This month I am super excited to post about World Vegan Month!
We would have all heard the common stereotypes “vegans don’t eat anything that casts a shadow”, “they just eat grass”, “it’s not healthy, protein comes from meat” and “vegans need to take too many vitamins”.
Well I can tell you, personally, I have heard all of these! Do not get me wrong, I am not a perfect vegan, sometimes I have animal products too, but I am trying and that’s all anyone can do.
It is important to understand it is not an all or nothing mentality, just because you are vegan does not mean you have to add solar panels to your house, grow out your armpit hair or make your own clothing from organically sourced hemp products. You can just have one vegan meal or dedicate a day per week and already that will make a positive impact on your health and the environment.
So Why Go Vegan?
After speaking to people who have made the change, I am sure you will find four common responses i) to decrease their environmental impact ii) improve their health iii) have more control of what they are putting into their bodies and iv) of course to make sure no animal is tortured or killed. If you have not watched the speech by Gary Yourofsky or the documentary, Dominion I highly recommend you do. Disclaimer, there is some pretty graphic content.
Facts & Opinions
If you are not eager to read 100’s of research papers to get the facts, have a look at the videos below which approach veganism differently and with different motivations.
Be a Bad Vegan by Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman – Love their final quote of “being bad never did so much good!”
After watching the videos you may pick up on some of these facts;
- Livestock farming is the second highest contributor to atmosphere altering gases
- Livestock farming produces methane which is 20% more poisonous than CO2
- 60% of greenhouse gases are generated by meat and dairy production
- Livestock farming takes up 83% of farmland
- Majority of livestock farmed are fed soy and corn products rather than grass (so just like us they are eating a diet their bodies were not designed to process leading to serious health problems)
- Approximately 30% to 50% of the world’s antibiotics are used in agriculture
- Meat and dairy agriculture is largest contributor land degradation, air /water pollution, biodiversity loss and water usage
- One vegan a year can save up to 5, 000, 000 litres of water through their consumption choices
- 30% of earth’s surface is dedicated to the agriculture of meat products, yet it only contributes 18% of calories and 37% of protein we need
What To Eat & Recipes
Not only does highly processed foods, meat and dairy increase health problems including heart disease, they also use more resources. The best thing about starting your vegan journey is that other people have made it sooo easy for you! There are a zillion YouTube videos, Bloggers, Pinterest pages and online recipes. Below are links to a few of my personal favourites.
If you are concerned about not getting enough nutrients, great news, the chances are you will be taking in more nutrients than your previous diet. A great resource for whole-food, plant-based foods and the health benefits of such a diet can be found in Michael Gregers book, ‘How Not to Die‘ or you can watch his TEDx Talk.
I know that this post focuses on all of the positives, however it is important when changing your diet, to consult with a health care practitioner and do your research. A common deficiency in vegans is the vitamin B12 and occasionally iron if you are not eating a lot of leafy greens.
If the idea of becoming more vegan appeals to you, than you can ease into veganism by becoming a flexitarian. Read this article from The Conversation to discover the flexitarian diet.
For some inspiration, or if you are already eating a plant based diet, here are a few recommendations of incredible places in Newcastle to dine out;
This is only a snapshot of veganism. The deeper a person explores this lifestyle, the more there is to discover. Veganism is tied to strings of moral principles associated with sustainability, healthy living and animal welfare. These avenues extend past what we put into our mouth and further into what we wear on our backs to what we choose to put on our face and the effects these have on our surrounding environment, the fauna and flora that live within it, as well as our fellow human beings.
Written by Sarah.