The Many Sides of Veganism
Veganism is becoming popular and is often times misunderstood based on the fact that there are several different types or varieties of veganism. It is important to understand what veganism is and why people chose to become vegan. There are medical implications to being vegan as well as myths about it being a means of weight loss. It is important to understand the nutritional value and which foods have the vitamins that are needed to replace the meat products that are not being consumed. Research shows the moral and immoral implications of being vegan when it comes to diseases and killing animals for food. The cost of being vegan has been compared and is a bit more costly that if meat was consumed and eating at restaurants can complicate this eating style at times. There is research that show the impact that eating meat can affect the environment, global warming and climate change. Being a vegan is a choice and must be researched well before changing the way people eat so it does not affect a persons' health and well-being. I believe that people should consider becoming vegan in some form of the nutritional varieties.
It is important to understand what a vegan is and the reasons why people become vegan and the different varieties of veganism. People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources (Harvard Medical School para. 1). Whatever reason you chose to become vegan must depend on your beliefs or it will be like a person trying to lose weight; you do it because of your peers or some fad you saw on television and the end result is, you fail. You have to fully understand what it is and why you want to do this. Becoming vegan is not an easy thing to do because you will have to be willing to give up certain foods you like. Veganism is basically, not eating or using any products produced from animals.
Strictly speaking, vegetarians are people who don't eat meat, poultry, or seafood, but people with many different dietary patterns call themselves vegetarians (Harvard Medical School para. 7). You can become a vegetarian and to help you understand veganism I have listed the different varieties, there is, partial vegetarians, ovo vegetarians, lacto vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians and being totally vegetarians, which is a true vegan. Partial vegetarians eat fish or poultry but no other animal products. Ova vegetarians do not eat any animal products including fish or poultry, but they do eat eggs. Lacto vegetarians only use dairy products but do not eat fish, poultry, eggs or any other animal products. The lacto-ova vegetarian does not eat any animal products fish or poultry, but they do eat eggs and other dairy products. A true vegan does not eat any variety of animal products, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products including gelatin that comes from the fat of an animal or mammal. A true vegan will not use any products that are made from animal products such as belts and wool sweaters or jackets. I feel I am in the middle of a few of these, I can see not eating meat from animals, but I want my eggs, other dairy products and fish. Each of us has our likes and dislikes but it is ultimately up to you which one you are comfortable with.
There are medical implications of becoming vegan and it reaches both sides of the realm, good and bad. Research shows that it is important for vegetarians to choose the right foods so they can get the nutrients they need to be healthy. No matter which type of veganism you chose, it is important for you to pay attention to the vitamins you are taking away from your diet like meat being a protein, you have to replace it with other foods that have protein. There has been some research that gives insight into the health benefits of being vegan. According to the American Dietetic Association, "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases" ((Harvard Medical School para. 3). It has been said that becoming vegan can protect you from getting major diseases because animals carry a variety of diseases. This is something that has not been proven but there are studies that have been done to show that by not eating meat you can lower your consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol. It is already known that lowering your saturated fats and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of chronic heart disease, eating nuts can also help fight against heart disease but they are high in calories so you have to eat the min moderation. The risk of cancer can be reduced by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, but the studies show that the difference of whether you are a vegetarian or not is minimal. Type 2 Diabetes is another disease that being vegan can help. The research that has been done does not say that you have to be vegan but suggests that if you eat a predominately plant-based diet will help reduce the risk. One of the biggest concerns today and especially in women is bone health. The one type of veganism that can help with bone health is lacto-ovo veganism because getting the dairy products makes it easier to consume as much calcium as if you were eating meat. Unless you follow recommended guidelines on nutrition, fat consumption, and weight control, becoming a vegetarian won't necessarily be good for you (Harvard Medical School para. 4).
Research shows that there is nutritional values of eating vegan and there are a variety of foods that can be eaten. It has been shown that no matter what you eat whether you are vegan or not, weight gain and weight loss depends on what is being consumed and how much is being consumed of certain foods. Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information about vegetarianism (Harvard Medical School para. 4). Eating an abundance of things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts are a good way to maintain healthy eating. When cooking it is good to use olive and canola oils which help to replace saturated and trans fats in your diet. It is important when taking something out of your diet you replace it with something else. For instance, you can replace the animal protein and iron you are not getting with eating foods like peas, beans, whole grains and that is only naming a few. If Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids are a concern you have, they can also be obtained without eating fish by consuming certain kinds of soy, rice beverages and breakfast cereals as well as flaxseeds, walnuts and cooking with canola oils.
