For many, veganism is as alien as little green people from the planet Zorg, so thinking of even a couple of reasons to go vegan can be a stretch.
However, this is largely just a matter of ignorance as to why vegans choose to live the way that they do, not because they are fearful of making the change themselves. After all, why would you change to something that you know nothing – or at best, very little – about?
As with so many things in life, education is key. So, we decided to put together a list of good, solid reasons why going vegan should be considered by EVERYBODY. Once you’ve read it, you’ll hopefully understand why those of us who’ve already made the change see it as such a no-brainer.
Let’s get started!
Yep, we’re straight in with a big one here.
Making the change over to a whole food, plant based diet can make a HUGE difference to your health.
For example, did you know that regularly eating processed meat will increase your chances of dying from heart disease by a whopping 72% and make you 50% more likely to develop colon cancer – nice!
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the western world and colon cancer is the second most common form of cancer globally. (1)
Concerns are such that the World Health Organization recently classified red meat as possibly carcinogenic (Group 2A) to humans and processed meat as definitely carcinogenic (Group 1) to humans. (2)
Why would you want to eat something that’s likely to give you cancer? Because it’s tasty? If that’s the case, good luck with the hospital food, my friend.
NOTE: Please bear in mind, however, that as the trend towards veganism continues to grow, so does the amount of vegan junk food on supermarket shelves.
Eating this stuff WILL NOT benefit your health, so steer clear of the processed rubbish and embrace the fresh produce aisles for maximum goodness. If it doesn’t look as though it has been picked directly from a tree or pulled straight out of the ground, it’s probably wise to leave it well alone.
READ NEXT: CAN VEGANS USE LACTIC ACID
Following on from health, we have happiness. Going plant based can actually make you happier – hooray!
Reduced inflammation in our bodies and increased levels of vitamin C are just two of the reasons why this is thought to be the case.
Many people who adopt a whole food, plant based diet say that it helps them keep their depression in check, such is the power of an increased intake of fruit and vegetables,. It may not go away altogether, but episodes become less frequent and sufferers claim that they can handle them better when they do occur. (3)
As depression is currently affecting over 250 million people worldwide, wouldn’t you think it’d be a good idea to look at things that can help us naturally rather than simply prescribing pills on a whim? (4)
FIND OUT WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING WITH OUR VEGAN QUOTES LIST!
This is probably the one thing that springs to mind when non-vegans think about veganism, and it’s a big deal for most – if not all – people who choose to live their lives free from all animal products. Many would put it at the top of their reasons to go vegan.
Thanks to a multitude of factors, we no longer need to eat meat to survive. Sure, if you’re an Inuit living in Alaska, you are going to need to consume animals to get by, but on the streets of New York, London, Sydney and the like, really?
There simply isn’t any getting away from it – factory farming is cruel and barbaric, plain and simple. The problem is that we have all become so far removed from our food that we no longer recognise meat for what it is, a lump of dead animal.
What we see on supermarket shelves now has a huge degree of separation from the source, and many people are simply unaware of just how disgusting the meat and dairy industry is.
Animals are forced to live in the most abysmal conditions, but only if they are lucky enough to live at all, as another byproduct of the meat we eat is the wholesale slaughter of animals that never even make it to our plates.
For instance, did you know that a male chick born on a egg farm will be tossed into a high speed grinder soon after hatching just because the little guy cannot lay eggs? True story, and it is happening every single day.
It’s an old question, but would you really eat your pet dog? How about your cat?
If you answered with an aghast, of course not, then why are cows and pigs so different? And fish, rabbits, chickens, ducks, lambs, deer, goats, pheasants, turkeys and any other animal that we choose to consume.
Seriously, think about it. How can it be right that we kill other sentient beings for food when we wouldn’t in our wildest dreams consider eating a fellow human? Not even with a nice Chianti! (5)
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR POST ON VEGAN DOG TREATS TOO
Despite everyone banging on about CO2 for the last few decades, smart people know that there’s another, more lethal gas that is harming our planet – methane. In fact, methane is thought to be around 80 times more destructive over a 20 year timeframe than CO2. Cows alone produce 150 billion gallons of methane globally PER DAY. (6)
The practice of rearing animals for food, or animal agriculture as it is commonly referred to, is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The exhaust from ALL forms of transportation – cars, trucks, planes, boats, trains etc. – is a mere 13% in comparison.
