I’ve been a vegan for the past 5 years, and I can’t imagine my life any other way. The benefits of going vegan are too numerous to list, so I’m going to focus on the big three reasons to give a vegan lifestyle a try.
All of these are noble causes, and veganism is key to each one.
So let’s dive into the reasons why you should give being vegan a chance.
Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is a Vegan Diet?
- Animals Deserve Better
- A Whole-Food Vegan Diet Is The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health
- A Vegan Diet Can Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
- No More Dieting!
- Vegan Food Is Delicious
- Meat Is Gross
- Protect Our Planet
- Why Do Some People Stop Being Vegan?
- Why Should We Go Vegan Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Should We Go Vegan Conclusion
What Exactly Is a Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet includes foods and food products of plant origin only. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, honey, and dairy products are excluded.
This differs slightly from plant-based. Plant-based may still include some animal products from time to time, but not often.
Animals Deserve Better
I’m not going to go into how animals are killed in our current animal agribusiness model. It’s horrific, and I don’t think anyone honestly condones it.
However, if you want, or need, to learn about the ways in which animals in the United States are killed for food, this article goes in-depth. A word of warning; it’s horrible.
This isn’t hunting. This isn’t getting by off the land and just trying to feed your family. This is slaughter. For no better reason than we like the way it tastes!
You see, we’ve learned to separate animals from food. What we see in the grocery store we equate to food. When we see animals alive and roaming, we see animals. We don’t see the connection between the animals and what’s in the store when we’re shopping.
Even after five years vegan, I don’t see it! 36 years of carnism conditioning is very difficult to overcome. I can rationalize that what is under the clear plastic wrap is animal muscle. I can see the cow, the pig, the chicken, the turkey. But I also see food.
So I don’t begrudge anyone!
But we can do better than the mass slaughter of animals on a near-constant basis. No matter how “humane.”
I get that meat tasted good. I get that most of your favorite meals probably rely heavily on animal products.
When I first gave up eggs I had no idea what I was going to eat in the morning! 20 or more years of eating eggs for breakfast, literally every, single, day. I had to learn a new way.
But I did. And you will.
The reality is, we don’t have to eat meat, eggs, or dairy.
A Whole-Food Vegan Diet Is The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health
Can a diet that includes animal products be healthy? Absolutely! The Mediterranean Diet is healthy. It focuses on the elimination of processed foods, processed meat, basing almost the entire diet around whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, with a small amount of fish. Maybe some grass-fed beef from time to time, but very little red meat.
Population and Centenarian studies show that the healthiest, longest-living people on the planet eat this way.
However, even with the Mediterranean Diet, there are some pieces that are missing.
Peoples of the Mediterranean, the Sardinians (my father-in-law is Sardinian. Moved here when he was 22. He and I have talked about this at length.) and the Okinawans, eat very little meat traditionally. Not four to six ounces of meat or fish each day. But four to six ounces of fish or meat once or twice a week!
In fact, in the traditional Sardinian diet, meat was held as a meal to be had on Sundays and special occasions. That’s it.
And their cultures revolve heavily around movement. They didn’t drive cars. They walked. They worked all day. These are cultures that don’t sit in offices. They’re outside. And they’re very social.
My father-in-law still loves to pop in at my house. That’s how he grew up. There was always pasta on the stove (not pasta and meatballs, just pasta and marinara) so that anyone who showed up could be fed.
And people showed up. Every day. That’s how their culture worked.
Much of this has been Westernized. People don’t walk as much as they used to. Our jobs are much more sedentary. And food has grown to be much more based around meat. And we keep much more to ourselves, with locked doors.
Dairy, eggs, and meat consumption are linked to heart disease, certain forms of cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, age-related memory loss, type two diabetes, and chronic inflammation.
Whole plant foods are healing. Whole grains and legumes are loaded with vitamins and fiber.
Fruit is loaded with antioxidants that combat inflammation.
Vegetables are incredibly nutrient-dense and, again, loaded with fiber and antioxidants.
Nuts and seeds provide healthy fatty acids that are good for your brain.
The list goes on and on.
Animal foods are not healing. At best they do no damage when eating infrequently in small amounts. And if the rest of your diet, almost all of it in fact, is loaded with whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds, you should be able to combat the inflammation and oxidation caused by the animal products.
But not if you eat too much meat.
Dietitians, nutritionists, doctors, and researchers all agree. Limiting your consumption of animal products as much as possible and eating whole plant foods is the single best thing you can do for your health.
A Vegan Diet Can Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
The vegan diet has been shown to keep your blood pressure in check, which is important for people with high blood pressure! Animal fats cause your blood vessels to stiffen and lose their ability to relax and dilate (get bigger).
This means that your heart has to pump harder to get the blood through. This happens within three hours of eating a meal containing animal fat and lasts for six to eight hours after your meal.
Once in a while, not a big deal. But if you do this three times a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner you’re never giving your body a chance to relax and you’re keeping your blood pressure high.
