Veganism increased by 600% in the span of 2014 to 2017 in the US. And it only continues to grow.
What caused this shift? Why are so many of us deciding to go vegan?
What was once an unconventional lifestyle has gone full plant-based steam ahead, and today is making a massive impact in restaurants, grocery stores, fast food chains, even schools, across the US.
There’s a million benefits and results of positive impact from adopting a plant-based diet, but it all really boils down to three main reasons why it makes such an enormous difference in your life and for the planet.
1. It Improves Your Health
Our health is our most valuable asset — and one of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, boost energy levels and prevent chronic diseases is to eat a plant-based diet. The American Dietetic Association reports that vegans and vegetarians have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as decreased rates of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and more. Whole-food, plant-based eating has been shown to reverse many of these chronic diseases and their side effects.
But disease prevention (and sometimes even reversal) isn’t the only health benefit of a vegan diet; it also has a massive impact on weight management. People who eat plant-based tend to be leaner and fitter than those who don’t, with a much lower body mass index. Simply put, being vegan makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off—without counting calories!
And, you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods, because veganized versions of the food we all grew up eating are skyrocketing in stores and eateries across the globe, with new fully-vegan restaurants on a mission to provide options that are even better-tasting than their meat-based counterparts cropping up around the country more and more each year.
2. It’s the Best Thing You Can Do For the Environment
Eating a vegan diet is the single biggest thing you can do for the planet. At the University of Oxford, researchers found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. The same study found that if everyone stopped eating these foods, the total global farmland usage would be reduced by 75%. For a little perspective, that’s an area equivalent to the size of Australia, China, the US and the EU combined.
And keep in mind, there is no such thing as sustainable meat.
There are more greenhouse gas emissions produced by raising animals for food, than all the cars, planes and other forms of transportation combined. Lead researcher, Joseph Poore told The Guardian that “Converting grass into [meat] is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions”.
And if that’s not enough a reason, our planet is growing less green by the minute. National Geographic, along with numerous other sources specifically name animal agriculture as one of the key factors in deforestation, soil degradation and a decline in biodiversity. “Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock.” Mass scale livestock production requires enormous quantities of harvested feed. And growing these quantities of cereals for feed, requires substantial areas of land. Grazing animals, such as cattle place additional stresses on our precious land resources.
In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction.
The Alliance of World Scientists concluded that humans must change their behavior and switch to a plant-based diet to prevent environmental destruction.
3. It Save Lives
Choosing to eat vegan has a direct impact on the lives of animals. When you eat vegan for just one week, you save 4 animals’ lives. Eating vegan for one whole year saves 200 animals.
While this is obvious when reaching for a veggie burger over a traditional patty, what is less obvious is the massive number of other animals impacted by our dietary choices. Animal agriculture is currently the leading cause of species extinction.
The World Animal Foundation reports that 1 to 2 acres of rainforest is cleared every second primarily for livestock and feed crops, and more than 100 insect, animal, and plant species are lost every day as a direct result.
Adopting a plant-based diet means that these beautiful creatures can carry on living on our Earth.
We can never go wrong being kind; to our bodies, our planet and the creatures we share it with. Maintaining optimal, disease-free health, protecting our environment, and showing kindness and compassion to all beings, is always the right thing to do. Especially when it can be done so easily.