the benefits of a vegan lifestyle

why chose vegan?

by sarah yobbi

Following the passing of her brother, Brittany Natto used her brother's birthday as a turning point to change her lifestyle to a vegan one following in his footsteps.

Caitlin Trocano became a vegan seven years ago when she realized that being vegetarian is no better than eating meat. 

Sarah Bednar has been vegan for four years after she realized she was only eating the way she was because it was passed down through our culture. 

Kayley Brookes was influenced during her senior year of high school by her AP environment class that showed her the side of animal agriculture that impacts the globe.

These individuals are examples of how accepting a plant-based lifestyle includes not only a healthy lifestyle but contributes to the environment.  They are actively reducing their carbon footprint. Living a plant-based life is beneficial in many aspects, but a lot of them are not well known.    

Every day eating a plant-based diet saves 1100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent and one animal's life according to Cowspiracy. These numbers are the average amount of resources used to produce one day of food for an animal consuming person. To put it into perspective, this source also details that 2500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef. This includes hydrating the animal, water the crop to feed the animal, and the water included for the slaughtering process. Livestock covers 45% of the earth's total land. Forested land is plowed down constantly to make room to raise livestock for slaughter. Cowspiracy also details how every hour worldwide, six million animals are killed for food. 

Brittany Natto has been a vegan since April 12th, 2015. Her brother passed

away shortly before his birthday, and she used that day to change her

lifestyle for good.

 She changed from the traditional carnivore lifestyle to actively

participating in veganism.

“I knew a lot about veganism because of him and like I always wanted to

be healthy.”

 

Natto admits that she did not know about how going vegan benefits the

environment until after she decided to transition. Natto’s brother was

a vegan primarily for health issues he struggled with, so they didn’t

discuss the environmental aspects such as water usage, land usage, and

more. She realized it’s not just for health after watching documentaries,

such as Earthlings onYouTube. 

   

“I couldn’t even get through five minutes of it without bawling my eyes out, but I was like I have to finish this...it’s important.” Natto was disturbed after she watched this documentary from the torturous treatment of animals having their throats slit, being boiled alive, and more. But she knew she didn’t want to be a part of the graphic slaughter of cows, pigs and others in these horrific slaughterhouses that she witnessed while watching this eye-opening documentary. 

   

“I used to convince myself, oh they’re all [cows, pigs, chickens, etc.] like old, to convince me and make me feel better about eating them.”

   

Natto didn’t convince herself of this for very long and refers to her own tactics to distract herself from the reality of the animal agriculture business as “cushioning the blow”. Natto recommends for upcoming vegans, who may have a smaller budget or can’t dedicate all their time to their diets, that you need to know your research before you dive into this diet. Transitioning is very difficult if you’re coming straight from an animal product-based diet. When you first transition, you are going to want to fill the gaps of what you have been eating your entire life. For example, the Impossible burger, Gardein nuggets, Amy’s vegan mac n cheese.

   

“There’s pretty much a vegan version of everything these days, but those can be kind of expensive.” Natto mentions that transitioning vegans should stick to whole foods, such as beans, rice, potatoes, and produce to any versatile meal you can think of. This includes but is not limited to, protein bowls, salads, cultural dishes, and even nachos. These options are filling, cheap and very versatile.

   

Natto was a cold-turkey vegan and didn’t take time to transition certain foods out of her diet. She would not recommend that option to anyone and mentions if she did take the time to transition she would have started with meat, then dairy and eggs. Changing her diet cold turkey was hard on her will power, there are constant cravings when you don’t slowly transition on your lifestyle. 

   

Rayven Jones, a friend of Brittany Natto, is a carnivore and mentioned she can’t fully let go of meat. “I just feel kinda shitty saying this.” Guilt and food consumption should not go hand-in-hand.

 

Caitlin Trocano decided to go vegetarian for lent when she was 13. After realizing how great she felt physically, she wouldn’t feel too full after eating, she had more energy, and even her mind felt better. So, she stuck to it for eight more years. Trocano mentions, “I would eat chicken here and there and I didn’t really understand how to go vegetarian and still get the right nutrients.”

   

Once she noticed that being vegetarian is no better than eating meat because she was still actively participating in the slaughter and mistreatment of animals by supporting the dairy industry, she fully transitioned at 21 years old. Vegetarians don’t consume meat, but they do consume dairy and eggs and other animal byproducts. According to (this is a very graphic video, do not watch if you are of weak stomach) Kinder World, cows are forcefully impregnated time and time again to produce milk, because, like any other mammal, they only produce milk shortly after giving birth. Calves at 94% of dairy farms in the United States, endure torture such as scalding hot iron to prevent the growth of horns permanently. After years of being forcefully impregnated, milked, separated from their babies, once their bodies shut down, they are shipped to slaughter and sold as low-grade beef for fast-food burgers and dog food. This agonizing process cuts the average lifespan of calves from nearly 20 years to around five. 

   

Several stigmas that irritate Trocano about being vegan include the automatic assumption

that you’re annoying. Some people assume that because you’re vegan it’s the only thing you

want to talk about.

