By: Laila Hisham
The year is 2019 and seemingly every other person you meet has almond milk in their fridge.
It all began with animal rights activists who were fighting against the cruelty and uncanny process that took place before our food was served on our plates. Ariana Grande, various social media influencers and now our next door neighbours jumping on the vegan bandwagon. The vegan diet consists of excluding meat and dairy products to refrain from the harm of animals and for various health benefits. The power of pop culture has led society to perhaps conform to a lifestyle change for the better, or worse. With the exponential growth and mass production in vegan options, it probes the question: to what extent, is veganism truly a healthy diet? Bringing awareness towards certain products that are advocated by influencers is important as many may be oblivious towards the cons of the diet stated above.
It’s important to realize that we fall under the trap of buying products that claim to be dairy-free without paying close attention to the packaging. There’s a difference between consuming ‘vegan meat’, in other words, artificial meat than cooking up tempeh or tofu as a choice in protein. I personally believe that going vegan could potentially be a step towards a healthier lifestyle but it must be pursued with knowledge and reason. It’s definitely a lifestyle that many should consider for the ability to combat many health-related diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes. When done appropriately, veganism is ultimately beneficial for all. From a young age, we were taught that greasy foods were bad for us and with good reason. The significant increase in cholesterol levels, not to mention the fat content in the meat patty demonstrates the advantage of being vegan.
Moreover, according to the University of Michigan, a meatless patty would generate 90% fewer greenhouse emissions: “producing a pound of meat protein with Western industrialized methods requires 4 to 25 times more water”. Therefore, a vegan diet will allow us to reduce the amount of destruction placed on our planet to ultimately conserve its’ sustainability. Meat lovers can argue that a balanced diet is key, and meat as a source of protein dates back to hunter-gatherer times thus, a spark in controversy. A balanced diet allows for binge eating and there’s truly no harm in indulging in a juicy burger now and then. An excessive amount is unhealthy, but a diet that consists of all food groups in proportion is healthy and balanced, moderation is key. As they say, it’s food for the soul.
The moment I began to dwell on this topic was when I was helping my dad out with his coffee business, a family run business that we would pursue at pop up fests on the weekends. I had asked those who chose almond milk if they take these milk as an alternative or just to try it out and many responded that they weren’t vegans but feel like it’s “healthier”. Pitching the idea allows many companies to switch or include vegan substitutes according to the demand which essentially benefits them. Veganism is an expensive investment, therefore it’s a lifestyle that we should ponder before jumping right in.
People convert to veganism due to the treatment of animals in the food industry, some argue that the way of killing is unsettling whereas others due to religious beliefs and restrictions. A 2-year vegan stated that she’d always been compassionate to animals, probably due to the Disney movies she watched as a little girl that molded her into feeling the need to not eat these animals. Contrary, we grew up learning that we must drink milk to obtain calcium necessary for strong bones. Research proves that dark leafy greens are good sources of iron and calcium, ‘better per calorie than meat’ (vrg). If needed, a calcium supplement can be taken to adhere to refrain from a deficiency.
I myself made a decision to choose plant-based alternatives as cow milk almost always gives me a stomach ache, therefore it was a health decision. Many claims that I should simply allow my body to adjust to it as I’m potentially weakening my immune system this way but it’s essentially my decision to make, it’s the same for you. Anyone could go vegan, though you should always do your research and check with your nutritionist if it’s an appropriate choice.
- Hosie, Rachel. “Are Meat Alternatives Actually Good for You?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 24 July 2018, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/best-meat-substitutes-benefits-are-they-healthy-vegetarians-vegans-quorn-tofu-a8459941.html.
- “Reasons for Choosing Vegetarianism or Veganism.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/KHVKXP504595678/OVIC?u=60iskl&sid=OVIC&xid=e674576e. Accessed 21 Mar. 2019.
- Rovito, Markkus. “Cow-Free Burger Hits MITs ‘Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies’ List.” The Sustainable Opportunity Initiative, 27 Feb. 2019, sustainableopportunityinitiative.com/2019/02/27/cow-free-burger-hits-mits-top-10-breakthrough-technologies-list/.
- Velayanikal, Malavika. “A Plant-Based Diet Is Healthier than the Standard Western Diet.” Is the Western Diet Making the World Sick?, edited by Susan C. Hunnicutt, Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010849212/OVIC?u=60iskl&sid=OVIC&xid=fac52a45. Accessed 21 Mar. 2019.
- “Veganism in a Nutshell.” Return to Vrg.org, www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm.