Ever wondered what the big fuss about veganism is all about?
I decided to write this post to explain the benefits of being vegan and why more and more people are making the transition.
Who knows…maybe after reading this, you will too!
- The Growth of Veganism
- What is a Vegan?
- Why Go Vegan?
- Vegan Benefits
- Is Being Vegan Healthy?
- “Should I Go Vegan?”
The vegan diet is exploding.
In just the last two years alone, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of vegan packaged foods in supermarkets; vegan dishes on offer in restaurants and the availability of plant based milks in coffee shops.
I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting more vegans in my day-to-day life – something that never happened in the early days of my vegan journey.
At first I just thought I was noticing these things because I’d gone vegan. You know, when you take up a strong interest in something and suddenly everything reminds you of that thing.
But it hasn’t just been my imagination. The stats prove it. Going vegan is becoming mainstream!
The Undeniable Growth of Veganism
- There are now 542,000 vegans in the UK. That’s up three-and-a-half times since 2006.
Tesco says demand for vegan and vegetarian ready-meals and snacks has soared 40% in the last year alone.
- Vegan foods now account for 9% of of all new food products in the UK last year, compared with 3% in 2012, according to Mintel.
- Pret-a-Manger claims it’s experienced a double digit percentage rise in sales of vegetarian and vegan options, which led it to expanding its animal-free food choices earlier this year.
- The number of people taking the Vegan Society’s Vegan Pledge has risen nearly four-fold from 3,656 in 2014 to 17,411 in 2016.
- Ocado found it’s vegan food sales in the UK were up 1500% in the last year.
What is a Vegan?
The agreed definition of a vegan is somebody who does not eat any part of by-product of an animal, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey and gelatine.
They also generally do not buy, wear or use items that have been made with animal parts, such as leather, fur, cosmetics, or household cleaning products.
Additionally, vegans will not support any practices where animals are used against their will for entertainment or gain, i.e. circuses; animal testing.
Why Go Vegan?
The fact that the adaption of a vegan diet is becoming so popular should be enough of a reason to tempt others to join in.
However, many people are still in need of convincing. And hey, I get that – I was once there too.
Here are some of main reasons to go vegan:
1. Animals are sentient being that feel pain and want to live – just like us. They are not faceless products, but have unique personalities and emotions, just like cats and dogs.
The meat, fishing, dairy and egg industries cause immense suffering and pain to these creatures. By going vegan, one person can save around 100 animals a year.
2. We have no need to consume animal products to survive. It has been proven by science. As natural plant-eaters, we can easily get all of the nutrients we need from plants.
In fact, the ADA – the US’ oldest and largest authority on diet and nutrition, states that a vegan diet is nutritionally adequate and may provide benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
3. Going vegan doesn’t just help animals – it helps people too. If everyone were vegan, we could potentially feed the 1 billion humans on the planet that are starving and malnourished.
Farming animals is actually grossly inefficient. Studies have shown that we could be using the same feed we use to feed animals to feed animals directly. Crops like soy and lentils provide as much protein pound for pound as beef, sometimes more.
The upshot of it all? Animals take significantly more food than they provide from the global food chain.
4. Animal agriculture is the single greatest human-caused source of greenhouse gases, land use and land degradation. It is also the number one cause of freshwater pollution and the leading driver of rainforest destruction.
The U.N has called for a global shift to a vegan diet wherever possible, as the most effective way to combat climate change, world hunger and ecological devastation.
Currently, intensively farmed animals need 30% of the earth’s land. This would become almost half of the earth’s land if we were to convert to ‘humane’ or sustainable farming practices (allowing 10 acres per cow). And pasture-raised cows produce four times more greenhouse gases.
5. The vegan diet has been shown to prevent and even reverse some of the world’s most chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.
6. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as ‘humane slaughter’. You cannot ‘humanely’ kill something that does not want to be killed.
There is also no meaning to terms like ‘cage-free’, ‘free range’, ‘humane certified’ or ‘RSPCA approved’. Most of these labels do nothing to protect the animal’s welfare and certainly don’t change its fate.
