America is turning to a vegan diet. Change is inevitable. Our nation’s history speaks the truth. America has countless such examples. There were times in this country when young children routinely worked legally. Now, it’s out of question. Families, which were conservative now are becoming socially egalitarian. Blacks are seen to marry whites, atheists marry Baptists and more so gay marriages are common these days. Singletons proudly live alone and consider themselves as family of one.
It is all the game of numbers. When a majority follows something, it becomes prevalent.
The report, “Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017” by research company GlobalData. It shows the explosive growth of veganism in America over the last three years. It is growing at such a rapid rate, that around six percent of Americans are found to have turned vegan. It shows a 500 percent rise in veganism since 2014. It won’t take long for Americans to go vegan unequivocally by 2050 if it grows at the same pace. Today I am narrating a story which walks me through the contribution towards global wellness.
Third-year high school students were huddled up in the chemistry laboratory, all in their respective groups. Miss Hatcher read out the instructions for the Xanthoproteic test, loud and clear. The Xanthoproteic test is a well-known test for the quantitative analysis of protein. All of us were excited and paid keen attention to her. As part of the test, each student was provided an egg. We were supposed to separate the albumin from the egg and use it as the sample for the aforesaid protein test. I had never dealt with an egg before. I mean, I did not even know how to break it and extract the so-called albumin. Soon, everyone got busy with the task, but I was still struggling with getting the albumin. In exasperation, I turned to my friend Tia to get a little sample for me. She obliged and gave me all the albumin needed for my test. Within a few minutes I completed the test. We all had a great day at school.
On my way back home, Tia was sitting beside me in the bus. She could not contain herself and after much thought, finally asked me about my troubles with the egg in the lab. I answered, “I have never even held an egg in my hand before.” Tia was awestruck. She further confirmed, “So you mean, that you have never eaten an egg!”. This time, I was taken aback. Was eating an egg that important for me? Why did Tia sound so surprised? Was she exaggerating it or was genuinely concerned? I was clueless. I had nothing to tell her except the fact that I feared eating a living thing.
We all graduated from school and went our separate ways, and after a long time, today was the day when I was meeting Tia. I was super excited to be catching up after a long time. I had been a lacto-vegetarian since my childhood. Unlike me Tia was a voracious, uncompromising meatatarian. As far as I knew, she loved beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish, prawns, crabs, lobsters and almost everything. She even tried snakes and frogs during her several visits abroad to exotic locales.
Since my school days, I had read and researched extensively on a healthy diet. I also find greater acceptance for my individual preferences for food today. Most people are not surprised by my food choices. In fact, I became so passionate about the wellbeing of animals that I excluded dairy from my diet and turned vegan (A diet that excludes any form of animal product like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products etc.), animal biproducts (like honey, animal hides) and foods that are derived using animal products like refined sugar and some wines. Woo! It has been the best transformation ever. I was extremely excited to know about Tia’s recent food choices.
Tia and I had planned to meet at a restaurant…
I had already reserved a table for the two of us at the restaurant and was waiting there with excitement. Before meeting Tia, all my past research and experiences with food came to my mind. Veganism did not come up overnight. It was a result of many factors all together to transform our ostensible American kitchens. We are now interested in vegan diets. Statistics clearly state the decline of meat consumption. Reports present 12.2 percent less meat consumption by Americans in 2012 as compared to that in 20071. Tia will be shocked with these numbers.
The information revolution has even touched our dinner plates. The knowledge and resources about food are more readily available and people are well informed about the food they consume. As a result, plant based diets are spreading even into small towns across the country. Both the print and electronic media are flooded with the brutal facts about the animal food industry.
A Google news search for “vegan 2013” provides 24,200 results, while a “vegan 2003” search provides only 1,650 results.
Netflix alone provides a sea of eye opening documentaries on how animals are raised in the food industry as commodities, with the ruthless aim to mint in huge chunks of money. So far, I have watched a few among them are:
- “Vegucated” showcases the live experiences of three New Yorkers. All of them were found to be voracious meat eaters before having seen the ruthless journey of farm raised animals right from their raising grounds until they reach their palates. After the realization they transform to hardcore vegans.
