Veganism is quickly on the rise. Between its health and lifestyle benefits, veganism is a known way to contribute to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Here are 5 reasons why you should go vegan.
Eating meat and dairy products is bad for the environment. The production of meat products is incredibly damaging to the ecosystem and creates loads of pollution. Dairy farms also create a huge strain on the environment. According to WorldWildlife.org, “Dairy production has a considerable effect on climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. In the US, the greatest sources of these emissions in milk production include feed production, enteric fermentation and manure management.” There is a lot more that goes into dairy farming than one would think. Dairy cow poop puts a huge strain on the environment. Cow poop emits an enormous amount of methane into the atmosphere, the most dangerous of greenhouse gasses. By eating vegan, you are doing your part to reduce the consumption of dairy, thus reducing the production of dairy. Vegan foods, even those that are processed, as much more sustainable to produce than dairy and meat. Overall, if you are looking to do your part to live a more sustainable lifestyle, switching to a vegan diet is a great start.
It’s no secret that dairy and meat products are not good for your health. Yes, dairy and meat products do offer some benefits like calcium and protein, but they are far outweighed by their health risks. Furthermore, calcium and protein can be found in healthier foods. According to the American Cancer Society, “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And it has classified red meat as a probable carcinogen, something that probably causes cancer.” Red meat is of course a popular staple in the western diet, but new science suggests that it’s not beneficial for your health in the long run. While dairy is less risky, a 2012 study suggests that full-fat milk consumption increases the risk of deadly cases of prostate cancer in males. Plant-based diets not only avoid the health risks associated with meat and dairy consumption, but offer unique health benefits. According to a 2013 study, “The major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibility of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower body weight, decreased risk of cancer, and a reduction in their risk of death from ischemic heart disease.” Overall, not only does dairy and meat consumption cause possible harm to your body, but veganism and/or a plant-based diet will avoid those harms while also providing your body with unique health benefits.
There is no better time to try out a vegan diet! Plant-based meals are becoming more and more accessible at grocery stores like Target and especially Whole Foods. Brands like Morningstar Farms and Gardein both are sold in Target. These brands turn regular western non-vegan foods into a vegan alternative. These are great ways to dip your toes into a vegan diet. You might be surprised that most things taste extremely similar to the meat or dairy product. Speaking from personal experience, the Morningstar Farms “chick’n” nuggets taste just like real chicken. There are also more vegan options available in popular restaurants and fast food places nowadays. Some restaurants even have full vegan menus. Point is, it is way easier to be a vegan now than it was, say, 15 years ago. So if you believe the stereotype of vegan meals being hard to come by, think again. It is easier than ever to adopt a vegan diet and will only get easier over time.
Meat and dairy products are not produced ethically, point-blank. In 2019, a video went viral of an undercover investigation of Fair Oaks Farms, the farms behind popular milk brand Fairlife. The video showed graphic abuse against the animals on the farms. One person was actually taken into custody over animal cruelty charges. There was an outcry about the abuse these animals were facing, and there were calls to boycott Fairlife. This is great that there was awareness regarding this specific situation, but this abuse happens throughout the dairy industry. No one brand is more ethical than the other. Some brands use deceitful marketing terms like “cage-free” chickens. In reality, yes, these chickens are cage-free, but they are packed into an extremely tight space with other chickens in often worse conditions than a cage. These “cage-free” environments lead to pecking and cannabilism of chickens and are no more ethical than chickens in cages. Furthermore, people tend to believe it’s unethical to eat cats and dogs in western culture and shame other cultures for simply having a different assortment of animals in their diet. Let’s just agree that meat and dairy production are immoral no matter the animal involved. Mass production of foods that require animal bodies will always be produced through cruel means. A vegan diet is the best way to directly combat this, as all foods are only made from easily mass-produced plants.
Vegan diets can be much cheaper than diets that rely on dairy and meat products. According to a recent study, when you use olive oil as your source of protein versus animals, you save $750 a year. The stereotype is that vegan diets are way more expensive than the standard western diet that includes meat and dairy products. However, that is just not the case, at least not anymore. The aforementioned vegan options at regular grocery stores have done a great deal at making veganism more accessible, and veganism will only grow more prominent as time progresses. Point is, a vegan diet is cheaper than a meat-based diet currently and will only get cheaper as veganism is more widely adopted. According to recent trends, veganism is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. So if money was one of the reasons you are holding off on trying out a vegan diet, reconsider. You might end up saving money.