Why Become a Vegan: For Health Benefits, Compassion, Going Green

A Plant-based diet is not only good for us but also for the planet.
A Plant-based diet is not only good for us but also for the planet. | Source

Life is precious, whether it is human life or the life of all the myriad creatures that live on this planet. Every living being is evolving and the circumstances are suited for its development and growth to reach its full potential.

Whatever we do we have to first be clear about the purpose of it. What is the purpose of living? What is the purpose of eating, drinking, entertainment, our jobs and many other things that we do? Once we are clear about the purpose we will start moving in a definite direction and we will not waste time in unnecessary pursuits. For example, the decision to become a vegan has a two-fold purpose:

  • Earth's well-being
  • Personal well-being

The Earth's Well-Being

It has been found that among all the human activities it is animal agriculture which is the main cause for global warming and climate change compared to any other activity such as transportation and burning of fossil fuels.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ~ Albert Einstein

There are an estimated 7 billion people on Earth today and the effects of this is becoming apparent in what has resulted in global warming and climate change. Technological and scientific progress has enabled humans to do whatever they were doing on the local level to expand to a global level. It has given rise to a consumeristic society where people buy things for the sake of buying and not because they need them. Fossil fuels are being drilled and extracted at a much larger scale and the demand for it getting beyond its supply.

This Earth has to support 7 billion people. Is it really possible to support a lifestyle that depletes the natural resources at a rate that it cannot renew itself? Food and water are the most essential things to sustain life on this planet both for humans and other creatures. However, one of the species, humans, have been exploiting it to such an extent that the planet is now facing a crisis.

The first thing any concerned person can do is to become a vegetarian and then go one step further and become a vegan.

Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

  • Prevents high blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Reduces Type 2 diabetes
  • Prevents stroke conditions
  • Reverses atherosclerosis
  • Reduces heart disease risk - 50%
  • Reduces heart surgery risk - 80%
  • Prevents many forms of cancer
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases life expectancy up to 15 years

Is it Enough to Be a Vegetarian?

Many vegetarians are under the impression that they are doing all they can for the well-being of the planet as well as themselves. Some vegetarians call themselves:

  • lacto-vegetarians (consume dairy products)
  • lacto-ovo-vegetarians (consume both dairy and egg products)
  • pescetarians (consume fish and shellfish with dairy and eggs)

From the time humans learned to domesticate animals and poultry, products obtained from them have become a part of our diet. However, with the beginning of intensive factory farming since the 1940s consuming dairy and poultry products, and products from the meat industry, our food consumption is now both a sustainability and ethical issue. Even though making food choices is a personal thing, the fact can no longer be ignored we have a relationship with all that lives and our choices are having a major impact on the life of the planet and ourselves.

Many people who decide to become vegetarians think it is alright to eat fish and other seafoods. However, the recently released Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which amassed information from 1,300 researchers in 95 countries, reports that of all human activities, overfishing has the most widespread and dominant direct impact on food provisioning services, which will affect future generations. The video on the right explains how between the 1960s and 1990s we have over-fished most of the planet's oceans and are encroaching on the one remaining pocket of pristine marine ecosystem, the Ross Sea.

Do we really have the freedom of choice that we claim to have? If so, why don't we make the choices that will benefit not only ourselves but all the beings on this planet? Are we not slaves of our habits and conditioning?

Pork, Beef, Eggs and Dairy come from Factory-farming

Common and Less Known Animal Products

Commonly Known
Less Known
Meat
Beeswax
Poultry
Bone Char
Seafood
Bone China
Fish
Carmine
Eggs
Casein
Dairy Products
Cochineal
Honey
Gelatin
Fur
Isinglass
Leather
Lanolin
Wool
Lard
Silk
Animal Rennet
 
Shellac
 
Tallow
 
Whey
 
Yellow Grease

What Does it Mean to Be a Vegan?

The dictionary meaning for the word 'vegan' is 'a person who does not eat or use animal products'. This includes things like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, cosmetics with animal products, honey, leather, skins, wool, gelatin, etc., anything that is not plant-based. There are some vegans who forego killing plants for their food, so they do not eat anything that results in uprooting it and avoid root vegetables. Veganism is not something new. Many religious fasts that are prescribed have included abstaining from animal products, roots and green vegetables.