And what about cholesterol? We need it. And your body makes all that you need. There is no need to eat any.
Cholesterol is found in animal products, the biggest offender being eggs. Why do you think doctors are always telling us not to eat eggs?
Even if your cholesterol is high because of genetics or other factors, a vegan diet can actually help lower it!
What about type two diabetes? I thought carbs were bad!
Not in their whole forms, like vegetables and fruit.
Vegetables are full of fiber which helps keep you feeling fuller longer, working against the urge to snack on something starchy!
Fiber also slows down digestion so your blood sugar doesn’t spike nearly as fast or high. Why is this important? Because when your blood sugar spikes, so does insulin.
Insulin is made by the pancreas and its primary purpose is to help get glucose (sugar) into cells for energy or storage.
Saturated animal fats gum up the locks. But saturated fat from plant sources like coconut oil don’t.
Insulin attaches to the cell, but can’t open the door. Animal fats block the enzymatic reactions that need to take place in order for the cell to open and let the sugars in.
But your body doesn’t know this.
This causes the pancreas to make even more, and eventually, that can lead to type two diabetes if you don’t start eating healthier.
Your Food is Talking To You….So Listen Up!
No More Dieting!
A diet focused on whole plant foods is also the best way to lose weight and keep it off. No more dieting!
Whole plant foods are loaded with fiber and are nutrient-dense as opposed to calorie-dense.
Your stomach has sensors that send a signal to your brain, telling you that you’ve eaten enough.
When you eat whole plant foods your stomach fills up on far fewer calories than with animal foods.
Think about it. How hard would it be to eat 500 calories worth of broccoli? Sweet potatoes? Greens? Watermelon?
The food takes up a lot of space without a lot of calories. But is loaded with vitamins and minerals, you get everything your body needs!
Now, how easy is it to eat 500 calories worth of steak? Ground beef? Chicken? Eggs? Milk?
You hit your calorie limit long before your stomach is full! You have eaten more than you need, but your stomach isn’t ready to send the signal that you’ve had enough.
According to Dr. Michael Greger,
“When you eat structurally intact plant foods, you can chew all you want but you’ll still end up with calories completely encapsulated by fiber. This then blunts the glycemic impact, activates what’s called the ileal brake that dials down appetite, and delivers sustenance to your friendly flora.”
Essentially, while you may eat 100 calories, you may only get 90 to use because of fiber. You just created a calorie deficit without even trying!
Vegan Food Is Delicious
Seriously, how good is fruit?!!
Start with the basics: apples, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. You know those ones, you know which ones you like (probably all of them!), they’re available everywhere and for most of the year, and they’re inexpensive.
Then get exotic! Mango, papaya, dragon fruit! Have some fun.
My mom hates vegetables. She’s never eaten them. She knows she should, but that’s always been her excuse.
Now she eats beets and carrots like they’re going out of style! They’re sweet and delicious when baked.
If you don’t like veggies, try ones that are on the sweet end instead of jumping right into the ones you don’t like (or being deterred from all veggies because of a few). or douse them in Ranch (vegan Ranch of course)! Salad dressings and dips are delicious, and if they get you to eat more veggies, go all out!
Eventually, your taste preferences change. It takes about two weeks. But we adjust. Start by including veggies and eat them every day for two weeks. Even if that means adding sauces, dips, and dressings.
You’ll start to notice after a short while that you don’t seem to need as much of the dressings. Eventually, you’ll just like the flavor of different veggies, even those that you used to loathe.
Rice, quinoa, oatmeal, potatoes, spaghetti squash, pasta, bread! We love these foods! Enjoy them!
You can have so much fun experimenting with creating meals, desserts, and snacks that taste good.
Meat Is Gross
Think about it. You’re eating something’s muscles. Look at your leg. That’s what you’re eating. Except your eating a chicken’s leg.
And you’re not eating natural meat. You’re likely eating meat that has been fed a diet that’s not natural to it (cows eat grass, not corn and soy, chickens eat insects, not corn, pigs eat EVERYTHING).
And do you know why chicken has salmonella? Salmonella is bacteria from the chicken’s own feces. The salmonella is held inside their intestines. But we use giant hooks to scoop up and carry the dead chickens, which often slice through the intestines, spilling fecal matter all over the chickens below.
And what about factory farming, where chickens have been bred to grow so large that they can’t even stand up anymore and are often crippled because of how heavy they are?
Animals are raised in enormous numbers with little regard for welfare which leads to overcrowding. This can cause stress and disease in the animals, which results in them being given antibiotics.
The drugs that they are fed go into their system and end up passed on to people who eat them; this is not healthy for humans nor does it help fight antibiotic resistance.
There is no way of knowing how much meat you’re actually eating since most farms mix in other animals’ meat during processing. So when you buy a burger, for example, there is no telling if it’s actually beef or the flesh of multiple cows, and even horses in some cases.