Animal agriculture is also responsible for more species extinction than anything else. Habitat destruction obviously springs to mind, as large swathes of forests and land are being converted to grazing pastures and fields to grow crops.
However, there’s also the fact that it poisons our waterways with the chemical runoff that it produces and that, in many countries, predatory animals are being hunted to extinction simply because they pose a threat to the livestock that has taken over their habitat.
And, it’s not just on land. Possibly the worst hit part of our planet is the oceans, with the latest data suggesting that they could become entirely fishless by as early as 2048. (7)
Around 95 million tons of fish are removed from the planet’s oceans each and every year. To put that into another mind-blowing statistic, that’s thought to be around 2.7 TRILLION marine animals killed per year by humans in the pursuit of food.
Worse still, we only actually eat around a fifth of that. The rest is simply unintended bycatch that gets discarded. Think of that next time you order the shrimp. (8)
For more information on the impact that eating meat is having on the environment, we wholeheartedly recommend that you watch Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.
Oh, and check out some of the simple things we’ll be doing this year to help the planet, too.
READ NEXT: CAN VEGANS EAT FAKE CRAB MEAT?
You’ll use far less packaging
Another enormous environmental benefit of becoming vegan is that it is highly likely that you’ll use a lot less packaging than those who choose to go beyond the fresh produce section of their local supermarket.
Granted, this really only applies to those vegans who adopt the whole food, plant based diet, as those who buy vegan processed food will still be using a lot of packaging, but the impact can be tremendous.
To give you an idea of the scale of the packaging problem, the Los Angeles area alone is responsible for 10 metric tons of plastic fragments entering the Pacific Ocean daily! (9)
Around one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every year thanks to plastic being discarded into our oceans. (10)
Packaging is largely used as a form of advertising under the guise of product protection. Increasing the surface area of a product allows manufacturers to increase the impact that their product has on the shelves, making you and I more likely to buy.
Fresh fruit and veg, on the other hand, has no such marketing gumph attached to it. Sure, your cucumber may come wrapped in a sheath of plastic, but when compared to the mountain of waste that is created by the average meat eating, processed food guzzling individual, the amount of packaging discarded by the saintly vegan is minimal.
RELATED: DITCH PLASTIC, USE STAINLESS STEEL LUNCH BOXES INSTEAD
And water, too
In order to rear an animal for food, you need a hell of a lot of water. More water than one could possibly imagine, actually.
A single pound of beef can take anywhere between 440 to 8,000 gallons of water to produce. To put the upper limit into some perspective, 8,000 gallons is the same amount used by an average family of four in a month.
One. Pound. Of. Beef.
And it doesn’t stop there. It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk; 477 gallons for 1lb of eggs; and nearly 900 gallons to get a measly 1lb of cheese.
In fact, animal agriculture is currently using 20% to 33% of all the fresh water consumed globally every year.
Eliminating animal products from your life can help save this precious resource, which is why it made our list of reasons to go vegan.
You can actually make a difference
Contrary to popular belief, you can actually make a difference by going vegan.
What do we mean? Well, PETA estimates that the average vegan saves around 200 animals every year, so that’s not a bad start.
But, there are also other, more subtle differences, such as how our choices in the supermarket can influence what we see on the shelves.
The only reason that there is so much junk food available is the fact that people are buying, period. However, the more people move toward a healthier diet, the better the produce in your local store will become. After all, these are businesses we’re talking about here.
Another difference you can make is leading by example. I can personally attest to this as since going vegan numerous people have asked me what I’m doing differently to lose so much weight and look and feel so much better. So, I told them, and now they are trying out the lifestyle for themselves.
Even some of the most ardent carnivores that I know are now limiting their meat consumption, it really is all about education. If you drop the stereotypical preachy persona and just get on with what you’re doing, people will ask, trust me.
That brings us nicely on to…
There’s no doubt about it, transitioning over to a whole food, plant based vegan diet can dramatically alter your waistline.
The best part apart it, though, is the fact that you won’t even feel like you’re trying to lose weight. Can you imagine that?
If you’re a serial dieter without success, going vegan may well be the answer for you. Why? Because you can literally eat as much food as you want – providing it’s the good stuff, of course. (11)
No more hunger pangs, no more guilty trips to the refrigerator. Going vegan works, and it works fast.
