There’s a buzz about swapping the meat & cheese for plant based alternatives. If you have ever been curious about what it feels to live on a plant based diet or lifestyle, now’s a great time to dive into research to see whether it’s a good fit for you. If you brought up the topic of veganism to a random group of people, you might get one of two reactions: genuine curiosity or supreme hate. It has been so mind boggling for me to personally understand why so many people hate vegans, but then I can think back on every typical stereotype portrayed in TV, movies, and even through counterproductive comments & actions from well-recognized organizations like PETA. The thing to understand about any culture or way of life, is that it is so much more than dietary or what you can see on the surface. Each person has their own story and common belief that keeps them going. For me, education has been the driving force for my commitment to veganism. The more I learn, the more I’m validated in my decision to continue on this path & share what I’ve learned with others. Whether you’re considering going vegan or would like to better understand those living plant based, here’s a quick list of reasons it’s time to stop supporting industries that use animal products once and for all.
Reason #1: You Can Be a Voice For the Animals
Each of us is capable of so much in today’s society, so why not choose more compassion? Each year animals suffer from things like factory farming, cosmetic testing, poaching, and even exploitation/endangerment as a form of human entertainment. Although it varies species to species, animals were born to experience many of the same feelings and emotions as humans. In fact, they are able to develop bonds and often collectively have a longer span of memory than what most people would think.
Contrary to popular belief that the majority of today’s farming practices are now modernly humane, 95% of pigs are raised on factory farms where they can’t behave naturally. 3 out of 4 mother pigs in factory farming environments are confined in cages so small, they can’t turn around. Could you imagine having an itch, pain or concern you couldn’t address ever…especially while pregnant? Factory farming is the single largest source of animal cruelty in the world (World Animal Protection).
Humans are not obligate carnivores which means we make a choice each time to consume animal products. Each time we as humans purchase meat or dairy, we are directly supporting the suffering of animals. The act of taking a life is not something to be taken lightly, even if it happens by your part indirectly. Jokingly enough, vegans tend to be seen to have a more “gentle” and “soft hearted” approach to life because it is free from guilt of aggression. If you really break it down in modern day, the decision to hunt, torture, kill, shame, and exploit animals is completely unnecessary. Even if it is part of your culture, you have the ability to personally break the cycle and see what life is like without the need to consume animals or their products. We each have a chance to use our power for positive influence, one decision at a time.
Sure, we are all super busy and you might think you don’t have time worry about those types of issues. However, we only get one shot (as far as I know) at this life and it’s important to consider the consequences of our decisions. In the end, what will be remembered most is how you treated others and what kind of legacy you leave behind. I personally choose the path of least destruction, suffering & pain. For those that think “you can’t save them all“, consider the fact that consumer activity directly affects company decisions & their day-to-day business practices.
Reason #2: You Can Directly Play a Role in Protecting the Environment
When you stop buying into the meat & dairy industry, you are making waves on a much larger scale than you know. The production of meat and dairy from animals (cows, especially) has the worst impact on the earth itself, producing a reported 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases each year which is the equivalent to today’s collective transportation methods impact according to The New York Times.There are many more productive uses for the land used for animal slaughter and by-product production.
Already vegan? Fill out this form to find out your own personal environmental impact. I was proud to learn that I’ve saved 836,000 gallons of water, 30,400lbs of grain, 22,800 sq.ft of forrest, 15,200lbs of CO2, and 760 animal lives as an individual by being vegan a little over 2 years. Could you imagine the result if 3 out of 4 Americans was vegan?
To give you a better visual, food is at the very core of our climate change issue tapping too heavily into vital resources like water and land while simultaneously just casually crossing the line between livestock & wildlife. 94% of mammal biomass (excluding humans) is livestock meaning they outweigh us as 15-to-1. What’s worse is that out of 28,000 species in the world that are being threatened with extinction, 24,000 of those cases is linked to agriculture & aquaculture, a.k.a. the animal production industry. If those statistics aren’t enough to scare you, imagine that half of the world’s habitable land is being used for agriculture. Meaning, as our population increases along with our need for food production to sustain it, meat & dairy eaters are contributing to the decrease in available land for humans to live. California is a great example of what happens when regions are overpopulated with reduced resources: the feeling of being stacked upon one another. We currently have the ability to cultivate plant based products without the use of animals and to restore precious land…with more demand from average, everyday consumers like you & I.
