by Sarah Slavin
As I approach my one-year veg-a-versary (yes, that’s something I keep track of), I think it’s time to reflect on why I went vegan and what it’s like to maintain this lifestyle. The most common reaction I get from people when they find out I’m vegan is “Oh my god I could never do that! Don't you miss ice cream?” Well, the answer is no, I don’t miss ice cream, and it’s actually very easy to go vegan.
Veganism is the lifestyle in which you don’t consume anything that comes from an animal, i.e. meat, fish, dairy, eggs, etc. I began thinking about going vegan last spring when I started watching vegan YouTube videos. I was hooked and knew this was something I had to at least try. However, I didn’t think my parents would let me.
I figured I’d wait until college, but I realized that I couldn’t wait any longer, so I ran the idea by my parents. They weren’t exactly on board at first, but once they realized it was something I was very dedicated to, they supported me. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy at first; but about a month in, I knew I would never go back. Now I can’t imagine eating meat ever again.
I had never been a big animal lover or PETA donor, but once you realize what’s behind the food that you’re eating, it’s hard to unsee it. This brings me to the first reason why I went vegan: for the animals. According to animalequality.net, 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year. It’s a catastrophic number when you think about it; that's eight times the amount of people living on Earth.
A lot of people understand why I don’t eat meat, but another common question is “Why can’t you eat dairy? What about eggs?” Well, the truth is, it’d be nice to think that we don’t hurt these animals when we use their byproducts, but we do. Each and every day, many animals are injected with hormones, abused in factory farms or confined to spaces that are not natural.
These farms are not only harming animals, but they’re also hurting the environment. According to PETA, it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, while it takes only 244 gallons of water to produce one pound of tofu. And about 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report by the Worldwatch Institute. These were my main two reasons for making the transition. I was so amazed that something as simple as a diet can save the environment and animals’ lives.
Another reason why many people go vegan, which was just an added bonus for me, is that it’s beneficial for your health. Eating both red meat and processed meat can lead to an increased risk in cancer. T. Colin Campbell, a known epidemiological researcher, stated that animal proteins are a prime carcinogen. Additionally, red meat consumption also raises concerns about heart disease, stroke and other health complications. By requiring you to eat a more plant-based diet, veganism helps your health considerably.
It’s been almost a year since I replaced ice cream and chicken fingers with vegan pizza and acai bowls. I can’t imagine going back to my non-vegan life, even if it means suppressing a milkshake craving every now and then.