High in fibre, high in minerals, high in vitamins, cholesterol free and the only fats you’ll be eating will be good ones – how can you fail to lose weight?
Try it out for one month and you’ll never look back.
READ NEXT: BEST VEGAN MULTIVITAMINS
Improve your energy levels
Do you regularly feel low on energy in the afternoon?
If you do, it could be your diet that is causing your body to slump as the day wears on. However, as we’ve mentioned already in this piece, simply going vegan is not enough – it’s got to be a plant based, whole food diet that you strive for.
When you include plenty of nuts, seeds, berries and green, leafy vegetables in your diet, the results can be amazing.
You’ll feel more energized all day long and you’ll also find that exercise becomes something of a necessity in order to burn off some of that excess zip that you’ll have – it’s a serious win/win!
And you’ll save energy
Not bodily energy, but environmental energy.
Raising animals for food is extremely energy intensive, so by removing meat and dairy from your diet you will be doing your bit to make our planet a greener place to live.
While energy-efficient light bulbs help, cutting out meat can make a dramatic difference to your overall energy consumption, too.
For example, did you know that it takes around 40 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce just one calorie of feedlot beef? And, with a ratio of 57:1, lamb is even worse!
In case you were wondering, production of plant proteins requires a mere 2.2 calories of energy. That’s quite a difference, isn’t it?
It’ll come as no surprise after reading all of the health benefits listed above that vegans live longer than meat eaters on average.
With no artery-clogging cholesterol or saturated fat to worry about, it’s hardly surprising. But just how much of difference can it make to one’s longevity?
Click on the short, two minute video above by Dr. Michael Greger from NutritionFacts.org to find out.
Lower the amount of contamination you eat
Yeah, sorry about this one, but unfortunately it’s a fact that if you eat meat, fish and dairy on a regular basis, you’re also taking in a whole lot of contaminants along the way.
Yep, spinach has had a few horror stories associated with contamination, too, but these E. coli outbreaks still come in second to ground beef in the US and that doesn’t even begin to address all of the other contaminations that occur in animal products.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stated in the past that an astonishing 70% of all food poisoning that occurs across America is due to contaminated animal flesh.
Oh, and then there are the antibiotics and hormones that factory farmed animals are constantly injected with too. And, don’t forget the mercury in fish. Or the detergents found in milk. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.
Vegan food is just darn tasty
On a lighter note, there’s a fine reason to dive head first into the vegan way of life, and that is that the food is truly delicious.
While it can be difficult for someone who has eaten meat all of their life to think that a future of fruit and vegetables is going to fill them with joy and happiness, the truth is that eating vegan is just as tasty – if not more so – than the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is sweeping its way across the globe in a wave of consumerism.
Many worry that they won’t be able to get the flavour that they crave out of good ol’ veggies, but they needn’t.
It’s actually never been easier to live this lifestyle. There are now hundreds of vegan bloggers out there doing battle to bring you the very best recipes, so you’ll never be short of something new to try.
All it takes is a little know-how plus a few kitchen staples and you can create magnificent dishes every day of the week.
You’re not a baby cow
Well, last time I checked I wasn’t!
Many people do not even stop to think about what they are actually drinking when they guzzle down a glass of milk, but the truth is that it’s growth hormones for cows, plain and simple.
You’re basically consuming a liquid that is designed by nature to turn an 85lb calf into a whopping great 1,600lb animal in as short a period of time as possible else they may get eaten by a predator. And, then you wonder why you’re piling on the pounds!
Add to that the fact that once a calf has been weaned they never, ever drink milk again, and you can’t help but wonder why we continue to drink this stuff by the truckload.
The answer can probably be put down to one word – advertising.
The dairy industry has done a fantastic job in making people across the world believe that we humans simply cannot do without milk. Our bones will break, we’ll never grow up to be big and strong, you get the picture.
However, the truth is that milk can actually be BAD for your bone health and can increase fracture risk for women, as well as an increased mortality rate for both genders. (12)
So, with a plethora of dairy alternatives on the market, why are you still drinking milk?
It’s a little known fact, but animal agriculture does not just affect animals.
