I’ve been eating plant based for seven years. I’m not a vegan, because I still wear and use leather bags and shoes. But I do eat vegan aka plant based. So, no meat, fish, cheese, milk, cream, eggs, etc. I don’t eat animals and they don’t eat me (hopefully). The most asked question about eating plant based is: “Isn’t that hard?”. I’ve answered that one in my vegan recipe blogs and Dutch cooking posts. Second question I get all the time – and this is the one I will be answering today – is: “Why do you eat plant based?”. I have my reasons. Thirteen to be precise. so, if you are in the process of cutting out meat and dairy or if you think eating vegan is borderline insane, keep on reading. Because these reasons will change the way you think about food.
Animals produce waste. A lot of it. A lot more than humans do. Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce many times more excrement than does the entire human population of the country. The toxic chemicals in the animal waste pollute the air and water. A typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000 people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, raising animals for food is the number-one source of water pollution.(Peta) I would really love for my daughter to grow up in a world with clean water and air.
2. Climate Change
Fifty one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are cause by animal agriculture. The United Nations has concluded the world needs a shift towards a vegan diet in order to combat climate change. Taking the bus instead of your car, recycling, taking shorter showers: it’s all pretty amazing, but it won’t mean a thing if we keep eating meat on the scale we do now. Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. Again, I hope my daughter and grand children will have acces to a healthy planet. One that isn’t destroyed by their grandparents.
3. Water (Ab)use
It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean filthy factory farms, and give animals water to drink. Here are some insane numbers:
- A single cow used for milk can drink up to 50 gallons of water per day.
- It takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk.
- It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, while producing 1 pound of tofu only requires 244 gallons of water.
- By going vegan, one person can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year (Peta).
In a world were children are still dying because they don’t have access to clean water, these numbers are just not acceptable.
4. Land (Ab)use
It takes a lot of land to produce meat. Eating meat has a huge impact on our forests (which we need badly for oxygen and biodiversity) and the fertility of our soil (which we need for growing food for humans). I’ll let the numbers do the talking again:
- Of all agricultural land in the U.S., 87 percent is used to raise animals for food.
- That’s 45 percent of the total land mass in the U.S.
- About 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to produce feed for animals raised for food.
- The meat industry is directly responsible for 85 percent of all soil erosion in the U.S.
5. Animal Suffering
I know this one comes first for a lot of people and I also care a lot about animal suffering. I don’t think I need to explain this one, do I? Eating meat = killing animals. They don’t like it, end of story. If you want to read more about it, I suggest you google Jonathan Safran Foer. I want to raise my baby with a sense of respect for nature and animals.
6. World Hunger
Another one that requires very simple math: animals eat WAY more than humans. They eat things like corn and soy. A LOT more than humans do. More than 80% of the corn we grow and more than 95% of the oars are fed to livestock. The world’s cattle alone consumes the same amount of calories as 8.7 billion people would. That’s insane! We live in a world where 800 million people are still starving. How is it okay we are wasting all of this food?
We’ve talked about meat so far. But eating fish isn’t really that much better. Commercial fishing destroys our reefs, messes with our marine ecosystem and is responsible for a lot of “bycatch”: thousands of dolphins, sea turtles and sharks (don’t care about that one personally, but ey) die because we eat fish.
Diseases and Antibiotic Resistance
Animals get sick. Quite a lot. There are so many outbreaks in farms, that require killing thousands of animals. Apart from the intense waste and suffering this brings along, these diseases also require a lot of antibiotics. Approximately 90% of the total use of antimicrobials in the United States was for non-therapeutic purposes in agricultural production (Wiki). These animals become resistent, requiring heavier antibiotics, creating higher levels of resistance and so forth. Before we know it, there won’t be an antibiotic available that actually works. That will pretty much mean the end of the world. Just saying.
It’s freaking tasty
“But I love meat/cheese so much!” is what I hear a lot. I’m not judging you. Even though I can not relate the the meat/cheese situation, I do understand it is super hard to cut certain habits out of your life. (I try to relate by thinking I might have to cut our fries and wine). But eating vegan can be just as tasty! I promise. There are so many delicious meals you can prepare! You won’t miss a thing.
For every study there is about the benefits of eating plant based there is a study that suggests you can’t be healthy and vegan. Let’s just use common sense then. Obviously you can’t just cut out meat and dairy and go on with your day. You need to replace them with things like nuts, vegetables, soy, tofu, etc. If you make sure you get all your vitamins and minerals and don’t have any other health threatening habits (like smoking), you will find a plant based diet will decrease the risks of getting diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Meat, cheese and milk contains a lot of fats. You need fat. Your brain will go insane if you don’t consume fatty foods. But the amount is debatable. If you eat plant based it is way easier to control your intake. If you struggle with obesity, a plant based diet will definitely help you in the right direction of achieving a healthy weight.
Intolerance and allergies
My body doesn’t respond well when I eat dairy. I am not intolerant, but I am sensitive to dairy. A lot of people struggle with inexplicable ailments before realizing their bodies just work better without consuming animal products. Just try it, see how you feel, how your body responds. But again, do your homework: don’t just cut out meat and dairy without replacing it with plant based alternatives.
Listening to your body, mind and heart
I guess that’t what it all comes down to. I used to care a lot about animal suffering and world hunger. I still do, but after Aya was born my focus has become more environmental and family centered. I want my daughter to grow up on a healthy planet. I want to teach her that nature is something we can’t take for granted, something we must respect. We need a healthy planet, in order to survive and thrive. Also, I would love for her to respect animals, because they are living and breathing species. And as for myself, I feel my body just responds better to a plant based diet. I hope my daughter will develop a healthy relationship with her body and the world around her, so she can one day make her own conscious decisions.