Veganism is no longer just for hippies or eccentric celebrities, the best part of 2010 is that it’s becoming easier and more accessible than ever: the growing interest in a sustainable, eco- friendly diet has finally made it possible to win friends with salad. Unconvinced? Keep reading.
1. It’s Healthy!
You are what you eat, and unfortunately what most of us are eating can only be deemed lazy and fast- Less than 10% of Americans eat a healthy diet. The amount of obese children in the U.S.A. has tripled over the last twenty-five years. So many people are obese that a new term, “Super-obese” had to be created to accommodate more than 5 million Americans. Balanced vegan diets are high in vitamins and antioxidants and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A diet established around vegetables and fruits will also prevents heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. Worried you will face a vitamin sufficiency? There’s a fabulous new invention called a multivitamin (you can even buy vitamins individually, like B12) that is more than happy to fill in any dietary holes, even if you do eat meat. Whether or not you choose to go vegan or vegetarian, eating less meat and participating in Meatless- Mondays is a great way to reduce your eco-footprint and to improve your overall health and well-being.
2. It counteracts climate change.
Don’t worry about buying a Prius, if you really want to help the environment the fastest way is to give up meat: livestock is a significantly larger contributor to climate change than the entire world’s transportation sector! 30% of the land in the U.S.A. is used to grow corn, the bulk of which to feed cattle to make them bulk up quicker. Which brings us to 3…
3. It’s ethical!
Cows are not meant to eat corn! Maybe it’s a quick way to bulk up cattle, but it’s also a quick way to cultivate E Coli. Whether or not you believe it’s right or wrong for humans to eat animals, the way we go about consuming animals is far from ethical. We are so removed from the conditions our meat and dairy are produced that we don’t necessarily associate our food with the animals they come from, and the livestock companies go out of their way to ensure we don’t recognize their methods of manufacturing meat. Next time you’re at the grocery store considering steak for dinner, consider that in the U.S.A. meat companies are not obliged to discriminate between meat coming from a cow and meat coming from a clone of a cow. The food industry is not treated in regards to health or ethics but with only business intentions: maybe as a consumer you feel it’s your choice to eat meat, but as far as the company that meat is coming from is concerned, the cheaper they can give you something you will buy the better, regardless of how it affects anyone else.
4. It conserves natural resources and endangered animals.
Raising livestock and producing meat drains large quantities of natural resources including the rain forest and massive volumes of water. Not only does it occupy a great percentage of water it is also responsible for 70% of the nation’s water pollution. More than 90 nations are guilty of overfishing, capturing extreme amounts of fish faster than the fish are able to reproduce, as well as polluting marine environments with chemicals and pesticides. On a global scale the amount of wild fish caught has rose 500% in the last 50 years, while the populations of large fish has dropped by 90%. In effect, the food industry is raping the planet of it’s natural resources and wildlife while chemically destroying it’s natural habitats. Not only is this irrational but also completely unnecessary since we are capable of maintaining a sustainable green diet.
5. It’s easier than ever!
As the Green movement grows in popularity, veganism is more accessible than ever! As the demand for vegan foods increase we are seeing growing aisles in grocery stores and new menus in restaurants. There are endless recipes and resources online just waiting to vegducate you!
How do I get Started?
1. Get in the habit of planning your meals. Take one night a week and look up recipes and buy your groceries around what you have planned.
2. Forget processed foods. They offer little nutritional value and you can never be sure what is really included in the ingredients- 70% of processed foods include some genetically modified ingredient and in the U.S.A. companies are free to include GMOs as unlisted ingredients.
3. Research! The internet is full of information, recipes and resources for vegans and vegetarians. The Vegan society and PETA’s GoVeg! campaign are just two of endless support systems. Still unsure? Try some delicious vegan recipes and see if you remain unconvinced!
Submitted by Guest Blogger Melanie Kozlan of Four Green Steps