Every year, workers in abattoirs are subjected to horrific conditions, many of whom are undocumented immigrants toiling for ridiculously low pay. (13)
Can you imagine being surrounded by all of that death; day in, day out? For lots of these workers, they simply do not have a choice. It’s the slaughterhouse or go hungry as the people who have trafficked them over the border have the whip hand over their futures.
The meatpacking industry is also putting increasing pressure on all workers to perform tasks faster in order to keep costs down and some say that this is causing an increase in workplace related injuries in the sector. (14)
So, if you’re looking for a way to help improve both animal and human rights, going vegan is your answer.
End world hunger
Okay, this may seem a little fanciful to some, but hear us out, because of all the reasons to go vegan, this has got to be up there as one of the most important.
Few people know that we are already producing more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but we are.
A study conducted back in 2012 showed that we are producing enough food to feed 10 billion people. That’s 1.5 times more than we need, so why is that one billion people are still going hungry?
Well, the truth of the matter is that the food we produce isn’t always used for food. Not human food, at any rate.
Much of the perfectly edible grain crops that are harvested each year go to either the biofuel industry or, you guessed it, animal agriculture. (15)
Yep, we’re using food to make, err, food.
And it’s not just a little bit, either. Over 50% of all grains produced are fed to livestock, grains that could be used to end suffering in the very same countries where food is fed to animals in order to feed our meat habit here in the west.
Become part of a growing community
The final entry on our list is a good one to end on, we think.
Becoming vegan is very much a personal choice, but it’s one that you will make with the backing of plenty of others – even if you don’t know them yet!
More and more people are joining the vegan lifestyle, and as our numbers swell, so too does our strength.
Having famous people join our ranks can be enormously helpful in raising the profile of many of the points raised in this article, but it’s the ordinary Joe’s and Joanne’s like you and me that really make all of the difference.
So, if you have been considering going vegan or even if you have never given the reasons to go vegan a thought before, why not give it a shot?
Set yourself an achievable target – one day, seven days, 30 days, whatever you feel comfortable with – and go for it.
Oh, and don’t forget to keep us posted on your progress in the comments section below. Good luck!
About The Author:
David Bedford is a longtime vegan with a particular interest in nutrition and mental health. He is also a co-founder of happyhappyvegan.com.
When he isn’t sifting through PubMed or watching Dr. Greger do his thing, he’ll be banging away at a keyboard producing either copy or code. On the rare occasion when a screen isn’t in front of him, you’ll find David walking in the nearest available green space with his four-legged sidekick, Ralphie.
- Mayo Clinic | Heart Disease | https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118
- WHO | Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat | https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat
- Bonnie L Beezhold, Carol S Johnston & Deanna R Daigle | Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults | https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-9-26
- WHO | Depression | https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
- Marc Bekoff Ph.D. | A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience: No Pretending | https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/animal-emotions/201306/universal-declaration-animal-sentience-no-pretending
- Alejandra Borunda | Methane, explained | https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/methane
- Daniel DeNoon | Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048 | https://www.cbsnews.com/news/salt-water-fish-extinction-seen-by-2048/
- FAO | Discards and bycatch in Shrimp trawl fisheries | http://www.fao.org/3/W6602E/w6602E09.htm
- The Center for Biological Diversity | OCEAN PLASTICS POLLUTION: A Global Tragedy for Our Oceans and Sea Life | https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/
- WWF | Plastic in our oceans is killing marine mammals | https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/plastic-in-our-oceans-is-killing-marine-mammals
- Victoria Moran | The Vibrant Vegan Life of an Obesity Survivor | https://www.huffpost.com/entry/vegan-diet_b_1596997
- BMJ 2014;349:g6015 – Karl Michaëlsson, Alicja Wolk, Sophie Langenskiöld, Samar Basu, Eva Warensjö Lemming, Håkan Melhus, Liisa Byberg | Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies | https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015
- Sameer Farooq | Exploitation in the 21st Century: Illegal Immigrants in the Meatpacking Industry | https://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-4/farooq/
- Carey L. Biron | Meatpacking Workers Fight “Unacceptable And Inhumane” Conditions | https://www.mintpressnews.com/meatpacking-workers-fight-unacceptable-and-inhumane-conditions/187409/
- Emily S Cassidy, Paul C West, James S Gerber and Jonathan A Foley | Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare | https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015/meta;jsessionid=9D37ED58BAFB10EC9A8514B835C9A666.ip-10-40-1-113