We are what we eat.
That's a saying many of us have heard since we were younger. But it's only recently that I have personally decided to actually apply and internalize this into my own life and mentality towards food.
I was fortunate to have grown up having a deep appreciation for home-cooked meals and every vegetable or fruit that you can possibly think of. I love eating whole, plant-based foods a lot more than I enjoy eating out or processed-foods. But many of us have a dislike for our veggies and fruits, thus resorting to quick and easy solutions to satisfy our cravings. Well, this is seriously taking a toll on a large proportion of our population, especially here in the United States.
I recently watched two outstanding documentaries, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives, that address both the environmental and health problems attributed to the consumption of meat, dairy, and egg products. When asked, "What contributes most to global warming?", the average person might answer, "Air pollution, fossil fuels. Duh." However, it's been proven that the meat and dairy industries produce more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane than ALL modes of transportation on Earth (cars, trains, buses, planes) combined. According to the films, by putting an end to animal agriculture, we can significantly reduce pollution, animal cruelty, and even hunger around the world. It's an unfortunate reality that many of us are either: not knowledgable about this subject at all or choose to ignore it (mainly because it's difficult to give up animal-foods).
Let's put it into context:
-To make one hamburger, it takes about 660 gallons of water.
-To make one pound of beef, it takes about 1800 gallons of water.
-On a plant-based diet, it takes half the carbon dioxide emission, 1/11 the fossil fuel, 1/13 the water, and 1/18 the land of what it takes to feed a person on an omnivorous diet.
The current western diet has proven to be a destructive force for the healths of people not only in America, but also around the world. The increase in fast- and processed-foods is correlated with the surge in cancer and heart disease rates. The leading causes of death every year in the United States are heart disease and cancer; one million people die annually due to complications related to those illnesses. The intake of meat, dairy, and eggs has caused cholesterol levels for many to skyrocket, causing plaque to build up in blood vessels leading to heart disease. About 40% of Americans are considered to be clinically obese and one in three people will develop diet-induced diabetes in their lifetime. Scientific studies have over and over proven that the ingestion of animal-products can activate cancer cells. But as much as they can be turned on, cancer cells can also be controlled and eventually turned off, simply with a change in diet.
Food can replace medication if we use it right. At this time in the world's history, the right thing to do is to consume the least amount of animal-foods as possible while consuming as much plant-based foods as possible. The future of the planet is depending on our everyday choices. Our choice to consume a hamburger, pizza, ice cream cone, can be altered to eating vegan alternatives. By choosing veganism, we would do both our bodies and the Earth a huge favor.
And just to let you know, I am currently not a full-on vegan, whatsoever. However, I fully support the vegan lifestyle and aspire to be fully vegan in the next year. For the past few months, I have slowly cut out more and more animal products, and have never felt better. I've never felt more inspired and compelled by other vegans and activists that educate people about how their choices can impact the world. The selfishness of humans has truly opened my eyes to the reality that if we don't change now, it might just be too late. My goal for by the end of the year is to be living as vegan of a lifestyle as possible. If I can do it, you can too.
Eat to live, don't live to eat.
I hope that soon enough, people will never feel ashamed or uncomfortable to say "I'm vegan" in front of other non-vegan friends or family members. The stigma is still present, which is something we gradually need to change.
But the only way to help isn't by being fully vegan; being vegan just three times a week is a huge step in not supporting the animal agriculture industry. Being vegetarian is also a great option.
If you could never be a vegan at all, that's fine too.
But consider all of its benefits and the fact that you're contributing directly to the very cause of this Earth's destruction.
The next time you're ordering a beef steak or buying a milk carton, think twice.
For vegan inspiration and creative cooking ideas (and aesthetic shots of pretty foods), check out my favorite vegan YouTubers:
-Mango Island Mamma (Ellen Fisher)
-Claire Michelle (Plantifulsoul)