Veganism: I’m sure many meat eaters would argue this is a word they cannot avoid these days, however much they would like to… It may initially seem annoying, but I implore you to be open to the fact that vegans might have a point. Despite the inevitable resistance, I have witnessed a huge amount of positivity in relation to the adoption of veganism. I know Veganuary was hugely successful last year and I myself know some people who are participating this Jan – this is such a great opportunity for people to experience how rewarding the lifestyle can be and to promote it further. Here I will be focusing on the diet aspect of veganism, and providing some reasons to consider making the change in 2019:
✰ The environment needs it ✰
The environmental implications have been manifesting for a long time, but it hasn’t been until very recently that big players have finally started pushing the urgency. The UN have recently revealed that we have 12 years (11 now) to ensure that climate change does not become irreversible; you would think this would be the ultimate prompt for people to change, but apparently not… Who knows whether this is because they don’t believe it, they’re in denial, or they just simply don’t care (I’m currently holding faith that it’s not the latter). Many people, as I have witnessed, are willing to enact change through small adaptations such as not using plastic straws – whilst I think these efforts are great and believe any kind of change should be encouraged, they seem somewhat pointless when put in perspective if people are unwilling to change other aspects of their lifestyle. A comprehensive study conducted on the accumulated plastic in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones, found that “at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets” (Source). This is evidently a much bigger problem than just switching out your plastic straws, so why ignore the biggest contributors?
The answer lies in convention – the consumption of animal products is a concept rooted so deep into society by profit-hungry organisations, that they’ve ingrained into us the idea of necessity as a defence mechanism. This means people close themselves off to any facts conflicting with the lies spread by these industries, so that it is the people themselves now promoting the ‘need’ for these industries and thus unconsciously helping keep them alive. There are countless unbiased studies out there that show the detrimental impacts of these industries on ourselves and the environment, contrary to what they spread – people just need to open themselves up to listening.
A 2018 study conducted by Oxford University (the most comprehensive on the topic to date) found that “avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth” – this is because it was found that animal farming takes up 83% of our farmland but provides just 18% of calories, evidently beyond inefficient (Source). Another frightful report published in 2018 by Greenpeace found that “global meat and dairy production and consumption must be cut in half by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change and keep the Paris Agreement on track” (Source). Trump may be disregarding on this front, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a huge contribution ourselves by adapting our lifestyles.
There have been countless studies demonstrating that diets containing more animal products have cumulative detrimental effects on the environment: in one study it was stated that “reducing the intake of meat and other animal based products can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation” (Source). Beef, cheese and pork are products that have been found to have some of the highest GHG emissions (Source), hence providing further substantiation to the link between animal products and climate change. With such an urgent problem, yet such simple changes we can make to our diets, the power really is in our hands to reduce our contribution to the killing of our own home.
“The need to reduce demand for livestock products is now a scientifically mainstream view. Only a significant decrease in meat and milk consumption will allow us to deliver a food system fit for the future – for the benefit of humans and the planet as a whole. Producing the same mix of foods as we consume now, even if we were to do so more sustainably, cannot deliver the reduction in environmental impacts we need to protect the planet for our children and their children.” – Pete Smith, Former Convening Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
It’s gotten to the point where in light of all this information, it’s selfish not to change; I don’t say this because I think we as people are intentionally selfish, I say it because humans naturally have an inherent compassion which unrealised by most, has been stripped away from us by industries such as animal agriculture. I fully believe we can all reconnect with this compassion if we allow ourselves to – not only for the animals in need, but to ensure ourselves and future generations have an inhabitable planet to live on. Change is needed now.
✰ Easier than ever ✰
There is no disputing that in the past veganism was extremely difficult – I would’ve hence had sympathy for those claiming it wasn’t feasible at the time. Given the necessity demonstrated by the environmental implications, difficulty may now seem like much less of a justifiable excuse as it is; this however is irrelevant because for so many of us, veganism (in regards to diet) is easier than ever. 2018 demonstrated an evolution of veganism: we saw brands expand in relation to veganism and we saw controversy, either way it became mainstream.
Shopping vegan in a supermarket was already extremely possible with some of the cheapest staples such as rice and in-season veg being vegan, but the lack of alternatives can also no longer be a ‘viable’ excuse. Shops such as Sainsburys and Waitrose have been paving the way to a more accessible vegan future – Waitrose recently brought out a huge new range with so many vegan-ised classics. I am fully aware that some people cannot afford these alternatives but as I’ve indicated, being vegan can be one of the cheapest diets if you stick to the staples (there are plenty of resources out there to help such as this useful video by Amyythevegan); whilst this may not be as exciting as the alternatives, our planet can no longer afford the current consumption of animal products. My point is merely that for those in a privileged enough position to afford such alternatives, the lack thereof or ‘difficulty’ is no longer true.
I encourage anyone who is able to afford these alternatives to keep trying a few – it is likely you’ll surprise yourself and find tasty ways to substitute cruelty for compassion. There are hundreds of vegans to follow, on insta for example (like myself), who try these products to find which are the ones worth buying, are the most realistic, delicious etc…There are also countless accounts showing general recipe inspiration, many cheap and easy, making the options endless.
It is also easier than ever to eat vegan at restaurants. So many have brought out new vegan options throughout 2018 – there are even many that have their own vegan menus (for example: Ask Italian, Wagamamas, Pizza Express…) It has become the norm that restaurants have vegan options as opposed to not, which is a huge step in the name of progress and makes eating out as a vegan so much more relaxing. In the extremely rare case that options are not provided, meals can either be adapted or you can phone the restaurant in advance and ask them to cater for you. Furthermore with new releases such as the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll and a veggie burger from McDs that can be made vegan, vegans no longer have to face the sheer dread of outings with friends where they would be previously left to starve…
✰ The victims ✰
What can never be forgotten in making the decision to go vegan, is the oppression of the animals which underpins the entire movement. More than 150 billion animals are slaughtered each year: nothing can justify this kind of oppression. It Is never too early to switch to a more compassionate lifestyle: one which reduces the exploitation, suffering and slaughter of innocent, sentient beings. Please make the effort to connect with your morals; the majority of people possess the values which render this kind of oppression wrong. In turn you will be making a positive change in terms of your own health, and occasion other side effects such as reducing your contribution to the exploitation of workers in slaughterhouses (who are subjected to some of the most horrific conditions and wages). Veganism can’t fix everything, but it is a huge starting point.
It is never too early to start making a change, but at some point it may be too late. Please consider going vegan.