Why you shouldn't joke about Veganism
A year ago we decided to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of animal products we were consuming. I never liked meat when I was younger, but had no real knowledge of what vegetarianism or veganism was. I had to eat the same meals as my family and therefore meat became a staple in my diet.
Removing meat from my diet though, has been easy. I don’t crave it, I don’t miss it, and I now feel physically sick when I do see it. I've noticed a huge change in my skin too, from someone who used to have acne all through school, nothing has made more of a difference than changing my diet. I've only had maybe 1 or 2 spots and pretty sure these were down to hormones. I don't feel sluggish or uncomfortably full anymore either. This part is going to be too much information for a lot of you, but for my girls out there, I now have the lightest pain-free ~times of the month~ ever. I used to get serious pain, bloating, emotions, ridiculous skin breakouts etc. But honestly I now have the easiest 3-4 day periods in my life, I don't even break out from it anymore, I barely notice it.
Whilst I was doing my research, I found some really interesting sources and statistics that made me understand veganism a lot more. For years I've brushed it off as a choice for hippies and something I could never afford. When in reality, it's a choice we all need to educate ourselves on. You can start by adding more fruit and veg to your meals like blueberries, avocado, kale and mushrooms instead of using meat as the main ingredient. I've broken up some information to explain the importance of veganism and why you really shouldn't joke about it.
1. Our planet cannot survive on its current diet
So animal agriculture is the number one LEADING cause of climate change. It is the leading cause for species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation (source).
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day (source).
One burger requires 660 gallon of water to produce.
In a year, a vegan needs a 6th of an acre of land for food, whereas an omnivore needs 18x as much.
Every day, 100 species of insects are killed by deforestation.
90 million tons of fish are pulled from the oceans each year.
91% of Amazon deforestation is due to animal agriculture.
50% of the crops grown in the world are for animal feed. We could feed every person in the world twice over with the crops we make for animals
These facts are broken down into an infographic on the Cowspiracy site that explains in more detail how for the world to survive, we need to stop eating meat.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death – largely due to a carnivorous diet. True omnivours and carnivorous do not suffer from this. We can live off 100% plants, but not 100% animal products. The World HealthOrganisation explains that processed meats are carcinogenic, meaning they can cause Cancer. A plant based diet helps you to loose weight, lower blood pressure, reverse diabetes, makes you live longer, lower heart disease and cancer risks (source here).
2. There is no such thing as cruelty free animal products
“It’s already dead”. That’s one of the arguments someone’s said when they heard I didn’t eat meat. And yes it is already dead (which in itself is an association that society has numbed us to – that is a dead piece of animal on your plate ..??!!) but animal products are marketed in such a way that the cruelty that was imposed on them is hidden. Cheese is made by “The laughing cow” who was artificially impregnated so she could be milked 3 times a day forcing blood, infection and puss out of her nipples until she can no longer produce milk, so she’s slaughtered. “Happy eggs” are made by the female hens that have had their beaks cut off and their brothers ground down alive into chicken nuggets (source here).
3. We are not designed to consume animal products
I can’t explain enough how important it is to understand that we do NOT need cows milk. Cows produce milk to feed their calves. Humans produce milk to feed their babies. Cows can only produce milk during or after pregnancy, so this means they are artificially impregnated every year, to then have their calves taken away from them so they don’t drink up all the milk. There is no one in the world that needs milk from a cow more than a cow.
Kale and broccoli have a high source of calcium and are digested twice as well as milk. Vitamin K is the superstar for bone health and this can be found in a number of green vegetables but not in animal milk. What we do get from milk though is pesticides, puss, saturated fat, hormones, feces and cholesterol.
We’re not designed to eat meat. Animals that are designed to eat meat have a vertical moving jaw that only goes up and down. "But cave men hunted for meat" I hear you say. Our previous ancestors got a larger amount of fibre in their diet than us now. They were scavengers, but not reliant on a meat diet. Our jaw goes in a grinding motion, like herbivores. We have salt receptors which is why we like meat because it’s usually covered in salt. Our stomach is a lot more alkaline than a carnivore, therefore making it harder to digest meat, as well as a long intestine which is designed for processing fibre. You can read more about this here.
4. The myth of deficiencies
We should think of eating food as a package deal. A handful of Kale provides you with a number of vitamins, protein, calcium, potassium, iron, fibre, omega-3 fats and other important nutrients for the body. A steak includes hundreds of antibiotics that that cow was fed (80% of antibiotics sold in the US goes to animal agriculture), salt, cholesterol, saturated fat, hormones etc. Plant foods have 64x more antioxidants than animal foods (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-is-the-healthiest-diet/).
The 2016 World Record Holding Strongest Man is a vegan. If you’re eating enough calories of a balanced vegan diet you will meet all your nutritional intake requirements. To find out more have a look at this site. It is scientifically proven that the healthiest diet is plant-based (source here). So if we’re not eating animals for health, then we’re only eating them out of habit and convenience, motivators that can easily be changed.
5. It IS affordable
One of the main reasons I had not changed my diet previously was because of how expensive I thought it would be. I thought living off a diet of fresh veg was unaffordable. But actually, you can bulk cook the same as you can with meat. Curry’s are our favourite thing to make with lentils and sweet potato (or anything with sweet potato). Once you’ve got some simple wholegrain foods and pulses in your cupboards like lentils, quinoa, brown rice, pearl barley, sweet potato, black beans etc. you just need to top up meals with seasoning and fresh veg and you can make meals lasts for days. And what’s even better is that you don’t have to be concerned about meat only lasting X amount of days in the fridge or getting warm when it’s been sat in your bag before lunch. We were on an extremely tight traveller’s budget last year and actually found it cheaper surviving on a vegetarian diet than constantly buying meat for our meals.
6. You won’t miss bacon
One of the first things my Mum said when I told her I was trying a vegetarian diet is that I’ll miss bacon sandwiches. Pretty quickly though, I realised when you crave meat it's usually because you crave the salt. The sauce it comes with, the BBQ flavour, the chips on the side, the crunchy lettuce in a kebab, the ketchup in a bacon sarnie, the roast potatoes and Yorkshires. You're unlikely to miss or crave plain cooked meat.
So what can you do? You can start by swapping your meals to vegetarian alternatives. A piece of buttery toast for breakfast or a full english fry up could just be the beans and mushrooms. Make porridge with almond milk and blueberries. Swap beef mince for Quorn, or tofu. Have a look at the sources I've sited in this article, and there are loads of videos on YouTube, as well as the Cowspiracy documentary you can watch on Netflix.
I hope this has made you think a little more about the surrounding factors of a meat free lifestyle, and why it's not just about being cruelty-free.
The only way our planet can survive is if we eat less meat. Reducing the amount of meat you're eating every week is the most powerful thing you can do for the environment and for your health.