Why should I go vegan or plant-based?

The health reasons for being vegan/plant-based
The sustainable reasons for being vegan
The ethical reasons for being vegan

The health reasons for being plant-based

Plant-based diets have been shown to prevent and reverse many of the leading causes of death. Some examples include prevention of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.

There is an abundance of science and evidence clearly showing how beneficial plant-based diets are. For more information I highly recommend you read visit nutritionfacts.org.

The longest lived people in the world eat diets with plenty of wholegrains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. The Blue Zones, as discovered by National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Buettner, exist in Sardinia, Ikaria, Loma Linda, Nicoya and Okinawa. 

In these regions people have low rates of obesity, alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and stroke. In Ikaria, for example, people live eight to ten years longer than in the United States and have a 50% lower rate of heart disease, less cancer, and almost no cases of dementia. 

In the Blue Zones people are mostly plant-based and the longest lived are vegan. Scientific studies in the Blue Zone region of Loma Linda, California are one of the most powerful studies completed on nutrition.

Roughly 9000 Seventh Day Adventists make up the Blue Zone in Loma Linda. These Seventh Day Adventists, who, for religious reasons, eat few or no animal products, live roughly ten years longer than the average American. 

Loma Linda studies are fascinating, because the other factors, which are generally difficult to account for are completely controlled in the region. Because the participants have the same religion, generally don’t smoke, or drink and live in the same geographical region, we can really see how nutrition affects health. 

The data is so powerful it shows that those who abstain entirely from animal products live the longest. The vegans in the studies consistently live the longest. So, while less meat, eggs and dairy is good, no meat, eggs or dairy is better. 

The Seventh Day Adventists study isn’t the only data we have to look at. In fact there are countless other nutrition studies proving the same connection. The largest of which is The China Study, a ground-breaking 20-year study completed in the 1990s.

Nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell, PhD of Cornell University and his son Thomas M. Campbell, MD shared the findings of the study in The China Study book. Fun fact: T Colin Campbell grew up on a dairy farm and went began studying to prove the health benefits of dairy!

In summary, the results showed that participants who ate the most plant-based diets were the ones able to avoid chronic diseases. The researchers found that as animal product intake increased, the likelihood of developing chronic diseases also increased. Plant-based diets were shown to protect against western diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, MS and Alzeihmers. 

In 2016 the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, wrote: “…vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and…are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products….”

They found that by adopting vegetarian diets globally we could avoid 7.3 million deaths and vegan diets avoid 8.1 million deaths.

If you consider a healthy diet, one that enables you to live free from disease and live a long life – then the data actually suggests that the less animal products you consume, the longer and healthier your life will be. 

Learn more about the health reasons for the plant-based diet:

  • Surf: Nutritionfacts.org (by Dr. Michael Gregor)
  • Listen to: The Plant Proof Podcast (by Simon Hill)
  • Watch: What The Health (on Netflix)
  • Read: The China Study (book by T. Colin Campbell)

A quick watch:

The sustainable reasons for being plant-based

Eating a plant-based diet is one of the most sustainable things you can do for the planet. That’s according to the United Nations, who in their 2019 report, which was created by 100 experts, state that a plant-based diet is an effective way to reduce the impacts of climate change.

One author of the report, Panmao Zhai, said “There is real potential here through more sustainable land use, reducing over-consumption and waste of food, eliminating the clearing and burning of forests, preventing over-harvesting of fuelwood, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (to help) address land-related climate change issues.”

Animal agriculture is an extremely unsustainable and inefficient system. We need tremendous amounts of land space, water and food to grow animals for meat, dairy and eggs, much less land space, water and food is required to feed humans plant-based foods.

Eating a plant-based diet is not just good for our health; it is good for Earth’s health.  In fact, “Shifting away from animal-based foods [could not only] add up to 49% to the global food supply without expanding croplands;” but would also significantly reduce carbon emissions and waste byproducts that end up in our oceans and as seafood byproducts (Jalava et al, 2014). (UCLA Sustainability)

Some facts: (find more at Cowspiracy)
– Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. “Livestock’s Long Shadow: environmental issues and options”. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome 2006
Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption. “How Important is Irrigation to U.S. Agriculture?” USDA: Economic Research Service. 12 October, 2016
To produce one pound of beef 2,500 gallons (9463 litres) of water is needed. 2,500 Gallons All Wet? by John Robbins
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification, What causes ‘ocean dead zones’?
Three-quarters of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted. General situation of world fish stocks. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • Surf: Cowspiracy.com
  • Watch: Cowspiracy (on Netflix)
  • Listen to: The Plant Proof podcast
  • Read: We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
  • (Book by Jonathan Safran Foer)

A quick watch

The ethical reasons for being plant-based/vegan

“You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car.”
Harvey Diamond

For many of us the thought of killing animals feels wrong, but given our “nutritional need” for animal products, it feels like a necessary evil. That was certainly the case for me, I never liked to think of an animal suffering, but figured it was all part of the essential circle of life. Now that I’ve learned that not only are animal products not necessary for human health, they’re actually detrimental to our health and devastating on the environment, it’s impossible to to justify.

As part of my plant-based journey I’ve also learned a significant amount about how our food gets to our plates, most of which has shocked me, saddened me and occasionally made me angry. I don’t dwell, however, the world won’t change overnight. Just as I changed once I had the necessary information, so can every person on the planet.

Animals have a significantly higher ability to feel pain than we give them credit for. For example, cows have been shown to suffer

We make very arbitrary distinctions when it comes to animals and it varies by country. Many people think eating dog meat is cruel, yet they’ll happily eat pigs, who others have as cherished pets.

Recall the fiasco after the Irish horsemeat scandal. In 2013 The Food Safety Authority of Ireland found horsemeat in frozen foods in several Irish and British supermarkets. Spaghetti Bolognese listed as containing beef was actually found to contain as much as 60% horsemeat. But really, horses and cows, are they really that different? You might argue that horses are more intelligent––but you may not actually be aware of the cognitive abilities of a cow. Cows have actually been shown to complete complex mazes and… It seems that perceptions of intelligence might just be that, perceptions. 

Take for example the case of the factory worker who gave up his job due to post-traumatic stress. A pig came over a nuzzled him like a puppy, moments later he had to beat the pig to death with a pipe. Which begs the question, do you want to eat an animal that will nuzzle you like a puppy? And, do you want to eat an animal that’s been killed (with a pipe or not)?

Follow: James Aspey
Follow: Earthling Ed
Watch: Dominion (on Netflix disclaimer: I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this yet).

A quick(ish) watch

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