It might be said that there are three types of vegans:

  • Ethical vegans who reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose
  • Dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) who eliminate animal products from their diet only.
  • Environmental vegans who reject the use of animal products on the premise that the industrial practice of raising and breeding animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.

Go Vegan, Get Healthy and Lose Weight

Personal Well-Being

Whatever is good for the planet is good for us. However, it is not enough to make the decision to become a vegan and be ignorant on how take care of ourselves. There are chances are slipping back into old ways if one is not careful. The most important point to remember is that the human body has the capacity to adapt and to self-heal if it is provided with the right foods.

According to Dr Dwight Lundell we must:

'choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.'

See link in the box.

Acidifying Foods
Alkalizing Foods
Meat Products
Vegetables
Eggs
Fruits: avocado, tomato, bell pepper.
Fish and Seafood
Sprouted Seeds
Dairy Products
Nuts
Mushrooms
Grasses
Most Grains
Grains (buckwheat, millet and spelt)
Cooked Foods
Raw Foods
Processed and Refined Foods
Juices of Green Vegetables and Grasses
Yeast Products
 
Fermented and Malted Foods
 
Artificial Sweeteners
 
Fruit (sugary)
Non-sweet citrus fruits
Sugars
 
Alcohol
 
Coffee
 
Chocolate
 
Black Tea
 
Fizzy Drinks
 
Microwaved Food
 
Heated Oils
Cold Pressed Virgin Oils
Corn and Peanuts
 

Alkalinity of Blood

The book The pH Miracle by Robert O. Young Ph.D and Shelley Redford Young talks about something that we seldom consider:

the acid/base (alkaline) balance or our body and particularly the blood. 'The body will go to great lengths to maintain the appropriate, slightly basic, nature of its blood. But it is all too easy and far too common for body tissues to become acidic. Such an imbalance sets the stage for chaos, opening the door to sickness and disease.... For one thing, it is only when it is acidic that the body is vulnerable to germs – in healthy base balance, germs cannot get a foothold.

It is the 'body's way to throw off acids through the skin, producing symptoms such as eczema, acne, boils, headaches, muscle cramps, soreness, swelling, irritation, inflammation, and general aches and pains.'

'When acid wastes build up in the body and enter the bloodstream, the circulatory system will try to get rid of it in liquid form, through the lungs or the kidneys.' If there is too much to handle they are deposited in the various organ systems such as the heart, pancreas, liver, and colon, or stored in fatty tissue, including the breasts, hips, thighs, belly – and brain.'

Vegan Diet can Help Diabetics

Common Problems of Over Acidity

The body faces all kinds of breakdown if it is allowed to get too acidic or is forced to fight too hard for too long just to stay basic (alkaline), or if it gets overgrown with noxious microforms.

  • Weight Problems – the body creates fat cells to carry acids away from your vital organs to try to protect them.
  • Allergies – toxins produced by microforms within an overly acidic, oxygen-deprived body contribute significantly to what are commonly considered the symptoms of allergy.
  • Fatigue – the toxins produced in an acidic body reduce the absorption of protein, minerals, and other nutrients, which in turn weakens the body.
  • Mood Disorders and Neurological Imbalance
  • Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycemia) and High Blood Sugar (diabetes).

To maintain a balanced pH in your blood and tissues, your diet should consist of at least 70-80% basic foods – and half of the other 30% of acidifying foods should be raw foods. These are visual measurements, not based on calories or weight.

Currently 100 million Americans are pre-diabetic or diabetic, and one in three kids born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes. Neal Barnard, clinical researcher and founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), identifies the causes of this serious issue and advises us how we can fight these statistics. (See Video)

Becoming a vegan is the best decision a person can make to lead a compassionate and enriching lifestyle. A lifestyle that is good for the planet as well as for the humans and animals. It is good to remember the advantages of a meat-free, egg-free and dairy-free diet:
is not only healthier than our current eating habits, but is better for the environment.

  • uses 2/3 less fossil fuels.
  • reduces pollution from untreated animal waste.
  • maintains cleaner air.
  • saves up to 4.5 tons of emissions per household per year.

In the long run it is we who are all responsible for the well-being of planet Earth and our own personal well-being.

