When I became a vegetarian, I was concerned with how the world would perceive me, but vegetarianism is much more commonly accepted than I would have expected. There is still some evident confusion as to what a vegetarian eats. (My favorite question of all time being, “Do you still eat fish?” The answer was and still is “no.” I believe that’s a question for my pescetarian friends.) However, vegetarianism is not as illy accepted as veganism. When I tell people that I have elected to also eliminate cheese, milk, eggs, etc. from my diet, the world breaks out into a frenzy, but there are several reasons why I chose to go the extra mile and start eating vegan.
Animals are mistreated in the dairy industry too. It’s much easier to recognize that we don’t need to eat animals to survive; likewise, it’s much easier to recognize that slaughtering animals is an unnecessary evil. However, recognizing that dairy products are also unnecessary and produced in an unethical way can be a bit more difficult. In early 2015, when I was first really wrestling with the idea of whether or not to go vegan/vegetarian, I encountered this Peta’s video “The WHOLE #MilkTruth.” (You can watch the video by clicking here, if you are interested.) This video shows several clips of how cows are mistreated at some dairy farms, images which haunted me until the moment I decided to go vegan. It’s a lot easier for me to look at a cow now, knowing that I neither eat them or support their abuse for my own personal gain.
Veganism is even better for the environment. Have you heard that the carbon dioxide emissions released by dairy cows is four times worse than the carbon dioxide emissions released by cars? If you have, then you know that choosing to eat vegan is just as beneficial, if not more beneficial, than choosing to drive a hybrid car. According to an article by ChooseVeg.com, which can be found here, opting to go vegan reduces carbon emissions 50% than opting to drive a Prius. Likewise, if you are more concerned with all the crops we will be growing to feed us vegans, ChooseVeg.com also asserts 70% of grains are grown in order to feed farm animals. So, if you want to go green, choosing to no longer eat meat is a great first step, but choosing not to consume dairy products as well is even better.
Veganism is better for your health. In the U.S., and many other first world countries, we are seeing a significant increase in obesity and, therefore, weight-related health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. While opting out of eating meat is commonly noted as one way to reduce cholesterol, for instance, Dr. Neal Barnard, who you may have seen recently in the Netflix What the Health? documentary (Click here to see the trailer), is a strong advocate for adopting a low-fat, high-carb plant-based to combat these and other health conditions. In fact, in 2009, Barnard conducted a study that revealed that those who followed a low-fat vegan diet experienced lower glycemia and plasma lipids than those in a conventional diabetic diet, which could mean that a low-fat vegan diet is the a stronger bet for combating, or least managing, diabetes. While more studies need to be conducted to establish this theory, it does illustrate that a vegan diet may be the route to better health.
Veganism is easier. When I was a vegetarian, I had to read ingredients very carefully before consuming many dairy products. For instance, I didn’t know that parmesan often contains calf rennet, and even though I was still eating dairy at the time, that didn’t mean I wanted to consume animal body parts. In other words, it’s a lot easier to be vegan than vegetarian because none of the foods I consume as a vegan should contain any animal products. I no longer have to worry that I am potentially consumed calf rennet, for instance.
While I think being vegetarian for two years was a great way to transition out of a standard diet, as well as is a much easier diet to follow, choosing to go vegan has been even better. I now feel more confident that I am not contributing to the mistreatment of animals, or the degradation of the environment, through the food I consume. I also have observed positive changes in my health, which I am probably most thankful for. I’m sure I left many reasons out for why I feel veganism is a better option than vegetarianism, but I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Can you think of any? Please share in the comments. 🙂
The featured photo was taken by Chrstian Widell. Find more of his work at unsplash.com.