RAMAN: The vegan diet has benefits but can be complicated

Veganism has taken the United States by storm, with nearly every restaurant having at least one vegan option on their menu and most major city grocery stores offering several meat and dairy alternatives. For those of you unfamiliar with veganism, veganism is the dietary practice where foods derived from animals are avoided. This includes eggs, milk and honey.

A slightly more flexible dietary practice is vegetarianism. With this lifestyle choice, individuals consume dairy products and sometimes eggs since eggs are not considered to be made of animal flesh. The term veganism was invented in 1944 and dates back to ancient India and Eastern Mediterranean societies. Although there has been a history of vegetarianism in the United States, there has only been a recent influx of veganism over the past decade.

Without a doubt, veganism has many health benefits as well as the environment. Due to the phytochemicals and antioxidants found in most vegetables and fruits, a vegan diet is incredibly beneficial. Namely, a vegan diet may help prevent certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

These results are not unusual – many people have claimed that following a vegan diet has reduced the severity of symptoms for most of their health conditions, especially those related to cardiovascular disease.

Second, vegans have a significant impact lower ecological footprint than their carnivorous counterparts. The meat and dairy industries account for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. This is due to the methane gas emitted by livestock and the large amount of land needed to raise them.

Given the ever-increasing population of Earth, this number cannot be expected to decrease anytime soon unless action is taken. India, one of the lowest consumers of red meat, is a country with one of the lightest ecological footprints per person.

In today’s social media driven society, we constantly see celebrities and influencers preaching and promoting the vegan lifestyle. We also see many animal rights activists shaming meat and dairy consumers for their decisions, which is a major reason why there is currently a relatively large backlash against the veganism movement.

Unfortunately, veganism is not accessible to everyone. Fresh produce, non-dairy milk and meat alternatives are not affordable for many people, and rural communities do not have access to these food options in their local grocery stores. Many may argue that with enough budgeting and meal preparation, this lifestyle is achievable, but not everyone has the time to do it (especially large families that require both parents to work long hours). hours).

Another criticism of the veganism movement is the lack of intersectionality that exists in many conversations held by major vegan organizations. In many cultures, meat is important and sustainability is practiced. For instance, Native Americans are respectful in their hunting practices. Hunting and fishing were done only to protect and support their families and animal waste was kept to a minimum as they used most animals including their fur.

Also, the meat was not eaten on a regular basis and was instead eaten on special occasions. Today, many indigenous peoples still practice safe hunting practices to preserve their culture. Consequently, many of the extreme conversations surrounding veganism today are slightly culturally insensitive.

After acknowledging some of the pros and cons of veganism, it is clear that the issue is not dichotomous. The environmental and health benefits of veganism are clear, but forcing people to become vegans overnight is not realistic.

Additionally, many groups of people such as Hindu and Mediterranean communities already consume very minimal amounts of red meat (which is the type of meat with the highest ecological footprint).

Therefore, the best solution is to educate individuals about the benefits and risks of meat while making vegan options more sustainable. This will not only require the effort of the general public, but will also require government intervention. The EU”from farm to forkis a solid example of a sensible and achievable change to make plant-based diets more accessible.

Avantika Raman graduated from the School of Arts and Sciences with a major in biology and a minor in psychology and statistics. His column airs on alternate Thursdays.


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