First, let’s define veganism. As explained by the UK’s Vegan Society, 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.
There are three main reasons people choose veganism: personal health, animal ethics, environmental impact. A person might be motivated by one, two, or all three of these reasons. A person might start their journey for one reason, but as they learn the facts, be moved by the others as well.
[Credit: Edible Musings, Nutrient Dense Salad]
Vegan for Health:
It’s becoming more well known every day that whole food plant based (healthy vegan) diets prevent and reverse the most common diseases and causes of death in the USA.
The position of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.”
One needs not be concerned about carbohydrates if those eaten are whole simple and complex carbs, like whole grains and unprocessed fruit and vegetables. Carbs are not the enemy. They are a vital nutrient and the one the brain most easily uses as fuel.
One does need to ensure adequate vitamin D intake if not getting sufficient sunshine or consuming adequate fortified foods; and supplement with B12. Vegan versions of these vitamins are readily available. Both are stored in the body until needed.
Other helpful sites:
- Nutrition Facts by Dr. Greger – hundreds of videos on various health topics.
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – ample health information; printed or downloadable fact sheets and more; calls to action; 21-Day Kickstart Program; PCRM also advocates for non-animal testing in all science and education programs.
- Dr. Esselstyn – promotes a plant-based diet to prevent and reverse heart disease; holds retreats around the USA.
- Forks Over Knives has recipes, meal-planning tools, success stories, and more.
[Credit: Sweet Bear Rescue Farm]
Vegan for the Animals:
Jonathan Lovvorn, Chief Counsel of the Humane Society of the United States, says that “many of the nation’s most routine animal farming practices would be illegal if perpetrated against cats and dogs.” Dogs are eaten in China. If this horrifies you, ask yourself how animals eaten in our country are any different. We have been conditioned to accept them as ‘food animals’, as if they are different from animals we call pets.
Each year in the USA, billions and billions of animals are killed unnecessarily to be used for food. Counting Animals breaks down the numbers of sealife killed each year. Animals are sentient beings who want to live. Many people are moved by compassion to go vegan after learning of the horrible suffering all farmed animals endure.
[Credit: Your Daily Vegan, Deforested Amazon Rainforest ]
Vegan for the Environment:
Animal agriculture is destroying our planet. Greenhouse gases, land use, water and land pollution, rainforest deforestation, ocean dead zones, habitat loss, and species extinction – all for a temporary taste on the tongue. If you identify as an environmentalist or are concerned about what you are leaving for your children and grandchildren, going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on our planet.
Vegan for Human Rights:
Yes, animal and human rights are connected! Speciesism is a form of discrimination. It is defined as giving different sentient beings different moral consideration for unjust reasons.
It’s not only the animals who are abused and suffer in slaughterhouses – often, the workers and surrounding communities do too. Comprehensive information available here:
- HappyCow.net allows you to search the globe for veg-friendly restaurants
- Plant Based News
- Veg News shares the latest in vegan culture, including great recipes
- The Vegetarian Resource Group has expert writers and great information for going vegan throughout the life cycle