It’s important to put yourself in the animal’s position. How would you feel if it was you, or your family? ‘Might’ does not equal ‘right’.
7. Vegans on average weigh less than their meat-eating counterparts, according to a 2013 study. They are also at lower risk of obesity.
8. A vegan diet has been shown to reduce the symptoms of many ailments, thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Such ailments include arthritis, asthma, allergies, high cholesterol, digestion issues and high blood pressure.
9. Meat is actually gross. During the slaughtering, processing and packaging stages, animal flesh becomes contaminated with faeces, bacteria, microbes and other bodily fluids. Many samples of chicken sold in UK and US supermarkets are regularly found to have high concentrations of campylobacter – a dangerous bacterium that causes 2-4 million cases of food poisoning a year.
If the ethical, environmental and health reasons aren’t enough, here are some of the personal benefits I’ve experienced since transitioning to a vegan diet.
- Clearer skin and fewer acne problems. This is thanks to the omission of dairy from my diet.
- More energy and better brain focus. Because of my higher intake of fruits and vegetables, I feel energised and never need to rely on caffeine. I also never feel sluggish or lethargic, due to missing out the heavy animal products that can slow down your digestion. I am much more productive and can easily manage long days.
- Increased confidence. I know this sounds weird, but when I became vegan I felt more confident in myself; in life. I feel better about what I’m eating, knowing I’m making a smaller impact on the environment. I also feel good knowing I’m nourishing my body from the inside out, and it felt empowering to stand by my decision in the face of disagreements from others.
- More awareness. Being more mindful of what I’m eating and what I’m buying has led to an increased awareness in my life overall. I think I’ve always been a sensitive person on some level, but I’m now a lot more aware of things that go on in the world; kinder to myself and others and more mindful of how I spend my time.
- A better body! I don’t wish to affirm any stereotypes here, but changing my diet really did lead to me taking care of myself more and my body is all the better for it. Once I changed what I eat, it led me to realise that exercise and being kind to your body is also important. Since going vegan I am stronger, more flexible, have increased endurance and recover faster. It definitely took some time, but the benefits are there.
- A great relationship with food. I have always had a healthy appetite and approach to food, never really worrying about calories or what I ate. But being vegan has grown that to a whole new level.
Now, I can enjoy food for a variety of different reasons – it’s healthy, it tastes good and it hasn’t harmed animals. That, for me, is the icing on the cake. For a true foodie like myself, I could ask for nothing more!
Is Being Vegan Healthy?
It’s true when we say there are as many ways to eat vegan as not to eat vegan.
If you’re a junk food fanatic, you can still sate all of your junky desires, in a vegan version. If you’re looking to get healthier or clean up your diet, you can do this with or without being vegan.
Therefore, a vegan diet is essentially as healthy as you want it to be.
That being said, however, there are so many benefits that a vegan diet offers over omnivorous and pescatarian diets. These include lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, not to mention a zero intake of mammalian and synthetic hormones; significantly reduced intake of saturated fat; higher intake of fibre, and in many cases, improved digestion.
And no, protein deficiency is not a thing.
For me personally, I believe a well-balanced vegan diet is always going to be healthier than a well-balanced omnivorous diet. Having practiced a healthy diet which did once include meat and fish, I’m confident that leaving those things out of my diet has definitely been the right thing for me.
However, everyone is different, and some ailments prevent people from efficiently digesting greens, beans and pulses…at least, at first.
“Should I Go Vegan?”
If you’re currently asking this question, my answer to you is YES!
The very fact that you’re considering it, and bothering to do some research, means you’re already in the right frame of mind to begin approaching a vegan diet.
Veganism can seem scary at first if you haven’t contemplated this way of eating before. But so long as you keep in mind that it is possible to get all of your essential nutrients from plants, as well as improve your health, alleviate suffering to others AND help the environment…it really is a no-brainer.
So if you’re thinking about making the change, go for it and don’t hesitate. The time for making any kind of change is now!
Have you ever considered or are considering a vegan diet? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to ask me any questions! I’ll be happy to help 🙂