Why Now is a Good Time to Try Vegan
The first thing anyone says when you tell them you’re vegan is “Oh, I could never do that.” It’s always been strange to me that people have such a visceral reaction. When you tell someone you are whatever religion you are, they don’t usually respond with “Oh, I could never do that.”, even though they are probably more likely to not swap religions than diets. Life is strange in that way. When seatbelts were first introduced, the public backlash was at first visceral, and now we accept them as commonplace. I have a theory that veganism will reach an equivalent level of acceptance, but I also do not believe today is that day. Instead, I am writing this both as a practical guide and as meditation on the benefits of a vegan diet. If you cannot follow everything outlined, that is okay. You have likely kept your current diet for the majority of your life. You cannot expect a habit you have had for over 20, 30 years to simply change overnight. When I say practical, I mean it - even if you cut out just a bit of meat, poultry, or fish from your diet, you are making a large step. It is not inconsequential the difference you are making in the world. Furthermore, veganism is a set of doctrines, and like any set of doctrines, there will be deviation. Consider this article both informational and compassionate. It is what I would have liked to have when I was first starting.
1. Veganism is Easy
Most people get caught up in the details. Veganism is easy. It won’t all be easy at once, but many advancements in food have made the diet easier than ever. Think holistically: what do I eat on a day to day basis? If you answered burgers, chicken nuggets, and pizza, then you likely don’t need to look for that many replacements. Beyond Burger, and Trader Joe’s Protein Patties are great substitutes for burgers. Make sure to use a bun that doesn’t contain egg, and enjoy with fries. French Fries (or chips) are potato-based, with just some salt and oil added. Chicken nuggets are a market absolutely cornered by vegans, with Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets surprisingly similar in taste and texture. I was pleasantly surprised with the Chik’n Nuggets from MorningStar, and would advise to use any sauces for dipping that you typically use as you try these alternatives. Pizza is one in which most of the ingredients are already vegan: dough, tomato sauce. The third ingredient, cheese, is not. In fact, cheeses contain enzymes from animal stomachs. The good news is vegan cheeses are textured the same as normal cheese. They melt and cook well. The bad news is that many vegan cheeses don’t taste that great. Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds are alright, but there is room to grow in this category. Alternatively, you can add vegetables such as mushrooms and hot peppers to a sauce and dough pie.
2. Veganism is Cheap
Rice is vegan. Bread is (mostly) vegan, assuming it doesn’t use whey, egg, or lard. Water is vegan. Many brands have convinced consumers that vegan is something which is expensive, exclusive, or difficult. Vegan food is in-fact premium at a steep discount. A pound of meat is more expensive than a pound of any vegetable, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prepared food is more expensive and variant, but typically speaking the alignment is the same at restaurants. Many Indian dishes are vegan, cheap, and delicious, such as the Baingan Bharta. Chinese dishes like Broccoli with Garlic Sauce are excellent and easy. Many soups can be made vegan, with Potato and Leak one of my favorites. Need a breakfast or desert? Teas and coffees are usually vegan, and alternative milks such as soy add a creamy texture. Avocado toast can be vegan, and is nice with hot sauce. Worried about ice cream? Well I have good news for you.
3. Veganism is Good for You
This is why you’re really doing it, right? Mortality rates down, health risks down, stronger bones, lower cholesterol, lower weight, reduce recovery time, and even smell more attractive. Anecdotally I have also grown a fuller beard, though this benefit is likely not as relevant to some readers. I didn’t start eating vegan because of these things. The benefits are inherent in the process. Vegan diets can force variety as you have to adapt to non-standard options when eating out. The foods listed in the above section plus fish composed the majority of my pre-vegan diet. Post vegan, I have been exposed to many alternatives, cuisines, and plates which I normally would not have gone for. This variety likely helps with vitamin and mineral intake, supplemented by B12. It is also likely that the animal product you are consuming are lower quality with each passing year. Animals also originate 60% of all human infectious diseases, including Spanish Flu, Swine Flu, and the most recent, CoVid-19.
4. Veganism is Good for Animals
It’s a simple supply and demand problem. With lower demand for animals, less animals will be supplied for food. One person can make a difference, and even trends like Veganuary have made a positive impact. The trend isn’t just in fashion, but a more general macro shift. Whether compassion for animals is playing a part, documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Game Changers are having a profound impact on how we see animals in the equation. Animals cannot give consent to be eaten, but they can suffer. Humans who already show compassion to animals like dogs and cats should expand it to encompass other animals.
5. Veganism is Good for The World
Animal farming creates 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Animal farming takes up 50% of the total US land area and 80% of the fresh water. Despite being so resource insensitive, red meat and dairy only account for about 25% of the calories consumed in the average diet. It is inefficient to make meat from a calorie standpoint. Companies like Bowery Farms can feed a lot more people on a much smaller footprint. Partnerships like the Climate Leadership Council have provided financial incentives and have bipartisan buy-in. By being vegan, we can protect both our world and ourselves.