What do you think of when you hear the word vegan?
What are your conceived notions about vegans? Are they crazy? Are they functional in society? Heck, could you even go as far as becoming possibly the f word (friends) with a vegan?
And what is veganism anyway? Doesn’t that just mean someone who only eats celery and carrots?
Ok guys, I know that’s a little extreme. But really. Many of us associate the word vegan with some negative connotation or stigma. But why?
Well, to point it simply: The Standard American Diet, also known as SAD (ironic right), mainly consists of highly processed, sugary, salty, fatty, greasy, and “animal-y” foods. When you ask someone what their favorite food is in America, you’re likely to hear responses such as macaroni and cheese, bacon, pizza, ice cream, or perhaps a big and juicy hamburger. And with responses like these (in other words, the foods we love and eat often), no one wants to consider veganism because they automatically think they would have to give up these staple, addicting foods.
And that’s partially true. No, you cannot eat the typical Big Mac as a vegan. And the pepperoni supreme pizza has gotta go. Same with the cookie dough ice cream.
But here’s what’s amazing about plant based foods. We can mimic every single food out there traditionally made with animal products and make it incredibly healthier and in my opinion, way more delicious. For instance, you like lasagna? Try one with spinach, mushroom, and zucchini noodles. Craving some Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese? Try one with fresh, delicious, and creamy cashew milk sauce instead of with a yellow packet of artificial powder. And don’t get me going on black bean burgers, falafel, and lentil curries. My stomach is already growling over here as I type. And no, being vegan is not going to break your bank. A can of healthy and protein filled black beans is 88 cents. A head of lettuce is $1. A huge bag of rice with perhaps 20 servings can be found for under $10.
My point is many people assume a vegan diet is unrealistic and incredibly difficult in today’s modern society. But it’s not. Today marks my 10th day as a vegan and my only regret so far is why did I not do this sooner? I have been a vegetarian for over 7 years and I’m just now making the transition away from dairy. I should have adopted this lifestyle years ago.
So why didn’t I? Because of SAD. Because I too was under the impression that vegan diets were expensive. That you couldn’t eat anything at restaurants. That you could potentially create tasty home cooked meals but I wasn’t a good enough cook to do so.
I’m not sure if I can pin point one specific thing that made me go vegan. I have considered it so many times and…I don’t know. Last week something clicked.
I can say though that I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS LIFESTYLE! It has not been hard for me at all. And I feel amazing. I feel purer, lighter, and greater self awareness and love. It truly feels natural. (I must include here though that I made 2 subconscious mistakes: 1) Consuming popcorn with white cheddar and 2) eating pesto made with parmesan). These were completely unintentional and I have learned to be more careful about checking ingredients on labels. In fact, I downloaded an app called “Vegan Pocket” that allows you to scan food barcodes and it will automatically tell you if the product is vegan or not! Pretty sweet.
Overall, the main reason I choose not to consume animal products is because I think the meat industry is extremely inhumane. However, since doing my research on veganism, I am now also doing this for the environment. Did you know the meat industry produces more toxic gases (18% of the total) than our entire transportation system (13%)? That’s right. Driving that mighty pickup truck is better for the environment than eating a burger. This statistic includes transportation by car, plane, ship, and train. I won’t get too specific on facts, however, I do want to mention a couple that I found extremely intriguing:
- Livestock production uses 1/3 of our planet’s fresh water.
- Each hamburger we consume is the equivalent of tearing down 55 square feet of forest.
- Americans eat an average of 270 pounds of meat each year.
- It takes about 2400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.
- (To go along with #3) You need 48 times as much water to produce the same amount of beef as vegetables.
- The average vegan saves 219,000 gallons of water each year.
- Factory farms produce 500 million tons of manure each year. And that’s just in the US.
- Since 1970, we have cleared over 90% of Amazon rainforests.
- The University of Oxford estimates we could save $730 billion dollars a year by reducing meat consumption.
Now let’s shift to some facts in regard to slaughtering:
- On average, a factory chicken gets about as much room to move as the screen size of an iPad. (Keep in mind they are fed to grow up to 65x the rate as average, cannot even spread their wings, have 1/3 of their beaks chopped off, and often times cannot support their forcefully enlarged bodies with their small legs that also only have hard wire to rely on for support.)
- Cows in the wild live about 20 years. A dairy cows lives 3. (They often die from exhaustion and then are dragged to the slaughterhouse.)
- Baby chicks who are males are often shredded alive or thrown away in large plastic bags and left to suffocate. If they cannot lay eggs, they’re not making the big dogs money.
- Male piglets often have their balls chopped off…while fully conscious.
- Chickens can be killed at a rate of 140 per minute in large slaughterhouses. For cattle, it is 400 per hour. They often are hung upside down and die by bleeding out. Shun guns work only sometimes. And that’s if the facility even uses them at all.
Finally, I want to list a few films I watched recently that I think are important to see. Don’t you want to see where that 270 pounds of food you eat a year comes from?
- Food Inc.
- What the Health
But don’t worry. These videos show more than just slaughterhouse raw footage. They show how a plant based diet IS attainable. I truly believe if everyone watched movies like these we would have way more vegetarians and vegans in the world today. As life is currently, most of us know deep down that our food was not prepared humanely. However, we want to avoid thinking about things like that. We just want to eat tasty meat and ignore the facts. And I was guilty of this for years too. So don’t feel bad after reading this. Instead, please feel inspired! Look online and find a vegan recipe. Search your pantry for fresh fruit, whole grains, and beans or legumes. Create a recipe! See for yourself meat is not needed to have a satisfying, yummy entree.
I really don’t want this post to be perceived as shamming meat eaters. The majority of us were raised in a culture that featured a SAD diet. It’s what comes naturally for us. But I do think considering the environmental and animal humaneness factors, a plant based diet is at least worth considering, Even simply reducing your meat intake can do wonders.
Part two will be posted shortly. I want to compare the health risks associated with SAD to the health benefits of a plant based diet. If you cannot do it for the planet or for the animals, then do it for yourself!
Love you all.
Be my guest. FACT CHECK me below.