Yes. You heard right. As if we weren’t crazy enough we went vegan as of May 2018. We were just like you and loved our cheese, creamer and BBQ chicken and “could just not live without it” until we found enough reasons we could not argue with any longer.
It was a big leap to take. Even more so than we imagined because we thought we really did not have that many animal products other than some chicken and dairy. We were so very wrong, and after laying it all out on the counter it was evident that it was the cornerstone to our kitchen as it is for many others.
Yet, despite the transition phase and learning to make delicious vegan meals, the switch to vegan in 2018 is more important now than ever before. Environmental impact, corrupted corporations and the rise of chronic disease in young people are just a few of the problems our world is facing and veganism makes a difference for our planet and others.
You have probably heard of some of these reasons and arguments for going plant based vegan. Everyone needs to have their own motivator, so whether you are just curious or already on your way to a vegan diet here are some things to think about.
23 Impactful Reasons We Went Vegan
Note: Order does not imply importance.
1. Lower your risk of Heart Disease
A chronic disease that plagues the Western World more than anywhere else is the cause of death for many of HisFI’s family members, heart disease is on the rise. Dr. Esselstyn has had success and saved lives when putting patients on a plant based diet. Here is one of his studies from Harvard Health.
2. Lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
While the American Diabetes Association does not and probably cannot “recommend” a vegan diet due to their corporate sponsors, they did publish a study by Dr. Neal Barnard that a vegan diet can reverse Type 2 Diabetes. This type of diabetes is on the rise in America in small children which was never previously seen before.
3. Reduce your Risk or Reverse most Chronic Disease
This includes cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, depression, and auto immune diseases. All chronic disease stems from an inflammation within the body. Each of us have a portion of our body that is weaker, so when we eat animals products and/or have high levels of stress the inflammation skyrockets in the body causing a “link” in the chain to break and resulting in a chronic disease. The American diet is a huge factor in this and a whole foods plant based diet can greatly improve and in some cases reverse chronic disease.
4. Get Slim and Stay Thin
Vegans are not all thin. I have to put this preface in here because you can eat a highly processed vegan diet full of oreos and fried cauliflower. However, if you eat a whole foods, plant based diet chances are you will stay in a healthy weight range. The reason for this? Animal products have a high calorie density and in American society we consume almost triple the recommended amount on a weekly basis. So if you are all about not starving yourself and feeling full while staying trim, then load up on the plants.
5. Balance your Hormones
Ditch the dairy and get your hormones in order. Cows milk and dairy products are stuffed with hormones even if it is Organic. This is especially important for men and women where there is a direct link between dairy and cancer. Harvard health has a prominent study on the link of dairy to testicular cancer in men. Estrogen is the ingredient linked to women and breast cancer. Dairy is responsible for 80% of our consumption of this hormone and it goes way beyond our normal doses causing cancer and breast tissue in men. The most deadly ingredient of all is Caesin which can be found in virtually all dairy products and even some plant based milks (so watch for it). Caesin aids in the growth and development of cancer.
6. Avoid Food Poisoning and Bacteria from Animal Products
The way we raise our animals for meat consumption is dirty. I mean really dirty. This in addition to the fact that we have had to up our production numbers, leads to cut corners and some seriously gross meat. Even if it is Perdue’s organic and “free range” chicken breast it is still held in deplorable conditions. Not to mention shipped off to a processing plant where bacteria run rampant. Food poisoning linked to eggs sickens an estimated 660,000 people annually and kills 300. For more of the 10 Dirtiest Foods check out this article. Guess what, most of them are animal products.
7. Animal Agriculture is Killing our Planet Faster than Anything Else
Meat and dairy consumption will reach a record high this year in 2018. Despite Costco rolling out a very successful plant based burger and more restaurants offering vegan alternatives, the amount of meat and dairy consumption is still on the rise with the average consumer eating 222.2 pounds of meat and poultry this year. That does not even include the dairy! Why is this a bid deal? The environment is being damaged by the amount of animals we are producing and consuming. Animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of man-made pollution. That is over half.
