The vegan diet is a sustainable, eco-friendly and healthy diet option.
The word “vegan” has been used so often recently, that it has become a common-use word. Vegans eat foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes and do not consume any animal-based food products such as meats (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy products, eggs, honey etc.
Vegans tend to be thought of strictly in the diet sense. However, there is more to veganism as a lifestyle. Lifestyle vegans avoid all animal-derived products as well as any products developed through animal testing.
Vegetarianism is another term for those who do not consume meat. The difference being that a vegan does not consume any foods containing animal products of any kind and vegetarians can consume non-meat products of animal origin including honey, eggs and dairy products.
Although veganism is becoming increasingly more mainstream in the current social environment, veganism itself is not a new concept. According to Time, veganism can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies with vegetarianism showing roots as far back as 500 BCE.
The word vegan isn’t a new concept in Europe or North America either. In the UK, it was already defined in 1944. According to the British Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK was 150,000 in 2014, which increased to 600,000 in 2019. It has been quadrupled (corresponding to 1.16% of the population) in 5 years time. In addition, it is estimated that there are 75.3 million vegans in the world as of 2020, and the vegan population is steadily increasing on a global scale. So why are so many people making the move towards veganism?
What makes a person choose veganism?
There are many reasons why one would choose to no longer consume meat products, including an overall dislike for the taste or texture, as well as geographical reasons such as those who reside in coastal areas or areas without the significant resources needed to support livestock. Although the reasons for selecting a vegetarian or vegan diet are many, it is said that there are three main reasons for becoming vegan. They are (1) to reduce environmental impact, (2) for health reasons, and (3) for animal welfare.
① To reduce the impact on the environment
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global meat and dairy consumption is expected to continue to rise, especially in developing countries due to the increasing world population and economic development. It may be surprising to learn that livestock is actually a large-scale source of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
animals such as cattle ( that eat food once swallowed to digest grass and chew it again) are a significant contributor to the livestock sector’s emissions, counting for approximately 62% of the estimated 2010 total of 8.1 gigatonnes of CO2. There is concern that this methane will adversely affect global warming. In addition to these emissions , deforestation is of concern because it is being carried out in order to develop farmland for livestock production and to cultivate crops for animal feed. In fact, it has been reported that on average about 4 million hectares of forest were felled annually in the Amazon of South America between 2001 and 2010, most of which was used as land for soybean cultivation and cattle grazing.
“Agriculture is projected to account for 52% of global greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, 70% of which comes from meat and dairy products,” warns environmental group Greenpeace. Meanwhile, a 2019 announcement from Imperial College London suggests that changing to a vegetarian diet could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 73% per capita in the UK compared to the current diet. It has also been stated that the potential for reducing emissions by changing the dietary style is sufficiently large.
Against this background, many people are opting for an environmentally friendly and sustainable vegan diet due to the possibility that animal- based foods can affect global warming and contribute to deforestation. It can be said that vegetarians have a smaller environmental burden than the conventional meat diet. However, a considerable relationship with livestock still remains since vegetarians can consume dairy products.
On the other hand, since the vegan does not eat foods derived from livestock, it can be argued that it is a more sustainable and eco-friendly eating style than the vegetarian. By comparison, the average annual carbon dioxide emissions from a typical meat diet are 2,055kg (5.63kg CO2e) per day, compared to 1,391kg for vegetarians (3.81kg CO2e per day) and 1,055 kg for vegans (2.89kg CO2e per day), which is less than half the amount of vegan emissions compared to meat. (Springer Link)
② For health
One may think that not eating meat is rather bad for your health due to a stated lack in protein consumption. However, protein can be supplemented in plant-based diets with the nutrients needed which can be sourced from legumes, and vegetables such as broccoli or spinach. For a quick guide, the British Dietetic Association will help vegans at any age to eat a well-balanced diet. According to this 2002 study, vegans tend to have fewer instances of high blood pressure. Being vegan could be a good opportunity to review your nutritional balance and improve health concerns with diet. Finding a good dietary balance is important.
Aside from the reported health benefits of a plant-based diet, some may opt to stop eating meat products as a form of risk avoidance. Meat products must be preserved or prepared in such a way to avoid the collection of harmful bacteria which can make the person ill. In some circumstances, this care of preparation is not of high possibility and therefore avoided.
③ For animal welfare
Some people become vegan because of a desire to not harm animals, as well as to save the environment. What this means in practical terms is that those who have a high concern for the overall welfare of animals, tend to make specific purchasing decisions based on this concern. Said purchasing decisions are based on the decision to not purchase any items which have been tested on animals or contain within any animal product. A consumer is able to find products labelled as not containing within – any animal by products, plant-based and not tested on animals.
Taste vegan food with a store-bought snack!
The concept of veganism is still spreading in many places. On the other hand, veganism is widespread in the Mediterranean, India, the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and many European countries. As it is becoming more and more common, many restaurants have vegan options. If one finds themselves in a destination where veganism is common, why not try a dish? Chain food shops and fast food venues also offer vegan options, so you can feel free to try something that’s vegan when you are a little hungry.
The following are examples of vegan kitchen dining establishments:
There exists among these locations, a large selection of vegan options at food shops to meet the growing demand of vegan consumers. When traveling, many travellers opt to visit the food shops as opposed to dining establishments, so we have included a few popular vegan food product manufacturers that one can find in destination food shops.
Some available vegan products can be found from these companies:
Veganism is spreading widely into society as a lifestyle. Lifestyle choices are a very personal decision to make and only the individual is able to make the best decisions for themselves. If one is interested in or curious about veganism, it is always possible to try something from the plethora of vegan meals or animal-free products available to see if it suits the person’s own tastes before making a lifestyle change.
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