Full disclosure: I’m really only about 99% vegan. If a cookie looks good, I could care less what’s in it, and every now and then I break down and devour a slice of pizza. It’s rare, but I do it. For the most part, however, I stick to a pretty strict, plant-based diet, and I’ve never felt better.
Giving up meat was a breeze. There are so many great substitutes out there that, if you’re willing to meet them halfway and use a little imagination, can easily satisfy any meat cravings.
Of course, we all know that it’s really the cheese that nobody wants to give up. I’m not going to lie. Store-bought vegan “cheese” stinks. I will tell you, though, that the “I can’t give up my cheese” feeling you’re having right now—it goes away after a couple of weeks without cheese. Honestly!
I have personal reasons for sticking to a vegan diet: my sinuses have been clear since giving up dairy, I rarely get sick, I like animals… But I don’t want to talk about me. Instead, here are five much more compelling reasons to go vegan.
1. You Can Slim Down
Adult vegans are, on average, 10-20 pounds lighter than their meat-eating counterparts. Obesity is quickly becoming the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Our society is inundated with all sorts of fad diets that either don’t work or aren’t sustainable, and most people who try them eventually put the weight back on. Meat is high in calories. When you remove it from your plate, you make room for more healthful, lower-calorie, foods, like vegetables!
2. You Can Stay Healthy
A plant-based diet, which is naturally low in saturated fat, can lower your cholesterol, and blood pressure, hence leaving you less likely to develop serious health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, or stroke. A vegan diet also contains a lot of foods that help us fight cancer: fruits, vegetables, and grains. This is especially worth noting since the World Health Organization has stated that 40% of all cancers are preventable, and that a third in the U.S. are the result of bad nutrition.
3. You Can Help the Environment
Raising animals for food burns a lot of fossil fuels—11 times more than simply growing crops—and therefore contributes immensely to climate change. It also uses a lot of land; land for the actual animals and land for growing the crops to feed those animals. Overgrazed land leads to soil erosion as well as arid, infertile soil. And the waste from factory farms often pollutes water supplies.
4.You Can Fight Hunger
It takes 13 pounds of grain to create 1 pound of meat. In other words, current practice is to take 13 pounds of food and turn it into 1 pound. In the U.S., 49 million people are considered food-insecure, and worldwide, that number jumps to 842 million. If more land were used to grow crops to feed people rather than livestock, it would have a huge impact on the fight against hunger.
5. Finally, Meat is Just Kind of…Gross
Factory-farmed meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids. Animal products in general are the leading source of food poisoning in the U.S. Livestock is also treated with huge amounts of antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics is leading to antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria. So if you happen to eat meat infected with these nasty germs, the antibiotics your doctor prescribes might not do much for you.
If a full-blown vegan diet is too drastic for you, consider cutting down. Skip the cheese once in while, implement an occasional “meatless Monday,” or check out your local farmers’ market for meat that was raised sustainably. Keep in mind, something is more than nothing.
Photo Credit: scripps.org