Our generation was passed on a world with a lot of cruelty: cruelty against other human beings, cruelty against other animal species, and cruelty against the planet, which resulted in the climate crisis we face.
It can seem overwhelming, and it’s no coincidence that our generation is most affected by mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
We have a huge responsibility.
The responsibility to get our planet out of this cruel mindset so we can pass it on to the next generation in a better state.
It’s so hard to figure out how you can make a difference as an individual. It feels like whatever action you try to take, people around you undo it with their actions. But by living up to our convictions and leading by example, we can defeat this cruelty and save our world.
Today I want to encourage you to make a shift that can make a huge difference: going vegan.
I’ve been vegan on and off for 2 years. I was fully vegan at first but I wasn’t able to sustain it. Step by step, I made tweaks and adjustments to make it work for me. Now I’m about 90% vegan, and I love it!
I know it feels like a huge step, an “extreme” lifestyle, but here’s the thing: you don’t have to be 100% vegan.
If every person on the planet decided to become 10% vegan, it would be the equivalent of 1 person out of 10 becoming vegan.
A small shift in your diet can make a huge difference for the planet. And here’s the thing: as you’re glowing with this new lifestyle and living according to your beliefs, you’ll make people around you want to join you. And that’s how you make a difference. You start by focusing on your own actions and you lead by example.
So how can vegan be so good for the world? I have three answers for you.
Let’s start with the most selfish one: YOUR HEALTH.
People who have followed a vegan diet for an extended period of time have reported clearer skin, healthier hair, improved digestion, improved sleep, more energy, better focus, and stronger physically (How to go Vegan). Vegans have the lowest levels of cholesterol, lower risk of high blood pressure, lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and also lower likelihood of certain cancers including colon cancer, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer, which can be linked to the consumption of red meat or dairy. A vegan diet can also include less chemicals as the products come from a lower trophic level than animal products, so are less concentrated in pollutants because pollutant concentration increases with trophic levels.
The impact of the animal products industry on the planet.
The production of animal products can severely damage the environment, from the resources required to the land cleared for farming. Shifting to a vegan diet can help reduce the worst of the impacts. Producing animal products requires 3 times more water than producing vegan products. In addition, one third of the cereal production globally, as well as 90% of the total soya production are used to feed animals instead of other humans, including in countries where people are dying of hunger. A shift to a vegan diet could conserve precious water, and feed people who are dying around the world from lack of access to food.
In terms of climate change and global greenhouse gas emissions, animal production is responsible for a hefty 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. What’s worse is that the greatest cause of deforestation is agriculture. Communities around the world clear precious forests to increase the farmland available for agriculture. Fewer forests means fewer carbon sinks. While some of that farmland is used for plant-basd products, it takes more land to produce meat than plant based food, not to mention to grow the food that animals are fed. Shifting to a vegan diet reduces emissions, and protects forests around the world by reducing the demand on animal products.
The most obvious one: the well-being of all living beings.
Eating animals obviously involves killing them, and is typically done in a way that causes suffering to the animals. Did you know that chickens, for example, are excluded from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act in the US? In the dairy industry, unwanted calves are disposed of, not to mention the separation that baby cows suffer from or the artificial insemination of the cows to force them to continuously produce milk. In purely humane terms, most animals reared live in suffering, caged indoors. In the UK, for example, 94% of the chicken comes from intensive farming while in the US 85% of eggs come from caged hens who will never be able to go outside.
Where do you start?
It has never been easier today to go vegan. Tons of new vegan products are created every day and help make it funner to go vegan. Vegan ice creams, vegan burgers, vegan pizzas… not to mention all the vegan foods you already eat and enjoy like fries, rice, quinoa, pasta, bread, nuts, all fruits & vegetables, etc… You don’t have to restrict yourself to go vegan!
It’s okay if you’re not ready to go 100% vegan. Going 10% vegan is still better than nothing and still makes a difference. Knowing that I don’t have to be perfect has really helped me make the shift, as well as the amazing vegan options available here in the UK in shops like Aldi, and countless recipes available online: The Happy Pear, The Buddhist Chef, The Cheap Lazy Vegan.
If you’re thinking about it, let me make a recommendation. Start by asking yourself one question. What can’t live I live without? Once you know the answer, you can make adjustments and compromises on the things that you don’t care as much about. For example, if you love cheese, what about cutting cheese out for 1 day per week and giving up on beef? Or keep chicken and give up on eggs! Find what works for you. You could start by making a list of vegan foods you’re going to try this week, and not eliminate any foods right now.
Try things. Make mistakes. Learn. And keep going. You can do this, one decision at a time!
It’s time that together, we start to fight back and create a world that is cruelty-free and safe for future generations.