Every day more and more people are becoming vegan. A recent study by compare the market reported that 7% of Britain, some 3.5 million people are now vegan. But what’s all the fuss about? Why go Vegan?
We are living through a truly incredible time. The internet is now a daily force in people’s lives and has the power to bring truths that once lay hidden into broad daylight. People are becoming more and more aware of the effects of their actions, both for their own health and for the health of our planet and society.
Not since Luther’s invention of the printing press has a more revolutionary change in how information is distributed been experienced. Traditional channels which were once used to control the conversation by the meat and dairy industry are no longer relevant. (Got milk anyone?) Instead information is now freely shared across the globe in the blink of an eye and the truth is beginning to surface.
In this spirit of revolution and change, we offer to you 16 powerful reasons you should go vegan this year.
1. REDUCE ANIMAL SUFFERING
56 Billion land based animals are slaughtered every year. The number of fish caught and killed is so vast that it can only be measured in tonnes. Cow’s are taken from their mothers. Male chicks disposed of at birth. Let these facts sink in, they are truly apocalyptic.
Generally we like to focus on the positive, bring our attention to the good instead of the bad, so here it is. By going vegan your very day to day existence is a living breathing protest against this barbarity. Each meal that you take becomes an expression of hopeful optimism that together we can do better.
2. FIGHT WORLD HUNGER
82% of the worlds starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals which are in turn eaten by people in western countries. We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people. Worldwide 50% of grain is fed to livestock. A vegan requires just 1/6 of an acre of land to sustain them per year whereas a meat eater requires nearly 20 time this.
Unfortunately world hunger and global food inequality are issues too large to solve so simply. The good news is that by going vegan you can make a differences. Studies have suggested that by growing food exclusively for human consumption we could increase available for calories by as much as 70% and feed an additional 4 billion people
3. HELP END WATER SCARCITY
Animal agriculture is responsible for 20-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today. Huge amounts of water are required to raise livestock with some 34-76 trillion gallons are needed every year. Very often this takes place in developing countries where water is scarce. Globally, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water per day, cows drink 45 billion.
4. ANIMAL PRODUCTS ARE DIRTY
The intensity of modern farming methods leaves animals prone to stress and disease. Mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland) is now a widespread problem in the UK dairy industry. Cows respond to infection by producing white blood cells which along with cellular debris and dead tissue are then expelled with the milk. The scary fact is that in the EU the acceptable maximum limit of these cells if 400,000 per ml – that’s 2 million per teaspoonful of milk!
Animals know when they are about to be slaughtered causing them to release the stress hormones noradrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals are incredibly harmful to the human system. Noradrenaline’s function in the body is to prepare it for a fight or flight response. It increases restlessness, feelings of anxiety and raises blood pressure. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, decreases bone formation and damages brain cells in the hippocampus resulting in impaired learning.
5. DO YOUR PART TO COUNTER GLOBAL WARMING
Global temperature is now increasing at the fastest rate since records began. This is a result of carbon dioxide and other gasses such as methane collecting in the earth’s atmosphere. This creates a blanket effect trapping in heat energy that would otherwise have escaped. Farmed animals and their byproducts are estimated to account for more then half of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane produced by cows is 25-100 times more damaging then carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Scarily, emissions from agriculture are predicted to rise 80% by the year 2050, this is simply unsustainable. There is hope however. A UN report states that reducing methane emissions from animal agriculture would have almost immediate effects on the rate of climate change.
6. THERE IS NO NEED TO CONSUME ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Many of us have grown up hearing the same message. “Drink your milk, it will help you grow up to be big and strong.” This would be true if we were baby cows. More and more people are coming to realise that animal products are not necessary to live a healthy life and in fact they can do more harm then good.
“What about me, I’m an athlete?” I hear you ask. This myth is falling too. Did you know that Roman gladiators were vegan? If they could survive the Colosseum eating a plant based diet you can probably handle this Sundays game against Drighlington FC. Still not sure? Take a look at this upcoming documentary on vegan athletes featuring American Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris, two time Australian 400m champion Morgan Mitchell and many other inspiring vegan athletes.
7. TRY DELICIOUS NEW FOODS
Many people worry that by switching to a vegan diet they will have to eat a severely restricted and incredibly boring diet. This couldn’t be further from the truth! One of the joys about becoming a vegan is breaking free from the monotony of meat and two veg and discovering all sorts of new foods. From tofu to tempeh, quinoa to kale, there is a vegan smorgasbord of delights to try. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the definitively list of 50 vegan protein sources or these 10 basic vegan meals that take 30 minutes or less.
8. HELP PREVENT ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT SUPERBUGS
The World Health Organisation describe antimicrobial resistance as “an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.” The danger of antibiotic resistance is that once curable diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and even minor infections could become incurable.
