by Ruby Lawrence
While vegetarianism is becoming more widely understood globally, there are still many myths surrounding veganism. Being vegan is more than a diet; it is a lifestyle, with amazing benefits.
What exactly is being vegan?
Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans endeavor not to use or consume animal products of any kind.
Being vegan is not an easy task at first, as the vast majority of products (from food to face wash) have exploited animals in their making. But once you learn how to replace what you currently use with animal friendly goods, being vegan comes naturally!
The first and foremost reason for going vegan is that it eliminates suffering and saves the lives of thousands of animals. It is a compassionate lifestyle that does not rely on death and torture. Who wouldn’t want to live this way? In just the United States over 9 billion animals are killed for food every day. The scale of worldwide slaughter which takes place is huge and horrific. You can make the choice not to support it – by going vegan.
It can save the planet. Many people see power stations and cars as the biggest threat to the environment, and the main contributors to global warming, but this is not actually the case. The following information is part of a report released by EarthSave International, which aims for healthy people and a healthy planet.
"Data published by Dr. James Hansen and others show that CO2 emissions are not the main cause of observed atmospheric warming. By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. The conclusion is simple: arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products." 
Developing countries also do not benefit from using their precious land to grow food to feed animals which provide us with meat. Maneka Gandhi, Indian ex-minister, puts this well; "In India, millions go hungry yet 37% of arable land is used to grow animal fodder for export." Or in the activist George Monibot's words; "We stuff ourselves, and the poor get stuffed. Going vegan is the only ethical response."
And if you eat meat and dairy you also are eating away the world rainforests. In the last three years a shocking 70,000 sq km of Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and the land used to graze cattle or grow soya for animal feed. So by simply going vegan we can fight global warming in a huge way, as well as ending the cruelty inflicted on millions of animals. But what can being vegan offer you as a person? Surely, without meat and dairy, a vegan diet is terribly unhealthy?
Actually, a vegan diet is a very healthy way of eating. British researchers have found that a vegan diet can reduce risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This is because vegans eat very little saturated fat. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a series of papers describing the benefits of basing a diet on plant foods. Some of the benefits included:
- High fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, several common cancers, and other chronic diseases (such as macular degeneration and cataracts).
- Legumes (e.g., beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts) are excellent sources of protein, fibre, and a variety of micronutrients that may protect against disease.
- Regular consumption of nuts is linked with a lower risk for heart disease and lower mortality rates.
- Whole-grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stomach and colon cancers.
As you can see the health benefits of being vegan are very rewarding. And there are still lots of delicious treats on offer for vegans to eat. VeganVillage has hundreds of wonderful vegan recipes, from Caribbean bean stew to deep chocolate pie and baked bananas with cinnamon! Visit their website at www.veganvillage.co.uk for more recipes and information on every aspect of being vegan.
Being vegan saves animals, the planet and will make you feel healthier. Not to mention you can have a clear conscience and feel proud that you are really making a difference to save the lives of the beautiful creatures we share this planet with.