Growing up in meat-consuming environments, we may find it difficult to wrap our heads around the concept of the dispensability of animal-based products. From a young age, we are told that meat is our main source of protein, that it cannot be substituted. What if this is not the case? There are several downsides to meat consumption; from high cholesterol to animal cruelty that is often avoided in conversations because we would rather avoid topics that may –in a way or another- make us uncomfortable.
“Like us, these animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness. Like us, they are not only in the world, they are aware of it. Like us, they are the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely their own.” –Earthlings, 2005
Of course, we are not claiming that it’s the way you should eat, or it’s the right way, but it’s good to realize some of the reasons and benefits of going vegan/vegetarian, and the options you have when it comes to your health and eating habits. so without further ado, let’s check them out:
For The Animals
We keep animals as pets such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and other animals. We try and provide the highest level of comfort to them, give them food, shelter, and love. What about farm animals, cows, and goats? If we think about it, we love our pets so much, we never want them to experience any sort of pain or discomfort, however, that makes us aware of the fact that animals –much like humans- feel pain. In a TED-Ed video, published on January 17, 2017, Evolutionary Biologist, Robyn J. Crook argued: “Animals are important to us. So it’s equally important that we avoid causing them unnecessary pain.”
The factory farming runs on cruelty and lack of acknowledgment of how animals inhumanely suffer. Animals are kept in captivity, force-fed, crammed up in spaces too small to freely move in before they are slaughtered for meat consumption. Calves are separated from their mothers shortly after they are born so that milk, meant for them, is packaged and distributed to markets for human utilization. Even some beauty companies test their products (shampoo, makeup, etc.) on animals and use their fur for fashion-related purposes. Fish are dragged out of the ocean in nets and forced to suffer the lack of air until they fall dead. So, the question here is, is it necessary to end the life of a soul, for a meal that will be gulped down in a few minutes?
Certainly, there is such a thing as a healthy diet that includes meat, as well as there is such a thing as vegan junk food. However, according to a study conducted in 2016 by Harvard University, vegetarian diets appear to have significant benefits on weight reduction compared to non-vegetarian diets. As well as that, a 2003 Oxford study indicated that pescatarians (fish-eaters), vegetarians, and especially vegans had lower BMI than meat-eaters
Going vegan/vegetarian allows you to depend more heavily on whole foods and less on processed ones. Plant-based foods contain significantly fewer calories than animal-based food. Also, plant-based diets provide more fiber than other diets, which is necessary for weight loss. Weight loss can be a long and frustrating process that requires consistency, dedication, and patience, but trying to achieve it through a vegan diet eases and speeds it up. Just make sure you’re eating less processed meat-substitutes and more fruits and veggies!
There are several health benefits associated with going on a vegan diet. According to the Nurses Health Study (2004), intakes of red meat and processed meats were associated with increased risk of diabetes, and in a study of Seventh-Day Adventists conducted and published in 1985, diabetes was less prevalent in vegetarian than in non-vegetarians. Research has shown that vegan diets not only affect diabetes, but also cholesterol levels, which may take part in lowering the risk of heart disease by up to 42%.
Also, according to a 2014 study on the health benefits of a vegan diet, “Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers, and total mortality. Compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality.” It may also affect your skin. Consuming a dairy affects your skin negatively, especially if your skin is naturally more prone to acne. Eating fruits and vegetables, which are the base of vegan diets, containing antioxidants and vitamins helps you gain a healthier and more glowy complexion.
For The Environment
The meat industry is, no joke, an environmental nightmare. Entire ecosystems are destroyed to fulfill humans’ animal-products requirements. According to the PETA organization, several countries, across the years, have destroyed and removed tropical forests in an attempt to clear up areas for factory farming.
According to the UN, farming livestock is responsible for 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, which have a direct relation to the on-going problem of global warming, from climate change to wildfires, and air pollution. “Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in red and processed meat … (are) responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.” -Dr. Marco Springmann, from the Oxford Martin School. If everyone shifted their diets to depend less on animal-based products and more on fruits and vegetables, it could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and end global warming.
Veganism could be an unusual concept to promote in the Egyptian community, but luckily for us, a number of popular Egyptian dishes are actually vegan like Kushary, rice-stuffed vegetables, salads, and lentil soup. I mean, who doesn’t love Kushry! So, if you were considering to go this way, we hope this article made your choice easier, and stay tuned for a full vegan/vegetarian diet guide.
The biggest animal lover ever, who cooks for fun, and rides around the city on a longboard. She's the one to do everything full-heartedly, from writing to organizing festivals, and is definitely the right person to drag along to a concert!