I am often asked the “why are you vegan” question. Last night at my fast track entrepreneur class, a young lady who is very fond of meat asked what the benefits to being vegan are. She posed the question, Why should I give up meat? We have a nice banter, so we traded a few verbal jabs about it. I was particularly irritated with answering the vegan questions for the jillionth time, so decided to come up with the best reasons I can think of to put the down the fried chicken.
1. You live on earth. Meat production is the largest contributor to the rise in green house gases; more than cars, trucks, planes, trains, etc.
2. You care about food shortages in the world. Animal protein production is the number one usage of water in this country. It takes more water to quench animals than humans that the animals feed. With the amount of grain and plant based foods it takes to fatten up that baby cow for that nice cut of veal, or enlarge the liver of a goose to make foie gras, we could feed 800 million people, according to Cornell professor and scientist David Pimentel.
3. You care about community. The benefit to your community can be vast. There are vegan communities around the world that are known for their peaceful behavior and ability to live with the land. The Jain religion in India, the Rastafarian culture in Jamaica and Ethiopia, the black Israelites in Israel, and more. Here in America it was the hippy commune of the 70s.
4. You’re black. According to recent research conducted at Loma Linda University and published in the October issue of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, a vegetarian diet is helpful in reducing the onset of adult type two diabetes in African Americans. This a completely dietary related disease.
5. You’re Latin American. One out of every 2 black and Latino children are obese. Childhood obesity leads to type two diabetes, gout, and other long term illness that shave years off our children’s lives. Studies show that with an active schedule and healthy balanced meals, including a meatless Monday, kids are less likely to start the bad dietary habits.
6. You have cancer. There have been multiple documented cases of cancer being sent into remission and ultimately beaten with a raw food diet. Don’t believe me? Ask my Crazy Sexy home girl Kris Carr.
7. You want to clear your conscience. You have seen the movies; you know what happens in these slaughter houses and why they don’t have windows. For some of us, it’s just too much to live with.
8. Your body is telling you something. An estimated 30 million to 50 million American adults are lactose intolerant, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. That’s a pretty heavy number. I’ve also heard countless people saying “meat makes my stomach hurt” or “I feel lethargic and tired after I eat.” Some people’s bodies may naturally perform better with veganism, but they just don’t know how to get started.
9. You like flavor in your food! Being vegan shows what you have been missing! You get to explore all the spices, herbs, grains, fresh fruits and vegetables that you’ve been dying to try! Yay! Anybody?? The point is, it’s not about what you can’t have, but exploring a new world of possibility. It’s like Avatar—but vegans are not blue.
10. You are vain. There is a reason why celebs cleanse and go vegan. A balanced vegan diet can deliver amazing results for your skin. A vegan diet gives you more energy and increases flexibility, so it is easily coupled with an exercise regiment and is proven to keep the pounds off. And who doesn’t want to look good?
Ultimately to be vegan you have to come to it on your own, and it has to mean something to you, or you won’t anchor yourself to it. For me, being vegan is the only thing I have consistently done in my life. Why? There are plenty of times when nobody is looking and I can “cheat,” but I don’t, because I believe there is a different path and my dedication is strengthened every day. Being vegan has become a part of the fabric of who I am, and to an extent it’s still a bit unknown. At times I feel like an explorer like Buck Roger or Captain Kirk! So yes there are plenty reasons why, but the real question is are you ready for it?