What about hormones? Even if the cow you bought in the store wasn’t fed hormones to make it large beyond belief, they’re still animals. You have hormones. I have hormones. Animals have hormones. So does their meat.
Estrogen is a hormone. Diary is the number one source of estrogen in the human diet, followed by meat. Hormonal estrogen. That does nothing good inside your body and is a risk factor for multiple cancers.
In fact, tumors themselves will produce their own estrogen to help them grow. Don’t help by eating more of it!
It’s not natural and it’s gross when you actually think about it.
Protect Our Planet
Veganism is environmentally sound because of the heavy impact factory farming has on the environment.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land use, occupies 30 percent of the planet’s land surface and is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.”
Rainforests are being cut down to create space for cattle in order to supply the demand for high-protein food, which can be found elsewhere.
Methane from cattle emissions doesn’t actually last that long in the atmosphere, but it is absorbed by our oceans. This causes the temperature of the oceans to rise, leading to thermal expansion. When water heats, it expands in volume.
This leads to rising ocean levels and the destruction of life in the oceans.
Not only that but the amount of food it takes for an animal factory farm to produce meat is mostly counteracted by their feed since very little edible crops are fed directly to humans in the U.S., so essentially we’re wasting our own resources just so we can eat… something else! Why bother when you could just have a salad?
Many vegan food products are completely recyclable or biodegradable (meaning they will break down naturally).
And then there’s fresh water. The following statistics are from veganaustralia.org.au/water
- It takes over 20 times more water to produce 1kg of beef compared to rice, grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables.
- It takes 800 litres of water to produce one litre of cow’s milk, four times as much as it takes to make one litre of soy milk.
- Agriculture is the number-one user of water, accounting for 70 percent of total water worldwide.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to one third of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
In short, it takes far more water to produce meat, dairy, and eggs for human consumption than to just grow plants for us to eat.
The United Nations has declared that a worldwide shift towards eating less meat would help curb climate change.
It’s worth it. I have two little sons. I’d like them to have a wonderful planet to grow into. The more I do now, and the better I teach them, the bigger difference I can make.
Why Do Some People Stop Being Vegan?
There are a number of reasons why some people choose to give up the vegan lifestyle. But I think the biggest reason is the finality of not eating meat.
Any time you try something new or give up something old, there is a mourning period. You are leaving a piece of your old self behind, and that’s hard!
And, like any other “diet,” it can be all too easy to experience a failure and give up.
Don’t do that to yourself.
So, how do you go vegan? Start small and challenge yourself.
Start by exchanging one of your typical meat meals with a vegan meal. Just one a week. Then another the next week. After a while, you’ll be eating a fully vegan diet!
But even when you get to that point, don’t think of a “slip up” as a failure. You’re not a failure! Take that meal for what it was and then move on!
Or take on a 28-day vegan challenge. Totally vegan eating for 28 days. You’ll feel amazing, which is why most people that try this route stay on board for considerably longer than the 28 days.
After the 28 days are up, make a choice. Stick with it for longer, but take it one day at a time, and don’t think about it as the end of your meat-eating days for life.
If you feel you can’t stay fully vegan after the 28 days, you’ll now have some new plant-based foods and meals that you enjoy, and hopefully, you’ll be far more plant-based than you were before you started.
There is no perfect vegan, and that can be hard for some.
I don’t eat any animal products. But I drive a truck. My wife and I have a business, and we need one.
I recycle and try and grow some of my own food. But I don’t always avoid all plastics.
I don’t wear leather, but I also can’t guarantee that there isn’t some odd animal product in a pair of shoes.
Sometimes I have white sugar (white sugar usually isn’t vegan, but it can be).
Here’s my thought; I’d rather 100 people are giving veganism their absolute best shot, for any reason above, than one person is a “perfect” vegan in all aspects of his or her life.
That’s how we make change!
There may be some that look down on me for that view. And that’s ok. I’m here doing my best and trying to help as many people as I can adopt a plant-based life.
Don’t like it? Whatevs.
You do you, and do your best.
Why Should We Go Vegan Frequently Asked Questions
What do you eat on a vegan diet?
I eat everything! As long as it is a plant. I don’t eat anything that comes from an animal (including dairy, eggs, honey, etc).
Why not just be vegetarian?
Because in my mind it’s not enough to simply cut out meat and still consume something else that isn’t good for me or the planet.
What about protein? Don’t I need that?
You can get all your amino acids from plant sources, so there’s no reason you won’t be getting enough protein on a vegan diet! Check out my post on “Plant Protein vs Animal Protein: Which Is Better?” here. There are plenty of sources out there you can find.
Why Should We Go Vegan Conclusion
Why Should We Go Vegan? Why should we go vegan you might ask. Well, there are many reasons why people make the decision to give up animal products in their diet including for animals, for the environment, and for health. As a result of this blog post you now have some insight into how your food choices affect more than just yourself!
Want help taking your first vegan step? Drop a comment or send me an email through my contact page. I’d love to help!
Wnt more information on how to design your own vegan diet? Read this.