Changing Perspectives: Veganism and the Importance of Nutrition
Alright y'all, I'm about to make a case for veganism. Before I begin: no, I'm not a vegan. Actually, I'm just a huge hypocrite. I know a lot of information about veganism and other restrictive diets; however, if you read my College Magazine article on my allergies, you'll soon realize I don't have much food to choose from in the first place, so I can't really narrow that down any further with a selective diet.
That being said, I spend 40% of my time reading vegan literature and watching vegan Youtubers. That includes the Gourmet Vegan recipe book my Uncle Arty left me, different vegan cooking videos, ethical vegan debates, etc. I'll never understand why it's so intriguing to me, honestly.
Unnecessary Restrictive Diets and Nutrition
With all of the restrictive (or selective) diets that have been roaming around (Paleo, Whole30, 30 Bananas a Day, Raw till 4, Fully Raw Diet) it's important to separate pseudoscience from concrete evidence. And while I get that in theory it sounds super healthy and pure to just eat raw fruits and vegetables, or unprocessed foods (yet no beans for some reason?) the truth is that there are no diets that "clean out all those bad toxins." There are just healthy diets and unhealthy diets.
My main point is to take caution when jumping into new, fad diets and to research how to get your daily recommended amounts of everything. Calorie-restrictive diets are certain to help you lose weight, but not keep it off. If anything, you might end up eating even more afterwards (binging) to makeup for the important nutrients you missed during however many days you dieted. FullyRaw is an excellent example because it seems honest and innocent on the surface, but it's very easy to end up starving yourself of crucial nutrients.
I can't stress enough, though, this can be said for any diet. Even a meat-eating diet, even veganism. So I'm just urging you to really find out what you should be eating to maintain your health instead of just mindlessly eating what seems good. (Basically don't be me!)
And Now to Veganism...
The biggest issue with veganism that I've seen from an outsider's perspective is how cult-like it seems. And yes, I agree, some vegans really suck. They act inclusive and create drama just for the sake of bringing attention to veganism. Don't believe me? Here's some vegan drama on Youtube.
Disclaimer: There's some language used here!
Sometimes the drama doesn't even discuss the topic of veganism, it's just petty arguments on who can act more "purely vegan" than the other. So yeah, I get it, that whole group of people can seem pretty scary based on the actions of a few. But that applies to every group. Literally every one. I bet you can't think of a group that it doesn't apply to.
Anyways, it's worth noting that they aren't all like that. My favorite vegan youtuber, Unnatural Vegan, stresses the importance of smart vegan advocacy and how drama does nothing but ruin the overall public image of veganism. She also talks about the importance of calling out dumb, psuedoscience-y diets that sound nice in theory, but have no scientific evidence to back them up.
So here's my case for veganism.
Despite the drama, the name-calling, and the almost cult-like behavior of a select few of its participants, the lifestyle is actually very healthy and reduces animal suffering.
Here are some good documentaries on the food and dairy industry available on Netflix:
- Forks over Knives
- Fast Food Nation
Plain and simple, the meat and dairy industries are —for the most part— disgusting. It perpetuates animal abuse, environmental damage, and ethical violations, and it isn't wholly necessary. There are other sources of protein in the world, and there's certainly enough for you to make small changes to your diet. My suitemate Alyssa said she decided to go vegan because, "I realized I didn't need to cause so much animal suffering when I eat. I don't think my perspective is better than anyone else's, but if I can survive without eating meat, I'm gonna do that. It's also a lot more sustainable for the environment." Ironically I turned my roommate, Maggie, vegan for a little while after I told her how much pus ends up in dairy milk. (Spoiler alert: It's a lot.) Maggie said, "My animal perspective was covered when I was a vegetarian, but me becoming vegan had more to do with my health and animal products being kind of gross."
There's tons of reasons for becoming vegan, but the 3 biggest reasons I've seen are:
- Moral Veganism: Concerned with the abuse of sentient animals.
- Health-Conscious Veganism: More involved with the health benefits of plant based foods and diseases linked with eating processed animal products.
- Environmental Veganism: Focused on the environmental impact that dairy and meat industries have.
And no, I'm not trying to convert you guys. Like I said, I'm not a vegan. However, watching all of these videos and reading these posts and having vegan friends has made me very conscious of the effect my choices have. At times I choose a vegetarian option at restaurants, or for lunch I skip on the meat and go for beans or soy products instead. My actions probably don't make a difference alone, but collectively our actions make a huge impact. So I'm encouraging you guys to maaaaaybe pick a day to go meatless. Or dairy-less. Or both.
To conclude: Veganism doesn't just have to be a diet choice either. It could span into your lifestyle— just avoiding cruelty free makeup products, or don't wear real leathers or furs. It's something that you can contribute to in a myriad of ways.
So these are some videos of vegan recipes you could try for a whole day (some are fully raw, others are cooked) and you can see it really isn't that hard (or expensive!) to change one day's diet, but that decision makes a huge impact. I'm also linking their channels so you can see their other recipe videos (which I'm completely obsessed with). Hope I piqued your interest on veganism! It's certainly piqued mine.