8. Help Stop Animals from Landing on the Endangered Species List
A bee, yes folks- the critters we cannot live without- was placed on the endangered species list in 2017 for the first time in history. The current mass extinction of species is impacting 86% of all mammals, 88% of amphibians, and 86% of all birds. From fragmenting environments, loss of water and even government approved poaching of wildlife we are effectively wiping out populations of species in order to make room for our factory farms and meat consumption.
9. Stop the Dead Zones and Fishless Oceans
There was a time when fishing in your local lake, stream or ocean was safe and probably pretty darn good for you. However the way we currently fish in our oceans is creating dead zones and killing off species faster than we can count. Fishing boats will drop nets the size of football fields into the ocean and bring up whatever land in it, including dolphins, sharks and even the occasional whale. These animals are thrown back in most of the time,sadly some fisherman are involved in the black market and cut off the fin of sharks or dolphins before throwing them back to sea. The stress of this kind of massive fishing kills many animals that were not even intended to be eaten. Overfishing and pollution are serious problems leading to the decline of our oceans.
The oceans was something we were talking about everywhere in 2012 and it has only gotten worse. It is not only eating the fish but the waste from our agricultural system that created this devastation: “These dead zones will continue to expand unless the major meat companies that dominate our global agricultural system start cleaning up their supply chains to keep pollution out of our waters.” (Meat Industry and the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico)
10. Take a Stand for Workers Rights and Compassion Fatigue
Animal Agriculture is a human rights issue. Especially for the workers in factory farms and abattoir’s.
Abattoir workers are most often transient or migrant workers who receive a low wage and work in unsafe conditions. This industry is inherently dangers and has high injury and suicide rates. In addition to this, whenever there is socially sanctioned violence (in this case towards the animals) the surround areas have higher rates of domestic violence and rape. Being desensitized to violence while feeling as though this is your only job option, even if an unsafe one sets up the surrounding community for the same situation. There is a reason companies have laws about filming in these facilities: we would be disturbed and disgusted at the environment and what we have decided is justifiable violence for humans to partake in.
11. Be Aware and do not Contribute to Environmental Racism
Not only are the abattoir workers the victims so are those individuals who live in the surrounding areas to factories and farms.
Animal agriculture, including tanneries within the US and around the world leak toxic chemical and animal waste into the surround waters and air of the community. Proximity to factory farms has caused serious health concerns and early deaths for those who live in the area. Of course the populations in the areas that surround most factory farms, especially beef and pig farms are composed of African Americans and migrant workers who cannot afford to live anywhere else. This is called Environmental Racism and is a part of our system that receives little attention.
12. Reduce Water Shortages
Talk about drinking a lot. It takes 1,799 gallons of water to make one pound of ground beef for those tacos. In fact 70% of all our freshwater consumption goes to growing food and raising animals. If society continues to eat meat or any animal fed from water intensive crops like corn – it means our freshwater shortage will continually get worse. A hamburger takes 660 gallons while one cup of lettuce takes 3 gallons. (Water Education). In one month as a vegan you can save 33,000 gallons of water. Calculate it here.
13. All the Cool Kids are Doing It- Vegan Celebrities
Obviously this is probably not the best reason, but it is impactful due to image. Often when my family heard of a vegan they envisioned a smelly hippie with scraggly hair and a gaunt look to their face holding a sign to save the rainforest. This is not the case! Ariana Grande, Ellen Degenerous, Myim Balik and many more good looking and intelligent people who have a prominent seat in the media are vegan.
14. Save Money
I am not going to lie, when you first go vegan it will probably be a bit more expensive than your normal grocery trips because you will need to restock the pantry. Throwing out food can be hard to do, but it must be done. Cold turkey is really the only way to go. Once our pantry is stocked we have been able to cut down on our grocery bill and save money. YouTube is FULL of videos about being Vegan on a Budget and 5 Ingredient Vegan Meals which was really helpful. Also sticking to plant based and whole foods means staying away from the more expensive processed foods.