- “What the health” uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. It shows why America’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it.
- “Food Inc.” unveiled our nation’s food industry with the inhumane and unsustainable industrial production of meat and the inefficient use of land to grow feed crops for factory farmed animals.
- “Cowspiracy” This documentary presents, how the meat-heavy diets impact everything from climate change and species extinction to land and water wastage. The pitiless owners of the animal food industry commercialize every part of the animals that they raise.
- “Fat, sick and nearly dead” shows how a overweighed man struggles with his weight and declining health problems. Later adopts a strict all-vegetable juice fast. This transforms his health exponentially. It is very inspirational.
- “Forks over knives” presents scientifically how beneficial is to resolve almost all health concerns by merely changing your diet as plant based.
I have observed an epic transformation in the lives of people after watching these movies. I highly recommend it to all my readers.
Lately, the concept of meatless Mondays is spreading with a buzz.
Meat consumption is overtly environment unfriendly. Let’s consider a Hamburger, the most commonly consumed food in the US. A single serving of hamburger takes 25 kilograms of animal feed, 25 square meters of land and 220 liters of water2. It is important to mention the impact on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions during its production. People are now desperately looking for environmentally sustainable and ethically produced foods.
The current fast food industry worldwide is phasing out meat products and introducing vegan friendly substitutes to meet the ever growing demands for vegan recipes. Restaurants like Moe’s Southwest Grill offers Tofu, Chipotle offers Sofritas and the latest is Dominos that launched its first vegan pizza in Israel. A vegan chain “Loving Hut” has 43 restaurants in 15 states of America. Even my local supermarket is adding new vegan products to make it more accessible. It looks a lot different today with hundreds of vegan substitutes for a meat product. Many celebrities are advocating veganism adding to the ever-increasing awareness about vegan foods. Replacement of animal protein by plant protein leads to lowering the cost of food in developing countries.
A research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that Plant based protein is a better choice for building muscles as it is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber which in turn protects against disease and leads to faster recovery3. Vegan athletes are doing far better than athletes who consume animal based proteins which can lead to inflammation and disease.
Google predicts that a plant based revolution is soon about to come4.
Armed with all my research and information, I was eagerly waiting to meet Tia to share my views with her. I was confident that at the end of our conversation I would have left a strong impression on her, and with a message that killing animals for food is both unethical and against the environment.
Knock knock… here comes a sweet voice breaking my chain of thoughts.
We met as long-lost sisters. Apart from our childhood memories, lot of our conversation revolved around Tia’s questions about veganism and my answers to them. I present our conversation below:
- Tia: If we all went vegan, won’t we be overrun with animals soon?
Myself: No Tia, with the declining numbers of meat consumption, the farmers would breed lesser number of animals because farm animals are not allowed to breed naturally. Eventually we will be left with just the right numbers. So, we will not be overrun by enormous amount of farm animals. Their population will find their own natural levels.
- Tia: If all of us turn vegan then where will the farmers from dairy, fishery and animal husbandry go? There will be a massive unemployment in America.
Myself: It is not the case, because the food industry market is demand driven. Now with more vegans, the same farmers will turn towards plant based farming. The farming industry which was once animal based will turn environment friendly and more sustainable.
- Tia: We are made to eat meat, aren’t we?
Myself: Absolutely no! Our teeth are designed for an herbivorous diet, wherein we are supposed to chew our food instead of tearing and slicing the meat. Whatever meat humans consume is in its cooked form. Our digestive canal is long enough to hold the food and digest the plant based diet.
- Tia: Our ancestors have been eating meat since ages?
Myself: Truly speaking our recent history is not entirely consistent with this. Humans started consuming meat predominantly, only after the second world war i.e. after the advent of factory farming. The mechanized process of factory farming reduced the cost of rearing animals, which lead to massive meat production and ultimately lead to excessive production. Our teeth are also not designed to eat meat.
- Tia: Vegans tend to be nutrient deficient?
