Updated: May 22, 2021
Written by Venus Aradhya, 14
In the modern world, many new solutions to everlasting topics are emerging. Two of the largest issues that remain in our world today are our physical health and diseases, as well as climate change. What if I told you there is a method that can help dissolve the effects of both of these problems? Now, most solutions aren’t easy, and neither is this one, but its results are fulfilling, constant, definite, and no-doubt, worth-it. Going Vegan has been described as the one best way to decrease your impact on global warming by many, and it has also been proven to decrease the risks of many diseases and greatly improve one’s health and nutrition. Not only this, but it also aids the fight in ending animal cruelty and saves the lives of thousands of animals. Common associations with being vegan are that it is expensive, difficult to maintain, not-tasty, and constant meals of salads and fruits, but these are all untrue. The transition to veganism is an amazing experience that helps the planet, yourself, and other creatures, and you definitely won’t regret it.
Veganism is the practice of not consuming any animal products including meat, milk, eggs, honey, and anything else that is produced by animals. It also involves not wearing or buying any products made by animals such as animal leather, because it still supports the killing of these animals. Let’s start with our physical health: how can veganism help us become more nutritious and healthy? Many concerns people have with veganism is that they don’t get enough protein or calcium, but these are stereotypes that aren’t completely true and can easily be faced. The main food that must be given up to become vegan is meat. While some meats, like lean meat, have some nutritious benefits such as high protein levels, they are loaded with cholesterol which is not needed in our body. Cholesterol is only found in animal products, so going vegan means you won’t be consuming cholesterol, which your body doesn’t need. The saturated fat in red meat, poultry, and meat products has also been proven to lead to heart disease.
Red and processed meats (such as smoked meat, ham, bacon, sausages, pâté, and tinned meat) also increase the risk of some cancers, especially bowel cancer. This is because of a type of iron (haem iron) found in meat but not plant foods, as well as chemicals found in red and processed meats (such as N-nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats contain even higher levels of these dangerous chemicals. Studies have shown that women who consumed meat cooked this way have a noticeably higher chance of developing breast cancer. Going vegan would restrict you from all these unhealthy chemicals and decrease your chance of getting dangerous diseases and cancers.
Dairy, another big item that must be taken out for a vegan diet, also has many downfalls. Normal cow milk is produced by female cows for her children, just like our mothers would feed us milk, so when you’re drinking milk, it’s almost as if you’re a baby cow since that’s who the milk was supposed to be for. Cow's milk is designed to help a calf grow into a cow in a year so it is packed with growth hormones, and makes it completely unnatural for humans to drink, especially human adults. As the only adult mammals to drink
milk, and that too, milk from a completely different species, the negative effects have been widely shown through studies of diseases and animal products. Due to the unhealthy saturated fat as well as the unnatural growth hormones found in milk, a large variety of diseases are caused which include: acne, allergies, arthritis, cancers of the breast, bowel, ovaries, and prostate, colic, constipation, coronary heart disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, dementia, ear infection, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney disease, migraine, autoimmune conditions, overweight, obesity and osteoporosis.
Eggs, another non-vegan food, also has large quantities of cholesterol which do not benefit us in any way nutritionally. An immense amount of scientific evidence shows that we have an increased risk of heart disease with higher cholesterol levels in our blood. People who eat a lot of eggs also have a higher risk of getting diabetes dying younger, studies have shown. Fish, which are often claimed to be healthy and essential in a diet due to their omega-3’s, aren’t as good as they seem. Many other foods give us omega-3’s as well such as flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil, and walnuts, and fish have more negatives than benefits. Although they give us omega-3’s, those benefits are outweighed by the toxins found in fish such as PCBs, dioxins, and especially the high contents of mercury. These are poisonous and should not be consumed by humans because if the quantities are large enough it can cause serious health defects. Several studies show that people who eat the most fish have more heart attacks, and even the government warns people to limit their intake of fish due to the toxins while the government hasn’t put a warning on any other foods.
