Shifting to a Vegan Diet – Good for Health and Environment

Out of all Greenhouse gas emissions, 26 % comes from the food sector.

Animal Products account for 58 % of the total emissions from the food sector.

Half of all farmed emissions come from beef and lamb only.

What is a Vegan Diet?

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of the diet or the philosophy is known as a Vegan. Wikipedia 

It was coined in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England from the Vegan Society. The term “vegan” was coined by taking the first and last letters of the term “vegetarian”.

What is Vegan Diet?
Image Source : https://health.veggieshake.com/food-nutrition/favorite-foods/veganism-101-what-you-can-and-cant-eat-vegan-diet-health-benefits-and-more/

Types of Veganism : 

  • Dietary Vegans – Plant-based eaters, people who avoid animal products in their diet only and continue to use them in other products such as clothing and cosmetics.
  • Whole-food Vegans – They prefer a diet rich in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Junk-food Vegans – People eating processed vegan food such as vegan meats, fires, forced dinners, and desserts.
  • Raw-food Vegans – Eating only raw food or food cooked at below 48°C.
  • Low-fat, raw-food Vegans – Also called Fruitarians, consuming high-fat food like nuts, avocados, and coconuts rather than committing to only fruits.

Health Benefits of going Vegan : 

  • Vegan diet is rich in nutrients such as Vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium.
  • It helps in weight loss by reducing calorie intake.
  • Decrease chances of having type-2 diabetes by 50-78% and helps in increasing insulin sensitivity. 
  • It helps in improving Kidney functioning
  • Eating more legumes, fruits, and vegetables than non-vegans help vegans to reduce the risk of developing or dying from cancer by 15%.
  • Vegans have a 75 % lower risk of developing high blood pressure and 45% less risk of dying from heart disease.
  • It can reduce pain from Arthritis.
Vegan Diet - Health Benefits
Image Source: https://health.veggieshake.com/food-nutrition/favorite-foods/veganism-101-what-you-can-and-cant-eat-vegan-diet-health-benefits-and-more/

Environmental Benefits of going Vegan :

  • It requires 100-200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than a pound of plant foods and not eating just one kilo of beef saves 15,000 liters of water while replacing roast chicken saves 4,325 liters of water
  • More the requirement of beef and animal products increase more the forests will be cut down to raise livestock leading to acceleration in climate change because deforestation results in the emission of carbon stored in plants
  • According to an Oxford University study, published in the journal Climatic Change, shows that meat-eaters are responsible for almost twice as many dietary greenhouse-gas emissions per day as vegetarians and about two and a half times as many as vegans.
  • Helps in energy conservation and saving energy that goes into processing and transportation of animal-based products 
Vegan Diet - Environmental Benefits
Image Source: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/11/15/how-much-would-giving-up-meat-help-the-environment

My opinion : 

People will say that by shifting to a vegan diet they are risking being deficient of nutrients that we get from animal products. I agree that a vegan diet cannot provide nutrients as much as animal products. But we can always take supplements after proper checkup and consultation with the physician. 

Also, it is not ethical to kill animals just to fill our stomach when there are alternatives available.

Shifting to a Vegan diet is one of the easiest and highly impactful steps that we can take at the individual level to protect the environment. It is not easy to make an immediate shift to a vegan diet, but we can start by making small changes such as reducing the intake of meat by a certain amount every week. And do remember the clock is ticking very fast and we have to take big steps to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change.   

References:

  1. http://environmath.org/2018/06/17/paper-of-the-day-poore-nemecek-2018-reducing-foods-environmental-impacts/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836264
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671114/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26853923
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24871675
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits#section5
  7. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/9-reasons-why-veganism-can-save-the-world/
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-a-vegan#rationale
  9. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/9-reasons-why-veganism-can-save-the-world/
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Yash

Yash loves to read and write on issues such as climate change, renewable energy, SDGs, and other related issues. He wants to make people aware of climate change and encourage them to follow a sustainable lifestyle.

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