You may not be aware of this, but “going vegan” (aka eating a plant-based diet) can save the world. That is right, switching from a predominantly meat-centric regime to one rich in plant-based whole foods can make a big difference to the environment, not to mention your health.
From combating world hunger and cleaning the soil and air to alleviating water shortages and reducing energy consumption, many positive benefits come from a vegan diet. From a personal standpoint, a vegan diet will make you healthier and more energetic, help you live longer and provide you with mental clarity.
Are you brave enough to give it a try? Even if you are somewhat scared or wary, keep in mind that you do not have to switch 100% to living off plant-based food in Bangkok, you can at least become somewhat vegan now and then. A little bit goes a long way. If everybody on the planet went plant-based for just one meal a week, we could collectively reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by almost 10%.
Indeed, nowadays, a lot of people are semi plant-based (i.e., “flexi-vegan”), for example, they consume plant-based meals from Monday to Friday and then let their hair down on the weekend and eat what they like. If you are still not convinced a plant-based lifestyle is for you, let us further persuade you with the following eight reasons.
1] Combats world hunger
Did you know that humans aren't eating most of the food grown on the planet? That’s right; a staggering 83% of farmland goes towards raising animals and a whopping 700 million tons of food goes towards feeding them. This practice has caused a lot of deforestation, overfishing and water shortages. If more farmland was used to grow crops for humans, more people could be fed (a good thing as our population heads towards 9 billion in 2050) and the environment would take less of a beating.
2] Conserves previous water
As mentioned above, farming requires a lot of resources, with water being the primary ones, a sad reality in a period of history when millions of people don’t have access to clean drinking water. In truth, livestock consumes more freshwater than anything else on our planet, they are also one of the biggest polluters of water sources. Shockingly, it takes 100-200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than it does to raise a pound of plant food. For example, replacing a burger with a vegetable stew (which has similar protein levels) saves 4,325 litres of water.
3] Enriches the soil
Besides consuming too much food and water, livestock also affects one of the planet’s other precious resources: soil. This is mainly because intensive livestock breeding requires a lot of land, which means large areas of forest are felled annually. This massive deforestation – we lose roughly the size of Ireland each year – leads to the weakening, erosion and depletion (nutrient levels) of soil. A sad consequence of deforestation is climate change, as fewer trees equal less carbon. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, nourish and enrich the soil for future crop rotations.
4] Reduces energy consumption
Raising livestock entails a lot of energy consumption. This is because of a wide range of factors: it takes a long time to raise animals; they consume a lot of food and water; they are reared on land that requires a lot of maintenance; the by-products of meat production requires considerable clean-up; meat products need to be refrigerated and shipped; and meat takes a long journey from slaughterhouse to dinner plate. Conversely, plant-based foods like vegetables, legumes and nuts don’t require nearly as much energy to produce, process and distribute.
5] Makes you healthier
If you subsist on a plant-based diet, you will likely reap many health benefits, such as lowered risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain cancers and heart disease. Why? Because a vegan diet provides all the nutrients you need. Fresh vegetables, fruits and other vegan staples like legumes, seeds and nuts are teeming with nutrients that meat doesn’t provide. Many people follow diets high in added sugars, preservatives, chemicals and other harmful ingredients. Of course, plant-based eaters can have an unhealthy diet too, but generally speaking, veganism forces people to actively consider the ingredients of the foods they are consuming, which, over time, leads to a fresher, more nutrient-rich choices.
6] Ethically sound
The reality nowadays is that meat is abundantly and cheaply available everywhere – restaurants, supermarkets, fast-food shops, etc. Sadly, the vast majority of this meat is not produced in a humane way. From poor housing and nutrition to unsanitary conditions and slaughtering practices, the animals are suffering. But animals have feelings too and they should not have to suffer this way. If you cut meat from your diet as little as once a week, you’ll be making a dent in this grim reality and making an ethically sound food choice.
7] Lowers cancer risk
Believe it or not, and we have the science to back this up, diets high in fruits and vegetables will protect you against cancer. Conversely, diets high in red meat, particularly fatty, processed meats, have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers, such as colon, bowel, stomach and pancreatic. One recent study found that vegans have significantly lower rates of cancer than meat-eaters, even when taking into consideration non-dietary factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking and family history.
8] Extends your life
Research looking at the link between plant-based diets and longevity has produced encouraging results. One large review of vegans in the United Kingdom, Germany, United States and Japan found that a plant-based diet lowers the risk of death from all causes by as much as 15%, when compared with both omnivores and vegetarians. Why? Because the vegan diets tend to be rich in nutrients that may protect against illnesses and boost a person’s lifespan. In addition, many people who follow this eating pattern also make good lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly, not smoking or drinking to excess and avoiding processed foods that may hinder longevity.