It is important to also look at the other side of becoming vegan. Everyone has a different reason why they want to be vegan but one side of it is their belief in the way animals are treated. There are people that believe that there are moral and immoral implications of veganism based on animal activists and animal diseases. Vegan societies believe that farming animals for food is immoral. Vegans believe that it is a moral schizophrenia of humans to divide animals into two categories - one that we care about and the other for consuming (Srinivas para. 3). I for one do not see the correlation of that statement, it basically depends on how you look at it. We as Americans do not eat cats and dogs and we do not have cows for pets. Followers of veganism vehemently oppose the living conditions that farming animals are put through and the immoral temperament exhibited by peopleinvolved in animal food farming(Srinivas para. 3). Not all farming of animals is inhumane, it just depends on where they are being raised and who is raising them.Cows are raised to feed humans just like the eco system is maintained by large animals eat small animals that eat rodents that eat bugs and so forth. If you look at it that way you will understand how people can divide the two. If you do not eat the eggs we will end up with an abundance of chickens, if you do not eat fish the lakes will be full of fish or dead ones that will pollute the environment or cows that will produce and where are the offspring going when there is no more grazing land available for them to eat.
Another way to look at it is that researchers have shown that diseases from animals can be avoided by eating plant based foods.Howard Lyman was a fourth-generation cattle rancher who went vegan after learning about the effects of factory farming-he now tours the country promoting a vegan lifestyle (PETA 7).Mr. Lyman gave up raising cattle after generations of family's business. There are diseases that can be transmitted from animals such as bird flu, tuberculosis, tape worms, avian flu and listeria among others and these can come from chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs. This information alone should make a person want to think twice about eating animal products.
In doing my research I have found that the cost of eating vegan can be a bit expensive to some but not to others and eating at restaurants can be a bit of an adventure. I have researched a few areas of the cost of eating vegan and there are some that feel it is cheaper and others that see a bit of increase in the amount of money they spend on groceries. In the grand scheme of things, the vegan diet is the most inexpensive diet on this planet (ADAPPT para.1). You probably find that the soy/rice/almond/coconut-based alternatives are far more expensive than the real thing (ADAPPT para.1). the cost of vegan food really depends on who you ask, where they shop and the types of foods the purchase. If you go to a specialty store the food will be a bit more expensive that if you go to a regular grocery store and it depends on whether or not you buy organic foods or not.
People believe that buying meat is expensive and purchasing fruits and vegetables is cheaper. When you look at the different kinds of fruits and vegetables there are some of it can be a bit pricey and the fact that you have to purchase more of it and more often it can become expensive. How long to you think a head of lettuce is going to last in your refrigerator or cucumbers for that matter. Lettuce is not cheap and the time and expense of going to the store is consuming gas which contributes to the equation. I am all for eating vegan, and I have found that everything does not have to be fresh, purchasing frozen foods are just as good, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that can be purchased frozen. You can also get your vegetables when they are on sale and blanch them and freeze them yourself. You probably find that the soy/rice/almond/coconut-based alternatives are far more expensive than the real thing (Farzan para. 2). I found an article from a person that showed real pricing of vegan foods versus regular foods and the prices were a bit more but what he explained was he was an expensive eater to begin with. The Cost of Being Vegan, by Antonia Farzan suggests that he spends an average of $375 on food each month. Before I went vegan, I insisted on eating only meat and dairy products that were certified humane, hormone-free, grass fed, and locally raised...in other words, extremely expensive. Still, my average food bill was lower: $270 a month. This statement from Mr. Farzan shows us that eating vegan is not the most expensive way to eat. Just like anything else it is each individual's personal preference.
Eating from restaurants can be a toss-up depending on where you go to eat. Specialty vegan restaurants might be pricey, but all specialty establishments cost more, and eating at vegan restaurants is not a requirement. There are restaurants that serve foods for the vegan appetite but not all of them serve veggie burgers, rice, beans or tofu. Most often you end up with a salad, or if you are lacto-ovo vegetarian you may get some cheesy pasta dish that is over the top on calories. Restaurants are getting better with having foods that are substantial for the vegan appetite or they are willing to make the food the way you want it and leave out the meat. There are plenty of other places that you can go to get food for your vegan appetite.
As a vegan baker my own views about being the cost associated with vegan baking gives me mixed emotions. I see the ingredients that I have to purchase as being way more expensive than what I pay for regular ingredients like baking flour. I can get a five pound bag of flour for around $2.49 but the gluten free flour is around $6 for a two pound bag or organic flour around $4.79 for a five pound bag. This is just an example of one of the ingredients I have to use, and the others are just as expensive. If you bake it is understandable that the ingredients will cost no matter what especially if you use all of the best ingredients even when I am not baking vegan. It is the staples of baking that are a bit less than the organic or gluten free products I have to purchase. I have to say that the baked goods are delicious and can sometimes taste better than regular baked goods.
Research shows that by raising animals for food has an environmental impact on climate change, global warming and the environment. The amount of food it takes to raise animals for food is alarming and studies show that they consume more food than we do. The differences occur around determining how much more food they consume and to what extent animal feed competes with food for people (AWFW.org 5). The amount of corn, wheat and barley used to feed animals can help to feed a small population of hungry people. So, in other words raising animals for food is defeating the purpose of trying to keep people from going hungry. The United Nations Environment Programme has stated that a global shift away from meat, dairy and eggs is crucial to save the planet from world hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change (Human Facts para. 2).
