16) Collagen, 17) Elastin, 18) Keratin, 19) Horsehair, 20) Bone, 21) Silk, and 22) Animal glues. Source.
  • The 25 tips to veganise plant-based people. Those who eat what vegans eat but have not embraced veganism yet should be easier to veganise, and here are 25 tips that may help to achieve this: 1)  The most important question for vegan outreach is “what stops you from being vegan?”, 2) Don’t be prejudicial and assume that there is something wrong with someone having gone all the way from carnism to plant-based and stop there, 3) Use the Socratic method, 4) Don’t put all PBP in the same category, 5) Try not to sound judgemental, 6) Do not directly tell PBP they are not vegan, 7) Consider that the indoctrination of carnism is powerful and it could take a lifetime for anyone to get rid of most of it, 8) Ask them why they do not call themselves vegan, 9) Engage in causal conversation asking where they get their shoes or where they shop, 10) Ask whether they mind being called ‘dietary vegans’ rather than just ‘vegans’, 11) Go through each of the animal exploitations and finding out which ones the PBP in question still actively participate in, 12) Ask PBP what made them jump from omnivorous to PBP, 13) Inform them about the suffering caused to animals by the wool, fur, leather, pharmaceutical, circus, zoo, and entertainment industries, 14) Ask PBPs to explain why they are plant-based rather than just vegetarian, 15) Mention that if you know that you are behaving selfishly, the guilt may gradually be eating you inside, 16) Point out that “plant-based” is also a label, 17) Explain that they can easily follow the vegan philosophy to the full but don’t’ describe themselves as neither vegan nor plant-based, 18) Provide credible sources of information, 19) Ask PBP what they think about describing vegetarians as “quarter-vegans”, 20) It may be a waste of time to engage fitness-obsessed people who only care about their image and nobody else, 21) It is always better to show things than to say things, 22) Memorise good stats and information about non-food-related animal exploitation, 23) Recognise that PBP have already achieved a critical milestone in their veganisation process, 24) Don’t rely on celebrities and sports people, and 25) In social media, try to move away from food-related vegan stories and share more those that have to do with the other aspects of veganism.
  • The 27 different emotions vegans experience. In different stages of their veganisation process, vegans go through the entire array of human emotions that science has described. I discuss them all in the article I wrote titled How does it feel to be a vegan?  In particular, 1) Admiration, 2) Adoration, 3) Aesthetic Appreciation, 4) Amusement, 5) Anger, 6) Anxiety, 7) Awe, 8) Awkwardness, 9) Boredom, 10) Calmness, 11) Confusion, 12) Craving, 13) Disgust, 14) Empathetic pain, 15) Entrancement, 16) Excitement, 17) Fear, 18) Horror, 19) Interest, 20) Joy, 21) Nostalgia, 22) Relief, 23) Romance, 24) Sadness, 25) Satisfaction, 26) Sexual desire, and 27) Surprise. 
  • The 40 food ingredients most vegans avoid. Following are the most common animal-based ingredients in food and drinks that all vegans (including dietary vegans) should avoid: 1) Animal flesh, 2) Eggs, 3) Milk, 4) Cheese (from animals), 5) Butter, 6) Yoghurt (from animals), 7) Cream (from animals), 8) Lard, 9) Lactose, 10) Whey, 11) Albumen, 12) Honey, 13) Propolis, 14) Beeswax, 15) Royal jelly, 16) Casein, 17) Cochineal (carmine), 18) Shellac, 19) Confectioners glaze, 20) Food-grade wax, 21) Gelatine, 22) Aspic, 23) Isinglass, 24) Rennet, 25) Vitamin D3 (unless labelled as suitable for vegans), 26) E120, 28) E441, 29) E469, 30) E542, 31) E901, 32)E904, 33) E910, 34) E913, 35) E921, 36) E926, 37) E966, 38) E1000, 39) E1105, and 40) E1518. Source
