The stereotypical vegan is an underweight person who loudly tells the world of their veganism, how ethical they are, and how everyone who isn’t vegan is cruel and savage. But, like most stereotypes, this generalization is untrue.
More and more people around the world are becoming vegan. “The Guardian” reports that, in the United Kingdom alone, the total number of vegans has “risen by 350% in the past decade.” I myself have also witnessed this trend, as over the past few years many of my friends have cut meat from their diet, and some have even cut out animal products altogether.
Two years ago, I was bewildered by the first vegan I ever met. My immediate reaction to his diet was, “Why would you cut foods as delicious as steak or eggs or milk out of your life?” I, along with some other friends, bombarded him with questions and tried to convince him to start eating meat again. I would ask him a question, and he would give a detailed, well-supported answer in support of veganism. By the end of the conversation, to my surprise, he swayed me closer to veganism, and I now agree that people should try to reduce their consumption of meat.
Many vegans choose to stop consuming animal products for moral reasons: they do not want to harm animals. Though I do not believe that eating steak or drinking milk makes someone primitive, I do think that meat should be consumed less often because of its negative environmental and economic effects.
Livestock is not environmentally friendly. According to the Worldwatch Institute, livestock and their byproducts account for over 50 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. By cutting meat from our diets, we can lower the amount of greenhouse gases produced in the world. Additionally, a reduction in the consumption of meat would decrease the demand for meat, and in turn, decrease the supply of livestock altogether.
Another benefit to reducing meat consumption is a drop in grocery bills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of beef per pound, has increased by about 50 percent over the past decade. Since beef, along with many other meats, is more expensive to purchase per calorie than grains and beans, according to the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” one can save money by approaching meat consumption with a different mentality: it’s a treat rather than a commodity and should only be consumed a few times a week.
Since meat is an important source of protein, people often ask, “Where do vegans get their protein?” It can be somewhat complicated for vegans, but foods like beans and nuts are enough for a healthy intake of protein, even for athletes. In fact, many athletes have gone vegan, such as Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and eleven members of the Tennessee Titans. In a post-game interview with ESPN, Irving said that the diet has gotten “his energy up,” and his “body feels amazing.” Elite athletes can survive on vegan diets, and some have even felt more energetic than before, showing that protein intake is not really a problem for vegans, as long as they eat well.
I confess: I am not a vegetarian, nor am I a vegan. But after my non-meat-eating friends have informed me of why eating meat is injurious, I am cutting some out each day. Even if the effect of my actions is relatively miniscule, I am doing my part to help save money as well as the environment. Veganism is a sustainable lifestyle, but not everyone has to choose it. Cutting out a little bit of meat each meal can help not only the world, but also your pocket.