With a vegan diet, you will avoid all these foods and the health risks that come along with them. Vegans have been said to have ‘the healthiest’ diet, and they have lower blood pressure and type 2 diabetes rates in general than those who do not follow this diet. Our bodies don’t need saturated fats, cholesterol, and trans-fatty foods and sugars from processed foods and meats in high quantities. Rather, we need more plant-based foods and a wide range of fruits, veggies, and grains. This can prevent cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Some issues people worry about are the lack of protein, but there are many vegan sources of protein such as nuts, beans, leaves, seeds, and protein powders like pea protein. With all these health benefits that come from being vegan, is there anything else that could make it better?
Yes, there is! Along with helping your help, a vegan diet can do wonders for the environment. Becoming vegan is said to be the single-best way to help the environment, and it even reduces your carbon footprint by up to 73%. It saves a ton of land since livestock takes up a lot of space to care for. If everyone went vegan, it would reduce farmland size by 75% which is equal to the area of the US, China, Australia, and the entire EU combined! If more farmland was used to raise crops rather than livestock, it would save the land and produce more food without having to deforest so much area since land almost the size of Panama is cleared each year due to deforestation. Raising crops would not only save land, but it would also nurture the soil and keep it healthy while raising livestock would lead to soil erosion.
Other than saving land, becoming vegan also purifies the air and helps reduce the amount of pollution. All livestock creates more pollution than cars, planes, boats, trains, and all transportation combined, so when more people become vegan and livestock isn’t being raised, the amount of pollution would decrease significantly. Meat and dairy are responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions while they only provide for 18% of calories and 37% percent of protein in food. Becoming vegan is far more efficient than cutting down flights or buying an electric car and trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy. Livestock also needs to be fed a lot, and they are fed almost 70% of the grains farmed. If everyone became vegan, 700 million tons of food that could have been used to feed humans goes to livestock, and this could combat another important issue, world hunger.
Another important issue to decrease global warming and help the environment is water and energy conservation. It takes 100 to 200 times as much water to raise a pound of beef as it does to raise a pound of plant-based food. Cutting down one kilo of beef saves 15,000 liters of water while even if you just switch one of your dinners from a roast chicken to a veggie stew (the same amount of protein) you can save more than 4,000 liters of water. In a
world where almost a billion people don’t have access to clean water, if you can save 4,000 liters each meal by switching from meat to veggies, don’t you think it is the moral option to do that? While you may be going against your preferences, you could be saving lives. Plants use 8 times less energy to raise than meat, which can save energy as well. It also takes less time to raise and nurture since it doesn’t have as many constraints to be refrigerated and temperature levels as meat does. Saving energy leads to fewer emissions because most electricity comes from non-renewable sources.
The biggest issue that veganism solves is animal cruelty. Although this doesn’t directly impact you, it definitely will impact your morals and feelings. The fact is, we kill and eat 58 billion animals a year. People defend this by saying this was what humans have done since the beginning of time, so why should we stop? People were also racist and held certain races as slaves, but that stopped. Americans who were once extremely sexist stopped and gave voting rights to women. So why can’t we stop this? They also say that we need meat and it is healthy for us, but studies have shown that meat has barely any nutritional value that can’t be found elsewhere. If the benefits of becoming vegan haven’t convinced you, maybe describing the torture these animals go through will paint a picture of what you, an animal product consumer, is helping the market demand increase for.
Factory farming is the main cause of animal suffering and abuse. Animals like cows, chickens, pigs, and more are treated as if they are machines that generate meat, milk, and eggs. While animals are born with a hopeful life and a desire to live, we take that away by treating them as if they have no worth. Chickens used for meat are stacked in boxes and sent to fattening farms where they are fed endlessly to become bigger and more valuable meat. They live there for 42 days and then they are sent to the slaughterhouse. They will never get to meet their mothers nor will they ever feel their protection and care. Only the cruelty of humans will be the feeling familiar to them. This happens to millions of chickens annually. Weak chicks are thrown into the trash and are either crushed with a club or suffocated since there is no hope in them surviving. Tens to hundreds of thousands of hens are held in giant farms where up to six of them live with no room to move, not even spread their wings, in small cages. They are forced to raise so many eggs that after a year and a half they are exhausted and sent to the slaughterhouse to be killed.