Delicious Vegan Buckwheat Pancake
Delicious Vegan Buckwheat Pancake | Source

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Comments 9 comments

Sparkle Chi profile image

Sparkle Chi 4 years ago from Chandler, AZ

Excellent hub! You seem to have researched this thoroughly! Thank you for compiling this and sharing it!

Voted up and shared!


Girish 4 years ago

Man started out with nothing but sharpened sticks in his hands, looked at the Mammoth, and said, "that's my dinner". And eventually he was so successful, that he hunted the mammoth to extinction. We started out as meat eaters but now that we have so much, I agree with you we must evolve to veganism. :) But it is always going to be an emotional and not a rational decision -eg Sidhu on why he gave up meat and hunting.

A Punjabi Jat who is a strict vegetarian -that must have taken some doing?

When I was younger, I used to hunt a lot. My breakfast used to consist of pork pickle with anda-bhurji of at least seven to eight eggs and paranthas . Lunch would be venison or mutton and dinner would be chicken or partridge and a nonvegetarian soup. In short, I ate anything that crawled. Once, I and my friend shot a deer and a bull terrier went to drag it out of the bushes. When the deer's body was cut open, there was a fully-formed foetus inside. One of the men took it out and flung it towards the terrier. When they did that, I puked. I ran away from there. When I reached home, I saw my young son -he was about five -sleeping with his mother... and I broke down. I have never touched meat or eggs after that.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-0...


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Sparkle, thanks for your feedback and encouragement.


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Girish,

Thanks for sharing this story with us. There is a lot of material out there to point out that the human body is similar to a herbivore rather than a carnivore. We are meant to be vegetarians, but as you mention humans began hunting as soon as they invented weapons. However, for centuries we did not have the ability to exploit animals at such a massive scale as we do today. With intensive farming and the demand for more and more, we seem to have gone overboard. We are also quite desensitized with the media showing so much violence. It all adds up.

We just don't stop to think any more or feel remorse at the fact that so many sentient beings are becoming extinct because of us humans.

The first time I heard about the treatment of poultry in factory farms in 1994, I stopped eating eggs. Since our family had been vegetarians for generations it was only eggs I had to give up. However, a couple of years later I learned about factory farming of cows and was strict vegan for two years. I also volunteered for Beauty Without Cruelty and learned about animal products in the things we use. But for the last few years I have not been as strict though I can say I lead a 90% vegan lifestyle. It is a challenge for me as well and I understand how difficult it can be. But we have to do it for the sake of planet and myself.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Excellent hub! I love how you organized this and presented the different aspects of what a vegan diet entails. It can be confusing to those of us who aren't familiar with it. I am familiar with the PH diet but found it very difficult to follow, since I have type 1 diabetes. But I do believe it is extremely beneficial. Voted up and shared! Take care, Kelley


Made profile image

Made 4 years ago from Finland

Interesting hub and very informative. We can't continue to eat the amount of meat we do today, but personally I think it's very hard to change the eating habits - especially for my whole family. We eat meat several times a week, because that's what I grew up with and that's what I buy when I go shopping. I think many people simply don't know what to eat if they don't eat meat. Most people should learn what the alternatives are. I could probably become a vegetarian, but I can't see myself becoming a vegan. I love products made from milk. Voted up!


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Kelley, thanks for your feedback and comments. It is encouraging to know the article is an easy read. Glad to also know that you were aware of the pH diet. Do check out the PCRM.org website, I saw some articles about diabetes and how diet can help. I guess you are already aware of it.


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Made, Thanks for your comments. Yes it is difficult to change our habits. It takes 21 days to make a habit and only 3 days to break it! I recently wrote another article called Vegan Recipe Guide which talks about how non-vegetarians and vegetarians can decide to cut down on the meat by observing Meatless Monday or One Vegan Meal often and make a real difference to world hunger and the environment, at the same time improving their personal well-being. I have also included links to grocery lists and recipes which might be of help.


Jenny 4 years ago

Very interesting post . I have learnt how to become a vegan by reading this free ebook called 7 Pillars To Starting A Vegetarian Lifestyle http://www.docstoc.com/docs/126001777/7-Pillars-To... it has helped me to understand how to be a healthy vegan.

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