A few of my favorite YouTubers on this are:
15. Help feed the hungry and End World Hunger
There are enough plant based foods to feed the entire world. 870 million people around the world are malnourished, living in poverty and starving. Yet, we have enough food, plant based food to feed the world and then some. The problem lies in our need to continue eating animals and dairy products. Cows are poor converters of energy and it takes a significant amount of grain in order to raise a cow. Grain that could be given to those going hungry.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates poses the question, “If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?”
16. Live Longer
Most studies regarding living longer have been done with vegetarians, not vegans, since one has been more accepted than the other. The studies concluded that by switching to a primarily plant based diet you can add an average of 8 years onto your life- and in some cases up to 15 years. I know this means you would have to add a bit more for your FIRE plans, but it also means you get to live and thrive on this earth living a compassionate life.
17. Enjoy Delicious Food
I know this may not sound true when first switching. Especially if you are coming from a pizza loving, bacon wrapped, stuffed crust kind of American Diet, but you can have delicious food on a vegan diet. While whole foods and plant based can be soo good, not to fear, the treat of your favorite food has most likely already been turned into a vegan recipe. There are ways to bake, broil and fry things to our complete savory or sweet tooth satisfaction when we have a craving. The point is, you can have your cake and eat it too even as a vegan.
18. You will get Enough Protein and Eat more Veggies
The ultimate worry for Americans. Protein! Where will I get it??? The fact is that Americans are getting too much protein in their diets. We have also been brain washed into thinking that protein only comes from animals. What do the animals eat? Plants. The plants contain the actual protein to begin with. In one can of Kidney beans you can find 13.4 grams of protein.
The average American needs 40-46 grams of protein per day. This is easily done with plants and the benefit is the added fiber. Less than 3% of Americans are getting enough fiber everyday, but we still munch on that cheese stick for a snack. If you are an athlete and still unsure of the protein piece check out the blog (and now book) No Meat Athlete. Also keep an eye out for the documentary Game Changers featuring Olympic and NFL vegan athletes.
19. Avoid Antibiotic Resistance
You know how we are developing super bugs that can not be taken out by antibiotics. Well how we eat has also had an effect on our resistance to antibiotics. The resistance to antibiotics is not only because we consume them in meat and dairy at alarmingly high rates, but also because the animals we consume are starting to develop resistance to the antibiotics they are fed as well, in turn effecting our bodies.
20. Improved Mood and Energy
Eating a whole foods plant based diets floods your system with antioxidants which helps depression and boosts serotonin from eating a diet high in carbohydrates. Additionally, not having the inflammation in your body as a result of meat and dairy will help mobility and clarity in the mind.
21. Clear Skin
Dairy is the big factor in this reason. Dairy cows are treated with artificial hormones that affect their milk supply. Researchers suggest that those hormones may throw your hormones off balance when you consume milk products. This could trigger acne. Another theory is that the growth hormones already in milk naturally aggravate acne no matter what. A third theory is that milk products, when combined with the high levels of refined foods and processed sugars in the Western diet, disrupt insulin levels and make skin more prone to acne. (HealthLine) Either way if you struggle with acne, throw out the milk.
22. Think Outside Yourself
When at the grocery store or the restaurant, your choices become about more than what you want. It becomes about more than what society has told us to eat in order for them to make the most money. Instead, it is about the bigger picture and the health of our planet. It is about human rights and racism. It is about compassion and animals. It is about so much more than the double stuffed triple decker flaming hamburger you really “want” because it flashed across a screen.
23. Reduce Harm in a Huge Way
I would like to live a life where I cause the least amount of harm and at the same time stand up for those who are being harmed. No one can live a harm free life. We will all step on an ant or yell at a loved one at some point in our lives. However, if we can live a happy and healthy life without harming others or sentient being or our earth, why wouldn’t we?
Food is power. We should use it a way that empowers our communities, restores our health, fosters compassion and nurtures the earth. I know that I may not convince everyone with this article, but so far these have been the reasons we switched and it makes sense for us.
We would love to hear you and your vegan success stories or if you are thinking about going vegan and what might be holding you back. Thank you for sharing with us!