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The Benefits of Going Vegan: The Many Reasons Why People Choose Plant-Based

healthy-vegan-woman

Are you considering going vegan? Here are a few reasons why you should go vegan or consider becoming more plant-based!

Maybe you have a friend or family member that is vegan. Or maybe you’ve discovered veganism through a YouTuber who inspires you to become healthier or a documentary that made you question your current lifestyle and diet.

Now, you are considering going vegan, but want to know more about how this change will impact your life and those around you. This major life switch can be intimidating at first, but when you equip yourself with the benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle, it’s difficult to go back.

Here are a few reasons why you should go vegan or consider becoming more plant-based:

  • For the animals
  • For your health
  • For the environment
  • For other people

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WHY GO VEGAN: MY STORY

Everyone goes vegan for a different reason or maybe even multiple reasons. I started integrating a plant-based diet into my life initially because of my health and cystic acne that I struggled with from the age of thirteen.

Since the time I first became a teenager, I saw several dermatologists that recommended creams, antibiotics, and birth control as a solution to my acne. My skin constantly fluctuated. One year my skin would be clear due to a round of antibiotics, and then the next my skin would be breaking out again.

By the time I was in college, my acne had become so incredibly painful that it hurt to even put a shirt over my head. I had cystic and nodular acne that continued to spread. I couldn’t get rid of it, and my fight for clear skin seemed hopeless.

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I saw a dermatologist again, and she recommended Accutane. She told me about all the horrible side effects, but I didn’t care. This magic pill seemed like my ticket to acne free skin forever. I didn’t realize how awful the side effects would be.

For seven months, I took 80mg of Accutane a day. During those seven months, I experience red puffy swollen eyes, dry skin that burned to the touch, hair that was so dry and brittle I had to style it daily to keep it from looking like one giant ball of frizz, digestive issues that made me nauseous every time I ate, and low energy levels that turned me from an active person to one that only wanted to lie in bed every single day.

But, I was determined to finish the round of Accutane because I hoped and believed I’d be acne free for the rest of my life. At the end of the round of Accutane, I had clear skin. My confidence skyrocketed.

And, for a year, I continued to have clear skin, I still dealt with some of the symptoms of Accutane, particularly low energy levels. Exercising felt difficult and less enjoyable. At the end of that year, my skin began to change.

My face broke out in acne that only got worse instead of better. My dermatologist recommended Accutane again, but I didn’t want to experience all of the side effects all over again especially since many of them still lingered. I also was worried about the long-term health effects of Accutane.

During this time, I found several YouTubers that were talking about the health benefits a plant-based diet and even how many of them cleared their skin with that diet. I watched documentaries, including, What the Health, Cowspiracy, and Forks Over Knives. I really just wanted to stop feeling sick all the time.

So, while driving one day, I decided that I was sick of feeling sick. And that maybe my bad skin could be a result of my diet. I cut meat out of my diet that day. The next week, I cut dairy, and a week after, that I cut eggs out of my diet.

Soon after I made these changes, I started feeling more energized. I could get more done during the day. I felt great. The digestive issues I was having disappeared. Several months later, my skin completely cleared.

No, a plant-based diet isn’t a miracle. But, what you put in your body dramatically effects the way your body functions. Now, a year and a half later, my skin continues to be clear. I may have the occasional pimple, but it’s because I occasionally will have some junk food like oily microwave popcorn.

Rather than feeling confused as to what was causing my acne and with no way to stop it, I now know that a standard American diet was harmful to my skin and health. And later into my health journey, I discovered why veganism is important to more than just me and my health.

After my fourteen-year-old Labrador passed away from old age, I made a connection between the food I ate and the furry pets I loved. I would give anything to allow my dog to live a longer healthier life, so how could I deprive other animals of that same healthy joyful life.

Veganism is an ethical choice as well as one for your own health. Even if you just decide to occasionally add in a plant-based meal or participate in Meatless Mondays, you are making a difference for others and yourself.

FAMOUS VEGANS

Vegan and vegetarianism isn’t a new fad. For thousands of years, people from all backgrounds have chosen a plant-based lifestyle for their health, the environment, to prevent and put an end to animal cruelty, and for living a more peaceful life.

