Why the World Needs More People to Go Vegan (and How to Get Started)
The potential health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are well documented and widely acknowledged. Whatever your health and wellbeing goals happen to be, there’s a good chance you’ll find them much easier to accomplish as a vegan.
From losing weight to boosting heart health to living with a reduced risk of developing countless deadly diseases, there’s more to going vegan than saving the lives of billions of animals alone. Though of course, this is a very worthy cause in its own right, and the primary motivation for many who decide to give up animal products entirely.
But aside from the extent to which going vegan is good for you, it’s also good for everyone else. Even if they don’t realise it, the world and its population technically owe you a debt of gratitude if you live a vegan lifestyle.
Something that counts double for future generations, given how some believe that the future of the planet in its entirety is dependent on more people giving up (or at least reducing their consumption of) meat.
How Going Plant-Based Benefits Everyone
It’s probably fair to say that if most meat-eaters had first-hand experience of where their products come from, they’d think twice about buying them. The classic ‘out of sight, out of mind’ principle at play, where you simply buy what you want in the supermarket and don’t think twice about its origins.
Unfortunately, it also tends to be the same with the environmental implications of eating meat. If more people could actually see the damage being done to the environment as a result of their shopping and eating habits, they might be motivated to change them.
If not, give up on meat in its entirety and switch to plant-based products.
For those who do, the transition can be surprisingly simple. With such an incredible array of plant-based dairy substitutes and faux meat products to choose from, you barely have to alter a thing about the way you cook or eat.
Just your shopping habits have to change, which is hardly the end of the world.
In any case, the world desperately needs more people to go vegan for a number of reasons. Of which the following are the most prevalent and pressing of all:
1. If we all went vegan, we’d need 75% less farmland
Many western nations are already struggling with a lack of space. Due to fast-growing populations there is not enough room to house and feed everyone. Remarkably, research suggests that if the world as a whole adopted a predominantly plant-based lifestyle, we’d be able to reduce the amount of farmland needed to cultivate our collective products by as much as 75%.
2. Even a small reduction in consumption would make a difference
Realistically, the likelihood of the whole planet instantly giving up meat is low to say the least. But even if people simply cut down on their consumption of animal products in favour of plant-based alternatives, it would still have a massive impact on the world’s approach to mass-agriculture. Plus, if we all stopped eating in excess and only ate as much as we actually need to meet our nutritional requirements, total agricultural and requirements could be reduced by as much as 13%.
3. The production of animal-based products is catastrophically inefficient
The cultivation and production of all the various products needed to produce animal-based products is inefficient in the extreme. In fact, it is estimated that if all animal-based products in America were removed from the market and replaced with plant-based alternatives, up to 350 million more people could be fed without utilising any more land, energy or water - and without producing any further pollution.
4. The per-unit inefficiency of animal-based products warrants emphasizing
For every unit of the most resource-intensive animal-based products produced, it is possible to produce up to 20 equivalent units of plant-based products with a similar or superior nutritional content. Again, with the potential to feed much more of the world’s population without affecting energy consumption or carbon output, while at the same time doing a world of good for public health.
5. It would become exponentially cheaper to eat for everyone
The fact that producing plant-based products doesn’t put such a strain on resources, utilities or the space needed to produce them means that they can be manufactured for a significantly lower per-unit cost than animal-based products. If the world adopted a predominantly plant-based diet, the costs of even the highest-quality plant-based product money can buy would fall significantly, making it cheaper for everybody to consume a healthy diet.
6. Water consumption could be dramatically reduced
Estimates vary from one study to the next, but it is nonetheless estimated that if most people who follow a western diet reduced their consumption of animal products by 50%, total global water consumption would reduce by as much as 6%. This might not sound like a lot, but is actually huge when you consider that we collectively consume around 4 trillion cubic metres of fresh water a year worldwide.
7. It could help bring an end to global poverty
This is a projection based on the fact that switching to mass-production of plant-based products and away from animal-based products would result in far more food items making their way into the supply chain on a global basis. If all current farmland and agricultural land was used exclusively to produce plant-based products, the total global food supply could be increased by almost 50%. Something that could put a serious dent in world poverty.
8. It’s the best possible way to do your bit for the environment
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth“
Last but not least, University of Oxford researcher Joseph Poore recently stated outright that there is nothing better the average person can do to reduce their environmental impact than give up meat. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use . . . It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he advised.
How to Get Started and Make it Stick
Understanding and respecting the above is all well and good, but making major lifestyle alterations is never easy. Particularly if buying and consuming animal-based products is more or less second nature, the prospect of quitting entirely could seem quite impossible.
Precisely where many (if not most) well-meaning individuals go wrong, as there’s nothing to say you need to give up every single animal-based product in its entirety. Even if you simply reduce your consumption of animal-based products, you’re contributing to the cause.
With this in mind, here’s a brief overview of just a few tips and pointers for anyone looking to ease themselves away from an entirely environmentally-unfriendly lifestyle:
1. Stop approaching it as a punishment
Right off the bat, you need to stop viewing the whole thing as a punishment and focus on the positives. You’ve clearly made the decision to reduce your consumption of animal products for a good reason, which should be all the motivation you need to make it work. Unless you’re really into the whole thing, it isn’t going to happen.
2. Plan your meals in advance
This is absolutely essential when negotiating the initial stages of the transition, as making it up as you go along is not an option. It’s far easier (and more convenient) to plan your meals in advance, which can also make it much simpler to shop for the stuff you need and avoid waste.
3. Check out some amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants
Treat yourself to as many fantastic vegan and vegetarian dining experiences as you like, which you can justify as research and inspiration for your own dishes. It’s also essential for reminding yourself that going plant-based can be an absolute pleasure.
4. Never allow yourself to go hungry
Quick but important - never allow yourself to go hungry. If you’re not completely satisfied at all times, you’ll soon find yourself blaming your new lifestyle for not having enough satisfying food in your belly.
5. Experiment with plant-based meat and dairy replacements
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with meat and dairy replacements that are designed to look, feel, taste and smell exactly like the real thing. If they genuinely help you transition to a healthy lifestyle that’s good for the planet as a whole, go for it!
6. Focus on striking a realistic and sustainable balance
Last but not least, don’t even think about attempting a lifestyle change you know isn’t sustainable or realistic. It’s far better to focus on striking a realistic balance, which for many will mean making a conscious effort to reduce their consumption of animal-based products, without eliminating them entirely.