  • The 50 reasons to become vegan. There may be many more, but I compiled 50 in an article I wrote:  1) Farm Animal Welfare. 2) Wild Animals Suffering. 3) Helping Animals in Captivity. 4) Protecting Endangered Species.  5) Companion animals’ well-being. 6) Helping Aquatic Life. 7) Protecting Bees. 8) Respecting Horses. 9) Supporting Animal rights. 10) The Best Animal Welfare. 11) Reversing the Climate Crisis. 12) Stopping Water Waste. 13) Better Land Use. 14) Eliminating Pesticides. 15) Reducing Pollution. 16) Tackling Wildlife Trade. 17) Increasing Biodiversity. 18) Stopping Habitat Destruction. 19) Protecting the Oceans. 20) Stopping the Sixth Global Extinction. 21) Helping Feminism. 22) Fighting Racism. 23) Supporting Pacifism. 24) Better Food Justice. 25) Supporting Human Rights. 26) More Identity Rights. 27) Supporting Indigenous Rights. 28) Fighting Imperialism. 29) Continuing the Anarchist Tradition. 30) Connecting with Intersectionality. 31) Including the Golden Rule. 32) Compatible with All Religions. 33) Universe-friendly. 34) Yoga-friendly. 35) Good Karma for You. 36) Beyond Spirituality. 37) Right Livelihood. 38) Fitting All Schools of Ethics. 39) An Upgraded Abstinence. 40) Philosophically Versatile. 41) Health Experts Recommend it. 42) Dietary Organisations Approve it. 43) Zero Cholesterol. 44) Best Fibre for Gut Health. 45) Full of Beneficial Phytonutrients. 46) Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. 47) Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. 48) Lower Risk of Some Cancers. 49) Less Obesity. 50) Tackling Pandemics. 
  • The 60 beds in the first fully vegan hospital in the world. The first fully vegan hospital is the Hayek Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon, a middle size hospital for the region which turned fully vegan in 2021
  • The 73 words of the definition of Veganism: This is the official definition of veganism created by the Vegan Society and finalised in 1988: “Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
  • The 78 years the word “vegan” has been used.  The word “vegan” was invented by the founders of the Vegan Society — a splinter group of the Vegetarian Society — formed in 1944 in England. The concept of veganism is millennia-old, but the is plenty of credible documentation that shows when this word was first used.
  • The 84 amur leopards still surviving in the wild in 2022. Vegans not only care about domestic animals. They also care about wild animals as much as conservationists do, but when the latter care more about the species more, the vegans care more about the individuals. The amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is the world’s most endangered taxon of mammal, but for vegans what matters most is the survival and well-being of the 84 individuals of the species left in the wild (this is why they would not advocate for capturing them and placing them in captivity in zoos as part of captive breeding programmes).
  • The 100 ways to farm stock free (without animals). Transitioning from animal agriculture to plant-based agriculture, as vegans demand, may seem difficult, but there are many ways that farmers can stop exploiting animals and still make a good living with their land. The Scottish organisation Stock Free Farming has compiled 100 ways.   

