Modern research shows that meat consumption contributes to global warming, and society’s continued investment in animal products causes untold suffering to countless animals. Not to mention, research is also showing that consuming animal products may have adverse effects on human health.
November is World Vegan Month. Even if you don't adopt the lifestyle permanently, any reduction in your consumption of animal products will provide a host of benefits! Here’s why you should get into the spirit — or, if you’re vegan already, how you get others in on the movement.
Reasons to Go Vegan
Whether you tried vegetarianism for World Vegetarian Awareness month in October or you wanted to wait for November to get started, it's time to check out the vegan lifestyle. Reducing your consumption of animal products benefits animals and the environment. It can also improve your health in multiple ways. Here are just a few reasons to go vegan:
Protecting the Environment
Cows and pigs are among the biggest producers of methane in the United States. This chemical is 20% more powerful than carbon when it comes to trapping heat. You can reduce your carbon footprint more by adopting a vegan lifestyle than you can by purchasing a hybrid!
As you read these words, the Amazon rainforest burns. Did you know that some farmers intentionally set fires to clear the land for cattle production? As a result, we have lost countless animals and plant species permanently. Adopting a vegan lifestyle protects irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rainforests. You could potentially save a plant that will someday cure diseases!
Preventing Animal Suffering
Imagine living your entire life trapped in a tiny cage. You can't turn around, and when you lie down, you rest in your own waste. That's what life in a gestation crate feels like for breeding sows.
Dairy cows have their calves ripped from their sides within the first 24 hours of birth. Male chicks are tossed — alive — into meat grinders because they can't produce eggs. You can choose not to contribute to this suffering by ceasing consumption of animal products.
Enhancing Human Health
Totally plant-based diets have been linked to lower risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Animal products like beef and pork can be high in saturated fat. Consuming this type of fat can cause artery-clogging cholesterol levels to elevate.
Eating processed meats like ham and bacon may cause further adverse health effects. Researchers reviewed 800-plus studies and determined that consuming 50 grams or more of processed meat every day increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18%. Some research also indicates elevated risks of other diseases as well, such as stomach cancer. Meat processing methods such as smoking the meat allows cancer-causing chemicals to proliferate.
Strategies for Adopting the Lifestyle
There are so many reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle — why not give it a try? You can take the vegan pledge at any time in November or beyond. After you experience the benefits, you might decide to make the diet permanent!
If you're new, you'll need strategies for success. Give a few delicious vegan meals a try to get you started.
- Breakfast: Blend Greek-style fortified soya yoghurt with phytonutrient-rich raspberries and blueberries for breakfast. Layer it with nuts like walnuts and almonds. You'll get lean protein as well as a calcium boost to start your day. Blend in some fortified nutritional yeast to get your B vitamins, including vitamin B-12.
- Lunch: Select a lunch rich in plant proteins to power you through your afternoon. Mix a bowl of quinoa, kale and spinach and top it with veggies in every hue for additional phytonutrients. Top your salad with a vegan green goddess dressing rich in avocados for healthy fats.
- Dinner: You can find vegan convenience foods, but exercise caution. Many frozen meals contain tons of added salt and sugar. Instead, grill up some Portobello mushroom burgers. You can make vegan cheese from ground cashews and nutritional yeast. Serve with a side of baked sweet potato fries for a hefty dose of vitamin A.
- Snacks: Smart choices can help you to get enough calories and protein from your vegan diet. Chow down on peanuts and mixed nuts including cashew nuts — make a unique blend at a health food store instead of opting for salty store blends. Mix up a hummus dip for crudites. Make some instant pot vegan burritos for a 3 p.m. pick-me-up.
Go Vegan for November… or for Forever!
It's easy to take the vegan pledge — you can do anything for 30 days! You'll sleep more soundly knowing you're doing your part to help animals and the planet. In fact, you'll probably feel so good that you may even want to remain cruelty-free for life.
Kate is a health and sustainability journalist from Pennsylvania. She is proud to live a fully vegan lifestyle and share that experience with others through her writing. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her blog, So Well, So Woman.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.