Over the past year, I have been asked this question more than ever, soon it will be up there with where do you get your protein from? as one of the questions I most get asked. But you know what, to me that’s a good thing. I know many vegans immediately turn defensive and ready themselves for the omnivore vs vegan battle that is about to begin. But not me, not anymore, I welcome the question.
I really believe in finding the positive in everything and see it as a great opportunity to create a dialogue and explain some of the wonderful benefits of a being vegan. Why am I being asked this now more than ever? well much of it is down to the rise in the awareness and the popularity of a vegan diet.
You have probably noticed the huge increase of veganism in the media. Whether it’s the news of La Fauxmagerie, the first vegan cheese shop in London, causing consternation amongst the British dairy industry with the use of the word “cheese’. Or that Greggs the bakers have been in the news after struggling to meet demand for their vegan sausage rolls after selling hundreds of thousands in the first week of launch.
Either way the increased publicity is a great opportunity for us to engage with people and promote a vegan lifestyle.
As individuals, we are all motivated by different things, to get people to consider a change to veganism we need to look at what they value. So, to help you answer the question why go vegan? here are my top 10 most popular responses, five serious and five a little more light-hearted.
Being Vegan Prevents and Even Reverses Disease
Over the past century, we have seen an unprecedented rise in chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that the main factor behind such an increase has been the calorie dense nutrient poor diet prevalent in the west.
A diet that was heavy with meat dairy and processed foods, all of which we were told were necessary to keep us healthy. In fact, the links between a high meat diet and cardiovascular disease is undeniable. Even more so is that of processed meat such as bacon and hot dogs which have now been classed as a class 1 carcinogen by the (WHO) World Heath Organization.
The good news is that we now know that plant-based diets are not only conducive to optimal health and avoidance of these diseases but can reverse them. Why go vegan? let Marc Ramirez tell you his story on how he reversed his type 2 diabetes.
Being Vegan Means You Stay Slim and Live Longer
Well that’s sounds good! Long term population studies by physicians and researchers have found that whole food plant based diets are conducive to optimum health and health span. We recommend reading the China Study, if you haven’t already done so. Healthspan is longevity plus health, so living longer healthier!
The higher the amount of your diet that comes from whole plant foods the lower the risk of not only heart disease and type 2 diabetes but also many cancers, autoimmune diseases and obesity. According to the New England Journal of medicine in 2015 obesity accounted for 4 million deaths worldwide. In the US over 70% of the population are now overweight or obese.
In fact, in a study vegans were the only group that had an average BMI within the healthy limits. There are many reasons for this but primarily because overall animal products are more calorie and less nutrient dense when compared to plant sources.
Animal food sources also lack any fibre one of the most important single factors in maintaining a healthy weight as well as optimum gut health. In fact, when eating from whole food plant based sources it is very easy to obtain all the nutrients that you require and feel full without eating excess calories. A sure way to stay slim and live longer
Being Vegan Can Help Stop Climate Change and Save the Environment
Changing from a diet heavy in animal products to a vegan diet is the single biggest change that and individual can make to help combat climate change and slow the damage that we are doing to our planet. Why is this? well here are some facts for you. We know that greenhouse gas emissions are one of the many problems that we face today. In 2006, a report by the United Nations showed that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
This number is higher than the greenhouse gas emissions from all the transport systems combined, (that’s cars, planes trains etc.). A more recent analysis by Goodlang and Anhang estimates this figure could now be as high as 50%. Let’s look at some other startling statistics. It takes 15,000 litres of water, 5 kilos of grain, 15 kilos of topsoil and the energy equivalent of 5 litres of petrol to produce a one pound beef burger!
In the US over 70% of all grain produced is fed to livestock. Due to the excessive consumption of fish, all 17 of the world’s main fishing areas have either reached or exceeded their natural limits. What is even more startling is that over 35% of all fish is fed directly to livestock. In South and Central America alone over 5 million acres of rainforest are felled every year just to create cattle pasture.
The crazy thing is there is no need for it to be like this. According to a study by the council for science and technology 10 billion people could be sustained from present croplands if all ate a vegan diet. The good news is we are becoming more aware, and for anyone who wants more details we thoroughly recommend watching the documentary Cowspiracy which explains much of the devastation caused by the animal agriculture industry.
Being Vegan shows compassion to animals
Unfortunately, there still many people who want to argue this point when we say that we shouldn’t eat animals for ethical reasons. Usually the word tradition is raised, sometimes religion may be involved. We will hear arguments that animals aren’t intelligent and don’t think or feel. Then we get those who are just trying to be awkward or facetious when they say, yes but plants have feelings to.
So, let’s look at some of these points. The science is very clear and is shows that animals feel levels of stress, fear and pain in the same way as humans. Plants on the other hand do not have central nervous systems and although can respond to environmental stimuli do not feel. We hear the argument that animals are happy and “raised ethically” we see pictures of happy cows on our milk cartons, and hens playing in fields on our egg boxes but the fact is that none of these animals are living in natural conditions.
Dairy cows are artificially inseminated to become pregnant and then their calves are taken away and killed shortly after just so we can have milk in our coffee. One of the saddest things you can see is a mother running after her calf crying as it is taken away, and yet people will still say that these animals cannot feel.
The global egg industry is just as bad. Every year over 6 billion new-born male chicks are destroyed. Scientific studies have shown that young chicks are more intelligent, alert, and aware of their environment than human babies. Since males are of no value to the egg industry, they are treated as rubbish and either suffocated or worse still ground up alive in large industrial macerators.
Being Vegan Can help Reduce Human Hunger
As vegans, it is very easy to focus on the animal elements of a meat based diet but of course there is a human element as well. Humans all over the world also suffer because of the huge demand for animal products. How you may ask? Well everyday around the world approx 25,000 people die due to hunger or hunger-related causes.
In the US alone if everybody reduced their intake of meat by 10%, an additional 100,000,000 people could be fed using the land, water and resources that would be freed up from producing livestock feed. Water is another precious resource that has an impact on people’s lives.
A report by Environmental Working Group has shown that being vegan could save over 700,000 gallons of water per person every year. The only sustainable way to feed the population in the future which is predicted to be 10 billion by 2050 is to focus on plant base nutrition for all.
Being Vegan encourages you to cook
Ok so on to a few more light-hearted reasons in response to why go vegan? How about learning to cook and trying new dishes. Yes, food is essential for life and health but there is no reason we shouldn’t enjoy what we eat. Being vegan doesn’t mean that you are limited with ingredients, textures and flavours, in fact quite the opposite.
What you quickly learn as a vegan is how much wonderful variety that there is out there. Did you now that currently on our planet there are over 20,000 different edible plants. Think of all those different flavours and textures. It could be something as simple and tasty as our vegan lentil stew, our you may be feeling more adventurous and look to create something more complicated.
Either way cooking should be a fun flexible easy process. We are spoilt with a huge range of vegan cookbooks available, so there really is no excuse not to learn how to cook vegan
Being Vegan helps you Look and feel better
Who doesn’t want to look and feel their best. We have talked about how a whole food plant based vegan diet has been proven to reduce illness and increase health span but it can help remove allergies, improve your skin and your mood.
With at least 65% of adult population unable to digest lactose it’s no wonder that dairy can be linked to not just poor skin but a range of other allergies as well. Fruits and vegetables on the other hand which are both high in fibre, water and antioxidants are great at helping eliminate toxins and improve skin quality.
These same properties combined with the complex carbohydrates of unrefined grains and root vegetables help regulate serotonin levels. It is these attributes along with other additional factors that mean a plant based diet can significantly improve our mood, depression and anxiety.
Being Vegan Can Save You Money
Yes, that right you can save money, especially if you have taken our tip and learnt how to cook. Vegan diets can be really economical. The staple items in your kitchen should be grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds along of course with seasonal vegetables and fruit.
Many of these items have a much longer shelf life than animal products and in most instances the direct replacement of a legume or bean for a meat product will save you money. We looked at this in our article, is being vegan cheaper, a look inside our kitchen, and the result is without doubt that a vegan diet can not only be more nutritious, healthier and tastier than a meat based one but it can be cheaper to.
Being vegan has never been so easy
Well, that certainly is a fact. I “went’ vegan in 2010 and in just 9 short years I have seen a dramatic increase in the amount vegan options that are available. This of course is led by an increase in demand which means that major retailers are taking note.
The majority of supermarkets all now have their own range of vegan products and these ranges are growing by the week. This is also true for the majority of high street cafes and restaurants most of whom offer a variety of vegan options.
So even if you don’t want to cook, don’t know how to cook, or just fancy some time out of the kitchen, it has never been easier to go vegan with so many ready-made vegan options
Going Vegan makes you smell better
I had to finish with this one. After all who wants to be a smelly meat eater really! Ok so you may well laugh but believe it or not a recent study analysed the sweat of men who eat a diet of mainly fruit and vegetables, and found that it was “more attractive to women” having floral, fruity and sweet qualities.
If none of the other reasons have convinced you as to why you should go vegan, well maybe this one will!