May 31, 2019
By Skye Rytenskild
‘How can you tell if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.’
And maybe there’s a good reason for that.
According to a paper from the University of Oxford, if everyone in the world went vegan, it could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, lead to massive savings in healthcare and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.
Veganuary signups nearly doubled in 2019, with a whopping 250,000 people signing up. Concern for animal welfare was given as the number one reason, followed by health and environment.
A growing number of celebrities have publicly declared their veganism, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ellie Goulding, Meghan Markle, Serena Williams, Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman and Madonna.
Once a much-maligned movement associated with bearded, lentil-munching, hemp-wearing hippies, veganism has undeniably gone mainstream.
Why go vegan?
One of the main reasons to go vegan is for the animals. I stopped eating meat because I started to feel uncomfortable about the commodity status of animals: products to be bought, sold and killed for human consumption. I am of the view that if you can’t or wouldn’t kill the animal yourself, then you shouldn’t eat it. Animals are sentient beings, aware of sensations and emotions, able to feel pain and suffering. George Monbiot argues that future generations looking back on our age will see the mass incarceration of animals as a monstrosity, the way we think of slavery, the subjugation of women and the murder of heretics.
Health is another compelling driver of veganism – according to Dr. Neal Barnard, a renowned clinical researcher, a plant-based diet can prevent, cure and even reverse disease. In fact, some doctors claim a vegan diet could prevent 8 out of 10 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
Another reason to go vegan is for the sake of the planet. Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. It is a leading cause of deforestation, water pollution and biodiversity loss. A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater for their food (Source).
And what about people? Abattoir workers are the meat industry’s lesser-known victims, subjected to working in poor, dangerous conditions and underpaid for their work. They face a variety of negative emotional and psychological consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Slaughterhouse work is unique among major industries due to its innate violence; studies have shown that people who work in slaughterhouses and animal farms have a higher rate of crime and violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide and abuse.
The cost of a vegan diet
Another age-old criticism that meat-eaters love to shout about is the cost of veganism. Many people, especially non-vegans, tend to think that a vegan diet is very expensive. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, a vegan diet is the most inexpensive diet in the world.
Sure, vegan specialty foods like veggie burgers are sometimes more expensive than their nonvegan counterparts. I’m no stranger to a Tofurkey Maple Bacon Tempeh sandwich. But they aren’t the only options. It’s actually really easy to continue to eat all of your favourite meals at the same price, if not cheaper, on a vegan diet.
There is absolutely no reason that going vegan should cost more than your omnivorous diet – most store cupboard essentials like pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, tinned tomatoes, lentils and veggies are cheap – and you’re likely to be buying those anyway. For tips on living cheaply on a vegan diet, check out The Stingy Vegan, Cheap Lazy Vegan and Plant Based on a Budget.
Bristol: the vegan capital of the world
Bristol is the new European and worldwide vegan capital, a new study claims. It was found to have the most Google searches relating to veganism, as well as lots of vegan restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and an active vegan community. As home to the Viva! animal rights action group, Bristol has a reputation for being a liberal city, with 3 out of its 4 MPs claiming to be vegetarian or vegan (Source).
Cafe Kino has long been a vegan trailblazer in Bristol. But new vegan eateries are popping up all the time. Miller Green has assembled a list of the 26 best places to eat vegan in Bristol, including The Bristolian, The Exchange Bakery, Falafel King, Kale and Kettle, and Flow. There’s even a Bristol Vegans Facebook group.
Thinking of trying vegan? Maybe Bristol is the place to be…
So why not give veganism a go? There are tons of different ways to start: try meat-free Monday, cut out products from a certain animal each week, or go cold-turkey (minus the turkey). Visit The Vegan Society to find out more.
Written by Jenna Thompson for Grace & Green.