I’m going to start this blog post on ‘reasons to be vegan’ by telling you that today I had the best burrito I’ve ever had in my life. For real – and I eat a lot of burritos! And do you know what was absent from this amazing meal? Animal products.
Rewind to two or three years ago. I was happy eating meat and going about my life without giving it a second thought. I mean, I didn’t buy meat that often or cook it for myself, but that was mainly for budget reasons. If you had asked me, I probably would have agreed to give up meat, but point blank refused to be parted from my cheese! David on the other hand has been vegetarian for most of his life. When we got together I was already about 90% vegetarian as I had gradually started thinking more about where my food came from. A few months into our relationship, we both watched some documentaries that challenged the way we thought about animal agriculture, and decided that we would take the next step and give the vegan lifestyle a try.
But why? You’ll probably have heard a lot in the news or on social media recently about the ‘trend’ for veganism. Maybe you’ve wondered what all the fuss is about. Well, here are our reasons to be vegan.
Reasons to be Vegan – For the Environment
To be honest, this was my first reason. For me, reducing the impact that we have on our environment is really important – our planet is beautiful and we all have a responsibility to care for it. When I heard this stat on the film Cowspiracy I knew that I had to make a change.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
At this point, I felt happy to give up meat. I knew that the ideal would be to cut out eggs and diary too, but to be honest I wasn’t fully committed yet. I thought that if everyone cut down on their consumption we could make a difference and that would be that. All the sources for the facts and statistics in Cowspiracy can be found here.
Reasons to be Vegan – For the Animals
The real leap forward came when we realised just how cruel the animal agriculture industry truly is behind closed doors. We both felt that once we knew the truth of how we get our cheese and our eggs, we couldn’t justify eating them. It’s not enough to stop eating meat, since the suffering is still going on.
Take eggs, for example. It seems fairly harmless to eat an egg – we see the free range symbol and the happy chickens on the box and think that no one is being harmed. But did you know that male chicks are essentially a by-product of the egg industry? They don’t grow up to become food – they are actually a different breed to the type of chickens that we eat. They can’t lay eggs themselves either. So male chicks are gassed or macerated at around a day old. They are dying just so you can have your boiled egg and soldiers.
Ok, so eggs are bad…but what about milk?
Surely cows need to be milked, right? It doesn’t harm them for us to take the milk and drink it. But think about it for a second. For a cow to produce milk, she needs to have a calf. Cows are impregnated, and then their calves are taken away from them as early as two days old. This process is repeated again and again until the cow no longer produces milk, whereupon she is killed. What kind of life is that? The bond between a cow and her baby is strong and there have been many stories of cows crying for their calves for days after they are removed. Oh, and male calves aren’t particularly in demand either, so they’ll often be culled.
Don’t even get me started on the large scale factory farms, where animals are kept in tiny pens or crammed together with very little space. We recently watched a documentary called Hope: What You Eat Matters which showed such distressing behind the scenes footage that I had tears streaming down my face for most of it. How do we justify such cruelty to sentient beings? What gives us the right to treat another living creature with such disdain?
Reasons to be Vegan – For your Health
There have been many documentaries, studies and even YouTube stars advocating the health benefits of a plant based diet. To be honest I would take the claims that it can cure cancer and other diseases which a pinch of salt, but there is no denying that veganism is a healthy way of life. Our diet is full of protein, fibre and colourful fruit and veggies. We consume very little saturated fat. I think it is because we have to think a lot more about what we are eating, so naturally we are eating a more mindful and varied diet. However, it is important to note that it’s easy to have an unhealthy vegan diet too. Chips, pasta, sweets and crisps do not a balanced diet make!
I will say that since becoming vegan we have both noticed that we have more energy and that our skin is much clearer. We definitely feel healthier and happier in ourselves.
Ok, I get the reasons to be Vegan – but isn’t it hard?
No! Well, maybe once upon a time. But now it seems that everyday we hear news of a new vegan range being added to those already available on the high street. M&S is doing a vegan Christmas sandwich this year, and Tesco now stocks vegan Magnums! Even on our travels in Asia, we have rarely struggled.
There is a misconception that vegan food is expensive, but do you know what you can find cheaply in almost every country in the world? Beans, grains, vegetables and fruit. In Cambodia we were spoilt with fresh local fruit and veg, and in Malaysia there seems to be a cheap Chinese vegetarian joint wherever you go. We even wrote a post on how easy it is to travel vegan in Nepal. If you are filling up on grains, legumes, fruit & veg, nuts and seeds…well, you can’t go wrong. The key, as with everything, is balance and variety. And please, stop asking vegans where we get our protein from!
Reasons to be Vegan – Why do we keep talking about it?
We’ve all heard that joke. How do you know if someone is a vegan? Because they’ll tell you straight away! Well, we figure this website is a good chance to do a little low-key, light activism. If we can live by example, and show just how easy it is to be vegan at home and on the road, then maybe we’ll convince others to give it a try. Our instagram often features amazing, plant-based food pics. We’re happy, healthy and cruelty free, and we don’t care who knows it!
If you want some more information or useful resources, we love The Vegan Society, Plant Based News and Live Kindly. What are your thoughts on veganism? We’d love to hear from you in the comments, or over on our Twitter. C & D xx