Vegans are people who have chosen, for a variety of reasons, to avoid consuming or using animal products. This goes beyond just eating meat and also includes avoiding eggs, dairy, honey, leather, wool, down, cosmetics, and any other products that include animal sources.
If you’re reading our blog you may already be a vegan, thinking about transitioning to the plant-based lifestyle, or perhaps would just like to learn more and try out some recipes. Whatever your choice may be, we’d love to share some general information with you about veganism and why we recently chose to adapt to this lifestyle as well.
There are a number of common reasons that people become vegan. The most obvious one is that it helps animals who are suffering from abuse and exploitation on factory farms. In order to make profit, many farms have a highly accelerated life-cycle for animals, sending them to slaughter when they are still quite young.
Veganism is the natural extension of vegetarianism, because the production of milk and eggs is also a form of animal abuse. Of course female animals naturally produce these substances, but as a result the male calves, goats, and chicks are unwanted and often go to an early death. When a dairy cow becomes less productive after several years, she is also killed. Therefore, vegans avoid all animal products in recognition that like human animals, all animals want to avoid suffering, exploitation, and death.
Another reason people choose a compassionate lifestyle is for health. This was definitely one of the main factors for our decision. I consumed lots of meat and animal products prior to becoming a vegan. I credit my high levels of cholesterol at the time to the fat found in these animal products. After Sanela and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives, we learned that many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease can be avoided by eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Plant-based foods are low in fat and high in fiber, and since changing our eating habits we have felt much more vibrant and wholesome.
Veganism has certainly proven to help my IBS symptoms. After having little headway in treating my symptoms for about a decade, I really enjoy the benefits that veganism is providing. The fat found in meat and dairy is one of the biggest triggers for IBS, and I have found it easy and rewarding to eliminate that from my diet. I feel wholesome and healthy, and I love all the new recipes we are experimenting with in order to discover new plant-based meals to fit our lifestyle.
Like many others vegans, we also wanted to help our planet by adjusting to a compassionate lifestyle. We are all connected in this world, not just to other people but also to animals and to the earth on which we rely.
A plant-based diet is less resource intensive than a diet which requires animal products. This is because the amount of land, crops, and water required to raise animals is much higher than the amount that could be used to raise crops for people. Large swaths of the rainforest are being cleared in order to grow soybeans for livestock or to make space for animals to graze.
According to The Vegan Society, a plant-based diet only requires 1/3 of the land use compared with the land raising animals requires. By choosing a plant-based lifestyle and being more intentional with our resource use, it is estimated we could each save about 200 animals per year, 1.3 million gallons of water, and reduce 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions (learn more) That’s quite an environmental impact simply caused by choosing plant products!
This is only our first year of living a more compassionate lifestyle, but I’m happy that we’re being kinder to animals, to our planet, and to our bodies.
Oh, and in case you missed my earlier point: being vegan is fun!
I love feeling healthy and energized, discovering new sources of protein and iron, and crafting new recipes. They’re not all green either! Check out our gluten-free pancakes with vegan caramel cashew sauce for something sweet and indulgent. Hope you found this helpful and enlightening, thanks for letting us share!