Every day it seems there is a new diet everyone is talking about that’s claims to be better than all the rest and promises to make you skinny. While fad diets come and go, veganism seems to be here to stay. When I first heard about this diet, I thought there was no way I could give up meat or cheese, and also that maintaining a strict plant-based diet would be difficult. The more and more I learn about the different reasons why people choose to eat vegan though, I started to think that it might be worth a try after all.
For those who don’t already know, veganism consists of a strict plant-based diet that does not include any animal products or by-products. That means no meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs or honey. While this type of diet may seem difficult to maintain, for people who have chosen this lifestyle, the benefits of the diet outweigh any difficulties. We’ve broken down five simple reasons why you may want to consider veganism today.
Leading a Long and Healthy Life:
Vegan diets consist of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils that provide adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to keep you healthy. What these healthy diets do not include are saturated fats and cholesterol found in animal products, not to mention the antibiotics, hormones and toxins found in non-organic meat and dairy products. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension, type 2-diabetes and obesity. In addition, according to PETA, people on a vegetarian and vegan diet on average live 6-10 years longer than meat–eaters.
Potential to Lose Weight:
Vegans and vegetarians on average consumer fewer calories and less fat than their meat-eating counterparts. However don’t think that just because you are eating vegan means you will automatically lose weight. It’s always best to have a balanced diet and try stick to wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils. Be careful not to become a “junk food vegan” and fall pray to processed vegan cookies and chips.
Prevent Animal Cruelty:
One reason that many animal lovers go vegan is to prevent cruelty to animals. Animals on factory farms are treated inhumanely and are kept in small cramped spaces and unsanitary conditions. Animals are only kept as long as they are producing eggs and milk and are slaughtered as soon as their production slows down. This means that an animals lifespan decreases greatly, going from 25 years for a cow to 5 years, according to Vegan.org. Another example of animal cruelty is battery-cage egg production. Farmers confine hens to small and expensive cages but to make the most money they cramp as many hens into the cage as possible. There are numerous resources to learn more about the cruelty and unfair treatment of animals and if you need any more convincing, documentaries like Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives are worth watching.
Stop Global Warming:
Feeding large amounts of livestock requires large amounts of resources like land, water and fertilizer. On top of that, livestock emit methane which contributes to green house gas and global warming. Switching to a vegan diet is one simple but effective way that people can help stop global warming. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective when it comes to climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.
Work to end world hunger:
Large amounts of grains, soybeans and corn are used to feed animals that are bread for food instead of being used to feed starving people across the world. We could more easily feed the starving masses if we stopped breeding farmed animals and instead grew crops to feed people instead. According to the United Nations, a vegan diet can feed more people than an animal based diet. With the rising population and continued high numbers of people starving across the country, this is definitely something worth thinking about.
If you are thinking about switching to a vegan diet but would like to read more information, Vegan.org and PETA.org are great resources.
Are you a vegan? If so, why did you decide to switch to a vegan diet?