The number of people identifying themselves as following a vegan diet in the US more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, going from 1% of the population to over 2%. Just like vegetarians, people who follow a vegan diet do not consume meat. Along with not eating meat, vegans also stay away from any item that is an animal product such as leather, honey, eggs, dairy, non-cruelty free cosmetics, and fur. There are a variety of reasons people chose to follow a vegan diet, including ethical, health and environmental impacts. With so many grocery stores and restaurants offering vegan options, eating vegan is easier than ever.
While there are a lot of food producers and chefs who now cater to vegans, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is not easy. There are a lot of factors that should go into your decision, including whether maintaining a healthy vegan diet is an attainable goal for you and possible health implications, it is not a decision that should be made without considerable thought.
There are a lot of arguments for a vegan diet. The meat industry has faced increasing scrutiny for their poor animal welfare practices and pumping livestock with hormones to make up for a poor diet. Even with growing concerns and objections, many believe that most meat producers are not doing their part to humanely raise animals for food. For vegans, simply making an effort to consume products from well-cared for animals does not do enough to address the problem.
Another big argument for the vegan movement is the environmental implications the meat industry imposes. The meat industry accounts for over 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions globally. 2 Just under half of land worldwide is used for agriculture, and producing soybeans on 10 acres of land is able to feed 30 times more people than raising cattle on those same 10 acres.3
Many people also believe that following a vegan diet can drastically improve your health, some even claim that it can reverse the onset of heart disease and can cut down on your risk of some cancers. By eliminating your intake of foods that come from animals you can drastically cut or even eliminate high cholesterol levels (since animal products are the only source of dietary cholesterol), which is a leading cause of heart disease. Many of these claims have studies to support them, but it is important to discuss whether or not a vegan diet is a good supplemental treatment option with your doctor.
As is the case with any lifestyle change, it is important to look at the side-effects or difficulties associated. Although there are a lot of animal product alternatives and foods that are ‘accidentally vegan’ (like Oreos), many of these products are very expensive and sometimes hard to find depending on where you live. In places like Los Angeles, CA it is easier to find a lot of vegan options because of the high percentage of vegans but in places like Mississippi, the options are often few and far between. For vegans, it is very important to plan their diet based on the nutrients needs for the body to function properly, this often means having to add supplements for things like b12 and iron.
If you are considering a vegan diet, look at all the factors that go into making a diet change. It should not be something that is rushed into and as always, when looking into starting a new diet plan, it is best to contact your doctor to make sure that you will be getting the necessary nutrition your body needs.
Check out some of our favorite Vegan Recipes:
- Tofu Curry: https://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/tofu-curry
- Grilled Tomato Couscous: https://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/gegrillte-couscous-tomaten
- Black Bean Soup: https://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/schwarze-bohnensuppe
- Sareen, Anjali. “Interest in Vegan Diets on the Rise: Goodle Trends Notes Public’s Increased Curiosity in Veganism.” Huffpost Healthy Living. The Huffington Post, 03 April 2013. Web.
- “Meat and the Environment.” Peta. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Web.
- “Less Meat is More Neat.” Sustain Ontario. Sustain Ontario, 2014. Web.