Make One Change That Helps Your Health and the Planet in 2019: Go Vegan!
Consider making the biggest impact on your body and our planet: try going vegan for your 2019 resolution!
Not only is eating animal products bad for the animals (despite what companies who profit off of them tell you, “humane meat” is a lie - killing is not humane), but it’s awful AF for our bodies and the environment, too!
Did you know that animal products have been linked to cancer?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized processed meat as carcinogenic; in other words, “there is convincing evidence that [processed meat] causes cancer.” WHO also labeled red meat as probably carcinogenic, noting that the consumption of it is linked to colorectal cancer as well as pancreatic and prostate cancers. To give you an idea of how substances are classified, other known carcinogens include asbestos and tobacco. Meat is as toxic to our bodies as asbestos and tobacco. WTF!
It’s not just colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, either: a UK study found that of both pre- and post-menopausal women, those who ate the most meat at the highest risk of breast cancer.
Going vegan helps your heart in more ways than one!
In addition to rectifying the cognitive dissonance you may have with eating animals (let’s be real - do you really want to eat someone as cute as Esther?), numerous studies have illustrated the link between animal products and health problems concerning the heart. A study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found that eating a plant-based diet can reduce heart disease risk by 40 percent. PCRM also highlights how eating vegan significantly decreases heart-related risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries), and inflammation.
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you to try going vegan, perhaps one of these other 57 health benefits will do the trick.
Think of going green (really green) for the planet.
Did you know that the consequences of the animal agriculture industry contribute more to climate change than all of the world’s transportation combined? After fossil fuels, it’s the leading contributor of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. Since the publication of the UN’s report - titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” - that details the disastrous effects of raising 70 billion animals for consumption each year (e.g. deforestation, water pollution, air pollution), reports are now stating that methane emissions are even higher than previously estimated because animals are being bred to be larger. Some are even estimating that emissions from animal agriculture will increase to 80% in just 30 years.
The land and water resources that are consumed by raising livestock (not only what it takes to house them but also what is needed to grow their food) is so astronomical that it takes 1,799 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef. Going vegetarian undoubtedly helps combat this frivolous use of natural resources, but going vegan makes an even greater impact: to produce 1 pound of cheese, nearly 900 gallons of water are needed and to make 1 pound of eggs, 477 gallons are used.
So where do you start?
Making the switch to eating vegan is a huge lifestyle change, but as more and more people (1.62 million in the United States, in fact!) have made the jump to eating plant-based, there are so many more resources and options available these days. Here are a few of our recommendations of where you can start:
Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (she has also authored the following and highly-recommended vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
Not only are these recipes simple - they’re either 10 ingredients or less, require only one bowl, or take under 30 minutes to make - but they’re delicious and mostly gluten-free!
As the name of their site implies, their recipes are easy to make and often have a video to accompany them. With a new recipe every week and everything from entrees and soups to beverages and desserts, you’re bound to utilize this resource frequently whether you’re new or seasoned vegan!
Veganism isn’t about perfection.
Even when you’re aware of the harmful effects of eating animals, ditching them from your diet can be extremely difficult depending on your situation. Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to make your transition sustainable for you:
Find a vegan friend: whether you know someone in real life or you found a blogger on social media, you’d be surprised at how many vegans are more than happy to help others begin their vegan journey. Though there are more and more children being raised vegan, most vegans today were in your shoes at one point. So, don’t be afraid to ask for advice!
Slow and steady: try cutting out one type of animal product from your diet at a time if it seems too overwhelming. Many vegans start as vegetarians before eliminating dairy and eggs from their food - the transition can be more manageable in this way.
Continue to eat the foods that you love: oftentimes those who are newly vegan and vegetarian miss the foods that they used to eat. Fortunately, as the popularity of veganism increases so does the demand for vegan products. These days there’s everything from frozen pizza and fancy cheeses to fish filet and deli slices.
Don’t be so hard on yourself: if you can’t go vegan tomorrow, it’s okay! Making a big change to how you live your life isn’t easy, and beating yourself up for not being the paragon of veganism overnight isn’t doing yourself any favors. The important thing is to stay informed and continue to educate yourself; even spreading awareness of these issues to those in your life (hopefully you can encourage someone else to choose veganism for 2019!) is impactful activism.
kathleen is a queer, vegan, witchy feminist who loves talking about the environment, raising awareness of the importance of self-care, and practicing positive and non-hierarchical forms of activism. Her work - both in the library and on the streets - centers marginalized folx, primarily focusing on food justice and prison abolitionism. As a proud literary nerd who studied English and French at UCLA, she enjoys reading everything from Oscar Wilde to Octavia Butler and Jack Halberstam to adrienne maree brown.