Whether you’re already on your way towards a plant-based vegan diet or just playing with the idea, here are 14 important reasons to think about:
1. Lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetesBoth of these conditions are amongst the most common chronic diseases in the Western world. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has been able to reverse even very bad cases of cardiovascular disease by feeding his patients a low-fat vegan diet and saved countless lives. It's widely acknowledged, even by major health organizations, that animal products rich in saturated fat and cholesterol are a major contributor to both heart disease and diabetes. The same diet that improves our arteries can also improve and even reverse type 2 diabetes. (1)
2. Treat or reverse other current health conditionsMore and more major health organizations are now stating that it’s healthy to eat a well-planned vegan diet during all stages of life – and that it’s even favorable to do so because vegans have lower rates of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, and even Alzheimer's. A plant-based diet is often times even more effective than medication and surgery when it comes to these diseases! There is also an extensive study showing the connection between casein (milk protein) and cancer growth. (1)
3. Improve your fitnessMost people fear a loss of energy or muscle mass when abstaining from animal products – but the opposite can be true, if you do your homework. Meat and dairy are especially hard to digest, taking much of your energy and leaving you tired. Adopting a vegan diet does in no way hinder you from reaching your fitness goals and might likely give you a nice boost of added energy and strength.
No matter what sport you’re involved in and no matter the level of performance you’re shooting for, you get the best nutrition and plenty of protein from a whole food, plant-based diet. You don’t even have to watch your protein intake very much – all whole plant foods contain protein, and it’s of great quality, too. The 40-50 grams you need per day (this is with a large margin of safety) can easily be met by eating green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts or seeds. Rice is 8% protein, corn 11%, oatmeal 15%, and beans 27%.
It's also so much easier to build lean muscle on this type of diet and you don't have to go into the whole "bulking and cutting" stuff. If you wish, you'll just be shredded all year!
(1), (3), (4)
4. Eating for World Peace and Social HarmonyIn his book “The World Peace Diet”, Dr. Will Tuttle is revealing the invisible attitudes we ingest at every meal. The World Peace Diet offers an expanded understanding of our culture and our health. It has been called one of the most significant books of the 21st century creating the foundation of a new society honoring the interconnectedness of life.
The World Peace Diet is one of the first books to make explicit the hidden connections between our culture, our food, and the source of our broad range of problems—and the way to a positive transformation in our individual and collective lives. (2)
Dr. Will Tuttle concludes: "In order to have true and lasting peace, both individually, as well as collectively, we must end the exploitation and killing of all animals. As we grant peace and freedom to all animals, we are actually granting peace and freedom to ourselves."
5. Resources and world hunger50% of grains worldwide are being eaten by farm animals, while millions of children living next to livestock are starving. The meat that's produced in these areas is then being shipped to the 1st world.
Vast amounts of grains and beans are imported from Africa and South America, so that cows in North America can be fattened up, milked and slaughtered. For growing these foods, vast areas of rain forests are being destroyed, making species go extinct and creating desert-like climates in those areas. The negative consequence: A massive contribution to climate change and world hunger.
A vegan diet requires just a small fraction of the land and a small fraction of the amount of water used by an omnivorous diet. Animal products are very inefficient. Due to the animal´s metabolic conversion of the foods they eat, enormous resources are wasted. 2,5 acres of land can feed 20+ people on a plant based diet, while on the same amount of land only one person can be fed on beef.
Around 70% of the grain grown in the US alone is fed to livestock - that’s enough grain to feed 800 million people. At the same time, incredible amounts of water are being used to produce animal products. More than half of the water consumed in the United States is used for animal agriculture. Being vegan could save up to 724,925 gallons of water per person each year. Think how powerful this change could be for everyone!
6. Animal products are dirtyEvery time you sit down to a meal containing meat, eggs, or dairy products, you’re dining on known bacteria, antibiotics, hormones, dioxins, and a host of other toxins that can cause serious health problems in humans. An extremely high percentage of all the flesh butchered every year in the U.S. is contaminated with E. coli, campylobacter, listeria, or other dangerous bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts, flesh, and feces of animals.
They can cause food poisoning – there are 75 million cases each year, 5,000 of which are fatal. The USDA reports that 70% is caused by contaminated animal flesh. The abuse of pharmaceuticals in factory farms encouraged the evolution of new strains of antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria. But that’s not the only danger associated with dosing animals raised for their flesh with antibiotics. Roxarsone, an antibiotic commonly used on factory farms, contains significant amounts of the most carcinogenic form of arsenic.
7. We have zero need for animal products65.000.000.000(!!) land animals are being slaughtered every year for food consumption. This cruel act of killing all these farmed animals is absolutely unnecessary. We simply do it for taste, out of tradition or due to false beliefs. There is no proof, that human beings must eat meat, dairy or eggs, in order to be healthy and thriving. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that a well planned vegan diet is suitable for potentially everyone. (1), (2)
We are taught which animals are okay to eat and which ones are meant to be pets – It’s a learned behavior called “Carnism”. It creates a distorted view of reality, where we exclude certain animals from your sphere of compassion, while including only specific animals into our sense of brotherhood. (1), (2)
Let’s not forget that we are not baby cows either who require the milk of their mothers and there’s no need to consume any other secretion besides our own mother’s milk past the first years of age. Needless to say, animals don’t want to die, they love and appreciate life. Unfortunately, we just view them as “farm animals”, a faceless crowd without thinking of individuals with unique personalities and emotions – just like cats and dogs. Once we understand this connection and take appropriate steps, we can finally align our actions with our morals. (2)
8. Save the environment and stop climate changeAround 18-51 percent (depending on the calculation and source) of man-made pollution comes from the meat industry, putting factory farming ahead of transportation in contributing to the greenhouse effect. What's more, it takes about 40 calories of fossil-fuel energy to create every one calorie of feed-lot beef in the U.S. (compared to 2.2 calories of energy needed to create plant proteins).
