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Good Reasons to Go Vegan

Lilly Gihl

Lilly Gihl

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By Annie Mannion
Making the switch to a vegan diet, which excludes consuming animals and all animal products, has recently gained popularity amongst celebrities and teens that idolize them. However, I believe that this upwards trend is, in fact, beneficiary to our society and the people who choose to alter their food intake.
I’d like to request you take a step back and really think about the food you eat, because what you consume not only affects your own body but the world around you. Most often, people decide to make the switch vegan diets for three main reasons: health benefits, prior success stories, and assistance for our planet.
Nowadays, obesity is a problem that has risen steadily in recent years with the introduction of numerous unhealthy foods. Parents specifically want to ensure that their children have a healthy start to their lives, so they don’t fall under the trap of fast food chains and other junk foods. By raising their children vegan, parents believe that the kids they raise will be extremely healthy. A study done by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) exclaims that children with plant-based diets grow up to be “on average, about 10 percent leaner then omnivores.”
The PCRM also discovered that people who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables “have lower rates of cancers of the lung, breast, colon, bladder, stomach, mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, and cervix.” Benjamin Spock, author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, recommends in the seventh edition of his work from over twenty-five years ago that children be raised vegan.
He believes veganism to be the correct choice for infants because of the possibility of contracting diseases and allergies from animals and animal products at a young age. His book is a big contributor to convincing parents that veganism is right for their child. With the influence of studies such as Spock’s, as well as hundreds of other testimonies exclaiming the health benefits of veganism, parents believe that they are helping their children for the better by putting them on a vegan diet.
Along with media and books encouraging people to become vegan due to health benefits, the main convincing factor for many people to make the switch to veganism are the sucess stories of other vegans. For example, the organization Vegan Outreach, founded to spread awareness of animal cruelty and encourage people to think critically about their food choices, understands that often the best way to discover the positives of veganism is to speak directly to vegans themselves. They have created a program called Vegan Mentors, where a person interested in discovering veganism can converse one on one with someone who has already made the switch. Mentors agree that although the chance for risk and complications with a vegan diet do exist, they themselves are vegan, and have lived to have healthy and normal lives. The stories presented about success of veganism makes it hard for people to turn down the opportunity to eat in a ‘new and improved’ way.
Our planet carries a heavy burden from the meat production industry. Raising animals for food uses up a third of the world’s crops and accounts for 22 percent of all freshwater used, while kicking out an awful lot of greenhouse gases. Most people don’t realize that the methane that comes out both ends of cattle is a greenhouse gas worse than CO2.
Also, raising cattle for food uses about eighty percent of the deforested areas in the Amazon. Meat production accounts for 22 percent of freshwater consumption as many agricultural areas see water resources growing scarce. Abstaining from meat may have an effect on ending world hunger, as hundreds of millions of more people could be fed with the resources now going to fatten up cows, pigs and sheep for the slaughter.
And the rate of meat consumption is taking off in the developing world, where it has been a rare luxury for most people but has become more affordable with growing economies. But Americans by far outpace the rest of the world’s nations in meat consumption, going through over 250 pounds per person per year, over 20 percent higher than any other major nation. Americans are not now in synch with how the rest of the world eats.
Although I could advocate the positive of veganism for an entire book, I must leave it at that even if you are not ready or willing to fully adopt the vegan lifestyle. Still, opting for some rice and veggies every now and then may do more good than you know. It is clear that eliminating over half your diet can be very challenging, especially for teens mostly focused on simply ingesting something to keep them running the extra study hour. Also, if not executed correctly, becoming vegan can harm one person as much as it can help another.
However, I consider the pros to outweigh the cons, and that the advantages to veganism make changes for the better. Becoming a vegan has changed my life in a positive manner, allowing me to feel like I am making a difference in the world with something as small as what I am putting into my body. I feel more confident in myself after knowing what I am contributing to. Eating your veggies may not seem like a lot to you, but it may do wonders for your world.

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