Why I Choose a Plant-Based Diet

Why I Choose a Plant-Based Diet I was a pretty shameful vegetarian in 2020. Actually, I wasn't vegetarian at all. It seems like, when I'm happy and life is running fairly seamlessly, my vegetarianism is solid. As is my environmentalism and overall zest for life. But when I'm struggling with anxiety or depression, which I experienced for the first time in my life over this past year, I honestly give so many less shits about everything. Depression is no joke - you completely lose a sense of who you are, and your morals and goals seem to go out the window. I remember learning something about the link between depression/survival and giving-a-shit in Socioeconomics, too. When people are just struggling to stay afloat, we're not really thinking about what we're eating or the environmental impact, but instead, just trying to survive. For me, it was eating whatever I could stomach just to get through the day. Sometimes it was grabbing a handful of cheese and crackers or a pepperoni stick. I'm grateful to have come out the other side of it now. With a new and improved, stronger and wiser version of myself coming out the other end of it (funny/not-so-funny how that happens…). My core values have surfaced, and I feel like now that I love myself again, I have love to give to others, animals and the planet. My goal for this year is to be roughly 90% plant-based! With the exception of eggs from my own happy chickens and the odd cheat moment.

But why go, plant-based? These are my motivating factors...

Compassion for Animals

There is nothing humane about the process of killing an animal - factory farms being the worst offenders. I believe something doesn't have to die for us to live. After you've watched some video footage on slaughterhouses and the dairy and egg industry, you'll understand. The whole system is absolutely twisted, and I just hate the idea that I'm funding the abuse of innocent animals. Facts about factory farming:
  • Four or more egg-laying hens are packed into a battery cage, a wire enclosure so small that none can spread her wings. Being held in such close confines, the hens' peck at each other's feathers and bodies.
  • Pregnant sows spend each of their pregnancies confined to a gestation crate—a metal enclosure that is scarcely wider and longer than the sow herself. Unable to even turn around, sows develop abnormal behaviours and suffer leg problems and skin lesions.
  • In factory dairies, cows spend their entire lives confined to concrete. Some cows are injected with the growth hormone rBGH to boost production, leading to lameness and mastitis, an udder's painful infection.
  • To facilitate confinement of these animals in such stressful, crowded, unsanitary conditions, painful mutilations like cutting off the horns of cattle, cutting off the beaks of chickens, and docking the tails of sheep, pigs, and dairy cattle are routinely performed.
Netflix movie to follow up with: Forks Over Knives

Eating Plant-Based is better for your health!

There is simply NO denying it - the evidence is there - a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for your health than high meat, specifically a red meat diet. Vegetarian diets have been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity. (Source) Netflix movie to follow up with: Game Changers

Plant-Based diets are better for the environment.

The environmental impact of meat consumption is staggering, contributing to climate change, pollution, deforestation, depleting freshwater reserves and contaminating and over-fishing our oceans. Some stats:
  • In the United States alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow feed for animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for humans to eat.
  • More than 90% of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for grazing livestock.
  • The livestock industry contributes to global climate change, contributing between 12% and 18% to the total GHG emissions. (source)
  • 1 kg of protein from beef needed 18 times more land, 10 times more water, 9 times more fuel, 12 times more fertilizer, and 10 times more pesticides than the same amount of proteins obtained from kidney beans.
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets have a much smaller environmental footprint: a diet that incorporates beef meet regularly showed the highest carbon footprint (3160 kg CO2eq). Vegetarian and vegan diets had the lowest carbon footprint (55 and 1015 kg CO2eq, respectively) (source).
Netflix movie to follow up with: Cowspiracy

Eating meat can cause viral infections and global pandemics.

Consumption of meat – especially wild meats – is believed to be related to virus infections, as many viruses have been found in wild meat trade markets (source). We are living it, folks - there is an urgent need to change our dietary habits to avoid zoonosis, which could cause another global pandemic again sooner than late.

Personal conclusion

I get it - when you're used to thinking and cooking a certain way, change is not easy; we are creatures of habit. There's no judgment coming from over here because I am certainly NOT perfect. I cheat, but I try, and I continue to educate myself on meat consumption's health and environmental impact. I also continue to educate myself in the kitchen by trying new vegan recipes weekly (last week, I made these amazing vegan spanakopitas) while passing on my knowledge to my children to form new habits for the next generation. If your mental health isn't the best, it may not be on the top of your priority list right now. But when you're ready, all I'm suggesting is try your best and don't turn a blind eye to the facts - even going two-thirds vegan can cut carbon emissions by 60%! (source)