Is Veganism A Realistic Alternative?
Do we really need meat or do we only think that we do?
For many people all over the world starting off any new year often means one or more New Year’s resolutions. Most often these promises to one’s self usually revolve around the commitment to get in better shape by beginning some form of exercise routine to build up muscles, reshape the body and, almost inevitably, lose weight. Sometimes, the resolutions can go so far as to change one’s diet as a way to reverse some serious health concerns such as high blood pressure or cholesterol counts. Whatever the reason for these promises, the one thing that everyone wants is to make some changes in their lives that will make them feel better – not only about their bodies but, often, about themselves as human beings.
One of the fastest growing and most talked about resolutions in recent years has been the trend toward taking on the lifestyle known as veganism.
(Note: “Veganuary” was so successful this year that meat producers feel the need to fight back – learn more.)
Now, many people are rightfully confused about the meaning of this growing movement as many people view it as nearly identical to vegetarianism. And, even those who have that much down generally can’t tell you what the actual difference between them is. So, to clarify that question let’s take a look at what separates them.
Veganism Versus Vegetarianism
To begin with, most people are familiar with the general concepts behind vegetarianism mainly because it has been in the public consciousness for far longer. In essence, vegetarians do not eat meat but they do tend to eat products produced by animals such as milk and eggs. And, even though there are some varying schools of thought within the vegetarian culture, there are no real or concrete differences.
On the other hand, Vegans tend to avoid, not only meat from animals, but also any products which are produced from them including eggs and milk. The thing is that, over the last decade or so, the vegan movement has gained a lot of steam because of the advancement of products which tend to conform to their standards but which offer replacements for products which would otherwise be off limits to potential vegan converts.
The New Meat
One of the key reasons for the growth in popularity of Veganism can be found in the growing number of products which are marketed as meat substitutes. Yes, there are now multiple products on the market which are increasingly good at mimicking the taste and, some say, more importantly, the texture of meat like beef and chicken. This has reached the point where the companies that produce them are getting an influx of capital from large corporations and other entities as these investors are seeing the evidence of growing acceptance in the wider culture for these kinds of products and all of the potential benefits that they could provide as the industry grows.
Understanding that, it’s time to take a look at some of the many reasons that more and more people all around the world are turning to veganism.
Right up front, it’s hard to say why any one person decides to become a vegan because there are many and disparate reasons for making that decision. Some are for health reasons, some are because they don’t like the idea of hurting animals and some are because they want to help save the planet and they have heard about the serious environmental consequences that the meat producing industries are causing as we try to find ways to combat climate change. Whatever your motives are, here are some of the top reasons anyone should consider becoming a vegan.
Many people would say that the reason for giving up meat and many of the other foods that don’t fall into the realm of veganism is simply to improve their overall health. After all, it is a well-established fact that vegans are far less likely to develop many diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Another reason, is to lose weight. This is most likely true as numerous studies have shown that vegans tend to lose as much as twenty pounds and, unlike many who get involved with any number of fad diets, vegans tend to keep off the weight. Aside from the general weight loss, it’s a well-known fact that eating less meat and processed foods leads to adherents feeling far more energetic than many of their non-vegan peers.
For those who remain unconvinced by these arguments there is also the fact that many people are coming to the realization that meat isn’t quite as savory as most of us have thought all along. Yes, if one wants to look at it from a different perspective, eating meat can be seen as a rather disgusting habit. After all, when one considers how the meat we eat is created it can be quite a turn off. For example, it’s a well-established fact that processed meats can contain feces, blood and other bodily fluids that make it the number one source of food poisoning in the U.S. Recent studies on one well-known brand of packaged chicken found in supermarkets across the country showed that over ninety percent of them contained a type of bacteria that leads to more than two million cases of food poisoning each year resulting in symptoms like diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
Another selfish reason to go vegan is that a lot of people say that vegan food is down right delicious. As a matter of fact, more and more people are finding out that they can continue to eat many of their favorite types of food including burgers and chicken based foods without actually eating beef or chicken. This is mainly due to the growing market for meat substitutes that we mentioned earlier.
Doing It For Others
If selfish thoughts won’t make you want to try veganism then making thinking about how meat consumption affects others will. Take for example the fact that it can take up to thirteen pounds of grain just to create one pound of edible meat. If all of that plant material were to be used to feed people directly we could make a huge dent in the number of people who are going hungry in the world today.
Can Veganism Help Save The World?
Producing meat has been shown to be incredibly damaging to the environment as meat production is a major source of pollution. In fact, if any person were to stop eating meat the effect would be more profound than switching to an electric vehicle.
Okay, maybe saving the world is a big ask for a lot of people but look at things this way – eating meat and other meat products like eggs and cheese can lead to a real loss of energy which can have a real negative affect when it comes to achieving your goals in life. And, it’s no secret that animal products can also be a source of increased cholesterol levels which can hamper blood flow in general, but can also lead to problems with sexual performance in men.
Anyway that one might want to slice it, the negatives that come with consuming meat far outweigh the benefits. And, even if none of what you found has changed your mind about giving up meat and meat products, maybe you could try something that millions of other people are doing and only buy meat which is produced through more humane processes and become a Humaneitarian. After all, if we have to kill animals to get the food we eat, we can all feel a little better about the lives that those animals have before their time on earth is ended to serve our needs.
Stay tuned for more articles about veganism in our Health section!