“What’s life without meat, milk and cheese?”
We hear you cry. But guess what? Avoiding animal products could become the best thing you ever do for yourself. If you want to feel healthier, look better, enjoy life and give something back to the planet, veganism is one of the easiest ways to get there. So why, exactly, is going vegan a great idea?
1. Reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases:
We all know that too much red meat increases your chance of heart disease. The World Health Organisation also tells us that too much processed meat causes cancer. Plant power to the rescue! Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can reduce the build-up of plaque in your arteries and may even reverse it. Cancer Research UK has also gathered lots of research on how fruit and veg can reduce your risk of several cancers.
2. Ease the pain of chronic conditions:
Eating vegan can make life a whole lot easier if you’re suffering from a long-term health condition. Research shows that a plant-based diet can alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, IBS and even stress and anxiety. Don’t just rely on taking a boatload of pills every day to feel better: let your diet supplement your medication. It might even do more for you in the long run!
3. Avoid meat industry nasties:
Most of the meat we eat comes from animals that have lived and died in unsanitary conditions that are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and toxins. Studies show alarmingly high levels of pathogens in poultry across Europe, for example. Factory-farmed animals are also pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics which filter into our own systems as a result. If that sounds disgusting, it’s because it truly is.
4. Lose weight the healthy way:
Veganism is the opposite of a fad diet because it’s so simple and flexible. There’s just one rule: don’t eat animal products! That means it’s easier to stick to in the long-term than an extremely restrictive juice cleanse or a complicated weighing and measuring routine. You might worry a diet is ineffective if it’s not overly strict. But research reveals that a vegan diet is more likely to result in natural weight loss than eating meat or even eating vegetarian.
5. Help the environment in more ways than one:
The meat and dairy industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change, and its impact is only getting worse. It also accounts for massive use of pesticides and the release of pollutants. On top of that, there are the tragic levels of deforestation caused by mass-meat-farming and the destruction of natural habitats like coral reefs. In fact, it has been argued that going vegan could be the single best thing you could do for our planet.
6. Save water, feed the planet:
A whopping 92% of global freshwater consumption relates to agriculture, and a third of that goes on rearing meat. Imagine how much clean water we could deliver to those so desperately in need, if only we cut back on our cheeseburgers. Feeding (and fattening) livestock also requires massive amounts of grain. Some suggest that the amount of grain used for meat-farming in the US alone could feed 800 million people worldwide.
7. Discover a whole new world of cuisine:
When we rely on meat and dairy, it’s easy to fall into a culinary rut. We throw pre-packaged burgers in the oven and then we can call it a day. How boring is that? One of the wonderful things about veganism is that it forces you to get creative. Vegan food can be exotic, colourful and adventurous, but it can also be super easy to throw together, so it’s a perfect match for any busy mum or lazy student.
8. Save money while you’re at it:
A lot of vegan foods, like grains and pulses, are incredibly cheap. They also last forever, so you can buy them in bulk and save them in your store-cupboard for donkey’s years (approximately). Fruits and vegetables also take extremely well to preservation: you can freeze them, can them, dehydrate them or pickle them. Even when they’re a bit past their best, they go great in pies and breads. The same is not true of grey meat!
9. Prevent cruelty to animals:
We left this one until the end because it’s probably the most obvious reason to go vegan. Literally thousands of animals are slaughtered for food every second. If you’re an animal lover or pet owner, that’s hard to stomach. Animals fear pain and death just like we do. Their lives on factory farms are short and cruel, in conditions we find it hard to read about. This may be the most obvious reason to go vegan, but it’s also one of the most important.
10. Going vegan is easier now than ever before:
The number of vegans in the UK has increased by over 360% in the last ten years. Any retailer who ignores this huge growth knows they’re missing a trick. These days, our supermarket shelves are filled with high-quality meat and dairy alternatives, from coconut ice cream to seitan sausages. A lot of plant-based products (like soya milk, for example) are also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
It’s clear you don’t have to miss out when you give meat and dairy a miss. You can discover new flavours, stock up on healthy nutrients, avoid bad by-products and make the world a better place all at the same time. When you add it all up, the question isn’t “why should you go vegan?” It’s “what are you waiting for?”