By Baleigh Morgan
Junior- International Studies/International Relations
When most people hear the word “Vegan”, they often relate the term to “a raging PETA Advocate who’s trying to shove their leftist views down the throats of society”, however being Vegan is so much more than advocating for animals rights. Veganism is a way of life that excludes cruelty to animals in all forms, including exploitation, consumption, clothing usage, or any other reason. In nutritional terminology, Veganism means the abstinence of consuming all animal produce, including meat, eggs, dairy, honey, and their derivatives. While animal rights are still very important to myself and fellow Vegans, I’m here to persuade you to consider the switch to Veganism for health benefits, and to help battle the detrimental effects that climate change has on our environment due to factory farming.
Leading into the 21st century, an alarming increase of Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks have occurred. The increases in these life-altering afflictions have even impacted younger individuals, such as college students. According to Nutrition and Food Sciences professor Ingrid Lofgren of Rhode Island University, “unhealthy dietary habits play a huge role in the rising numbers of young people with these diseases.” The simple fix of eating a healthier diet could save the lives of millions who suffer from these diseases, or who will suffer from them in their future. It has also been said by Dr. Lofgren that obesity increases the chances of heart disease by two-to-four percent each year as a young person is classified as obese. Eating a variety of healthy foods such as nuts, beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, decreases your chances of developing diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and can even prevent heart attacks and strokes.
While many individuals focus on health issues as a main reason to convert to Veganism, the environment is also a huge concern within the Vegan community. Climate change is an epidemic that is a major issue to society today. One largely contributing factor to climate change is greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) due to the waste created by animals that are concentrated in factory farms. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “the animal agriculture sector- which includes the production of feed crops, the manufacturing of fertilizer, and the shipment of meat, eggs, and dairy- is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.” GHG emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor. As stated by the Climate Institute of America, “Carbon Dioxide is considered the most powerful GHG emission, as it has the most significant direct- warming impact on global warming temperature as a result of the sheer volume of its emissions.” Climate change is not ideal for our environment due to it causing harm to our oceans and sea-life, contamination to fresh water outlets, substantial diminishment of certain vegetation, soil disruption, and many more damaging occurrences. In order to reduce the staggering effects that climate change has on our planet, you can stop consuming meat, eggs, dairy, and all other animal products by converting to Veganism.
In the end, the only way to combat health issues, such as Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks, is to take control of your health today. You can start by introducing healthier foods into your diet, which include nuts, beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. If your health isn’t much of a concern to you, you can consider converting to Veganism in order to combat the damaging effects that climate change has on our environment. This will lead to the decrease in GHG emissions, thus decreasing the harmful effects that factory farming has on our environment. If you’re not up to cutting meat out of your diet “cold turkey”, then maybe consider following a Vegan diet one day out of the week.