We live in a world that is in constant threat of extinction – whether it be war, terrorism, everyday violence, or the one we all fear but chose to blissfully ignore: Global Warming.
Yes, that big looming threat that is literally and figuratively hanging over our heads and holding a gun to our and our children’s futures. You might wonder what this has to do with following a plant-based diet — all you wanted was a healthy new lifestyle and perhaps a hot, new-and-improved bod. However, bear with me. We will get to all the benefits of this lifestyle soon, but in order for us to truly commit (let’s be honest, most of us abandon diets as quickly as a child abandons his or her parent when a new toy is presented), we must understand the lifestyle and why we choose it — it’s not just for that lean body.
Yes, we all want to look and be healthy, but one thing that a plant-based lifestyle can guarantee you, that I know the other diets cannot, is the fact that you will literally be contributing to the wellbeing of the world, as well as its inhabitants. How many of us can truly say that with satisfaction and a peace at heart?
This article will allow you to see why following a plant-based and cruelty-free lifestyle is not only the best for you as an individual, but also for humanity, its furry and non-furry friends, our ecosystem, and the future of our planet. If you are one of the few who have made the decision to ignore this enemy, or perhaps some of the few who have just thought the increase in extreme temperatures, famine, natural disasters, and the global sea-level rise is “just, you know, a part of the ‘circle of life’,” then this article will serve to enlighten you on this “little” matter — or even prompt you to delve deeper into this highly controversial subject.
What is a Plant-Based Diet and What Does it Exactly Entail?
A plant-based or vegan diet is a lifestyle where you deliberately choose not to consume any animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as purchase or use products derived from animals, like leather, fur, and wool. You also try to avoid using any products that are tested on animals.
The Vegan Society defines it as such: “veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Now, does that not sound like a cause worth fighting for?
Do not allow your comfort zone to pull you back into passivity, this is easier than it sounds and we have substitutes for all the products you might hate to part with. There are substitutes that are exceedingly tastier and healthier than the real deal, and you know what that means? No more guilt and calorie counting!
If that does not get you on the animal-friendly train, perhaps the following will.
4 Reasons Why a Plant-Based Diet is The Way to Go:
1. Ideal Body Weight:
You have tried every diet and pill out there but you still cannot seem to lose that extra weight or stick to those strict guidelines of what to eat and how much to eat of it. Well, when following a plant-based diet, get ready to lose all those extra pounds without pausing a conversation mid-sentence to quickly count how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left to consume (if you’re like me, my calorie consumption usually ended by lunch).
Now, don’t go thinking the pounds will just magically disappear overnight. As with any diet, it does take balance and patience, but the results are amazing, permanent, and most of all, they are healthy. You will not be overweight, nor will you be underweight — you will be your ideal self!
What if you want to tone or build muscle? Not a problem, in fact protein in this lifestyle can be found in abundance without having to take a life for it. Here are some examples of protein-packed foods: Lentils, Hemp Seeds, Chia seeds, Quinoa, Spirulina, Nutritional Yeast, Nuts, Beans, Tofu, Edamame, and many more. There are some great examples of vegan bodybuilders out there, all you have to do is look and you will get some great sources of inspiration and advice. Rumanè Grey is a great example of someone to follow on Instagram. She is a bikini competitor and has previously competed as a non-vegan, but has since decided to become a vegan and is now in training for her first competition as one.
With regards to protein shakes, simply opt for a plant-based protein powder. There are some great plant-based protein shakes out there, Vega One being one of those examples. Did you know that whey protein powders haven’t even been regulated by the FDA yet and that some have contained heavy metals, like cadmium and lead? Go look at the great infographic on Art of Wellbeing to find out more about why plant-based protein shakes is the whey (get it?) to go.
2. Healthy Body, Mind, and Soul:
Yes, I will be using the cliché that having a healthy body leads to having a healthy mind and soul — especially when it comes to choosing the vegan lifestyle. By not consuming the fully hormonal and drug-packed animal products out there, you stand the chance to prevent and even reverse some of the devastating diseases out there, for example: Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart disease, High cholesterol, High blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and many more. Don’t believe me? Go read Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram’s story on how eating a fully raw vegan diet led to the demise of her hyperglycemia, or look at the list Nutrionfacts provided. Many more examples can also be found in the film Forks Over Knives.
How about your mind? According to studies, gut inflammation — which is caused by “bad” microbes (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) — can cause depression and many other mental health diseases. Studies are also being conducted with regards to microbes playing a role in autism and a person’s tendency to become violent and aggressive.
