Okay, seriously. Why?
People ask me all the time why I’m vegan - its a valid question and I’m never bothered by it, unless you’re being rude or dissentient, in which case, please go away - so if you’ve asked me before, you got a very condensed version of this. I try my best to be a considerate, respectful human. I am generally very diplomatic and nonjudgmental, I like to listen and I’m not the type to shove my beliefs down anyone’s throat. I am also very passionate and I have a lot of very strong opinions about a lot of things (some important, some not so much). That being said, I’d like to share a little post about why I went vegan this year, as it is something that has become an important part of who I am as a person.
I stopped eating meat August of 2015 and went fully vegan May of 2017. That means I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or any other animal products (like gelatin, etc.), I have stopped buying beauty/cleaning/etc. products that are not vegan and cruelty-free, and I am working toward phasing out all of the items I already own that are made with animal products (like leather, etc.). Some of this is a slow process, for example, my winter boots are made of leather, but winter boots are expensive so I plan to use them until I can afford to buy a pair made from vegan materials. But overall its pretty cut and dry.
I initially chose to stop eating meat for a myriad of reasons, mainly for some boundaries on what I was eating that wasn’t a diet, per se, but that would (hopefully, usually) help me think about what I was eating and thus make healthier choices. I have been quite successful, but more on that in a moment.
In my considerations for becoming a vegetarian and, eventually, vegan, I did some research about the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry and WOW. I was absolutely stunned.
Some facts that blew my mind:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions each year
- Animal agriculture consumes, on average, 55 trillion gallons of water annually
- It takes roughly 2,500-5000 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of beef, 1000 gallons to produce 1 gallon of milk, 477 gallons for 1lb of eggs, and 900 gallons for 1lb. of cheese
- Growing crops to feed livestock uses 56% of of the water in the US
- Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the ice-free land on the entire planet and livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land
- 2,500 dairy cows produce as much waste as a city of 411,000 people
- We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people (but about half of it it is fed to livestock)
- 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals and the animals are eaten by western countries (okay, seriously, YIKES)
- A meat eater requires 18x more land than a vegan to produce their food (vegan’s require 1/6th acre)
- A vegan, by their diet, produces 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land of a meat-eater
- Every day, a vegan saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45lbs. of grain, 30 sq. ft. of forested land, 20lbs. co2 equivalent, and one animal’s life
(sources can be found at the end of this post)
Even if you cut all of those numbers in half, HOLY CRAP.
I was devastated to learn about all of this, and I no longer felt that it was good, right, or just to continue with my omnivorous lifestyle.
(Note: while I do love animals and wholeheartedly believe that they are much better off uneaten, I don’t think that “argument” / trying to guilt people into going vegan by shoving photos of slaughtered cows and crying calves in their faces is very effective; in fact, it usually has the opposite intended effect and it’s just generally unpleasant and rude, so, I’m not going to do that)
I personally felt convicted to be a better steward of my planet and while turning the water off when you brush your teeth, using reusable bags for your groceries, and biking to work are all well and good, the actual massive impact that holding to a vegan diet and not participating in the animal agriculture industry makes is incomparable. I love this planet and I feel that the best thing I can do for it is follow a vegan lifestyle, and so, I will.
"But I'm broke!"
Girl, me too. A lot of people say that eating vegan is expensive, and it certainly can be if you don’t plan meals well or if you’re buying tons of vegan meat/cheese replacements (that stuff is good, but it can be pricey). But most of my meals are based around potatoes, pasta, and/or legumes, and that stuff is CHEAP.
Now, the anthropologist in me needs to acknowledge that poverty and food deserts are serious issues that can factor into someone’s ability to eat a vegan diet, simply because they do not have access to good, fresh produce. And that’s a whole different problem that I could talk about regardless of veganism. But for just a regular person, and I can almost guarantee that I make less $ than almost anyone reading this right now, it is TOTALLY DOABLE.
I typically spend about $25-50/week on groceries (usually closer to $25-30, but sometimes I feel bougie and buy fancy stuff) and I’m even extra and like to buy local/organic everything I can, which tends to be more expensive than conventional stuff. Pro tip: Trader Joe’s has nearly everything you could every dream of, lots of random accidentally vegan items, AND they are insanely affordable.
No, I'm not malnourished or deficient
In fact, I have never been healthier. Even keeping within a vegan diet you can still eat garbage (oreos are vegan, so are potato chips) but I feel such a huge difference when I eat more fruit and veg and stay away from the processed junk. I have more energy, I sleep better, and I just generally feel GOOD.
Within the first 6mo. of quitting meat (still eating dairy/eggs, not really exercising), I lost almost 20lbs. of just extra, unhealthy weight that I was carrying around. I’ve always struggled with bad skin and terrible cystic acne the past few years. My skin cleared quite a bit after quitting meat, alas, the cystic acne remained. BUT! Since going vegan, it’s completely gone! My skin isn’t perfect, but WOW I’ve never been so happy with how my skin looks just on any given day.
For those concerned about nutrients (“BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?!?!” 😒😒😒) first of all, do you even know how much protein you’re supposed to eat in a day??? Probably not! Regardless, I know how much I need (about 50g/day) and there are TONS of delicious ways for me to get that protein, and all of the other nutrients I need. Like I mentioned before, health was a big factor in why I changed my diet, and I have never been more in-tune with my body’s needs and I have never felt, looked, or been healthier.
Here are some cute infographics if you’re curious (the last one is sources of iron!):
It's not as difficult as it seems
The thing that has surprised me the most about being vegan is how dang EASY it is. Once I considered eating meat, dairy, and eggs totally unacceptable, not even an option, instead of feeling restricted by that, I was empowered. I enjoy cooking and I usually only buy and make food for myself, which I do think makes it easier, but it’s been fun discovering how many delicious meals can be made from simple, plant-based ingredients. And if I’m ever craving something that’s not traditionally vegan, I can always always find or make a satisfying substitute (usually it’s better than the “real” thing, tbh!). And PLEASE, DO NOT WORRY; VEGAN PIZZA DOES EXIST AND IT IS DELICIOUS.
The good news is, veganism is only going to get easier. There has been a 600% increase in those who identify as vegans in the past 3 years (though those numbers are most likely lower than reality!) and the demand for vegan options in restaurants and grocery stores has skyrocketed.
The goal of this post is simply to share my experience with those who are curious and to share my thoughts and feelings about something that is important to me.
I never want to be known as someone who makes people feel bad or guilty for the choices they make, instead I want to educate and encourage people to make better, healthier choices for themselves and the planet. It’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds (it did take me almost two years to give up cheese, so I get it, trust me) and it is incredibly rewarding to know that just by living your life, even if you have a bad or unproductive day, you’re making a positive impact. Do good, feel good; that whole thing. It’s pretty nice.
Well, this was long, so if you read it all, congrats and thank you!
If you have any comments, questions, concerns, ideas, input, etc. about being vegan, how to start, steps to take, etc. I would love to hear them! Unless you’re going to be mean; I don’t care what you have to say if you can’t say it nicely. :)
Alright, that's enough of that. Bye, friends!