By Asia Daggs
Blog Content Contributor
I have always been interested in converting to vegetarianism or veganism since they are clean, healthy lifestyles that also benefit our planet and animal life. Vegetarianism excludes all meat, poultry and seafood, while veganism eliminates all animal products from one’s diet. For example, honey, milk and eggs would not be part of a vegan diet. Many people adopt these lifestyles for religious, environmental or ethical reasons. There are now about 16 million people in the United States who classify themselves as vegan or vegetarian. Factors that lead to the transition can come from educational videos that bring awareness to animal mistreatment and the impact that farming has on our environment. I will be exploring some of the impacts veganism and vegetarianism have on our health, planet, and spirituality in order to provide more information on this new trend.
There are multiple benefits that come from eating a plant-based diet such as maintaining low cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The risk for developing illnesses, such as heart disease, breast and colon cancer, is lower for those who do not eat meat. These lifestyles help lessen the amount of pesticide contamination in our bodies and help keep kidney stones away. Vegetarians are encouraged to take supplements to make up for the protein and other vitamins that only meat can provide such as B12 for fully functioning brain activity and energy boosts.
The most popular farming techniques are playing a vital role in a majority of our environmental issues:
- Livestock grazing is one of the main causes to our topsoil loss.
- Deforestation is the clearing of forests to use as land for grazing livestock or growing their food which is adding to the carbon dioxide being released that contributes to global warming.
- Our water resources are dwindling due to the water consumed for irrigated land for growing feed and fodder for livestock.
- Factory farms produce run off which is polluting rivers, streams and other bodies of water.
Eliminating foods from our diet that are produced by these environmentally harmful methods reduces the negative impact on our environment.
Religions such as Hinduism and Jainism emphasize vegetarianism as an extension of spiritual practices. A vegetarian diet is based on compassion and nonviolence; it is believed to help us maintain a balance between our bodies and soul. The practice is expressing more love or concern for all other life other than our own. There are also theories about ties between vegetarianism, meditation, and being able to have full self consciousness.
Don’t be afraid to try out these life styles due to inconvenience or limited resources. Texas State has done an amazing job of trying to fulfill every student’s different needs. Our dining halls offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian meals. There are tons of dietary challenges that you can try for different lengths of time as well. Multiple websites offer challenges they created that include recipes and guidelines to follow such as VeggieChallenge.com and VeganEasy.org. If you aren’t able to find one that suits you the best, you can do research and create your own personal challenge and vegetarian or vegan meal plan. Hopefully this article has been usefully for answering any questions you may have had about veganism and vegetarianism and has brought awareness to the benefits of not eating animal products.