July 4 is a day that many people enjoy celebrating, and for good reason. Family and friends gather to celebrate America’s independence from colonial oppression and to tuck into some yummy food. But eating products made from animals like cows and pigs in order to celebrate freedom is wrong on so many levels. Here are 10 reasons why people shouldn’t eat meat on Independence Day:

1. Eighty percent of cows’ genes are shared by humans.

In a study, scientists mapped the entire bovine genome. They found that cows have approximately 22,000 genes and that 80 percent of these are shared by humans.

In other words, we’re more closely related to cows than you might think.

2. Pigs are wonderful swimmers—and they’re cleaner than people think they are.

You may already know that pigs are super-smart. Did you also know that they’re pretty clean, too? A common misconception is that they’re dirty, especially since they’re known to roll around in mud. In reality, they use mud to cool their bodies and to protect themselves from the sun, because they don’t have any sweat glands and because mud acts as a natural sunscreen.

Like us, pigs love to bathe in water—and they’re excellent swimmers. They also make sure that they don’t defecate in the same space in which they eat.

3. Like humans and other animals, cows love a good cuddle.

Who doesn’t love to cuddle? Cows are known for having unique personalities, and they love a good snuggle or a head scratch from their loved ones. They also form close bonds with their companions and can become stressed when they can’t be with their friends. Simply put, cows can be extremely social and affectionate. ♥

For the skeptics, here’s video proof that will melt your heart:

4. Pigs have an amazing sense of smell … and taste.

Pigs are known for their keen sense of smell. Their extremely sensitive snouts come in handy when they’re searching for food in their natural habitats.

Speaking of food, pigs in the wild spend a lot of time carefully selecting their meals, and they love variety. They’re also known to wash their food before digging in.

So the next time someone tells you that you eat like a pig, share these facts and thank them for the compliment. 😉

5. Cows have different accents, just like humans do.

Like humans, cows can have regional accents. Language specialists have found that these animals can develop the same accents as their relatives from a particular region and can even have the same accents as the people caring for them if they have a close bond.

6. Pigs dream and like to cuddle with their friends when they sleep.

Love cuddling before you go to sleep? It turns out that pigs do, too. They love to snuggle with their friends when they’re ready to catch some zs. They even prefer to sleep nose to nose.

Like us, pigs need about eight hours of sleep per night. And research has shown that they go through a phase of deep sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). Humans also go through REM—it’s the phase in which most of our dreaming occurs. In other words, pigs dream, too.

7. Cows are excellent mothers.

Cows are devoted to their calves and become visibly distressed when they’re separated from them. They’ve even been known to walk for miles in order to find their babies who have been taken away from them. ♥

8. Pigs have saved humans’ lives.

Pigs show compassion for other living beings. Research has shown that they’re highly empathetic: They become visibly distressed when they see humans and other animals suffering.

Some hero pigs have even saved people’s lives. According to a Time.com article, a pig named Lucky saved the lives of his human companions when he alerted them to a fire in their home. Thanks to him, everyone made it out just in time.

9. Celebrating freedom while consuming animals who are confined against their wills is a terrible contradiction.

Independence Day is a testament to the importance of freedom. Our founders fought for rights that they believed all humans inherently possess: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Since the Declaration of Independence was written, Americans have celebrated the birth of a free nation. The groundbreaking document also sparked many reform movements in American history, including the abolitionist and feminist movements in the 1900s, because it showed that everyone has inviolable rights.

If we’re celebrating a holiday that reminds us of the importance of freedom, why are we using it as an opportunity to support the meat and dairy industries, which strip away all freedom and independence from cows, pigs, and other animals?

Celebrating the Fourth of July by eating a non-vegan hot dog or other animal-derived foods is pretty ironic.

10. Animals are just like us, only different.

Humans love companionship and cuddling, fun activities like swimming, and enjoying yummy meals, just like cows and pigs do. We have so much in common with these animals and other living beings—we all love, dream, and socialize, and most importantly, we all value freedom.

Plus, with so many vegan brands like Beyond Burger—and companies like Ben & Jerry’s that offer vegan ice cream—there are lots of delicious meat- and dairy-free foods that you can enjoy on July 4.

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So this Independence Day, please keep cruelty off your plate. ♥

Cows, pigs, and other animals are like you, only different. Learn more: