Many factors came together, seemingly all at once, that fueled my desire to learn about what I was putting into my body and where my food came from. I was struggling with getting weight off from my pregnancy, dealing with high blood pressure and a heart rythym issue that was causing problems because of the extra weight. My 1 year old was diagnosed with an egg allergy, so I was reading ingredients on everything (holy eye opening Batman!) and my father was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. All of these things were happening within months of each other and I was overwhelmed with the drive to make changes. After watching documentaries, reading books and blogs I made the shift to a plant based diet for my health initially and then embarked on the journey to living a vegan lifestyle, for the animals, the environment and for health. Read more about my journey here, and the resources that were most helpful to me in the transition.
So why go vegan?
The Vegan Society is one of the most prominent names in the vegan world. They work towards making veganism an easily adopted and widely recognized approach to reducing animal and human suffering. Since they say it best, I have included their fundametnal reasons why you should consider becoming vegan.
For the animals
Preventing the exploitation of animals is not the only reason for becoming vegan, but for many it remains the key factor in their decision to go vegan and stay vegan. Having emotional attachments with animals may form part of that reason, while many believe that all sentient creatures have a right to life and freedom. Specifics aside, avoiding animal products is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation everywhere. A more detailed overview on why being vegan demonstrates true compassion for animals can be found here.
For your health
More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the health benefits: increased energy, younger looking skin and eternal youth are just some of the claims from enthusiastic plant eaters. Well, eternal youth might be a bit optimistic, but there are certainly many scientifically proven benefits to vegan living when compared to the average western diet.
Well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world's biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. For more information on living a healthy, vegan life, check out our nutrition section.
For the environment
From recycling our household rubbish to cycling to work, we're all aware of ways to live a greener life. One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products. This goes way beyond the problem of cow flatulence!
Why is meat and dairy so bad for the environment?
The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment - from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe. This land contributes to developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow cash crops for animal feed, rather than food for themselves. On the other hand, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet, making the switch to veganism one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.
Just like veganism is the sustainable option when it comes to looking after our planet, plant-based living is also a more sustainable way of feeding the human family. A plant-based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity due to a myriad of environmental and socio-economic problems, there's never been a better time to adopt a more sustainable way of living. Avoiding animal products is one of the simplest ways an individual can reduce the strain on food as well as other resources, especially considering the lack of which disproportionately affects the poorest people all over the world.
"Why Go Vegan". VeganSociety.com. The Vegan Society. 23 June 2015.