Reason #3: Because You Should Protect Your Body From Toxic Chemicals
You can make serious headway towards natural healing once you move to a plant based diet. Many people do not realize the negative effects of animal based diets and are completely unaware of the ingredients hidden from consumers that cause them. Foods from animal sources like meat, fish & dairy have been established as products that affect a person’s risk of developing cancer (World Cancer Research Fund). This is because meat products, even natural & organic brands, contain toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide and ammonia. Eating animal proteins is now known to result in an increased cancer risk. Since many of the animals we eat are significantly larger or disproportioned in comparison to us, the levels of essential amino acids we ingest from eating them varies. This causes our bodies to produce higher levels hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which are known to promote cell division/growth that leads to the production of both healthy and cancer cells (Forks Over Knives).
What’s worse is the fact that the FDA allows 400,000 somatic cells (puss) before it is considered unsafe to drink (AnimalAid.org). Generally speaking, 100,000 is considered to be “uninfected”. This amount of puss is present in commercially pasteurized milk because of the continuous pregnancies & excessive milking which ultimately causes cows and other animals to suffer from mastitis. If you don’t want to take my word for it and think it only affects some of the cows, sit with the fact that because dairy milk is pooled together in large tanks (for mass production), so almost all dairy milk contains pus. These are common effects of the farming industry and just a shortlist of wrongs they are doing to innocent lives all over the globe.
On top of the statistics, the idea with eating a living being being injected with hormones to grow larger, faster and consuming the very bare minimum (at best) itself is enough to make me turn away any type of meat products. Traditionally speaking, we treat our gardens with tender care and respect before we harvest yet we choose to consume animals in such a brutal way that it doesn’t make much sense in comparison. Both are seen as food sources, yet we still choose to treat animals badly before they give their lives to us as humans. Surprisingly enough, making decisions with a negative impact affects us either consciously or subconsciously to some extent.This is true for what we eat, how much sleep we get, and what weighs on our conscience. Because of this, negative toxins can also build up in our brains causing adverse symptoms or worsening the state of your mental health. Look at it like compound interest and over time the only way to “catch up” or eliminate the toxins is by removing what is causing them to build up.
Reason #4: It Helps Save You Money
Not only will dropping the meat & cheese help you shed pounds, but it will also help you save some serious dough at the same time. Raw & processed animal products are often more expensive by weight, so the more ‘protein’ you add to the cart, the more you’ll see the price jump. Plant based meals at restaurants and fast food chains are typically cheaper as well because of the ingredient cost factor and because it’s always easier to leave an item out than it is to include it in an order. Faux fur and leather are also more cost effective across the board. Finally, being plant based also helps save you time by cooking meals faster. When you’re vegan, most of the cooking time is consumed by prep work, so you’ll be making dishes in half the time.
When you’re just starting out, it might seem like it will cost a lot based on first looks with how expensive some alternative cheese or meat alternatives and even organic produce can be. However, if you do research and are open to learning new recipes, then you’ll be just fine! For quick reference, products like produce, beans, frozen veggies, & pastas are super cheap. You can easily use canned sauces and preserved versions, but home cooked from scratch will always save you and serve your family better in the process.
I make my own sauces for dishes like stir fries and pastas and will opt out of buying many dipping sauces at the store to make smaller portions. I also make my own veggie broth out of scraps I save from chopping onions, carrots, & celery in the instant pot. If you don’t use processed foods in every meal, you’ll be in good shape! To give you a better advantage, I can tell you that you can save a little on your next produce trip by not spending extra by buying these foods organic: like avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, papayas, frozen sweet peas, eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, honeydew melon, kiwi (Eating Well).