The Medium Numbers of Veganism

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The numbers from 101 to 999,999 represent what I call the medium numbers — I know they sound like big numbers, but later you will see what I mean. They cover all sorts of interesting facts regarding vegans, the vegan movement, and the animal exploitation and suffering that vegans try to prevent all over the world. In most cases, they will not require more explanation, but I have added links to sources for those who want to know more.

  • The 110 seats of the biggest vegan restaurant in Europe. It is called WAKU WAKU, and can be found in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Source
  • The 170 fully vegan eateries in New York, USA, in 2022.  Source.  
  • The 206 fully vegan eateries in London, UK, in 2022. Source. 
  • The 269 number in the ear tag of a calf rescued by a vegan activist in Israel in 2013. This number became a symbol of animal liberation, and many vegans use it in tattoos and pins. Source. 
  • The 330 issues of the Vegan Society’s magazine “The Vegan”. Source
  • The 386 dogs rescued by Chinese activists in 2022 from the dog-meat eating festival in Yulin. Source
  • The 580 minke whales slaughtered by Norway in 2022. Source
  • The 1,000 Vegan Recipes Robin Robertson wrote in a book in 2009. Source.  
  • The 1,239 pages of the claimant’s evidence bundle for the hearing where Judge Postle declared ethical veganism a protected philosophical belief in Great Britain under the Equality Act 2010. Source. 
  • The 1,944th year of the Common Era when the Vegan Society was created. Source. 
  • The 2,180 dogs used for research in the EU (and Norway) in 2019. Source
  • The 2,500 companies registered in the Vegan Trademark of the Vegan Society in 2022. Source
  • The 3,000 years the concept of veganism has been developing in human civilisations. Source
  • The 3,200 miles the vegan chef Mathew Pritchard rowed for the animals. Source
  • The 4,000 gallons of water per day needed for a meat-eating diet of one person (while only 300 gallons for a vegan diet). Source
  • The 7,475 primates used for research in the EU (and Norway) in 2019. Source.
  • The 8,500 members of the UK Vegan Society in 2021. Source. 
  • The 10,000 book titles with the word ‘vegan’ in them recorded by Waterstones in 2020. Source.  
  • The 14,000 cows and bulls shipped from New Zealand to China on 21st November 2021 in a single ship. Source.  
  • The 18,000 dog injuries were recorded by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain between 2018 and 2021. Source. 
  • The 36,000 farmed animals who lived in animal sanctuaries in the UK in 2021. Source
  • The 51,000 animal snares hidden in the Welsh countryside in 2016. Source. 
  • The 52,000 vegans in Switzerland in 2022. Source
  • The 63,000 products registered in the Vegan Trademark of the Vegan Society in 2022.  Source
  • The 68,163 individual endorsers of the Plant-Based Treaty at the end of 2022. Source. 
  • The 72,617 hunting trophies from wild mammals imported into the USA from 2014 to 2018. Source
  • The 94,754 Western Grey Kangaroos allowed to be shot in New South Wales in 2022. Source
  • The 100,000 marine mammals killed by plastic pollution every year. Source. 
  • The 156,000 vegans in Ireland in 2022. Source.  
  • The 179,000 broiler chickens who died at a New Zealand Farm in 2019 because of a power cut. Source. 
  • The 200,000 illegal hunting events that registered hunts undertaken in England and Wales since the Hunting Act 2004 was enacted to 2017. Source. 
  • The 315,000 vegans in Spain in 2021. Source.  
  • The 582,000 people who signed up for Veganuary in 2021. Source.  
  • The 600,000 birds and mammals kept in the world’s zoos. Source. 
  • The 760,000 minks and foxes used in Norway’s fur industry in 2018. Source
  • The 800,000 vegans in Italy in 2022. Source.  
  • The 900,000 years since the most vegan-friendly hominid known, Paranthropus robustus, evolved in Africa. Source. 

The Big Numbers of Veganism

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This section covers the millions, both for positive facts (such as the numbers of vegans in several places that can now be counted in millions) and negative facts (the number of animals exploited in different places for different purposes). This is when the certainty of how close the numbers represent reality decreases, so we should consider all numbers mentioned as just rough estimations. 