Did you know that many famous scientists and figures since 570 BC have been vegetarians or vegans?

Pythagoras (570 – 495 BC)

Pythagoras was a famous Greek philosopher and mathematician. He is also known as the first man to suggest that the earth was round instead of flat. He believed:

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

In fact, “Pythagoreans” was what vegetarians called themselves before “vegetarian” was coined in the nineteenth century.

Gautama Siddhartha: The Buddha (563 – 483 BC)

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Gautama Siddhartha, also known as Buddha, was a wise teacher from ancient India. Buddhism was founded on his teachings. He believed that no one should eat the flesh of any sentient being including animals: “To avoid terror to living beings, let the disciple refrain from eating meat.”

Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC)

Hippocrates is another Greek philosopher and is also considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine. He was a vegetarian and believed that food could heal the body: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Plato (428 – 347 BC)

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Though we are unsure whether or not Plato himself was a vegan or vegetarian, in his book The Republic, he describes a perfect city to be one that eats a vegetarian diet and believed that meat consumption was a luxury that drove people to war.

He believed the most peaceful way to eat was a vegetarian diet: “The gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

Thoreau was an American writer from the Romantic Period, a movement in literature that celebrated nature and rejected industrialization. He thought that vegetarianism was a more ethical way to live: “I have no doubt that it is the pure destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other.”

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

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A Russian Realist writer, Leo Tolstoy authored two of the most well-known and highly acclaimed novels of his period, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He sought harmony with nature and rejected all forms of violence.

During his search for living a pious life, he became a proponent of vegetarianism: “If a man earnestly seeks a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from animal food.”

Tolstoy also believed that violence towards animals also resulted in violence towards humanity and proclaimed that, “as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

Nikola Tesla (1856–1943)

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Tesla was an inventor and designer of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. He became a vegetarian slowly by eliminating meat and then fish from his diet. For Tesla, the fact that “we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact.”

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Gandhi, an Indian leader and non-violent civil disobedient activist, guided the Indian independence movement against British rule. He did not believe in violence of any kind and extended this idea to eating animals.

He said, “Spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” For Gandhi, eating animals was unnecessary and inhibited spiritual growth.

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

Bernard Shaw is a famous Irish playwright and constructed his masterpiece Saint Joan to document the well-known story of the French woman from the Middle Ages. He also believed in animals’ rights and was a vegetarian. He thought that there was hypocrisy in eating animals while simultaneously being sickened by war:

  • We’re sick of War, we do not want to fight –
  • The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread,
  • And yet—we gorge ourselves upon the dead (Living Graves).

VEGANISM & THE ENVIRONMENT

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You’ve probably heard that cars and other forms of transportation emit greenhouse gases. That’s why there has been a shift to developing hybrid cars. But, did you know that animal agriculture yields more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined?

By reducing or eliminating the use of animal products, we can make a positive impact on the environment. When we compare someone who eats a standard American diet, with a plant-based person, the omnivorous diet uses far more resources than the plant-based one.

Say two people eat the same amount of food:

  • A plant-based diet would use 300 gallons of water a day while the omnivorous diet uses 4,000 gallons of water.
  • An omnivorous diet requires eight times the amount of fossil fuels more than a plant-based one.
  • By eating animals, your carbon footprint is 2.5 tons, while a plant-based diet would minimize your carbon footprint to 1.5 tons.
  • To produce animal products, farmers need 5 times the amount of land needed for producing plant-based foods.
  • A diet high in meat leads to 70% of all rainforest destruction

Eating a plant-based diet is more sustainable for the environment. Even if you aren’t ready to commit to a vegan lifestyle, small changes can make a huge difference in the impact on the planet.

VEGANISM FOR THE ANIMALS

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPA) conducted a survey that determined that a whopping 94% of Americans believe that animals raised on farms for food should be free from abuse and cruelty. But, 95% of farm animals are raised on factory farms that prioritize profit over the welfare of animals.

These factory farms don’t raise animals in an open field, leaving them to roam about the land, and letting them enjoy their lives. Instead, these animals are crammed into tight cages with no room to move and are stuffed with growth hormones. The buildings where these animals live, reek of feces and aren’t cleaned, so the animals become easily susceptible to disease and require antibiotic injections constantly.

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