While every day is an opportunity to improve, New Year’s Resolutions are particularly popular when it comes to personal goals for the coming year. We could opt for a new diet that we will likely ditch after a few months, but why not aim for a lifestyle change that will be sustainable in the long run? Changing how you unconsciously live is not going to happen on its own, it will take commitment and dedication beyond the desire for a beach-ready body. Your resolution for 2019 can not only change your life, but it can help the planet and everyone who depends on it. You have to ask yourself, do you want to be healthier, happier and live in line with your ethics? Let’s hope the answer is yes because the payoff from changing the way you live will reverberate into every aspect of your life. While the list is endless, here are the health, environmental and ethical reasons why 2019 should be the year you go vegan.
Improve your Health
Eating a plant-based diet is an incredible way to protect your health long-term. Heart disease, stroke and several types of cancer have all been linked to our consumption of animal products. Consuming the typical Western diet results in typical Western diseases. Heart disease is the top killer in the Western world and it is the result of a diet heavy in animal products. Since the 1980’s Dr Esselstyn has been using a whole food plant-based diet to halt and reverse heart disease in its path of destruction. A study from the Pritkins Cancer Research Institute found that the blood of a vegan individual fights off cancer cell growth eight times more effectively than someone on the standard American diet. Many people think that these diseases are entirely based on genetics, but our genes are influenced by what we put into our bodies. We may be more predisposed to a deadly disease, but by altering the food we put into our bodies, we give ourselves a better chance to fight off these diseases should they arise.
Beyond deadly diseases, eating a plant-based vegan diet can also aid in digestion. Our culture has a strong focus on protein while neglecting other vital nutrients like fibre. It is estimated that 97% of the American population is deficient in fibre, which creates discomfort in the bathroom. This is because animal products are nearly devoid of fibre while fruits, vegetables and legumes are packed with it. So if you want healthier and regular digestion, snub the steak and opt for plants instead!
Not only will your health improve by switching to a vegan diet, but the number on the scale is also likely to go down. Most diets are based on deprivation which makes them unsustainable in the long run. In contrast, a plant-based vegan diet is a life of abundance rather than restriction. Since plant foods are less calorically dense, you are able to eat without calorie counting. You can eat until you are full and feel confident what you are eating is nourishing your body. Free yourself from fad diets and instead change your lifestyle.
Protect the Environment
It is well known that we are facing a climate crisis and must act quickly to save our planet. While changing your light bulbs, taking shorter showers and riding a bike rather than driving are good steps, they pale in comparison to altering the way we eat. Animal agriculture accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry combined. This means eating animal products has a greater negative impact on the climate than all planes, trains, cars, trucks, boats and barges combined. This is even worse when you look at grass-fed meat, as this produces more than two times the methane compared to grain-fed cattle. Not to mention we don’t have enough land on Earth to meet worldwide demand for grass-fed beef.
Eating animals is eating up an incredible amount of the Earth’s resources. While we could pressure our Governments and corporations to resolve this issue, we as individuals also have a responsibility to reduce our impact. Due to our demand for animal products, livestock and the grain is grown to feed them occupy ⅓ of Earth’s ice-free land. Not only is it taking land, but it is also taking clean water and leaving us with polluted water. In the US, animal agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of water consumption. This is because it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of meat, or 1,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk. While you could opt to save water through shorter showers, you would have to skip bathing for 6 months to make up for a single ¼ hamburger. Not only can we reduce our water consumption, but we can also reduce our carbon footprint by 50% if we exclude animal products from our diet.
Every day as a vegan you save approximately 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 35 square foot of forests and the equivalent of 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. Not only are we protecting the Earth and its finite resources, but we are also saving lives.
We all say we love animals, yet most of us eat them. We say we`re against animal cruelty, yet pay for it every time we eat animal products By going vegan, you can rid yourself of this paradox and align your actions with your ethics. A new poll shows that 47% of Americans should be shut down and 49% support a ban on factory farming. Yet the only reason factory farms and slaughterhouses exist is because we as consumers pay to keep them open. Every time we purchase meat, dairy or eggs, we are voting for a world where animals are treated like commodities.
Every year, humans kill 56 billion land animals for food. This number does not include sea creatures who are not measured in individual lives lost, but rather in tons pulled from the ocean, which is in the range of 109 million tons every year. It is hard to grasp such staggering numbers as people do not have a strong intuitive sense of how much greater a billion is than one million. For example, one million seconds is about 11 days. While one billion seconds is 31.5 years.
We have been taught that consuming animals is normal, natural and necessary. While it is undeniable that eating animals is currently considered normal, this is quickly changing with the rapid rise of alternative lifestyles like veganism. By sharing the truth of these hidden industries, we can challenge the assumption that consuming animals is natural. The vast majority of people are justly repulsed to see what happens in slaughterhouses. While a true omnivore would salivate at the sight of blood, normal people lose their appetite, indicating that eating animals is less natural than we have been led to believe. While at one time it was necessary to eat animals to survive, this is no longer the case. We have access to supermarkets with an abundance of choice, so why do we continue choosing the food that causes so much suffering to our health, to the planet and the animals? Does the fleeting taste pleasure we receive from eating these products justify these concerns? Is our taste truly more important than the life of these animals?
Since 2007, half a billion fewer animals were killed because people are reducing their consumption of animal products. Every year, a vegan can spare the lives of 100 animals. You don’t have to give up the food you love either because there are incredible vegan alternatives to all your favourite foods.
I want to change my lifestyle, but how?
There has never been a better time to commit to living a more sustainable and compassionate lifestyle. There are vegan alternatives to please every palate imaginable, you just have to know where to find them. A good start is to sign up for Veganuary of Challenge 22, both of which offer free support to those looking to try a vegan lifestyle. They will team you up with a mentor who can answer any question you have and you will have access to certified dieticians for any questions concerning nutrition. In 2017, Veganuary had 59,500 people take the pledge. While in 2018, that number ballooned to 168,500. You are not alone in your desire to live a more ethical lifestyle and many people are waking up to their responsibility to eat more sustainably. Not only will you feel better physically and mentally, but you also have an opportunity to try new foods, restaurants and meet new people.
You have to ask yourself, what do you have to lose by going vegan?
While at the same time, consider all the things you have to gain.