Although this blog is primarily for those who are already vegan, I thought it would be good to cover the basics. If you Google “veganism,” the first hit is a Wikipedia page that gives the definition: “Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.”
Basically, what this means is that vegans do not consume animal products, including meat, milk, eggs, honey, bone, and blood. It also means that vegans do not wear or use products, such as leather and feathers, that come from animals. The complicated phrase that says “following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals” just means that vegans do not believe in using sentient animals (that is, animals that are able to perceive pain and feel things) as a commodity.
There are also different types of vegans. They include: ethical vegans, dietary vegans, environmental vegan and raw vegans. Dietary vegans are vegans that avoid consuming animal products, but do not abstain from buying such things as leather boots or feather pillows. Ethical vegans, on the other hand, do both. Environmental vegans are the same as ethical and/or dietary vegans, except their reasons for practicing veganism stem from the unsustainability of our agricultural system. Those who are raw vegans do not eat any food cooked above a certain temperature and also do not eat any processed food, adhering to a strict diet of fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, grains, seeds, herbs and sprouts. This blog will mainly focus on environmental veganism.
Here are five brief reasons as to why people choose to “go vegan”:
1. It Conserves Water
It takes up 200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce a pound of plant foods. Source:http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3
2. It Makes your Carbon Footprint Smaller
According to a United Nations report, animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas than every type of transportation put together. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3
3. It Makes you Healthier
A diet high in animal fats and proteins has been shown to raise a person’s risk of developing all kinds of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and multiple types of cancer whereas those who adhere to a plant based diet have a significantly decreased risk of developing these illnesses. You’re also less likely to be overweight or obese. Sources: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk
4. It’s more Sustainable
Seventy percent of the grain grown in the United States is fed to livestock. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3
5. It Doesn’t Harm Other Beings
Here are three common myths about being vegan and why they are wrong:
1. If you’re vegan, you can’t get enough protein
As long as you aren’t living on a diet that consists entirely of one food group, you should be fine. Protein can be found in all kinds of non-meat, non-dairy food. To name a few: tempeh, soybeans, lentils, black beans, veggie burgers, chickpeas, tofu, bagels, quinoa, peas, almonds, spaghetti, peanut butter, soy milk, almond milk, whole wheat bread, sunflower seeds, cashews, spinach, broccoli, and many more vegetables, nuts, grains and food.
Another myth that needs debunking is that vegans and vegetarians have to strictly monitor their protein intake to make sure they are getting enough and they are getting all the amino acids they need. Once again, as long as you aren’t surviving off a diet of little variance, this isn’t true. You will get plenty of protein just by eating a regular diet of vegetables, fruits and grains. Personally, I have been vegan for a year and have never once tried to figure out my average daily protein intake nor worried about whether it is enough. I don’t feel like my body is lacking anything; quite the contrary. Since becoming vegan, I have had more energy and felt better, both mentally and physically, and the stress over choosing what to eat and worrying about where my food comes from has gone away almost completely. I simply eat what is natural and what makes me feel good.
If you are looking for a list of how much protein is in foods typically thought to be in line with a vegan diet, you can go to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s webpage!
2. Vegans are aggressive activists and can’t be reasoned with
There seems to be a stigma surrounding veganism that vegans disapprove of every meat and dairy eater and will take any opportunity to tell others why they are wrong. When I first became vegan, I didn’t tell anybody. I knew by just mentioning it, my friends would perceive it as an attack on their eating habits. Some vegans may be critical about others’ eating habits, but other vegans may not. It really depends on the person.
3. All vegans are animal lovers
This simply isn’t true. While a lot of people do choose to become vegan because they love animals and can’t stand the thought of hurting them, others, such as environmental vegans, have different motivations. I, myself, am not an animal lover. I do want to prevent the harm of animals, but I don’t have any interest in visiting a farm or owning chickens or even dogs.