Should People Go Vegan?


Picture by Cody Wilson

By Melissa Canales, Staff Writer

A yogurt parfait, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s all have one thing in common: they are made with animal products. While these foods are part of a majority of people’s diets, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to follow plant-based diets, otherwise known as veganism.

In the past few years, veganism has gotten more well-known. Between 2014 and 2017, there has been a 500% increase of people who identify themselves as vegans. Even Google advertised consuming less meat in their 2017 Earth Day Google Doodle. There are many good reasons to go vegan, and the rest of us should follow suit.

The leading reason behind following a plant based diet is to save the countless animals that are slaughtered mercilessly only to end up on dinner plates. In the course of one year, approximately 56 million animals are captured, killed, and eaten by humans, and these numbers don’t include fish and other sea creatures.

Not only are the animals we eat being killed by the millions, but they are also put into miserable living conditions. Hens are exploited for their eggs and cows for their milk, meat, and skin. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are also bred to grow at a rapid speed to a point that their legs cannot support their body weight. Their death sentence is perhaps the most gruesome, as they are hung upside down by shackles, bathed in electrified water to be paralyze, and finally killed with a slit through the throat.

However, fast production lines sometimes kill chickens in a different, equally gruesome way: a tank of boiling hot water meant to de-feather them while still alive and able to feel pain. These unfortunate groups of chickens are essentially boiled alive. The USDA admits that millions of chickens suffer this inhumane fate. Vegans take a stand against the cruel treatment of animals. For every individual vegan, approximately 95 animals are saved each year. In the course of a lifetime, these numbers add up, and in 11 years, an individual could save over 1,000 animals.

Additionally, breeding and raising livestock, specifically cows, are huge factors for the overabundance of carbon that’s been polluting our air. A report by the USEPA revealed that nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions came from agriculture. While this statistic seems insignificant compared to the other sources of carbon dioxide, it is important to note where the greenhouse gas is coming. Grain grown to feed cows typically is tainted with chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which requires fossil fuels.

Livestock, especially cows, also produces methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2, as a normal part of their digestive system. Their manure is then either spread onto the land or spilled into lagoons, furthering the methane emissions. Manure alone accounts for 15% of the emissions produced within the agricultural portion. Not only this, but much of the land in a farm is used to grow crops used to feed the animals. In fact, it takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat! If people did not raise livestock, all of the crops being produced would be directed towards feeding the human population and would even help feed hungry people around the world.

While saving animals and protecting the environment is the top priority of many vegans, the benefits of living a life free of animal products have extended to the health side of the problem. A study by the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics found that vegans are less likely to develop cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure as compared to meat eaters. Vegans also cut down on a lot of saturated fats, as most of them come from animal meat and dairy products. This in turn dramatically boosts their health, especially in terms of cardiovascular health.

Furthermore, meat products are often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids that can lead to food poisoning. On top of this, plant protein is noted to have many health benefits such as lowering body weight and cholesterols as well as reducing the chance of stroke. As if the health benefits were not plentiful already, vegans are noted to have healthier skin, nails, and hair with an abundance of energy throughout the day.

The benefits of veganism are simply incredible, and every day, more and more people join the number of vegans around the globe. Celebrities such as Liam Hemsworth, Lea Michele, Jennifer Lopez, Woody Harrelson, and Beyonce have raised even more attention to this lifestyle as they happily live as vegans.

However, if you’re still hesitant to put down your favorite ice cream or that Starbucks coffee drink, you have nothing to worry about. There is a plethora of alternatives to dairy products and with the increase of demand for vegan options, many fast food chains have adjusted their menus to suit the needs of vegans everywhere. Companies are also dedicating time to finding the perfect recipes to replace just about any dish with dairy, meat, or other animal products. Veganism is a choice that doesn’t seem to have many downfalls to it; not only are vegans standing up to animal cruelty and protecting our environment, but they still reap the many health benefits of their diet.

Switching out the diet full of dairy, meat, and other animal products to a diet free of any of those things is certainly not an easy task. The transition to veganism is certainly a lengthy one, but definitely worthwhile.  If there was ever a better time to make the change and start a new lifestyle as a vegan, it is now.