Veganism is an adventure into the land of yummy plant-based cooking and eating. It is not boring! In fact, food can get a lot more interesting without the meat. I’ve been on a vegan journey for the last 14 years. I will be totally honest. I need to say that I am a vegetarian trying to be vegan. I eat very little dairy, but I do eat small amounts of cheese and I also occasionally eat eggs. I’m not writing as someone who has arrived, but as a person on a journey to eat in a more sustainable way. I do not feel deprived in any way eating a plant-based diet because I eat non-dairy ice cream, chocolate, and other treats.
Eating semi-vegan has had positive outcomes in my life. First, I enjoy cooking more, and I am a more creative cook. Until I stopped cooking meat, I didn’t realize how it caused me to dislike cooking. Second, my health improved. The colds that I used to get a few times a year, I only get once a year. I went for many years without going to a doctor because I was sick. This is a significant health outcome because I work as a reading specialist in an elementary school. The third positive result is that I have the satisfaction of knowing that the way I am eating is helping the environment.
Researchers from the University of Oxford found that eliminating meat and dairy products can reduce a person’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent. Put another way, one calorie of animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel as one calorie of plant protein. Comparing eating vegan with driving a hybrid car, eating vegan reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 tons per year; driving a hybrid car reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1 ton per year. That is a huge effect!
Methane and nitrous oxide emissions are much more powerful greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide. Chickens, turkeys, and livestock are the largest producers of methane in the U.S. The meat, egg, and dairy industry produce 65% of nitrous oxide emissions in the world. Eating vegan will reduce multiple sources of greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change.
According to statistics from culinaryschools.org, almost half of the water used in our country goes to raising animals for food. To compare wheat and meat, one pound of wheat needs 25 gallons of water and one pound of meat uses 2,400 gallons of water. To put this in a concrete visualization, you would save more water by not eating one pound of meat than by not showering for 6 months!
I reommend watching Vegan 2020- The Film on YouTube. The film states that before the covid-19 pandemic, scientists predicted a pandemic resulting from our treatment of animals in wet markets and factory farms, due to animals being in very close contact with each other and with people. This is another reason to eat a plant-based diet. We need to prevent zoonotic infectious diseases. Animals in factory farms are usually over-crowded and not treated well, a fact to consider aside from the risk of zoonotic diseases.
Also in the film Vegan 2020, David Attenborough states that there has been a huge loss of wildlife and biodiversity in the past 50 years. As more people start eating a plant-based diet, global land used for farming will be reduced, providing more land for wildlife.
For many people, eating a healthier diet is a goal. Dr. Neal Barnard is an advocate for a plant-based diet. He says that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of all chronic diseases. There are numerous books written about the health benefits of a vegan diet. Dr. T. Colin Campbell was one of the first researchers and writers on the benefits of a plant-based diet. One of his books about his research is The China Study.
Challenge yourself to 30 days of eating a plant-based diet. You might decide after the 30 days to keep on going! There are many sources of plant-based recipes on the internet and in cookbooks. It will be a cooking and eating adventure that will yield many benefits to you and our environment.