  • The 1 million species threatened with extinction.  Source
  • The 1.4 million vegans in the UK in 2022. Source. 
  • The 1.7 million vegans in Canada in 2020. Source.  
  • The 2.5 million vegans in Australia in 2022. Source. 
  • The 2.6 million vegans in Germany in 2022. Source
  • The 3 million wild mammals shot, snared or trapped in the UK every year. Source. 
  • The 5 million vegans in India in 2022. Source.  
  • The 6 million calves slaughtered in Europe every year. Source. 
  • The 8 million human lives that could be saved by 2050 if everyone would become vegan today.  Source.  
  • The 11.6 million animals used for research in the EU (and Norway) in 2019.  Source
  • The 13.3 million vegans in the United States in 2022.  Source. 
  • The 14 million turkeys killed every year in the UK.  Source.  
  • The 15 million sheep killed every year in the UK. Source.  
  • The 17 million square miles used to raise animals for food on Earth.  Source. 
  • The 25 million farm animals slaughtered in the US every day.  Source. 
  • The 35 million animals killed in the European Union for their fur every year. Source
  • The 50 million vegans in China. Source. 
  • The 60 million pheasants and partridges purposely bred every year for the UK shooting industry.  Source. 
  • The 80 million vegans in the world in 2022. Source.
  • The 100 million wild animals traded internationally each year.  Source.  
  • The 101 million animals held captive in laboratories or used in experiments in the United States. Source
  • The 160 million acres of United States forests cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Source. 
  • The 200 million fishes caught each year by anglers in the UK.  Source. 
  • The 500 million sheeps killed every year in the world.  Source
  • The 750 million people in the world were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity in 2019. Source. 

The Enormously Big Numbers of Veganism

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Unfortunately, the super big numbers, billions and higher, only cover the depressing amounts of animal oppression and suffering in the current carnist world. All represent sentient beings vegans want to help. The numbers — likely to be underestimations — are mind-boggling, and explain why the vegan movement urgently needs to expedite the building of the vegan world, where all of this tragic exploitation will no longer occur.

  • The 1 billion chickens slaughtered in the UK every year. Source. 
  • The 1.1 billion sheeps exported by the wool industry. Source
  • The 1.5 billion pigs killed every year.  Source 
  • The 2 billion live animals exported each year globally. Source. 
  • The 2.6 billion shellfish killed in the UK each year. Source
  • The 8 billion humans who vegans want to help in 2022. Source
  • The 66 billion chickens slaughtered every year since 2016. Source. 
  • The 70 billion farm animals reared for food every year. Source.  
  • The 80 billion land animals slaughtered for food every year. Source.  
  • The 117 billion humans who ever existed who could have been vegan, but they were not.  Source.
  • The 2 trillion silkworms boiled or baked every year to produce silk. Source. 
  • The 2.8 trillion fishes killed every year by people. Source. 
  • The 5 trillion animals killed every year by people. I added the numbers above.
  • The 6.5 trillion bees enslaved on farms every year. Source.
  • The 1.3 quadrillion animals humanity has exploited so far (1,300,000,000,000). 
  • The 20 quintillion animals on earth ethical vegans care about. Source 

What started being a fun exercise has turned out to be a sobering awakening of the reality of the patriarchal supremacist colonial carnist world we still live in. Although it’s right to rejoice when we rescue a few animals or when we learn about how many vegans now live somewhere, the number of animals being abused and exploited all over the world is so high that it eclipses all progress. This sounds depressing, but there is hope.

So far, there have been 1.3 quadrillion victims of 117 billion humans — a dark legacy humanity cannot forget — but today there are 80 million vegans who care about 20 quintillion animals who are still alive. They are not alone. These vegans have with them a very simple powerful principle to help them to change the world for the better. This principle is ahimsa, and not only it is simple, but it is easy to apply. The 80 million vegans around the world are testimony to this. If this principle worked for them, it could work for everyone else too, from any background or culture. Ahimsa is universal, and the philosophy it generated, veganism, has also become global since it was secularized in the last couple of centuries. Ahimsa has no limit on where it can be applied. The “do not harm” does not tell you to whom it refers to, or where. Anything that can be harmed can benefit from the ahimsa influence. Hence the power of this simple principle, the power of the philosophy of veganism. 

I did not grow up around here, but it does not matter because veganism belongs everywhere. And whether we are talking about one parrot, one hundred leopards, one thousand whales, one million pigs, one billion chickens, one trillion fishes, or one quadrillion bees, I care about them all, and I wish everyone else cared too. 

I wish everyone tried not to harm anyone else.

One simple rule to follow.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.