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A Non-Preachy Guide to Veganism

January 29, 2017

Photo via Vegan Street  

 

No, I don’t miss meat.

 

I’ve been vegan for almost a year and a half now, and I love it. My skin has never looked better, and I get weirdly excited over the vegan section at my grocery store. Although living sustainably is a core component of my life philosophy, I rarely discuss veganism because of the heavy stigma against it: I’m supposedly a hippie who only eats kale. The reality is I’m just a teenage girl who eats potato chips on her couch and loves trying new foods. So to the open-minded and curious, here is why I choose not to consume animal products.

 

For the Environmentalists

The meat and dairy industry has caused deep, profound detriment to the environment by increasing deforestation, pollution and water scarcity. With an estimated 2-4 billion more people to feed by 2050, our planet simply isn’t equipped with the resources to sustain our indulgent way of life. According to a recent report from the U.N., the world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change. Farming uses about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater, and the livestock sector of agriculture is the largest sector of water pollution. While the average meat-eater’s daily water footprint of diet is 4,100 gallons, that number is a mere 300 gallons for vegans. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for six months.

 

For Your Health

Vegans are less likely to get cancer, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease. Oxford Martin School researchers conducted a study in which they discovered that a global switch to diets which rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to eight million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to health care-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (U.S.). The World Health Organization has classified meat as cancerous due to its risk of colorectal cancer. A new study from Italy’s University of Florence linked vegetarian and vegan diets to significantly lower rates of ischemic heart disease and cancer. While there is a plethora of vegan junk food, going vegan can be a meaningful step towards a more health-conscious lifestyle.

 

For the People

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization said that animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the planes, trains, boats and automobiles in the world combined. This puts the billions of humans living near the world’s coastlines at an even greater risk of rising sea levels because of increased greenhouse gas emissions. Jean Mayer, a Harvard nutritionist, estimated if every American reduced his or her meat consumption by only 10 percent for one year, enough grains would be alleviated from the factory farming industry to have the potential to feed 60 million starving people. Water pollution caused by animal agriculture deprives people of clean water, and deforestation threatens the survival of humans who depend on forests. By going vegan, you help feed the world, save those living on the coastlines, and support a clean water system.

 

Photo via @rhianamygdala 

 

To find more information about veganism, blogger Ally Sheehan has a helpful vegan masterpost which answers popular concerns such as “Does it really make a difference?” to “The dangers of milk and dairy products”.

 

This infographic proves you can be healthy and economical on a vegan diet.

 

Popular vegan documentaries are Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, and The True Cost.

 

Truth or Doubt cites facts about a vegan's impact on the environment.

 

I’m a new vegan! Now what? Minimalist Baker regularly posts simple and healthy vegan recipes. YouTube channel Liv’s Healthy Life uploads vegan recipes every week from breakfast ideas to after-work snacks. 

 

Instagram accounts @rhianamygdala and @sobeautifullyreal post beautiful photos of vegan food.

 

Veggie Grill is the go-to restaurant for vegan fast food. B12 supplements are a must.

 

For the skeptics out there who aren’t willing to commit to veganism yet, you can always try vegetarianism. If that seems too extreme, then I recommend meatless Mondays. Instead of purchasing that leather jacket, go for a pleather one. Instead of getting a hamburger, opt for a veggie burger. Instead of purchasing cow’s milk for your cereal, consider almond milk. Any effort in decreasing your consumption of animal products is a worthwhile one.

 

“The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do, it’s just a matter of what kind.” - Ally Sheehan

 

Helpful links:

Vegan Society  Worldometers  The Food and Agriculture Organization  World Watch Institute  World Health Organization  Oxford Martin School  NCBI  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

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