1 pound of hamburger meat equals 75 kg CO2 emission which is about the same as using your car for 3 weeks (at an average CO2 emission of 3 kg per day). And the wild animals have to suffer the consequences as well – Animal agriculture is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon deforestation. The current mass extinction of species is impacting 86% of all mammals, 88% of amphibians, and 86% of all birds. Many of them are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future. But we can change that! Adopting a vegan diet is voting for a planet where all of us can thrive and live our purposes.
9. Try amazing new dishesThere are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world, of which merely a few hundreds have been domesticated and farmed. You probably haven’t tried even a fraction of them yet! Looking out for delicious new recipes broadens your horizon, your taste buds, and lets you discover delicious and healthful dishes you wouldn’t have thought of in the beginning. (7)
You don’t have to cut back on taste at all here: Vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a nondairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the butter-and-egg fest that is Cupcake Wars twice. The key is in finding the right replacements or using recipes without any animal products at all. (8)
10. Eating for spiritual healthHave you ever felt guilty while eating certain animal foods you knew, inflicted suffering on sentient beings? As humans, we are spiritual beings, who, when allowed, will feel a natural love and compassion for our fellow human beings, as well as for other sentient co-inhabitants of our planet. It is against our fundamental spiritual nature to cause unnecessary harm or damage to any living being.
By choosing plant based meals, we are liberating innocent animals from exploitation or domination. We are choosing life over death and love over selfishness. By granting freedom to those animals who depend on our mercy, we are actually granting freedom to ourselves. We will reap as we sow.
It is a precious gift that we have bodies, which can thrive on a plant based diet and derive all essential nutrients from plant foods. Making this transition can be a real milestone in one´s personal and spiritual development. (2)
11. Better skin and digestionFor most people with acne-prone skin, dairy is one of the worst offenders. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of this issue and tend to prescribe medication and harsh chemicals in order to improve skin health. The secret lies in what we eat, though! Getting rid of fatty foods (especially animal products) has been shown to reduce acne. (9)
Water-rich fruits and vegetables can give your skin an additional boost in health due to their high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Their fiber helps with getting better digestion and elimination of toxins which, in turn, clears up your skin even more. In order to additionally improve digestion, remember to chew well, preferably 50+ times per bite. Try not to drink any liquids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after meals. This will keep your stomach acid undiluted and strong, to help with digestion.
12. Boost your moodWhen you cut out animal products, you automatically abstain from all the fear and stress hormones these animals produced on their way to slaughter, until the very last second. This alone can have a significant impact on your mood and stability. But that’s not all.
We’ve known that people eating plant-based tend to have healthier mood states—less tension, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, and fatigue. This is due to the higher level of antioxidants in plant-based foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
Healthful carbohydrate-rich foods, including brown rice, steel cut oats, and rye bread, help regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is important for controlling our mood. In the evolving landscape of neurological research, a plant-based diet may help in treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. (1), (2), (10)
13. Save lots of moneyVegan diets can be extremely economical. When you center your diet around grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruits and veggies, you might be cutting your monthly food expense in half. Many of these foods can be bought in bulk and stored for a long time. There are a lot of great options for eating vegan on a budget. But that’s not all! Since healthy plant-based diets can prevent and even reverse chronic diseases, you will have to spend way less money on doctor’s visits and medication. (11)
14. It’s never been so easyYou might not be aware of this but many supermarket foods are already vegan. There are lots of different plant-based milk options, coconut ice creams, mock meats, and more! This change in culinary preferences of the consumers is revealing itself through data — the market for non-dairy products is skyrocketing and meat alternatives sales are expected to reach $5 Billion by 2020. But not only supermarkets carry a host of delicious vegan foods at this day and age. More and more restaurants offer vegan options, too! There are so many plant based dishes you can choose from these days that you will be positively surprised. If you are a beginner, you will find many resources on the internet, who help you make your switch to a plant based diet. (12)
Finally, although these are all excellent points. True Veganism is more than just a diet, it´s a profound change in one´s heart. Although diet is the easiest way to start. Benefits are abundant, not just for your health, but for the environment, animals, and future generations. Whole new world of tastes, textures and recipes open up to you. It is absolutely positive life change. As a long time vegan I can attest to this. What I like to point out to my friends who are considering veganism or vegetarianism is to not get discouraged if they don’t succeed at first try. For me personally, a whole foods plant based diet with plenty of raw foods works best. But there’s no right or wrong way to go vegan, so don’t be afraid to try a few strategies, find out what works for you.
Here are 15 different types of vegan diets, which one is right for you?
Written by Stefan Veda
(1) H.O.P.E. What you eat matters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDg7tlEJD64
(2) Dr. Will Tuttle: www.worldpeacediet.org