Veganism is a term often heard by a lot of people in the food industry and the healthy living scene. At first glance, vegans pertain to the demographic of people that appear to avoid eating meat at all costs. This can be difficult to digest (no pun intended), especially since meat-based products are so easily found in the market. However, veganism appears to be as strong as ever, and seems to be attracting a huge crowd into its practice. Just what is veganism, and is it really making that much of an impact to taking care of the environment? How did something unknown become so mainstream?
However, if the numbers show anything, veganism is nowhere near being unknown. In fact, comparethemarket.com statistics state that more than 3.5-million people are vegan in the United Kingdom alone since 2016. Much of the transition was primarily because of environmental concerns. Which however makes us ask the question on veganism: just what is it and how can it affect the environment in the first place?
Veganism: The Quick Rundown
Veganism isn’t just a diet option but rather a lifestyle choice. Vegans practice minimizing the kind of harm we do to animals worldwide, sometimes even to the point of practicing total no harm, through various means. Most vegans do this by abstaining from animal products such as leather, suede, silk, fur, and wool clothing. Others also do it by avoiding lanolin, gelatin, honey, eggs, dairy, fish, and meat in their diet.
The Vegan Diet: You Are What You Don’t Eat
A lot of people might be familiar with vegans because of their diet, this is because it’s perhaps the most commonly-known trait to be associated with them. Vegans eat plant-based food such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Although this means there’s quite a lot of options for vegans to choose from, this kind of dietary restriction may seem a bit too “extreme” from those that are used to having an omnivorous diet.
- Vegans might be familiar with the phrase “you just eat salad?” However, in reality, vegans have access to a lot of other meals such as Tex-Mex burritos, Chinese stir-fries, Indian curries, and even Italian pasta. In fact, there are beans and vegetable protein-based “meat” loaf that vegans can pretty much enjoy and they come in the form of ice cream, cheese, milk, nuggets, hotdogs, burgers, and sausages – all without animals.
- Given that vegans have a different diet, a lot of vegans learn to become efficient label-readers. They tend to avoid Vitamin D3, carmine, albumin, honey, and whey even in products that should be vegan. Of course, not everything is in the label, as some animal ingredients are just dismissed as “natural flavors.”
- Sometimes, other people choose to have a vegan diet, but don’t necessarily avoid all animal products. These people are commonly those with religious, health, or other reasons – but still also leave the option to be able to eat animal-based products.
The Vegan Fashion: What Do They Wear
Veganism also affects the way people choose the kind of clothes they wear. Vegans in fact tend to choose acrylic or cotton instead of wool, such as for sweaters. They also opt for cotton instead of silk, such as in blouses; and even use fake leather or canvas leather for things such as sneakers.
Vegans don’t particularly run out of clothing choices, however, as more and more brands are starting to target vegans as part of their demographic as well. Some stores even offer vegan products such as vegan footwear, created from materials that aren’t animal-based.
Vegans And The Environment: Going Green
When it comes to being green, however, veganism actually has benefits in helping people actively choose to have an eco-friendly lifestyle. Choices in terms of food and apparel, among others, have led a lot of vegans to unconsciously becoming eco-friendly as well. For instance, as per the Food Climate Research Network:
- Numbers state that per one (1) vegan that doesn’t eat meat everyday, they save: an animal’s life, 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 30 square-feet of forested land!
- Avoiding animal consumption can actually help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the food sector. In fact, while dairy and meat consumption in the United Kingdom contributed to 8-percent of the country’s greenhouse emissions in 2010, the same action is still part of the top three sources of emissions in the country.
- The dependence on meat has been making industries overstock fragile lands, resulting to desertification and soil erosion. Overgrazing from Ethiopia to England, among many, have actually caused flooding and loss of fertility in the area. Of course, animal manure has great benefits in revitalizing the soil, making it abundant for food that animals need.
- A lot of food actually need a lot of water to process. For instance, did you know a pound of beef needs 9,000 litres to be produced? This means an average American pig farm with about 80,000 pigs will consume 75-million gallons of water every year. This is not counting the fact that households, cities, and other humans need water for drinking as well. Not relying on animal products can in fact save a ton of water.
The Bottomline: Not Just Preference, But Lifestyle
If there’s anything making veganism quite different than other “trends,” it’s that it’s more than just a diet or a preference, but rather a lifestyle on its own. Compared to other practices that more or less have others stay for a while and then regress back to their usual practices, veganism is a completely different animal (or non-animal, no pun intended) on its own because it makes you adopt a lifestyle that not only is healthy, but is also considerate of the environment. Based on the above, “going vegan” is of course not as easy as it sounds, but if you’re interested in the process, this is a definite good first step.
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