First of all, I want to say that a vegan ‘diet’ isn’t so much a ‘diet’ as it is a lifestyle change. Not consuming animal products (especially butter & cheese in my case!) is a real challenge that you need the support of your family and friends to manage. That being said, here are some good reasons to be a vegan:
1. Extend your life and reduce your chance for deadly diseases. Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions. (Source: Medical News Today.)
2. Protein. Americans (and Western society) usually consumes too much of it, in ways that are not healthy. “Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.” (Source: NursingDegree.net)
3. New recipes and ingredients! There are an endless amount of wonderful vegan blogs on the Internet. (Oh She Glows, Deliciouslly Ella, Fat free vegan kitchen). Also, I had never cooked parsnips before this winter — they are delicious!
4. Higher energy on a daily basis. A lot of people find that they have a lot more energy when on a consistent vegan diet. I would say it takes about two weeks to kick in and is very much helped by limiting or eliminating caffeniated beverages.
5. Weight loss and maintenance. It’s really difficult to get fat eating fruit and vegetables. By contrast, after eating a hamburger, chips or a croissant I feel like I immediately gain a pound. (Note: There is some research that men should not consume too much soy and I generally recommend staying away from vegan processed foods such as ‘veggie burgers.’)
6. Environmental friendliness/sustainabilty. It takes less energy and water to produce vegetables than it does to raise an animal. In fact, “More than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow go to feed animals. If that food were to go to humans instead, it would be enough to feed everyone in the world.” (Souce: The Good Human)
7. Animal rights. Let’s face it, we are all aware of the conditions frequently associated with mass production for meat. Do you really want to consume a chicken that spent its life barely being able to move and standing in feces?
8. Athletic performance. Long-distance runners especially can benefit from a vegan diet as it becomes difficult for the body to break down the animal fats during intensive training and can lead to gastric distress. (Source: New York Times interview with Scott Jurek & personal experience)
9. An excuse not to have to eat your mother’s meatloaf… Or whatever food you can’t stand. Chicons au gratin would be another hated dish of mine.
10. Community. Finding other vegans through a shared awkward meal experience, organized meet ups or blogging is a great way to meet new friends (and find new recipes!).