Veganism Isn’t A Sacrifice: The Empowerment of Eating Compassionately
Going vegan isn’t as complicated as you may think — and it’s worth it.
For many non-vegans, the first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions veganism is the foods they can’t eat. Images of chicken wings, pizza, burgers, and ice cream flash before their eyes as they say to themselves, “No, I could never give those up. I could never be vegan.”
At the same time, vegans grow tired of repeating the answers to the same endless questions each time we mention our lifestyle: “No, I don’t eat grass. Yes, I’m getting enough protein. No, I’m not going to waste away. This is a choice; please don’t pity me.” We want to shout from the rooftops that you don’t have to give up anything to be vegan!
It’s easier than you may think to indulge in your favorite meals without sacrificing your beliefs. Plus, it helps the environment and the animals in major ways. Many people who’ve made the transition to veganism find they’re eating more abundantly and feel better mentally and physically than ever before.
Vegan Alternatives to Your Favorite Non-Vegan Dishes
If you’re someone who worries about giving up meat and dairy because you’ll miss the taste, look no further than the many plant-based meats and dairy options scattered across the shelves of your local grocery store. From burgers that actually “bleed” to chicken tenders and meatballs, eggs, sausage, cheese, butter, ice cream, cheesecake, and coffee creamers, there’s pretty much a vegan alternative to all your favorite non-vegan foods and drinks.
Luckily, more grocery stores worldwide are filling their shelves with these items as the demand increases.
Or Try a Whole-food, Plant-Based Diet
Not everyone wants to eat these alternatives, though. Some people who’ve made an ethical connection don’t want to eat anything remotely resembling animal products. That’s okay. Sometimes, these vegan alternatives can be a bit pricey, too, depending on where you live and where you’re shopping. Hence, some vegans may opt for a whole-food, plant-based diet instead.
This way of eating is often the less expensive and healthier alternative, too. While those who eat this way typically reject processed foods, the options are endless when you begin to incorporate fresh fruit, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
It’s often a controversial topic of whether a vegan diet is actually better for our health than a diet including meat, dairy, and eggs. However, studies have shown that cutting out animal products can, in fact, positively impact your health in many ways, by:
- Lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
- Reversing or preventing heart disease
- Reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes
- Slowing the progression of certain types of cancer
- Improving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Many people who have transitioned to a vegan diet also notice that their skin tends to clear up and begins to glow; they have more energy, feel better mentally, and easily maintain a healthy weight.
The Animals Will Thank You
I think it’s fairly obvious to point out that the animals benefit from you choosing to go vegan. While many people easily empathize with why the meat industry is so cruel, they have a hard time imagining the dairy and egg industry is just as inhumane.
Unfortunately, it’s true.
Because there is a high demand for milk, and cows (like humans) can only produce milk after giving birth, they are continually artificially inseminated. Then, their calves are immediately taken from them, so they can’t get to the milk. Male calves become veal, and female calves become future dairy cattle.
The egg industry is just as bleak.
Because they can’t lay eggs, male chicks get tossed carelessly into grinders alive. Female chicks are sent to egg farms where, due to years of genetic manipulation and selective breeding, they lay far more eggs than they do naturally.
So yes, the animals will thank you if you cut out animal products.
Actually, they need you to.
Like many other vegans, I feel empowered and have found peace of mind knowing that I don’t contribute to these industries anymore and that what I choose to put on my plate makes a huge difference.
It Also Benefits the Environment
Not only is a vegan diet excellent for your health and life-changing for the animals, but it’s incredibly beneficial for the environment, too because:
- Overfishing — or catching more and more fish at a rate much faster than they can reproduce — wreaks havoc on our marine ecosystem, as well as the communities who rely on fishing as their food source and livelihood.
- Deforestation is a very real threat to our environment. Think about all of the trees cut down across the world to create space for the cattle, who will later serve as meals, to graze. If the demand for meat lowers, there will be fewer reasons to continue clearing such large areas.
- Livestock causes more air pollution than cars and all other forms of transportation combined.
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe. But it’s true.
Not to mention, grazing erodes and weakens soil as well as pollutes water.
In contrast, plants clean the air and produce oxygen, which is pretty incredible and pretty important.
Making the Transition
Drastically changing your entire diet and lifestyle can be a daunting thought and is a big reason why many people never give veganism a try.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to switch overnight. Many people have found that it’s easier to slowly cut out animal products at their own pace rather than quitting cold turkey.
If you’re considering transitioning to a vegan diet, remember to be patient with yourself. It can take some time to adapt to your new diet, but once you do, I guarantee it’ll be impossible to imagine ever going back to eating animal products!
So, have fun with it! I love finding new and creative ways to veganize non-vegan foods — especially desserts!
And remember why you wanted to make this change in the first place. This can really help you stay on track as you’re adjusting.
Have you considered going vegan? If so, what’s stopping you?