Veganism. It seems to be the on-trend word at the moment. But why do people choose veganism?
Sure, there are many consistent reasons behind a persons choice to choose this lifestyle, whether it be animal welfare, environmental reasons, or health issues.
But if you ask 20 vegans their reason for becoming vegan; you will get 20 different answers. This is because, although the fundamental reasons for the change are going to be roughly the same, the individuals all have different stories.
Whatever your reasons for being here – if you are vegan, thinking of becoming vegan, or just curious about what it’s all about; below you will find 7 reasons why you should definitely choose veganism.
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1. You will have better health
Study after study shows that a plant based lifestyle improves your physical well being. The reasons behind this are many and varied. Plants don’t contain hormones which means that our bodies don’t have to work harder to eliminate these foreign contaminants. Plants have a much lower level of saturated fat, so your body can use what it needs for energy, and not get bogged down with cholesterol. This is better for your skin, as well as your energy levels. And of course, we don’t need to give our plants antibiotics, so there are no problems with us building up antibiotic resistance because of our food!
2. You can relieve, and sometimes reverse, diseases
It is widely known that Type 2 diabetes is largely caused by an inability for the body to control insulin levels. This condition is often brought on by a person being overweight. Studies have shown that if you choose veganism, you not only lose the weight, but also control insulin secretion too which helps to lower blood sugar levels.
Heart disease is another condition that is greatly relieved by plant based diets. Mainly due to the lower saturated fat content and elimination of cholesterol. It is important to note, though, that a vegan diet that keeps you healthy, needs to be a healthy vegan diet! You can’t gorge on vegan cake and cookies and not expect some bad karma (sorry!) The Cleveland Heart Lab has an interesting article on studies that have been conducted in this area, and if you want to know what a healthy vegan diet looks like, I would highly recommend the Forks Over Knives website.
From a personal perspective, I can also report that becoming vegan has practically eliminated my IBS. My IBS is also linked to anxiety so I still do have occasional flare ups, but I’ve gone from having a bad day, almost every day, to one attack in the last 5 years!
3. Choose veganism to improve the environment
With climate change being a hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment, we have to consider how long we have left to make a change. In the UK, summer 2018 was one of the hottest on record, and the longest in years. Yet we are expecting extreme snowfall to hit us and last through December.
This is not weather we know, and it tends to bring us to a stand still!
So how can veganism help?
The pollution caused by the animal agriculture industry causes the most damage to the environment. Through deforestation, which reduces the amount of plant life to cleanse our air, and causes species extinction; Water shortages, because of the run off into rivers and streams, not only affecting our water supply, but also killing off fish and other marine life.
Planting the same crops over and over again to feed livestock damages the soil, so that it doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients to grow crops properly. This leads to the need to treat the animals with antibiotics and supplements, and to treat the crops with GMO’s.
The amount of methane and carbon dioxide that all the livestock in the world produces, is vastly greater than that produced by all the cars, planes and trains in the world. Plus, at the rate we are clearing land to graze these animals, we are losing the very plant life that helps to clean the air too.
But if you choose veganism, you help to eliminate these problems. Just one person eats around 7,000 animals in their lifetime, so that one person converting to veganism will likely save about 5-6,000 animals depending on when they change their diet. But with millions of people making this change, imagine the difference we can make together! It’s a case of simple maths, really; the less meat and dairy products we buy, the less supermarkets will order and so the less animals will be bred and killed for it!
4. Compassion for the animals
For me, this was the number one reason for cutting out meat and dairy products. I had already started to transition to a vegetarian diet when my nutritional therapist suggested cutting out dairy for my health. This was a no brainer! We as humans, do not need animal products in our diet (there are plenty of healthy vegans to prove this point!), so the fact that we raise and kill animals for consumption is merely to satisfy our tastebuds. I don’t see how this is any different to killing animals for sport.
Animals are sentient creatures. Studies have shown for many years now, that farm animals are just as intelligent as your family dog or cat. They feel love, pain, fear and happiness. What gives us the right to decide that they don’t deserve to live?
I would like to believe that somewhere in the future, we will live in a world where we no longer slaughter animals for any reason. That we live peacefully along side these wonderful creatures and appreciate what they bring to our planet.
5. Improve your finances!
Yes, eating a vegan diet can work out a lot less expensive than your average carnivorous diet. When eating a proper whole food, plant based diet, you will mainly be using beans, lentils and legumes, brown pasta and rice, and potatoes. It’s true that eating meat alternatives is more expensive, but that’s because the preparation is done for you. If you buy the ingredients in bulk and make your meals from scratch, you will know exactly what is going into it; ie, cutting out extras like sugar and salt; and it will be cheaper.
6. Improve your mental health
Animals raised for slaughter are kept in unnatural conditions (most of the time; I am aware that there are exceptions to the rule) which means they are in a constant state of anxiety, stress and fear. Stress hormones and adrenaline flood their systems, and then we eat them.
Unfortunately, this can lead to mental health and physical issues. Our bodies are unable to cope with these hormones. If you choose veganism however, you can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as fatigue, because it gives our bodies more of what we need to convert into energy. More energy means more exercise, which in turn, raises mood.
7. Help reduce world hunger
Currently, a lot of the worlds crops are fed to livestock. That livestock is then fed to us. It would be much more efficient, and more calorific, to feed the crops directly to us. However, a vegan diet in itself won’t actually cure world hunger; there are still far too many problems in the way of this.
We need to change the way we view food, and encourage the companies that are supplying our food to do the same. We also need to enlist the support of our governments and leaders (easier said than done, I know!)
Far too many people in the UK have to rely on food banks to eat, because of the state of the financial economy. Homelessness is on the rise. It is still cheaper to buy junk food than to buy healthy foods; especially for those who don’t have access to cooking facilities.
On top of that, supermarkets routinely reject and throw away fruits and vegetables. Simply because they don’t look nice, or are approaching a best before date.
These foods could, and should be donated to homeless shelters. Reducing the cost of these products would encourage people to buy them before they go out of date too. Restaurants are often guilty of this too. In a world where we expect instant gratification, they pre-cook food, and whatever isn’t eaten, they throw away.
The key take-aways:
Veganism in itself challenges the way we think about our food and our lifestyle. But it needs more focus and more research. By continuing to educate ourselves on what we do and what we put into our bodies; we can drive the human race forward to a place where we learn to replace what we take. To respect those that share this planet with us.
Do you have any other great reasons to go vegan? Share them in the comments!