What makes you want to be vegan? I can’t help but introspect. Is it the thought of extinction or the disturbing thought of how animals squirm when they’re slaughtered? Could it be a new resolution to live a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps you’re trying to cut down on the unnecessary spending that comes with your current diet? The prior questions might be regarded as unnecessary to some. Does being vegan require a reason or should it simply be an inclination to morality?
For most of us who have grown up in Kenya where eating meat on a daily basis is habitual, this might be a bit hard to chew. But, think about it; didn’t we have enough meat during the festive season? I’m considering trying it out for a month but like most of you, I’m skeptical. I can picture the stock of meat in my freezer doubtfully staring at me while I write this post.
A day ago, I made a random decision to try veganism. I’ll admit that this decision was highly influenced by social media and the Veganuary campaign. Veganuary is an annual challenge run by a UK nonprofit organisation that promotes and educates about veganism by encouraging people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January
Don’t get me wrong, I highly applaud whoever came up with this life changing campaign. The embarrassing or hypocritical aspect of my decision revealed itself when I woke up today and casually fixed myself a bacon and ham sandwich. In all honesty, I realized that at the moment, this is a campaign I don’t relate with. I’ll have to consciously weigh the pros before making a stand, this is clearly not a wash and go decision.
Veganuary equals compassion
I understand that for most people, being vegan is an act of compassion towards animals as a result of an emotional attachment. But, I personally believe that consuming meat is part of a life-cycle, a natural chain where animals are justified to eat other animals. Would I kill an animal in a bid to consume meat? Definitely not. I’d describe this situation as a paradox, I love animals as much as I love eating them. I think it’s about time that most of us asked ourselves -why are we more comfortable when we pay other people to kill animals for us?
Vegans are less prone than meat eaters to suffer heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegans get all of the nutrients they need to be healthy, such as plant protein, fibre, and minerals, without all of the awful stuff found in meat, such as cholesterol and saturated animal fat, which may slow you down and make you ill. I think most of us might jump into the vegan wagon because of this fact.
I mean, who wants to live an unhealthy lifestyle? By going vegan, premature and all-cause mortality reduces by 20% whereas the overall global economy improves by 3% since less money is used to cure disease. For this to be successful, our governments will have to play a major role by providing dietary guidelines. This is very unlikely, I bet your president or minister of health loves his steak of meat and Tusker as much as mine does.
This is an industry that requires a huge amount of land to sustain itself. The world uses 80% of farmland for animal agriculture yet 18% of calories is produced from this. Picture this, a cow grows by 1kg from every 10kgs of grains fed. According to the economist, cows are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is produced by bugs in their digestive tract, while carbon dioxide is released by deforestation for grazing, both of which warm the globe. Cows would be the third highest producer of greenhouse gasses if they were a country. Food-related greenhouse gas emissions might be cut by 3/4 if everyone turned vegan by 2050.
From the pros stated above, it’s quite clear that we’ll be doing both the world and ourselves a favor by going vegan. At Urban Change Lab, we therefore support the Veganuary mission. Even if not all of us a there yet.