We all know that person living the vegan life. No meat, no dairy, no products that come from animals at any time, and they’re sticking to it. It’s easy to be snarky about this for some of us, I mean, that seems pretty extreme, right? Well, it turns out going vegan has tons of benefits, some of which may surprise you…
Most of us know that going vegan can help us lose weight because a vegan diet is generally lower in calories than other diets, but it can also help reduce the symptoms of many other common health-related problems:
- It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve kidney function. For those with type 2 diabetes, this can literally be a lifesaver.
- A vegan diet has been connected to helping protect against certain kinds of cancers.
- A vegan diet is more abundant in nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, and E, magnesium, potassium, folate. *Take care to be sure to supplement a vegan diet with nutrients generally found in some animal products, such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, and essential fatty acids. This can be done with either a vitamin supplement or making sure to eat plant-based products fortified with these kinds of nutrients.
- Vegan diets are particularly heart-healthy, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease.
- A vegan diet can help ease arthritis pain.
But there are other, more broadly significant reasons to adopt a vegan diet. These stretch well beyond our own well being, and affect the planet and the animals living on it:
- Water usage for the production of livestock can be largely detrimental to the earth- some estimate 27% of human water usage globally goes to the support of livestock. When there is mismanagement of factory farming, contamination of water is possible, including releasing pathogens and toxins into waterways and estuaries.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are a concern due to increases in methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and other airborne particulates harmful to humans, including certain viruses.
- Soil erosion and salinization due to the extraction of freshwater contribute to soil degradation. Overgrazing and deforestation can also contribute markedly to degradation.
- Many don’t realize the cruelty that animals suffer under, and the horrible living conditions they are subjected to in the name of factory farming.
To learn a little more about factory farming, and it’s negative impacts, click here.
These are all just a small fraction of the benefits of veganism and the detriments of cultivating animals on a mass scale for consumption. So what can we do? Straight up adopting a vegan diet, cold turkey (pun not intended) isn’t exactly easy, or maybe even realistic, for the average person accustomed to a menu where animal products are an integral part. Here are some ways to ease that transition, or plant some seeds here and there (pun intended) for meatless meal opportunities.
- Designate a regular day, meatless Monday, for example, where you make vegan dishes at home, and choose vegan while out in the world. This plan includes the kids, encourage them to make conscientious choices on those days while at school, out of school activities, etc. This isn’t a requirement, no need for guilt if it doesn’t work out. Just set the intention. If vegan’s too tough in the beginning, do vegetarian or a version thereof and move toward cutting out animal products entirely on those days.
- Stock your fridge and pantry with more and more meatless products, gradually cut back on meats and meat by-products on your grocery list.
- Find vegan/vegetarian restaurants in your city or town, make it a point to give them a try.
- Go hunting online for vegan recipes- there are so many good ones it’s impossible not to find something you and the fam will like.
I Love Vegan is a fantastic reference for anyone thinking about going vegan- or at least giving it a try. You may just find it’s the right lifestyle for you.