Why You Should Go Vegan
More and more of us are going vegan. The environmental and ethical case for a diet free of all animal products, including meat, fish, dairy and eggs, is compelling. According to research from the University of Oxford, going vegan is the “single biggest way” to reduce your negative impact on the planet.
And that is before you consider the ethical arguments against eating industrially farmed animals, which have an appalling quality of life and are often pumped full of powerful antibiotics that may pose a risk to human health. But if you are a lifelong meat-eater, it is hard to know where to start.
What Does Vegan Mean?
While people have been eating vegan diets for centuries, with the ancient Greeks eating only olive oil and vinegar, the modern concept was kickstarted by Donald Watson, founder of the British Vegan Society, in 1966, when he coined the term to denote a diet that eschews meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Up to this point, veganism simply meant a diet based on cereals and potatoes – such as the one depicted in the popular Borrowers books. However, Watson was adamant that this wasn’t a good thing – and his skepticism about the growing health concerns of vegetarianism caused people to turn to veganism. “Many people have simply moved to more-or-less a vegan diet,” explains Allison Davies, who works for the Vegan Society, but never went vegan.
“Vegan” originally meant what you’re eating is free of animal products. But in the last few decades, the term has been adopted to encompass anyone who does not consume animal products – even if it is just a meatless Monday – as part of their ethical stance.
The Vegan Society says there are some individuals who do not eat animal products because they are motivated by faith or other moral views – such as vegetarian Christians – and this is not veganism. Who is a vegan? It is a matter of personal choice, but vegetarians can be described as those who do not eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy products or honey.
Why Is Veganism Important?
To help make the case for veganism, The Vegan Society launched a campaign last year, focusing on the question: “Could you go vegan in a week?” In an online quiz, 200 people went through a week without animal products, including dairy and eggs, and then answered a series of questions about their initial reaction, and their experience since.
Over 50% said it was either easier or no harder than they expected. “Going vegan is easier than you think,” the survey concluded. “It is actually quite fun and exciting. You can actually eat lots of tasty food, and you don’t have to cook it. You don’t have to think about which parts of the animal you are eating.
This is a question every vegan asks themselves and this often because of so much and unnecessary pressure from non-vegans. The other day, I had some discussions with meat-eaters and their arguments for eating meat are crazy. One person told me that if they cannot eat meat they will die. Another one said that they need meat to keep their diabetes in check. Both are strange arguments for killing and eating animals.
Veganism does not force everyone into a strict diet. It only means that you have to change the way you eat though, even a little, so it is vital to get advice from an expert before making the switch. If you really want to become vegan you should make sure you are 100% certain that you are going to stick to it. I never liked meat, but as a kid and as a young adult I was forced to eat it. After I found out that my 40 years younger niece was allowed to grow up as a vegan, I put an end to my meat-eating. I have been on a vegan diet for many years and I love it.
Your diet should be on a consistent and permanent basis and if you move from one vegan meal to the next, it’s no good saying that you haven’t eaten meat. Why should you consider veganism? Veganism offers a number of benefits. You will have the chance to reduce your consumption of food that has been produced by animals, which will also cut your intake of red and processed meat.
Benefits Of Veganism
Veganism comes with many benefits. Animal suffering is minimized. There are no vast animal factories to deal with, no freeways of carcasses, and no fields full of methane-generating livestock. In terms of its impact on the environment, eating meat is a key contributor to global warming and, as the UN states, “endanger[s] global food security, put[s] pressure on natural ecosystems and reduce[s] people’s access to safe, nutritious food.”
But while the arguments for going vegan are compelling, the question is “do you actually want to give up your favourite things?” For many, the thought of giving up meat, fish, cheese, eggs or chocolate is unthinkable, even though the impact of those food groups on global warming is negligible, or non-existent, in comparison with the impact of others.
A vegan diet can lead to a number of healthy and sustainable benefits including \:
- A rich supply of essential amino acids, which are found in nuts and seeds,
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are found in plant-based oils, nuts and seeds,
- Top-ups of selenium, vitamins D, B12 and K and iron,
- High levels of vitamin D, B12 and K2,
- High levels of fibre and vitamin E, and
- low levels of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
A plant-based diet is better for the environment than a diet based on meat and dairy products. It is estimated that 50% of global methane emissions are caused by livestock farming. And although we’re not quite there yet, global meat production is on the decline.
Reasons Why You Should Go Vegan
The first reason is that it’s the healthiest and cleanest diet on earth. A BBC article quoted scientist Dr. Aseem Malhotra as saying that the healthiest diet was vegan, the cleanest of all, with no blood or pus products involved. A study by Harvard Medical School also found that a vegan diet is an indicator of an optimized lifestyle since it involves eating the freshest possible food, avoiding processed foods and drinking lots of water. The second reason is that it is a great way to live your values.
Another reason is you can choose cruelty-free clothing and accessories. As an ethical vegan, you are likely to care about all the animals more than some people might care about their families. That can be a good thing, because ethical animal rights advocates are also among the pioneers in the rise of the ethical vegan fashion movement, making alternatives to leather, wool and silk with ingredients such as hemp and rice.
It can help you live longer. To most vegans, the ageing process is as fascinating as it is distressing. For decades, they have highlighted the importance of the anti-ageing, anti-obesity, anti-cancer properties of veganism. Now a growing body of evidence is pointing to a link between eating a plant-based diet and extending your life. One study found that adopting a vegan diet could reduce your chances of dying early by 16 percent. A better diet can improve your heart health, help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and, most importantly, produce an optimum level of glucose in your blood.