Reason #5: You’ll Learn Cool Facts & Hone Into New Skills
Did you know that dolphins can sleep with only one side of their brain at a time giving them the unique ability to defend themselves from predators like sharks? They have even been known to save humans from them and are one of the few species of animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror (World Wildlife Foundation, UK). Each day, humans uncover more intriguing facts about animals that help us better understand how to interact with them and what they are capable of. We also learn more about the dangers some of our ‘traditional’ ways of thinking can cause them.
This is true especially for new vegans, but you will learn you have the capacity to create so much more than you could have ever imagined! Since becoming vegan over 2 years ago, I’ve made my own non-dairy milks, ice creams, sauces, and everyday meat/dairy alternatives. Being vegan helps force you outside your box by finding crafty replacements for things like eggs in baking recipes like ‘flax egg’. It’s how you’ll learn that mashed chickpeas make a great filler for ‘chicken salad sandwiches’ and that you can pack a lot of protein into a solid veggie burger. It uncovers a lot about the world like deeper elements of manufacturing, fashion, marketing, society & agriculture.
In addition to learning new facts about animals and insects alike and learning how to cook new types of foods that you can apply to endless recipes in the future…you’ll also be able to determine whether products are safe to be in your home in order to help mitigate your exposure to harmful toxins, which is an invaluable skill within itself. Among many other things, if you become educated enough on the topic, you could become a master debater advocating not only for animal rights, but humanitarian, environmental & so much more.
Reason #6: You Will Start Making More Ethical Decisions
Once you start looking more into the ingredients list into the foods you eat & clothes you buy, you’ll eventually move onto other areas of your life. Now that you have a grasp of the true impacts your day-to-day decisions have on others, you will likely start making more decisions in a more positive way. Each time you choose vegan, you are standing up for the animals so much more beyond them. Imagine of investing in all of the other topics you’re passionate about and what that could do for you.
That being said, becoming vegan just might might make an activist out of you…if you’re doing it right! When you’re on your path fighting for the animals, you’ll probably find yourself looking deeper into topics like global warming, slave & human trafficking, health, & legislation. It’s important to know what’s going on beyond your own day-to-day activities. It affects you, your family and future generations to come. How we act on a day to day basis will make a difference in what type of world we create for ourselves.
Because of the feeling of being free of the weight of guilt & newfound enlightenment, switching to a plant based lifestyle results in us wanting to contribute, share & collaborate for a bigger impact. We know what one of us can do, so why not find or help inspire more to become supervegans? You’ll want to share your new favorite recipes with friends & family and they’ll be impressed you can make your own vegan cheese and are saving innocent lives in the process. On top of that, it will cause you direct your personal funds towards something you truly stand behind and that’s a gift to yourself that just keeps on giving.
Disclaimer: It’s obviously not cool to approach people in a disrespectful manner for no reason simply because they are not living life the way that you do if it is not affecting you negatively. This goes for anything! It’s important to find the right types of connections that will be willing to listen because the topic of veganism is still so widely viewed as something out of the realm of possibility for many Americans today.
Reason #7: You Can Set a Better Example For Future Generations
When you live a life full of your most ethical choices, you are setting the best example for others around you and future generations to come. It can be hard to blaze your own trail, but it’s a worthy pursuit if you’re out to change the world. The goal is not to be perfect, but to share that slowing down to look at the finer details will ultimately help you make the best decisions moving forward with your life. It may not seem that important to you right now, but there are people counting on you to do the right thing whether they are vocal about it or not.
Whether you teach others or raise children, you’ll have an opportunity to share the skills you’ve learned to create a ripple effect in the universe. This forward thinking mindset can carry on for decades to come if we do our best to show others how to be independent and constantly question to better understand things. I find that those who are upset when questions are asked are those who do not sit comfortably with the truth of the answers to them or are simply not confident in their own knowledge.
Setting this kind of standard for yourself gives you a more worldly experience and makes you all that much more valuable to the world. You never know who is watching what you are doing and what could inspire them to make those kinds of changes in their own personal lives. Everyone is looking for the very best solution to every kind of problem you can think of, so if you know the best way… share it to help them navigate their own path.
Reason #8: You’ll live longer…seriously!
