Guest Post by Beth Kelly
Who’s Afraid of Vegans?
Recent trends indicate that more Americans have gone vegan in recent years than ever before. And while the philosophy of avoiding meat and all other associated animal byproducts isn’t necessarily new, as more facts regarding the positive benefits of veganism come to light, living a vegan lifestyle has (for me at least) become an obvious choice.
Still, many predominant aspects of American culture encourage a certain disdain towards people who choose to abstain from eating or wearing other animals. But this lifestyle choice shouldn’t be considered “crazy” or “weird” simply because it goes against various societal norms. The benefits of veganism extend far beyond the plate, and understanding why is the first step towards becoming one yourself!
It Does a Body Good
Above all else, an animal-free lifestyle is simply a healthier one, especially when the effects of continual meat consumption put alongside for comparison. There have been countless studies done to show the effect of foods like red meat and dairy on our bodies. Red meat has been proven to raise blood pressure, harden arteries, and prolong the digestion process. Likewise, dairy, milk in particular, isn’t nearly as healthy as we once thought and is even less helpful to our bones.
On the other hand, leafy greens and other veggies and fruits have been found to have even more beneficial qualities than once thought. The discovery of highly nutrient-rich foods such as blueberries and açai just adds to the health benefits of a plant-based diet. And in turn, a vegan lifestyle has also been associated with lower rates of obesity, lower BMIs, and less cardiovascular incidents.
Claims that vegans need supplements to stay healthy has been proven false time and time again. Protein is most commonly called upon here – while on the opposite side of the spectrum, studies have shown that excess protein can strain your kidneys – but there are plenty of options to fulfill this dietary need that can be as simple as a cup of spinach, lentils, and tempeh!
Your beliefs, morals, and convictions are all your own, but a large majority of vegans do have ethical concerns that restrict them from consuming animal products, namely animal cruelty at the farms and factories and the negative environmental and health implications. Many individuals merely have no interest in participating in such a harmful system in exchange for materialistic pleasures.
While many companies assure consumers of their humane practices, it’s hard to believe this when in your own eyes there is no humane way to kill another living creature. Furthermore, there is the human factor in which many farms in underdeveloped countries employ underpaid workers in near slave labor conditions – and this just increases as demand for meat grows worldwide.
Living a vegan lifestyle is a great way for you to do your own part in cutting down on this suffering. And while it’s not entirely a step in the ideal direction, it’s always nice to hear some farmers like Nick Wallace, whose growth hormone and antibiotic free cattle roam freely on acres of grass, are equally opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals.
Going Vegan is Going Green
Did you know that nearly 20% of man-made pollution comes from the meat industry? The methane from farm animals contributes 18% of dangerous global greenhouse gases, which according to Ohio Gas, can equate up to a mid-sized car’s worth of emissions released by just one cow alone. Animal products, along with processed foods, are those with the highest environmental impact, especially when taking the associated water use, pollution, and deforestation into account. As a result, for the first time the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has drawn strong connections between dietary choices and the environmental impacts of food production and has advised the USDA to recommend eating less red and processed meats and turn towards greens and vegetables.
A plant-based diet, on the other hand, will help you step more lightly on the planet. It takes far fewer crops to sustain than it does to feed animals, and therefore, requires much less water. Many items consumed by vegans can be grown locally, reducing the need for heavy transportation issues.
Meat is expensive and the costs of beef, pork and eggs have been climbing all year. There are a lot of factors that play into this high cost, many of which we touched on earlier, but by eliminating things such as transportation costs and high production costs, the monthly food budget for a vegan family drops considerably. Many vegans center their diets on grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds all of which can be purchased in bulk and cheaply. Additionally, buying in season fruits and vegetable are easy on your wallet and make for tasty meals!
But this is only the beginning. More than saving animals, going vegan is about saving money, saving the Earth, and saving ourselves. Once you begin your rewarding journey into the world of veganism, you will discover even more benefits of your new lifestyle choice.
|Beth is a freelance writer and blogger from the heart of the Midwest. She graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, IL before spending several years abroad teaching English. Her primary interests include analog photography, vintage fashion and Japanese cinema. You can find her on Twitter:@bkelly_88|
*Content on guest posts does not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the author.*