Female cows are artificially inseminated, causing them to give birth, and once they do, they are separated from their calves immediately. The milk that they produce that was meant for their young is stolen away from them so that we humans can drink it for our pleasure and ‘needs’. Once they stop producing milk, they are inseminated again, and the same process occurs. This happens continuously until they are unable to give birth anymore, and they are killed
. Their female children are used for the same process, while their male children will be killed shortly after birth for veal. If people consider kicking a puppy or leaving your cat out in the rain for the night animal abuse, then shouldn’t the constant torcher of livestock from a young age for human labor and benefits until they die a cold death by being crushed or slaughtered for meat, be considered animal abuse as well? If it is, then aren’t all non-vegans animal abusers? It’s not as if there isn’t anything you can do about it, because there is. The actual process of being vegan isn’t hard and limiting, it only takes a little while until you see how enchanting it really is!
With the health benefits, environmental benefits, and decrease of animal abuse, what’s stopping you from being vegan? Is it too hard, time-consuming, expensive, limited-options, not-tasty, or not fitting with your lifestyle? Well, stop right there because all of these can be solved! First off, veganism is not expensive. The basic staples of being vegan, bread, fruits, veggies, rice, grains, nuts, non-dairy milk, and beans are all averagely priced, and if anything, meats are extremely expensive. In the world we live in today, it is rare to find a grocery store that doesn’t have vegan milk and cheese, so these substitutes are easy to find and non-time consuming. While some vegan ice-creams and other treats are priced higher than non-vegan ones, as more and more people join the movement of veganism, the more companies have an incentive to produce these products until they realize that is the new staple and the price goes down. If we join together, veganism could become the new normal.
I have a vegan lifestyle and can say that it’s very easy to cook. We just substitute milk with almond milk and butter with oil, and leave out the eggs to make meals. If you start as a non-vegetarian, you can find tons of meals to make, and even try plant-based meat if you would like. In the world we live in today, a quick search on the internet will lead to hundreds-of-thousands recipes for vegan food and meals. Now for the fact that it isn’t tasty, you can find vegan versions of almost any food such as ice cream, cake, cheese, pizza, and more, so you aren’t just stuck with salads. Many restaurants have vegan versions
of items, and they will have dairy-free cheese in places such as pizza restaurants which you can use to make your pizza vegan. For convenience, you can buy vegan cereals as well for breakfast, but otherwise, the lifestyle isn’t too different from a non-vegan lifestyle depending on the foods you cook. If you’re in a rush, make a sandwich because although many people are surprised when they hear this, bread is vegan as well (check your bread to make sure). Pasta and rice are also simple suitable meals you can make. Of course, in becoming a vegan, you want to be healthy, so although it might not seem appealing, quinoa, smoothies, oatmeal, acai bowls, and salads are all delicious. You can add protein powder to make sure you get the protein as well.
Veganism may not be for everyone, but it isn’t that hard of a change to make. If you decide to go vegan, don’t pressure yourself into making no slips because it isn’t a challenge you need to conquer, it’s a change you are making. In the end, you’ll still benefit the planet and your health if you reduce your meat content. Even if you can’t go vegan, try reducing the meat and animal products you are eating, because it can do wonders. Do you feel like you could almost go vegan but can’t leave out certain products? That’s alright as well! You’ll still be making an immense change, and it’s not about being the perfect vegan, it’s about what you care about and what you can do. Be a good human and switch to veganism today. You can help the planet and yourself at the same time so why not give it a go? It’s a change that is worth it!
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