Very often these days we come across fancy terms like vegan, vegetarian, paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, Mediterranean and many others to categorize humans on the basis of their food choices. While all others are forms of diets, which people adopt and drop several times during their lifetime, being a vegan is something more. It’s not just a reason to stop eating meat but a lifestyle choice, an ideology, a way of life which people adopt because they believe it to be the most sustainable option.
According to Vegans, following a diet which includes no animals or even animal products like honey, milk or eggs is the best course of action with benefits ranging from personal to environmental, climatic and even animal and biodiversity preservation. Let’s have a detailed look at how, by simply choosing to stop eating meat, you may be able to contribute to all of these higher causes and play your part in the conservation of the planet and its habitats and inhabitants.
One of the most common selling points for all sorts of no- meat diets is the profound improvements in health and lifespan which is supported by hundreds of scientific studies and surveys. Some of the most prominent advantages of quitting meat are listed below.
Less Prone to Diseases
In addition to high amounts of proteins, animal meat is rich in unhealthy fats and cholesterol. The latter being a leading cause of the world’s largest killer, cardiovascular diseases. Choosing not to eat meat is a favor you might do to your body. Here are a few reasons to stop eating meat:
- Reduces risk of Cardiovascular diseases: Studies show that meat-eaters are at a 50% higher risk of developing heart diseases as compared to vegans or even vegetarians. Red meat is especially high in saturated fats which are used by our liver to manufacture cholesterol. Increased blood cholesterol levels are warning signs of upcoming heart diseases, high blood pressure, obstructive blood flow and even strokes.
- Immune boost up: If you search up ‘immune-boosting foods’ on the internet you will come across numerous lists. Most of these lists include vegetables and fruits and nuts as best sources of immune system stimulants such as essential vitamins and minerals. So, switching to a non-meat diet will help your body strengthen its defence mechanism hence making you less vulnerable to diseases.
- Improved skin and dermal health: Vegan and vegetarian diet involves the consumption of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. These foods contain healthy amounts of antioxidants which help tackle most of the skin blemishes and dermal issues by combating free radicals’ attacks on our cells.
- Recently, an increasing number of studies are showing that stopping meat consumption is linked to lower risk of developing certain cancers like colon, stomach, lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue cancers.
Weight Loss, Weight Management & Prevention of Obesity
One of the first things people usually do when they want to lose weight is to adopt a diet regime which is rich in raw fruits and vegetables and restricting the intake of proteins and saturated fats. As discussed earlier animal meat contains large amounts of both of these things, hence opting out of meat based food especially hamburgers, bacon and other fast food products can help with weight management and even tackle the growing issue of obesity in teenagers and young adults.
Foodborne Infection Transmission
Infections are caused by microscopic biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. As living organisms, a large number of microbes share our food sources with us, and although it is impossible to perfectly contain the transmission of foodborne infections, it does help if we restrict our intake of meat. Meat is one of the richest sources of harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus and people who prefer their meat on the rare or very rare side are at particularly higher risk of contracting these infections. Another one of the many reasons to stop eating meat.
The United Nations report states that raising animals for human consumption is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. Personal or human health is not the only thing which can be improved by limiting our intake of meat. The Vegan lifestyle is particularly helpful in conserving the environment and our climate as well. Let’s have a look.
Preservation of Biodiversity
With the world population on the rise, if we continue our meat-loving ways of food consumption, we might end up escalating the process of loss of precious terrestrial as well as marine biodiversity. Livestock rearing and making land available for it is often a result of wiping out extensive areas of forests such as the Amazon, which deprives wild life of their natural habitats leading to mass extinctions of species. Increased fishing activities in order to make seafood available disrupt the marine ecosystem as well.
It is often quoted that IF there will ever be a 3rd world war, it will most probably be over water. Along with increased population which requires water for almost all sorts of daily routine activities from drinking to bathing and cooking, the current ways of livestock farming is taking up almost 1/3rd of the world’s total water resources. In addition to the extensive misuse of water, there is also the problem of water pollution as a result of all sorts of farmland waste being dumped into the seas, oceans and rivers. Studies show that it takes around 1,790 litres of water to produce 1 kg of wheat while we have to multiply the litres by 5 in order to produce 1 kg of beef. Further reinstating the fact that meat consumption is inefficient and costly is the fact that it takes almost 16 kilograms of grain to produce just 1 kg of meat.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
Animal agriculture is responsible for producing 14-18% of the total greenhouse gases, according to the United Nations (UN). The percentage may seem like a small figure but it’s more than the greenhouse gases released by all forms of transportation combined. According to a study published in the journal ‘Science’ which took data from almost 119 countries showed that huge hectors (83%) of farmlands are consumed by livestock yet it gives back only 18% in the form of food calories i.e. energy and 37% as proteins. In addition, they produce 60% of the GHG. Ruminant livestock such as sheep (~30 litres per day) and cows (~ 200 litres per day) can produce huge amounts of methane gas. Not so efficient right? Switching to a more plant-based diet will at least help you play your part in saving the planet from these harmful emissions.
Animal Rights Reasons
The ethical and basic rights prospects of eating meat are also part of the reason why people around the world are promoting and shifting to vegan diets. It is said that animal consumption is nothing but an act of cruelty as it involves subjecting the animal to the harshest of conditions only for the sake of palatability. By giving up meat you can refrain yourself from being a part of animal agriculture practices that should be criminal in the first place. For instance:
Have you ever stepped foot in a feedlot on an animal agriculture farm? In most cases, the feedlots are stinky, filthy places with open sewers and suffocating air. The cages are over-crowded with the poor animals having no place to rest their butt, let alone move around. Their stations and stables are houses to animals like rodents and not to mention countless harmful bacteria and other microbes. All of this, only to produce animals for slaughter! Do you really want to be a part of such brutality?
Excessive Use of Antibiotics
Given the substandard living conditions, most animals are fed large amounts of antibiotics to ensure that the animal survives long enough for it to be slaughtered and used for human consumption. These antibiotics often offend the natural flora of the organism and is not just harmful for the animal but once consumed by humans, the antibiotics have the potential to enter them and cause more damage than good.
Injecting Them With Artificial Hormones to Stimulate Growth
Almost all farm owners subject their animals to hormones and growth stimulants like oxytocin and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Although these substances are also naturally found in the organism, excessive amounts of them can be harmful, even carcinogenic.
Animals Have Feelings and Emotions
One of the least visited areas to consider is the fact that animals, just like humans are living, breathing beings and they are sensitive creatures, have feelings. Most of us do admit these things when it comes to our beloved pets, especially cats and dogs but when it comes to farm animals, we turn a cold shoulder to them. Separation from families, taking newborns away from their mothers in order to be raised elsewhere are events that leave a mark on the animals mind as well. Subjecting animals to such abuse only so that we can continue having our hamburgers and steaks, hardly sounds like a fair deal.