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Over 56 billion land animals and 90 billion sea animals are killed for food every year. 98 percent of farm animals in the U.S are raised in factory farms whose focus is on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare.

From life on a factory farm to death at a slaughterhouse, animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy are treated like unfeeling objects and their short lives are marked by unimaginable cruelties, intensive confinement, agonizing mutilations and violent deaths. It's tempting to believe that the animals we eat lived happy, healthy lives and experienced no pain or fear.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that all animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy, including those labelled as "free range" or "organic," end up in the same slaughterhouse.

Thankfully, by going vegan you can take a stand for animals, the environment and your own health. As consumers, we have the ability to help farm animals every time we sit down to eat.

You cast your vote for mercy against misery, for compassion against cruelty. By removing our demand, we are sparing animals from suffering that is beyond our worst imaginings. Going vegan is a great opportunity to enrich your diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes and learn how healthy food can be delicious and satisfying.

There is a vegan version for all of your favorite foods. From non-dairy ice cream made from almond milk, to meatless meatballs derived from nuts and grains, to cashew cheese, it has never been easier to be vegan. Join thousands of participants for a 22-day vegan experience. You'll receive fabulous recipes and personal guidance from mentors and clinical dietitians.

Christa Arehard, Decatur

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