One of the reasons why being vegan or vegetarian is so meaningful is that it has a direct and lasting impact on the environment in addition to your own health. The reason I personally decided to adopt a meatless and non-dairy lifestyle was driven by both of these factors.
Impact on your health
Based on the China Study, it’s very clear that by living a life free of animal products, you’ll enjoy better health and much lower risk of disease. This may mean eliminating your risk of heart disease, many forms of cancer, or simply feeling much better. A number of individuals who begin eating more plant based foods mention feeling more vibrant, improvements in their skin, and becoming more mentally acute.
There are many people that look at the outward changes and get really excited. But what’s even more amazing is the transformation that’s happening within your body. What you can’t is truly a miracle. As someone who had a cholesterol level around 200, I was surprised to see a drop to 158 in just three weeks of starting on my path to a vegan-like diet. Is this possible? Could such a small change in my life really have such a dramatic and positive influence on my health?
It took a while for me to adjust to a vegan lifestyle. My day used to start with and egg on a bagel or bowl of cereal with a cup of milk. Not to mention the coffee, creamers, and other animal products I’d often have (a.k.a. bacon). In hindsight, I had no clue about what I was eating and how it was affecting my body. As I was learning more about my lifestyle, I was also learning more about the effect my eating was having on the environment and livestock.
Vegans are saving the planet
I quickly learned that many of the animals I was consuming were genetically engineered to produce more meet and simply mistreated. Personally I never considered myself an animal lover but it’s hard to ignore the brutality by which many of these animals are slaughtered. I’ll save you the gory details and say that if you want to know what goes on outside of your own little food bubble, watch Vegucated and some of the other documentaries on the subject.
The purpose here is to let you know that by adoption a vegan like eating plan, going full vegan or vegetarian, you’re doing more than little towards saving the planet. According to the Water Education Foundation, it takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. This is the same amount of water you would use if you took a seven-minute shower every day for six months. In contrast, only twenty-five gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of wheat. Present human water consumption drains aquifers around the world and water tables are dropping significantly. The United States Geological Survey says that forty percent of fresh water used in the United States went to irrigate feed crops for livestock.
There are other factors impacting the environment as well. Methane gas being created by cows is contributing to global warming and the amount of corn and grain used to feed cattle is sucking the earth dry of resources. I’m exaggerating a bit here but any reasonable person would understand that excessive production of cattle feed is resource intensive.
Making things better
By adopting a vegan lifestyle, you’re making the world a better place to live. Not only can you contribute more in better health but you are also minimizing the direct impact that a meat eating lifestyle has on the planet, the farming system, and food production. I like to remind myself about this on a regular basis. You can’t control others but you can make a difference.