Myself: Again, that is not entirely true! A vegan consumes almost the same amount of all the key nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D, E, magnesium, calcium and iron from the plants compared to animal based diet. I must accept that Zinc is not readily available in plant based diets and Vitamin B-12 is a challenge. Though it is a challenge, vegans like me are well informed about numerous vegan foods fortified with B12. These include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast.
- Tia: Plants are also living things; then why don’t you abhor inflicting pain to plants while you chop the plants and pull them up from the ground?
Myself: No, plants do not feel any pain, the reason being that there are no pain receptors or nervous system inside plants. Even though it is not correct, but for arguments sake, let me consider what you say to be true for a while. So, I accept that plants feel pain when I cut/chop them. Let’s say the pain inflicted to that plant is “x”. Compared to my consumption, the amount of grass consumed by any herbivorous animal would be ten times the amount, i.e. “10x”. Moreover, a person like you would cause even more pain because you will be consuming that animal. Let’s say the pain inflicted to the animal on being killed is “z”. Finally, we conclude that for the “x” amount of pain inflicted by me you would be causing “10x” + “z” amount of pain. Now tell me who inflicted more pain?
Tia: That sounds surprising! I accept it is me.
- Tia: How do I contribute to the ecosystem?
Myself: A meatatarian like you, consumes an average 100 animals a year and over thousands in your lifetime. So, for a vegan who says “NO” to meat he/she saves the life of 100 animals a year5. The life of each animal has its own biological value. Each animal’s life emerges through the interaction of its genotype (or genetic makeup) with its environment, leading to what we recognize as the animal’s individual phenotype (or its traits). The animal’s life has biological value to its own species, value to other species and value to future generations through genetic fitness and reproductive success. This biological value plays an integral part in its contribution to the ecology. So, it is important to save lives of animals on this planet.
- Each year an estimated 41 million tons of plant protein is fed to the U.S. livestock to produce an estimated 7 million tons of animal protein for human consumption. An herbivorous animal, for example a lamb, consumes grass/vegetation approximately ten times compared to that by a human being to grow fully to its edible form. Eventually a meatatarian consumes this animal. The conclusions from this argument are quite unambiguous. A vegan conserves the food energy almost by ten folds. This is a big contribution to the ecosystem.
- 80% of the deforestation is due to cattle raising. The deforestation ultimately leads to soil erosion. This leads to intensive damage of infrastructure and loss of arable land. The world is already reeling with the effects of air and water pollution, which is encountered as aftermaths of soil erosion.
- Animal husbandry industry generates a large amount of methane and nitrous oxide. These two gases are 20 times and 250 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Production of beef, pork and poultry results in emission of harmful gasses. The current estimates amount to 250 times higher by beef, and 40 times higher by pork and poultry as compared to that by legumes.
- The animal production industry results in these emissions which have further resulted in rising temperatures and sea levels.
- In the United States, more than 300 million hectares of land is occupied for producing animal feed.
- People who eat meat feel proud about the fact that excessive consumption of animal based diet will provide them ample protein which is a healthy form of diet. It’s a myth because the recommended daily allowance per adult per day is only 56 grams of protein. An average American consumes 75 grams of protein from just its animal based diet (I have not included the plant based protein here) which is way too much. Statistically, 7 million tons (metric) of animal protein is produced annually by Americans. This leads to overnutrition. Excessive consumption of protein leads to proteinuria and many related kidney disorders.
- Unchecked consumption of animal based diet leads to innumerable health disorders. Some of the common health conditions due to over consumption of meat include high cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The other disorders include cardiovascular disorders, stroke, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, food allergies and obesity.
On the other hand, a vegan diet is beneficial with respect to the above-mentioned diseases. An optimum intake of plant based diet results in mental peace, calmness and feeling of happiness with a spurt of energy.
A vegan diet is the answer to our healthy tomorrow.
- Tia: Do you want to change my mind?
Myself: No, my dear, it is your individual choice. America is going vegan, so can you! It all depends on how you look at this environment, its animals, plants and the human beings. I just wanted to share with you some details about the truth behind the humongous animal food production industry in our country. It is your call now. Whether you order your burrito with steak, carnitas, chicken, barbacoa or Sofritas.