The Ethical Case For Going Vegan
Research suggests that going vegan has a huge impact on our environment, not least because in order to produce a single hamburger meat is harvested from the hooves and lungs of cows, a process that has to be repeated for each new cow the farm raises.
So farming cows is a major contributor to deforestation, the use of water and the waste produced by cattle can contaminate soil and water supplies. Of course, it is possible to find meat that is free of the damaging impacts of intensive farming. But the odds are that such “free-range” meat has been produced on vast industrial farms, with little or no consideration given to the animals or the environment.
There is a huge number of good reasons for going vegan, but the main one is ethical,” says William Ury, author of ‘How to Be a Freegan’, a guide for people who reject consumer culture. “You can live ethically on a vegan diet. We don’t see it as strange, but the food system has the opposite of ethical principles.
It is unethical to manufacture something to be eaten in the same way as it was made. “If we replace meat with beans or other produce items and beans with grains, there is no environmental impact at all. The word ‘vegan’ means you reject the use of animals. So by becoming a vegan you are protecting the animals from cruelty and abuse.
Veganism is one of the healthiest diets around, not least because there are so many health benefits to eating more plants. A growing number of nutritionists believe that plant-based diets help to protect us from some of the chronic diseases of modern life – the new job for vegetarians and vegans alike is to find out what they are.
It might sound too good to be true, but recent research by the NHS Trust has suggested that going vegan may improve some people’s mental health by reducing the amount of free radical damage that they suffer. At the same time, it also reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and can lower your chances of developing a number of chronic diseases.
This is important news for health-conscious vegans like myself, but it’s worth bearing in mind that, despite the increase in awareness around health and wellbeing, it may take some time before veganism starts delivering clear and dramatic health benefits. The same is true of any diet or lifestyle change.
An impressive body of research shows that humans derive significant health benefits from a vegan diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is not just good for your heart and your teeth, it can also significantly reduce the chances of various cancers, and can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Protect And Help The Environment
If you take a look at the impact that eating meat has on the environment, it is impossible to ignore the enormous cost. From emissions to land use and deforestation to water pollution, the meat industry is a major contributor to the warming planet. The industry also generates huge amounts of animal waste. Some studies suggest that if all the meat in Britain was converted to human-friendly diets, it would take 170,000 years to eat it all.
Save money Food is, of course, an essential component of our social lives, but it is increasingly getting to the point where we can’t afford to eat meat anymore. The high price of meat, coupled with the growing availability of high-quality vegan alternatives, means that a vegan diet is increasingly affordable. The cheaper the meat, the more we eat it.
“Going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the planet,” says Graham Westgarth, founder of the sustainable organic clothing brand Castelli and the Vegan Society, the oldest vegan advocacy group in the UK. “It reduces your carbon footprint, and avoids deforestation.”
Conserve Natural Resources
The biggest impact on the planet comes from the meat and dairy industries. Just 10% of food production has no environmental impact at all, with over 80% making no meaningful contribution at all. The rest is food that would have been eaten anyway. Animal agriculture alone produces 20% of all CO2 emissions, 21% of land use and 42% of water use.
The farming of animals is responsible for 63% of all deforestation and 38% of greenhouse gas emissions – it is land that could be farmed, used more sustainably or simply left fallow. Don’t be afraid. Going vegan is easy for anyone with the right mindset. You don’t have to avoid milk, butter, cheese, chocolate or any other product that contains animal products, just avoid products that are unnecessary and not nutritious.
One of the biggest reasons to go vegan is to avoid wasting natural resources, and reducing your consumption of animal products is a great way to do this. Going vegan means you’ll be needing to make other changes in your diet, such as changing your food shopping habits, and it is possible to reduce your meat and dairy intake to the minimum required to do this.
Animals Die In Efforts To Prevent Predation
Animal agriculture is one of the main causes of environmental degradation, as well as causing large-scale slaughter. Only a tiny fraction of the calories humans eat are naturally generated by plants, and we often rely on non-natural animal fats to create the texture and taste we are used to and desire.
Of course, to produce these ingredients we need to farm animals, from cattle and pigs to chickens, goats and fish. But their suffering is chronic and they must be killed to reduce the threat of starvation, disease or predation. Livestock-related greenhouse gas emissions are almost the same amount as cars and can be attributed to the presence of at least 5,000 other animals.
There are few decisions as important as the one about what to eat and the diet to adopt for a healthy and long life. Becoming a vegan isn't as tough as people think, and it certainly doesn't make you sick or weak. It's simply a decision you make to improve your health and protect animals from needless slaughter. People don't have to eat meat to survive—or even thrive.
My husband and I are on a vegan diet and we both thrive. You can make delicious vegan recipes including some of the popular Fish-O-Filet, Mac and Cheese, Chicken Burgers and other recipes which you can make the vegan style and with all vegan ingredients. Just this afternoon, my husband made some delicious cashew cheese, which we ate with some of our homemade vegan and gluten-free bread.
I trust you enjoyed reading the article on Why You Should Go Vegan. Would you please stay tuned? There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
Your Opinion Is Important To Me
Ideas? Thoughts? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you please leave me your questions, experience and remarks about Why You Should Go Vegan in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.
>>>Please check out MyVeganSausages.com for more easy vegan recipes. Christine has so many of them.<<<
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