Recent research shows that a vegan diet can actually help you live longer as they tend to lead healthier lifestyles (Healthline). A diet diverse in vegetables offers the maximum amount of natural vitamins & antioxidants a person can get. It also helps you avoid many processed foods you might normally eat containing harmful chemicals. Over time, those ingredients weigh on the body and it can only do so much without you taking some kind of action before a negative health outcome.
When you look at the facts, it’s not really much of a revelation. By reduce your saturated fat intake, you give your arteries have more room to breathe! People also generally feel more energetic on a plant based diet leading to a better quality of life mental health. Think about how you might feel after eating a cow’s meat based burger. Many people I speak to share that they experience feeling “tired,” “groggy” and even “unfocused”. Over time your body can only keep up fighting to process that out of your system. The benefits of a plant based diet also play an important role in mental health. In fact, certain vegetables like mushrooms have also been used in diets to help alleviate some of the common symptoms of depression.
Lastly, a vegan diet helps you get your nutrients straight from the source. In contrast, an animal based diet should be seen as a third-party way to get your vitamins & minerals. Recycled nutrients consumed by the animal are then being passed onto you including whatever they were injected with before they landed on death row to get to your dinner plate. Not to mention, that the body has been treated with harmful elements in another facility to help slow the process of decaying. If zombies were real, I’m not sure they’d go anywhere near funeral homes would they? It only makes sense that we would live longer by choosing life day in and day out.
Reason #9: It Attracts The Right Connections
When you set your path and stand your ground, more people will start to notice you apart from the general crowd. Going against the grain isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it if you’re in it for the right reasons. The universe flows and you are only in control of the energy you exude. If it is positive, those are typically the types of people who you will attract in your life. It can be easy to get confused with someone who is attracted & not aligned with your core values because of the positivity you may bring. It’s important to self regulate who you are allowing into your space, especially if they don’t have your best interests at mind. However, if you find a true ‘tribe’, you’ll have a network filled with truly intuitive individuals.
It took me far too long to realize that it’s more important to do what is right than to be popular but I’m glad I started educating myself to be where I am today. I read something recently that said “Sharing how you truly feel won’t ruin the right types of connections”, and that’s so true! If you are uncomfortable with something, don’t feel like what is going on is right, or simply know for a fact that someone is being unethical then it’s perfectly okay to speak up. In fact, I wrote an essay on “doing the right thing” in grade school once that I’ve carried with me ever since that quoted the great, Elie Wiesel stating “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all“.
As humans we genuinely seek ways to relate to one another and you’ll find that through sharing your beliefs and passions with others. We don’t naturally want to lead conversations into conflict, but there are some close-minded people who feel threatened by their own knowledge of these topics being completely shook (i.e. the dairy industry, animal fashion, & health impacts). When I meet fellow vegans out in the world, it’s always a fun experience like listening to my favorite underground music. I always think, “these people really just get me“, and it’s more than just the food we share at the table. When you start leaning into your own true values and confidently expressing them, others who feel the same will want to be connected.
Reason #10: The number of worldwide vegans and resources keeps growing every year.
You’re not alone. More people are getting curious about plant based living each and every day. In 2020, over 400,000 people signed up for the annual Veganuary campaign, where people pledge to eat vegan during the month of January which doubled the amount of signups last year (The Guardian).
This year was also the moment interest in veganism hit an all-time high according to Google search trends with people searching in a variety of different languages. The United Kingdom, Australia, and Israel held the top three spots with the US coming in at 12/15 on the list (VegNews). Each year, we find out about more benefits and ways about navigating plant based lifestyles and there are more easily available vegan products hitting the market daily. Which gives hope that our age of innovation will bring us to more individuals choosing to be vegan.
Everyone has their own personal reasons for going plant based and it’s all up to you to decide how you want to live your life. In the end, we are only as valuable as the legacy we leave behind. Living plant based is a conscious, ethical & sustainable way of living and is not “taboo”. If you’re just starting on your plant based journey, then congrats! If you’re still on the fence or have questions you can reach out to me on Instagram at its_emeraldmay.
Stay tuned for more updates on veganism out in the world & more impacts. If you have any feedback or are vegan yourself, let me know in the comments section below!
As always, thanks for your love & support.
‘Til next time!