   

“In reality, yeah it kinda is because I want people to understand that there’s another way that

you don’t have to eat meat to get protein.” Trocano also detailed that there is a lack of

knowledge to those who question her in her ways, and assume that she is lacking protein

and many other nutrients. If she were a meat-eater, would anyone be asking her these

questions?

   

“I’m vegan for my health so obviously I do the research and learn about what your body

needs,” Trocano states that she only ever talks about veganism because of how deeply she

cares about people taking care of their bodies and also about our planet.

 

“We should treat our bodies the best that we can and I don’t think that eating anima

l ingredients or proteins will get ya there.”

 

Veganism is better for your body compared to the carnivore lifestyle, which is documented

in numerous places such as the documentary What The Health. The American Journal of

Clinical Nutrition detailed in 2009 the benefits of a vegan diet. 

   

“Vegans, compared with omnivores, consume substantially greater quantities of fruit and

vegetables...A higher consumption of fruit and vegetables, which are rich in fiber, folic acid,

antioxidants, and phytochemicals, is associated with lower blood cholesterol concentrations... a lower incidence of stroke, and a lower risk of mortality from stroke and ischemic heart disease”. All around, there are plenty of health benefits to partaking in a vegan diet.

   

Sarah Bednar is not only environmentally savvy through her diet, but also in her mode of transportation. Bednar rides an electric one-wheeled scooter as much as she can. Bednar has been vegan for four years after she took the time to evaluate her diet, and why she had been eating the same way for her entire life.

   

“The food runs in your family.”

   

She came to the conclusion that we only eat the American carnivore diet because it’s what we’ve been taught to eat. Our parents ate it, and theirs before them too. Bednar mentioned that our palettes can change and that can help fuel our evolving diets. Bednar took the time to transition and was a vegetarian at first, and feels that you don’t have to be 100% vegan when you first start out.

   

“We need a lot of sorta vegans.”

   

                                                                                                            Being conscious of what you are consuming is very important, but an accidental                                                                                                                slip up is not the end of the world. We all know milk powder is the devil and is in                                                                                                               way too many good chips for no reason. The transitioning period can be difficult,                                                                                                               but Bednar is familiar with many vegan restaurants in the area.

   

                                                                                                            Kayley Brookes recalls growing up in a very conservative town where, “no one                                                                                                                    was vegan”. Brookes was familiar with a few vegans in her high school and                                                                                                                          admits that she took part in believing the stereotype that, “all vegans were                                                                                                                        obsessive animal lovers and that if you grew up eating meat there wasn’t any                                                                                                                      reason to stop.” However, during her senior year of high school, she took an AP                                                                                                                environment-class that helped show her the effects animal agriculture has on the                                                                                                                environment, such as deforestation, land usage, and more.

   

                                                                                                            “I started researching and watching documentaries and immediately made the                                                                                                                   decision knowing I could never eat animal products again after knowing the                                                                                                                       truth.” Since transitioning, she feels healthier and much more in tune with what                                                                                                                 her body wants and needs.

 

Something that shocked Brookes was that some of the success stories she had heard about people's skin clearing up after cutting out dairy, wasn’t the case for her.

   

“When I first cut out all animal products my skin actually got a lot worse...my skin went back to normal as my body adjusted to my new eating style.”

   
When adjusting your diet, you can drastically mess with the hormones in your body. This led Brookes to become more observant of the ingredients and products she uses and consumes. She pointed out how animal agriculture is not the only place that animal cruelty is, it is also in the beauty industry.

   

“I’ve made a point to switch all my beauty products to brands that do not test on animals.” This is a great example of how veganism is not just a diet, it is a complete lifestyle change. Brookes, however, does not push her lifestyle onto others.

   

“I do advocate a lot for selective veganism and a campaign called ‘meatless Mondays’...these lifestyle changes are more attainable and easier to commit to for most people.” Brookes feels that veganism is an amazing experience that allows people to be so in tune with your body and nature. She believes that since the feeling of being vegan is so great, that is why some vegans advocate so intensely for others to join and experience it. 

   

A popular category that vegan Instagram accounts use is junk food vegan versus healthy vegan. Brookes certainly considers herself a healthy vegan and loves to make her buffalo chickpea sandwiches.

   

“If you just replace animal products with carbs, sugar, and snacks, you aren’t doing your body any favors in this transition.”

 

Veganism is a complete change in your lifestyle, but it’s one that’s worth it. It’s worth it for the sentient beings involved, it’s worth it for your body’s health, and it’s worth it for the overall health of the planet. Cows, pigs, chickens, and others are sentient beings, they feel every ounce of pain and emotional distress that is forced upon them from birth until death. There is no downtime, there is no healing process. The animal agriculture industry breeds these animals at astronomical rates, just for consumption. No real life is being lived by these animals, which is why these women chose not to support the industry any longer. 

Keywords: Vegan, Vegetarian, Veganism, Animal, Health, Environment, Agriculture, Diet, Lifestyle, Eating

Sarah Yobbi is a senior working towards obtaining a Broadcast Reporting major and a minor in Public Relations and Advertising.

This meal is entirely vegan and does not lack in taste or appearance.

Even ordinary beverages can be made to be vegan and offer vegan benefits. 

Many credit veganism with improving their health and social awareness. 

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