Climate change, global warming and the environment are a growing concern for the Earth.The World Watch Institute soberly observes: "It has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future-deforestation, erosion, freshwater scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease" (Human Facts para. 2).I researched an article that everyone must see. It is, "Veganism and the Environment Infographic Shows the Environmental Impact of Raising Animals for Food" by Mike Chino but graphically displayed by Spencer Belkofer of the way meat, eggs and dairy affect Earth. This article gives insight into the three main gasses responsible for Global Warming, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrus oxide and how meat products have an impact on them. The next would be water and how much it takes to provide to animals for food as well as how much land it takes to raise animals for food. Lastly it explains that 70% of our grains, oats and soybeans that we could be eating goes to feed the animals we eat.Researchers conclude that if we change the way we eat across the globe it will increase nutritional consumption for future generations. It is said that a lacto-vegetarians diet will be the most efficient way maintain nutrition across the globe.
Personal interviews give a more realistic approach to what and how veganism can have an effect on peoples' lives both financially and personally. I found an interview online with a vegan person named, Sister Ann Marie Teder as well as someone I know personally. I summarized the interview with Sister Ann Marie Teder. When asked why people go vegan she said basically what most people say, that it is health, animal welfare, the environment and for the poor. She reflected on sitting outside one day eating chicken and a bird was at the bird feeder and she wondered if the bird knew she was eating another bird. She then decided that she loved animals and she was going to stop eating them and that is what she did. She stated that by this single decision, she could spare animals, help save the environment, lessen poverty, and improve her health (Svoboda para. 3). As far as the nutritional values of going vegan as her sixth question, she says the health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented. Eating animals and animal products is actually unhealthy. But if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan, tell your doctor. You may need a B-12 supplement, for example, or iron (Svoboda question 6). When asked about the expense in question 7, she says, individual items can cost a bit more, but vegan meals are overall equivalent to or less expensive than non-vegan meals (Svoboda question 7).
The personal interview with my co-worker was very enlightening and she gave me permission to give her name, Naomi. Naomi has been vegan for three years but was a vegetarian for seven years before that but did not mention what type of vegetarian. In her words a vegan is someone who adopts a lifestyle where they do all in their power to reduce animal suffering. There are something's that are out of our control. But it's about doing as much as you can.She made the decision to convert to veganism because she says that farming practices are pretty barbaric and are given the bare minimum of what is needed to survive, and she didn't want to be a part of that kind of cruelty. She has chronic congestion and allergies she thought giving up dairy would help but it didn't. She thinks that the reasons people become vegan are pretty even when it comes to health and animal welfare. She also feels that if more people became vegan it would help alleviate hunger. When asked about the cost of eating vegan she said if you eat things like rice, beans and veggies it can be really cheap but some of the animal product alternatives can be very pricey. I was a bit surprised when she said there were fake meats that you can get but they are really expensive. I asked her if she struggles with living a plant based life and are there foods she misses. I was a bit surprised when she said truthfully that the social aspect of food is the hardest part. She said she is Belgian and was raised to think that she was a rude guest if she refused food.If she went to someone's house and they offered her food she had to eat it and the same went for parties and such. She stated that she feels bad when someone has prepared something with her in mind and she has to refuse it. She is a huge foodie and she misses out on some of the cool, hip restaurants that may not have vegan options. She really misses seafood and good cheese because those are the two items she has not found very good alternatives for. When asked what advice she would give to someone that may want to transition, the first thing she said was to do some basic nutritional research. She also mentioned the Vitamin B12 as did the other person. It's important to take baby steps and if you make a mistake and eat something with animal products in it, don't worry about it. Try to find things that you love to eat that are vegan, so you don't always feel like you are being deprived of anything. Also, learn to cook and utilize spice well! My interview with Naomi went well and she was able to give some really good first had information to anyone who is thinking of going vegan.
After reading the interview online there were many similarities in the way they feel about eating animal products. They both showed concern of the possible lack of obtaining vitamin B12. No matter what I read online I and finding that both ladies have the same idea about the cost of the food. It can be expensive if you eat more that rice, beans and vegetables and then you may possibly have to cook for a non-vegan in your household.
In conclusion, I have to say that it is hard for researchers to say that overall becoming a vegan is going to help anyone live a longer healthier life because there are factors that have to be considered like smoking, drinking and inadequate exercise. In the long term, the amount of agricultural land currently on Earth will be nowhere near enough to supply everyone with sufficient food (Moynihan para. 1).I am not saying eat meat, fish or poultry, but eating the dairy products that the cows produce is not killing the animals. We have to have some type of fertilizer for the vegetables to grow healthy because without that the soil is useless because all land is not fertile. I could see myself going vegan, but seafood is my favorite and that would be hard for me. I am for sure a foodie, but I have compassion for animals and see both sides which is why I think people should explore and learn instead of judging those that choose that lifestyle. Understanding the different types or vegetarianism helps us to make the decision to change the way we eat. We all want to save the environment and we all have to do our part. The expense is something we chose to incur with the change, and we can make is more expensive or less expensive depending on where we shop for food and kids of food we buy. If not becoming a total vegan at least try one of the other alternatives, every little bit will help to save the environment and make it a healthier longer life for our children and their families.Works Cited
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Bryner, Jeanna, 12 Animals-to-Human Diseases Kill 2.2 Million People Each Year. Live Science. July 6, 2012
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