Industrial farms have been adding antibiotics to livestock feed since the 1940’s. Today, nearly 80% of all antibiotics used in the United States are used on farm animals to promote faster growth and to defend against the unsanitary conditions they live in. It is estimated that some 75% of the antibiotics given to animals are not digested. Antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria then enter the water supply via animal manure.
Another common misconception about veganism is that its more expensive. This is true if you live off oreos and store bought ready meals, not if you are cooking for yourself. The staples of a whole food vegan diet, beans, rice, lentils, fruits and vegetables are some of the most abundant and lowest priced foods on the planet. By purchasing these ingredients in bulk and preparing your meals in advance you can save yourself some money.
10. LOWER YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE.
Heart attacks are the UK’s second biggest killer. 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women will be killed by a heart attack. In 2014 the World Health Organisation stated that up to 90% of heart disease problems are caused by our lifestyle. The evidence that a vegan diet helps to prevent heart disease has grown so strong that the President of the American College of Cardiology Professor Kim Williams has said “There are two types of cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data”
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It is worth mentioning at this point that just because you avoid the use of animal products, it does not mean that you are guaranteed to be healthier. Think about it, a diet of leafy greens, fruits and pulses will be far better for your health then beige coloured potato smileys and pasta. Writing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Ambika Satisa says “we found that healthy plant foods were associated with lower risk, whereas, unhealthy plant foods and animal foods were associated with higher risk”
11. FIGHT DEFORESTATION
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation. Up to 91% of all rainforest destruction can be attributed to humans desire to eat animal products. Slash and burn farming is a common practice for clearing land for grazing livestock with 1 acre of rainforest destroyed every second.
The rainforest is often described as the “lungs of the earth”. It’s an area of immense biodiversity and it is hoped that cures for many diseases can be found in rainforest plants. Unfortunately, we lose over 100 species of plants, insects and animals every day as a result of deforestation.
12. IMPROVE YOUR SKIN
One of the first things you’ll notice after turning vegan is an improvement in the health of your skin. Get ready to say goodbye to any blemishes and zits that might be troubling you. Why? There is growing evidence that hormones found in dairy can contribute to acne, additionally the insulin effects of milk and whey are linked to spot formation.
A vegan diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables will also be high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to reduce redness and fight inflammation, both of which are beneficial for clear and glowing skin. Be sure to have a think about your intake of omega-3 whilst following a vegan diet for the healthiest possible skin.
13. COMBAT OCEAN DEADZONES
Ocean deadzones are areas containing so little oxygen that animal life cannot survive. These deadzones can occur naturally but are becoming increasingly common due to human activity. Nitrogen and phosphorous, by products of animal agriculture are leading deadzone causes. The excessive nutrient content of animal waste depletes the oxygen in the water. The Mississippi river, laden with animal waste from farms across the American midwest lets out into the Gulf of Mexico – the largest deadzone on the planet.
14. WOULD YOU DO YOUR OWN DIRTY WORK?
Would you like to work in a slaughter house? Then why through your diet cause others to do so?
Abattoir work is often carried out by workers with a low level of education who may have few opportunities for other work. It has been linked with a spectrum of mental health issues including PTSD, alcoholism and drug abuse. Former slaughterhouse worker turned animal rights activist Virgil Butler wrote
” You shut down all emotions eventually. You just can’t care about anything. Because if you care about something,
it opens the gate to all those bad feelings that you can’t afford to feel and still do your job. You have bills to pay. You have to eat. ”
It’s easy to demonize and vilify those who work in meat production but true compassion is extended to all, not just animals or those who agree with our point of view. We must be very wary of falling into a “four legs good, two legs bad” group think.
15. LOWER YOUR RISK OF CANCER
Cancer rates are rising year after year. It is now estimated that 1/2 of those under the age of 65 will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. The good news is that only 5-10% of cancer cases are caused by genetics. The remaining 90% is down to smoking, lack of exercise and dietary choices.
The consumption of dairy products has been linked to various forms of cancer, and has been shown to lower breast cancer survival rates. Drinking milk increases a mans chances of getting prostrate cancer by 34% and just one serving of animal protein boosts the level of cancer promoting insulin-like growth factor.
Fortunately people are beginning to take notice. The World Health Organisation now classifies bacon and sausage as carcinogenic to humans. A recent study found that nearly 30% of UK meals in January contained no meat or fish at all.
16. GOING VEGAN IS EASIER THEN EVER.
Never before has it been easier to go vegan. All the major supermarkets stock vegan alternatives to most “traditional” foods and the internet is awash with information to help you on your way. Take a look at the Vegan Society and Veganuary for some fantastic resources as well as our own page on becoming a vegan.
Thanks for reading! We hope this blog post has helped some of you move towards a plant based diet. Be sure to sign up to our mailing list below for weekly recipes and vegan news.