Globally, only 1% of the population is vegan, and here in England, only 1.21% of the country is vegan.
With many documentaries, films, and general promotion of a plant-based diet, a lot of people have become curious about how to live a healthier, and better life for the planet and the animals.
Many have dipped their toes into the plant-based lifestyle by making small changes, such as using meat alternatives in their meals or switching the milk they have in their coffee. Others have even gone cold turkey, after being educated on the topic and made a complete switch to a vegan diet.
Since I became vegan in 2019, things have improved so much. There are more options in restaurants and cafes, and so many plant-based items in the supermarkets to choose from.
I live in a house full of vegans, and three years into being plant-based, I have a much better insight into what’s going on and I can’t see myself ever going back.
However many still have absolutely no idea what being vegan means or what it’s about.
So I wanted to compile some things that have been said to me or have been asked since turning vegan.
“Oh, are you sure? Why don’t you just make your life easier by going vegetarian instead?”
Response: I don’t believe my taste buds are worth another life, and for this reason being vegan is the best solution to end the suffering. Many people don’t realise that even being vegetarian causes suffering through the dairy industry (milk/eggs). Although it may be daunting or seem limited to be vegan when you are still learning; Once you get the basics down, the rest is easy peasy!
“Do you eat fish?”
Response: No! Being vegan means not eating anything alive. Vegans do not eat any food derived from animals nor do we use other animal products.
“Vegetables are alive too”
Response: Although vegetables are alive, there is a clear and scientific difference between vegetables and animals. Animals are sentient beings (something that can experience suffering) and plants are not. Plants cannot suffer because they cannot experience suffering – they cannot think, cannot express emotions, and do not have a central nervous system.
“If you’re vegan, why do you eat things that look like meat?”
Response: Veganism is a way of living in which people exclude, as much as possible, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty.
Right now, most people will have grown up eating meat and discover veganism later on. Some people, once educated on what goes on in the meat and dairy industry, will make a switch from a meat-eating to a vegan diet.
However, when starting, being vegan can be very overwhelming; it may seem as if you have to cut out a lot of foods that you are used to. By having meat substitutes, something that looks and tastes familiar, you can gently ease into it. Still able to eat the meals you are used to, but just now with a meat substitute instead.
Changing to a vegan diet doesn’t suddenly mean you no longer enjoy the tastes you were so used to. Often meat alternatives are a good way to show and encourage meat-eaters to help transition to a vegan diet and show that they won’t be missing out but in fact, is a good way to enjoy food without causing any harm to a sentient being.
“We’ve been eating meat for millions of years”
Response: Our ancestors had a predominantly vegetarian diet, eating berries and nuts and only eating meat if they could catch something. Our canine teeth have scientifically proven that they were used to crack nuts instead of meat. People used to eat meat out of necessity to survive and lack access to other things. Now a lot of the world has access to other sources of food, no longer making meat a necessity to survive.
Also, because something has been happening for a long time does not make it right. Child labour, forced marriages, and slavery are some things that have been happening for a long time, yet we would all agree these are very wrong.
“Where would the animals go? Won’t they take over the planet?”
Response: Farm animals are bred far more intensively than they reproduce in the wild, so no, we would not be overrun by farm animals!
The only reason we have the number of animals in the world as we do is to meet the demand for all the meat and dairy we are consuming. Before we became so greedy with consumption/ our taste buds and money, we would only eat meat when we were able to catch anything. Now it’s so readily available EVERYWHERE!
If for some reason, there was no longer a demand for farm animals, billions of animals will no longer be killed to satisfy our taste buds. However, if they could not be released, the animals may get slaughtered, abandoned, or taken into a sanctuary. The best scenario would be as the number of people on a plant-based diet increases, the demand for farmers to breed animals will decrease.
The animals will be free to roam the rest of their lives and die from natural causes instead of being slaughtered. They will still breed in nature, the number of animals will reduce drastically and they will live in the wild like they used to before we caught them all.
Although, some farm animals have been overbred and so far removed from their ancestors that they can’t survive in the wild.
“I don’t really care about the animals, there is no reason for me to go vegan.”
Response: Animals aside, going vegan would be the best possible option for the world and future generations.
The United Nation’s 2021 report stated that the world is on “code red” when it comes to climate change. If we don’t change now natural disasters and rising levels of sea levels are going to be a common things, endangering millions of people’s lives.
So how does going vegan help the planet? It’ll reduce greenhouse gas emission, stop livestock emissions, reduce energy consumption, conserve water, stabilise the ocean, protect rainforests and land, preserves habitats and prevent species extinction and make people healthier – to name a few!
A study from Oxford University identified going vegan as the “single biggest way” we can reduce our carbon footprint, shrinking it up to 73% – source.
Animals emit greenhouse gasses, and unlike plants, when we think about the impact the animals are having on the environment, we have to take into consideration the crops that are used to feed the animals. A 2018/2019 study found that most of the cereal crops were going to animals and fuels instead of humans. 88% of soy and 53% of protein-rich pulses were also used for animal feed. Source
“Agriculture consumes more water than any other major global industry, accounting for 70% of global water use. 41% of the water used for agriculture goes toward growing livestock feed for the meat industry. It takes about 460 gallons of water to make one quarter-pound beef patty—that’s the equivalent of taking 23 showers.” Source
By just having one plant-based meal you can save the same amount of carbon emission it takes to drive a car across the country (USA). We can’t be selfish, if we want future generations to enjoy what the beautiful world offers, things have to change.
Do your own research, get curious, and care about the plant if not for yourself but for your children and their children – there are many in-depth articles on how we can be helping the planet by switching diets. We can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer!
“Being vegan is expensive”
Response: I’ve heard a lot of people say this and it’s definitely a misconception. Like any diet, food can be expensive depending on the items you buy. If you keep buying processed and ready-made foods, yes it will rack up the shopping meal, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Research suggests that vegans spend on average 40% less on food than meat-eaters.
Staple foods in the supermarkets are often the cheapest, fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, beans, and pulses. The key is to buy in bulk when you can and be money savvy and look for sale items.
“But they have a good life don’t they?”
Response: Even if they have the most wonderful life, no being chooses to be slaughtered at the end of it. It doesn’t matter if they were in beautiful daisy paddocks, getting massages every day and spoiled with love and delicious food, none of that matters or counts for anything if they get slaughtered at the end of it. They don’t want to die, you are taking away their choice. Killing a being is wrong.
“Where do you get your protein?”
Response: Tofu, tempeh, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, seitan, edamame, lentils, beans, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, spelt, teff, hemp seeds, green peas, spirulina, amaranth, Ezekiel bread, and other bread made from sprouted grains, soy milk, oats, wild rice, chia seeds, nuts, nut butter, and other seeds, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichoke, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, sweet corn, guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines, and bananas.
These are all the plant-based proteins you can get on a vegan diet. Many people seem to think that you can only get protein from meat and that vegans are anaemic however, that is far from the truth.
So what do you think?
I believe everybody has a choice, and even if you have read and understood all the facts and research if you still decide that eating meat is something that you’ll carry on with, then that is your choice as a human being, (a choice that animals do not get).
However, I hope this has encouraged you to make a change big or small that could help the planet, animals and future generations.