Veganism is one of the most influential movement of the recent century. The word “Veganism” has been thrown around a lot by media and popularized by various celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Beyonce (who took the 22 day vegan challenge) and even Bollywood celebrities like Kangana Ranaut.
So what does this word really mean? Well most people just assume a vegan diet is just another term for a vegetarian diet. Mostly includes fruits, vegetables and sometimes eggs. Well it is much more than that. A vegan is anyone who abstain from the use of any product or food that comes from animal. This includes saying no to milk and milk products, honey, leather, animal tested cosmetics etc. Now why would one go to such an extreme lifestyle. Well when I started thinking about veganism, it was mostly for ethical reasons. It was unsettling knowing that some animal had to be tortured so I can enjoy my ice cream. But as I started researching about veganism, I realized the issue was much more than just that. There are so many aspects to veganism than just ethics. I will cover some of them here in this article as below.
The biggest impact a meat eating diet has is on the environment. In fact, “animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all the transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause to climate change”- Jonathan Safran. In simple terms, raising animals for meat consumption takes up too much land, thus the need for deforestation. The animals raised in captivity need to be fed grains which need to be grown, thus requiring more land, more deforestation. Just to give a small example, worldwide, cows in total drink 45 billion gallons of water and 135 billion pounds of food per day, yes per day. Where do you think all this food comes from? More and more forests are cut down to plant trees like soybean and corn that is fed to animals raised for us to eat. “We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people”-Cornell Cronicles, yet why are there an estimated 780 million undernourished people in developing countries (FOA- The state of food insecurity in the world 2015). An approximate of 2 acers of rainforests are cleared every second for livestock and feed crops.
So if you are one of those vegetarian that do not eat meat but only consume milk and milk products, this fact will interest you. It takes around 1000 gallon of water to produce just one gallon of milk. This includes the water it takes for livestock grazing and water required to raise the crops being used for grazing. 51% of all greenhouse gas emission (more than two times the CO2 combined by all the vehicles in the world) is produced alone by captive livestock and their by products. The effects this has on the planet are catastrophic and could lead to grave consequences if action is not taken today!
Lets forget about the meat industry and just talk about the dairy industry. A glass of cow’s milk has about 70 calories, vs only 30 calories in a glass of almond milk. Almond milk also is higher in calcium (about 40% of DVR) than cow’s milk. The protein coming from cow’s milk is only about 4 grams per glass and not the kind that is easy to digest by the human body. Cow’s milk is also loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, required to raise a 60 pound baby calf into a 200 pound adult cow, but is not required or in any way healthy for the human body. Humans lose the ability to digest lactose after weaning. An estimated 75% of the world’s population is intolerant to lactose in some or the other form. Lactose is the sugar found in cow’s milk, and some symptoms of lactose intolerance are as follows. Abdominal pain, bleeding, nausea, indigestion, cramps, vomiting, bloating and gastric issues are just some of the symptoms that affect people with lactose intolerance. So can you omit milk from your diet and still have a well balanced diet? Well multiple studies including one by Craig et al. proves that “Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease.” (American Society of Nutrition, 2009).
Most meat eaters argue that vegan/ vegetarian diets do not have enough protein required for the human body to function well. This could be far from the truth. Plant based diet contain more than enough protein required for the body to function exceptionally well if planned properly. For example, a cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein, ½ cup of quinoa about 9 grams and a cup of cooked beans about 15 grams. Spirulina, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, amaranth etc are other very good sources of plant-based protein. To wrap, plant based diets are not only healthier for your body, but also will help you with fat loss and maintain an ideal body weight for long.
““In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” Issac Singer. Slaughter houses today are witnessed proof of how shallow humanity has gone. The milk that comes to your doors steps nicely packed with beautiful labels such as “fresh”, “organic”, “low- fat” is not really as pretty as the picture it portrays. Cows are generally malnourished, deprived of sunshine, hormone and sedated almost their entire lives. Once the female cow stops giving milk, they are sent off to slaughter houses to be turned into your neatly packed hamburgers. Animals are kicked, tortured, beaten up and often cramped up in very tiny spaces with no light all their lives. If you would not do this to your pet dog/ cat at home, how is it alright to torture cows/ pigs and chickens? Most chickens who get too old to breed or are sick are dumped and buried into large massive graves while still alive. Most also experience stif leg and locomotive problems due to over breading. All this so you can enjoy your eggs sunny- side up.
So when a vegan diet is healthier for the body, leaves lesser carbon footprints in the environment, and is more ethical, why not give it a try? Take up the 22 day vegan challenge, go meatless- Mondays or just omit dairy and dairy products from your diet. Take the first step towards a healthier you!
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