It’s a misconception that the only reason for vegans being, well, vegan is because of animal cruelty. While that is true, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The benefits of being vegan are quite extensive and run deeper than meets the eye.
So if you’ve been thinking about going vegan but you’re not quite ready to make a decision yet, here are all the facts.
This is to help you get all the information you need and keep you in the loop. Grab yourself some snacks, sit back and read on.
9 Hidden benefits of being vegan
Climate Change and Global Warming
Everybody’s trying to lower their carbon footprint. We put up solar lights, drive eco-friendly cars, use more efficient appliances, everything we can really.
But there’s something that a lot of people don’t know, and that’s the carbon emissions coming from our diets.
The animal agriculture industry accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [source].
That’s more than the entire transport industry combined. What’s more, researchers found that the livestock themselves and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions [source].
Giving up animal products is the single most effective way that you can reduce your carbon footprint, combat climate change and global warming.
It is also the fastest and cheapest way to reduce our emissions globally. One of the best benefits of being vegan, in my opinion.
Saving water is another major concern for the environment. Especially here in South Africa where we frequently have water restrictions in an effort to conserve our water storage.
The animal agriculture industry is a large consumer of water.
The biggest consumer, in actual fact. According to the USDA: Economic Research Service, agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of water consumption in the United States [source], and 20-33% globally as stated in Water Resources and Industry [source].
If you gave up meat you would be saving so much water, you could take hour-long showers again. (Maybe not that extreme).
It’s well known that we are losing natural habitats and biodiversity faster than ever before. Right now we are facing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years [source].
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of that, with livestock covering 45% of the earth’s total land [source].
If we stopped eating meat all of that land could be regenerated. Millions of species could return to their natural habitats and endangered species could be rehabilitated.
The rainforests all around the world are on fire all the time and rapidly disappearing. But it’s not because of paper and wood products, as we are led to believe.
This is all for livestock and the crops that feed them. The reason we keep hearing about devastating fires in rainforests, especially the Amazon, is because farmers are burning the lands to clear way for crops and grazing.
If saving the rainforest is a big priority for you, going vegan is the most effective way to show your support and make a real difference.
While plastic pollution is causing a lot of damage to ocean life, you can’t really save the turtles if they’re being caught along with your seafood platter.
It’s been found that for every 1 pound of fish being caught, up to 5 pounds of other marine species are caught unintentionally and discarded [source].
So, there’s really no way we can carry on eating seafood and not see the negative impacts.
But it’s not just fishing causing the damage to the oceans. It’s pollution from all animal agriculture causing dead zones in the ocean too [source].
You would be feeding two birds with one scone if you went vegan. See what I did there?
In the animal agriculture business, there are many unintended animals that get caught in the crossfire. Predators are killed to protect livestock.
So much so that the Wedge wolf pack was killed in Washington state to increase the beef supply [source].
Wild animals are also being kept in captivity to make room for animal agriculture [source]. It’s not just the livestock who are treated inhumanely, it’s all the animals that happen to be near livestock farms.
Veganism ends all cruelty surrounding animal agriculture.
World hunger isn’t caused by barren lands and governments failing to grow and provide food for their country.
And this is in countries where children are starving, but they don’t eat the livestock because it goes to western countries [source]. Going vegan could give poor countries their food back and prevent starvation.
There’s no such thing as a healthy vegan, right? Not necessarily. You don’t need meat to be healthy. Meat is not the only protein source out there. It’s actually a secondary source, where plant protein is the primary source.
Think about it, none of the animals people eat got their protein from other animals. They’re raised on plants. So, why can’t we do the same?
We can, completely.
Eating a plant-based diet has so many health benefits. You get more energy and you’ll be less likely to develop diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer [source].
One thing that a lot of vegans are struggling with, though, is digestive health. A lot of people struggle with digestive issues once they go vegan because their bodies aren’t used to so much fibre.
One way to fix that is to increase your gut bacteria to improve your digestion. You can do this by eating prebiotic foods or taking a probiotic.
You can also eat less fibre by sticking with processed foods and slowly easing into unprocessed foods to give your gut time to adjust.
Your Bank Account
Veganism has a reputation for being quite expensive. But it really doesn’t have to be. There are many things that you can make yourself that would cost you twice as much at the grocery store.
And you also wouldn’t have to be buying meat and eggs anymore, which are much more expensive than vegan alternatives.
There are things that you can buy in bulk to save too, like rice, beans, pasta and potatoes. (I’m a little obsessed with potatoes.)
They can be kept in storage for a long time and they are the staples of a vegan diet. You can get plenty of wholesome meals out of them.
Your Waste Efforts
One of the benefits of being vegan is that it has a big impact on your zero-waste efforts. It saves 116,000 lbs of waste per second from livestock in the US alone [source].
So, if you have been thinking of going on a zero-waste journey, being vegan is a great place to start.
A vegan diet compared to a diet containing meat
A person following a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover [source].
What do you do when being vegan isn’t accessible to you?
There are many reasons why being vegan isn’t completely an option for some people. Whatever those reasons are, you can still make an impact.
Beef and lamb are the biggest contributors to pollution, carbon emissions, water consumption and land usage. Giving up those meats will make a big difference.
The next best thing to vegan is vegetarian. Even if you can’t go vegan completely, being vegetarian already decreases the demand for meat. Or you can do both, vegan/vegetarian.
It’s when you aim to make most of your meals vegan but switch to vegetarian when there are no vegan options. That’s what I do. Because life happens and sometimes it gets really difficult.
Can eating meat ever be sustainable?
The short answer is no, not as things are now. Even if you raise meat in your own backyard you’d still need land for growing feed and grazing livestock.
It doesn’t take up any less space and you would need the same amount of water. Your livestock would still be producing waste and emitting carbon and methane into the atmosphere.
The only way for meat to be sustainable is if the population dwindled back down to less than a billion. That way it would be easier to feed the population and the demand for meat would be way less than it is now.
What about honey?
Honey is somewhat of a different story. It is classified as an animal product so many vegans don’t eat it. However, supporting local beekeepers by buying their honey has many benefits.
Bees are pollinators that many farmers depend on for pollinating their crops and ultimately growing the food that we all eat.
Buying sustainably sourced honey from a local beekeeper provides an income for them, benefitting society and the local economy.
Although it isn’t deemed vegan, I think it’s important to include as it has a positive impact when it’s done responsibly and sustainably.
And there you have it, all the benefits of being vegan. If you have been wanting to go vegan but don’t really know how, check out my Nutriciously review for some great tips on successfully being vegan.
And if you would like more information about veganism and the environment you can go to the Cowspiracy website. There they share even more research about the extensive negative impacts animal agriculture has.
Cheers for now,
Pin for later: