What are the reasons to be vegan? Here are the top reasons for choosing this way of eating and living. Find free resources to educate yourself and help your transition. Because what we choose to put on our plates every day has not only a huge impact on our own lives but also the whole planet and its inhabitants.
🌱 Definition of Veganism
Before we dive into the whys we need to define what veganism is. For me, it is all about trying your best to cause the least harm to the world around you. It is not just a diet, but a way of living!
The vegan society defines veganism as following: “It is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
🐖 Reduce animal exploitation and cruelty
The most obvious reason to go vegan is of course for the animals. Veganism is first and foremost an ethical lifestyle choice to cause the least harm possible to other living beings. And I think nowadays everyone knows how cruel factory farming is to the animals. It’s simply a question of facing the truth about this industry and coming to terms with that.
Since you are reading this article, you are very likely not to agree with factory farming practices. By cutting out animal products, you reduce their demand, which ensures fewer animals are bred to suffer and die on farms and in slaughterhouses!
According to thevegancalculator.com, you save one animal life every day, 1100 gallons of water, 40 lbs of grain, 30 square feet of forest, and 20 lbs of CO2 as a vegan. In metric: 4164 liters of water, 18kg of grain, 3m2 of forest, 9kg CO2.
Book recommendations: Eating Animals; Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows; We Animals
🌳 Reduce deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction
Clearing lands for raising and feeding livestock accounts for 80 percent of the deforestation of the Amazon forest. The deforestation crisis is the greatest contributor to dwindling forests, species extinction, and habitat loss to wildlife in every single Amazon country.
But animal agriculture isn’t just destroying the Amazon forest. Feed crops are commonly grown in already vulnerable areas all over the world, including the Amazon, Mekong, Himalayas, Congo Basin, Yangtze, and the Deccan Plateau forests.
It is also happening in Europe and the US! According to a report from the WWF in the UK alone, human eating habits are linked directly to the extinction of a horrifying 33 species. And in the United States over 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to make room for crop fields, most of which are exclusive to growing livestock feed.
By choosing a vegan diet you help prevent species extinction and habitat loss by eliminating the need for livestock and factory farms to feed crops.
Book recommendation: Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were
Podcasts: The Disclosure Podcast
🐄💨 Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Emissions contributing to global warming would be cut by 70% if everyone would go vegan, studies have found. It could be enough to stop and reverse the harmful effects of climate change including rising sea levels, floods, melting glaciers, and droughts!
Documentaries: Eat For The Planet; The Sustainability Secret; We are the weather; Greta Thunbergs: One Year To Change The World
Podcasts: veganism and climate change
🚰 Save drinking water
In addition to our water pollution problem, we are running out of fresh water resources as a whole. They are draining at an alarming rate! Even though several factors play into the depletion of our fresh water sources, one of the main causes is once again: animal agriculture. About one third of the whole water’s consumption is used to produce animal products.
As an example: one egg takes 53 gallons of water to produce, a pound of chicken 468 gallons, a gallon of cow’s milk takes 880 gallons, and a pound of beef takes up to 1,800 gallons to produce! (source)
Growing the crops to feed animals killed for food uses water too. Lots of water! In fact 56 percent of water in the U.S. alone!
Going vegan won’t eliminate the pollution, waste or shortage problems we are facing today entirely. However, a vegan diet eliminates animal agriculture caused pollution, and uses fewer and cleaner resources!
Books: Food Choice And Sustainability; When the Rivers Run Dry; Not a Drop to Drink: America's Water Crisis (and What You Can Do); Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water; A Thirsty Land; Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water
Save our oceans
When talking about our water we can't forget to point out our oceans. Our oceans are polluted and overfished. Fishing for food has massively reduced the fish population worldwide. And it has also changed the characteristics of the remaining fish, causing a dangerous domino effect that puts the complex ocean food chain and eco systems at risk.
A recent study from 2021 alarms that the global population of sharks and rays has declined 71% since 1970! And guess what, overfishing is the main cause for this drastic reduction in shark population. EcoWatch elaborates more on this topic in this article.
🍽️ Help humanity and combat global hunger
Our food, food choices, and food systems influence the whole world. Tho choices you make about food are first and foremost personal. But they are also public, global, and political choices!
I know it’s hard to grasp your mind around the fact that a necessary act to survive such as eating impacts all aspects of human life on this earth. So to put it into more simple words: our global agriculture is inefficient and destructive.
Instead of prioritizing feeding hungry people, we are prioritizing feeding farm animals! 815 million people are currently suffering from chronic undernourishment, according to the UN.
Cornell University estimates that the US alone could feed approximately 800 million people with the grain that feeds our livestock. Thinking big we could easily end world hunger IF we began feeding hungry people instead of farm animals.
Books: Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It; Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology; The Last Hunger Season; Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030; Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food; Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
🤸 Improve your health and fitness
Eating animal products doesn’t just harm the animals and our environment – it can also hurt our health. Eating processed meat increases your chances of developing cancer, and research suggests that consuming animal products could be as detrimental to our health as smoking.
Research has shown that a plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Only a diet centered around whole plant foods has been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients.
If you are looking to improve your health and fitness, the vegan diet can be an absolute game changer! However, in times when vegan junk, ready-meals and, fast food are widely available you have to be careful. Just because something says 'vegan' doesn't necessarily mean it's good for you. If you choose to include processed foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt, or sugar into your diet have them less often, or in small amounts! To improve your health focus on unprocessed plant-based whole foods.
Books: How Not To Die; How Not To Diet; The China Study; The Healthiest Diet On the Planet; The Starch Solution
Going vegan is one of the best and easiest actions you can take for the animals, the environment, and your health! Even just one vegan meal a week can make a huge impact!
Want to give veganism a try? Browse our recipe page for lots of delicious vegan meals. I am also sharing 6 Things I wish I knew before going vegan with you in my free quick-start guide.