What is Veganism?
Vegans do not eat or use anything that is of animal origin. For example, they do not eat meat or products derived from animals like honey, butter and dairy products. Similarly, they do not use animal-based or animal-derived products like cosmetics, soaps, leather, silk and fur.
Veganism is a personal choice and people can choose to be vegans due to health, environmental or ethical reasons. Converting to a vegetarian diet can reduce body weight, control flaring blood sugar levels, and even assist in lowering blood cholesterol levels. By avoiding meat, vegans also give a chance for dairy cows, chickens and other livestock to live their old age in peace. This is because most dairy cows, pigs, egg-laying chicks and male calves (non-milk producing cattle) are usually sold for meat after their productive days are over. To hasten meat production, most livestock farms use hormones, antibiotics and other medications to protect their livestock. Some vegans avoid meat because of these conditions associated with livestock rearing and meat production.
However, the most significant contribution of vegans is to the environment. A study partially funded by NASA has shown that widespread economic disparities, uncontrolled population growth, unsustainable agriculture and climate change would contribute to a complete collapse of civilization in the near future. The study also stated that if a statistical majority of our generation converted to vegetarianism or veganism, there would be a chance to make a significant economic and environmental impact.
The reasoning for this was simple. In 2012, more than 70 billion animals were raised as livestock for 7.1 billion people. A study by the National Academy of Sciences showed that livestock production was the main contributor to climate change. Raising livestock for food resulted in poorer air quality, polluted waterways, increased garbage levels, and an underutilization of fertile land as grazing areas. The exact contribution of livestock to climate change ranged from 18% to 51% but the general advice was the same. Shifting over to a veg diet could help curb climate change and it would solve resource scarcities all over the world.
Is it a Difficult to Follow Lifestyle?
Veganism has stopped being a niche lifestyle. For many people, it has presented a viable way to alleviate their health concerns while not having to worry about the ethical concerns such as where the meat in their meals actually came from. People switching over to a meat and dairy free diet have been vocal about the difference they have felt in their health and energy levels and this has led to an increased interest in veganism. At last count, there were more than 2000 vegan blogs online with even popular newspapers like The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post having lifestyle sections or vegan blog posts devoted to the vegan lifestyle.
With rising awareness levels, the current millennial generation is more than willing to adopt a healthier lifestyle. With popular stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi hosting a vegan wedding, Al Gore and Bill Clinton promoting veganism, the US Senate’s first vegan dinner, to the new all-vegan German supermarket chain VEGANZ, and Chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz having more than 30,000 twitter followers actively following her vegan recipes; veganism is popular, in with the crowd, and it is here to stay.
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