These studies weren’t conducted by vegan activists, but by scientists trying to find solutions to the mental difficulties individuals face in society. These are good examples to consider when adopting a healthier lifestyle. By going vegan and organic, you stand the chance to reverse and remove these challenges from your life. Being someone who would often find herself in a state of depression, to such an extent that I was on medication, I found deliverance in my faith. However, many times that darkness would still try to swing by unannounced, ready to attack and consume me, and I would have to put on my armour and defend myself (which was often too much trouble). Today, with all honesty, I can say that ever since I adopted a vegan diet, the enemy has evaporated. No medication – just my plant-based diet and my childlike faith.
This leads me to why a plant-based diet leads to a healthy soul: how can it not? By not consuming and using animals products, I am not buying into a market that chooses to exploit, abuse, rape, and murder innocent creatures. I am choosing not to rip young ones from their mothers in order to make special delicacies that will only be processed in ways that are immensely unhealthy and decrease my lifespan.
Did you know that cows form relationships with other cows, that they get excited when they solve problems? Did you know that pigs are smarter than three-year-old children, that they have over 20 different vocalizations, and that given the proper amount of space they are the some of the cleanest animals? How about the hens we choose to strip of their eggs? These hens are very caring and affectionate mothers. They can recognize over 100 individuals. Their chicks we choose to serve up scrambled can live up to 20 years. The list goes on.
These fellow earth inhabitants are smart, they feel and they understand. Not contributing to their deaths makes me feel like a better human being, it makes me sleep better at night knowing my dinner didn’t die screaming in agonizing pain. It is simply illogical to want to try and protect some animals and then turn around to eat others. That is why my soul is at ease, I am living in peace with all of creation — making me feel closer to God (or whatever you choose to believe) and nature.
3. Veganism-1, Global Warming-0
Remember that ugly and monstrous threat I was talking about earlier? Well, there is a way to ensure it does not get any worse than it already is. Ready for it? Veganism. That’s it folks. It’s as simple as choosing not to endorse the unnatural reproduction — in other words the rape, torture, slavery, murder, and mutilation of innocent beings for food, clothing, and cosmetics that we do not need.
You are probable thinking that I completely fell off the wagon somewhere to be able to link veganism to global warming. These are two separate entities — how can they possibly relate?
The following facts from Cowspiracy’s website will explain how.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions, this is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
- Livestock and their byproducts are responsible for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. In other words, 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Livestock are also accountable for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide — this has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for as long as 150 years.
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons per year.
- 2,500 gallons of water is needed to produce 1 pound of beef and according to the NPR, a person consumes 270.7 pounds of meat per year (take note this is in the United States).
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of the extinction of species, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
- We are currently in the largest mass extinction in 65 million years.
- Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year: Vegan = 1/6th acre; Vegetarian = 3x as much as a vegan; Meat Eater = 18x as much as a vegan
- The production of animal waste in the United States is 130 times more than human waste — 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually.
- Fish-less oceans are predicted by 2048.
- It is estimated that fishing vessels cause the death of as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals per year.
- 91% of the Amazon destruction is due to animal agriculture. In other words, livestock and feed crops.
- Up to 137 plant, animal, and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
- A total of 1,100 land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.
4. Demolition of World Hunger
Did you know that if every person followed a plant-based diet, world hunger could be combatted? According to The Huffington Post, we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people, which is the estimated number for 2050. However, the water and food that are needed is being allocated to overpopulated and unnaturally reproduced animals. For example: Cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day. This is food that could be used to feed the hungry. Instead, we choose a piece of steak over the hunger of a malnourished person in not only Africa (let’s get that stereotype out of our heads) but across the globe.
Cowspiracy also informs us that each day, a person who follows a vegan lifestyle saves “1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.” How amazing are those facts? You literally get to make a positive impact on the world with your lifestyle choices. We’ve all had those superhero fantasies of saving the world — now you can!
As ABC says on its cookie labels: “No single food choice has a farther-reaching and more profoundly positive impact on our health, the environment, and all of life on Earth than choosing vegan.”
More reading can be found on Sisters of Notre Dame as well as Cowpiracy’s website. I would also recommend watching the Cowspiracy documentary.
This article is not meant to “convert” or judge you, it is merely meant to show you the benefits of following a plant-based diet. It serves to bring to light the facts of a topic that has been disregarded as illogical, irrelevant, and something only for peace-loving “hippies.” In the words of the writer, poet, and animal rights activist Ashley Capps: “To be presented with the option to cause drastically less harm and suffering in the world: Isn’t this a gift? How could we not greet it with anything but gratitude?”