There was a time when vegetarian and vegan diets were just part of a small subculture in the Western world. It was believed that this was the area of interest of hippies and activists, and not the general population.
Vegetarians and vegans were perceived by those around them either with acceptance and tolerance, or with hostility. But now everything is changing. More and more consumers are beginning to realize the positive impact of a plant-based diet not only on health, but also on many other aspects of life.
Plant-based nutrition has become mainstream. Famous public figures and large corporations are calling for the transition to veganism. Even the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z have embraced the vegan lifestyle and invested in a vegan food company. And the world’s largest food company, Nestlé, predicts that plant-based foods will continue to gain popularity among consumers.
For some, it’s a lifestyle. It happens that even entire companies follow a philosophy according to which they refuse to pay for anything that contributes to murder.
Understanding that the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose is not necessary for our health and well-being can also be the basis for developing a profitable plant economy.
Benefit for health
Decades of research have shown that a plant-based diet is arguably one of the healthiest in the world. The foods in a typical plant-based diet help reduce inflammation in the body, improve blood vessel function, and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Nutritionists agree that animal protein alternatives—nuts, seeds, legumes, and tofu—are valuable and affordable sources of protein and other nutrients.
A plant-based diet is safe for all stages of a person’s life, including pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. Research consistently confirms that a balanced, plant-based diet can provide a person with all the nutrients needed for good health.
The vast majority of vegans and vegetarians, according to studies, get the recommended daily allowance of protein. As for iron, a plant-based diet can contain as much or more than a meat-containing diet.
Not only are animal products not needed for optimal health, but a growing number of nutritionists and healthcare professionals are admitting that animal products are even harmful.
Research on plant-based diets has repeatedly shown that body mass index and obesity rates are lowest in people who eat plant-based foods. A healthy, plant-based diet also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, and diabetes, which are among the leading causes of death in many Western countries.
For the vast majority of people living in today’s world, eating meat is no longer an essential part of survival. Modern humanity no longer needs to protect itself from animals in order to survive. Therefore, nowadays, eating living beings has become a choice, not a necessity.
Animals are just as intelligent beings as we are, with their own needs, desires and interests. Science knows that, like us, they can experience a wide range of sensations and emotions, such as joy, pain, pleasure, fear, hunger, sadness, boredom, frustration, or contentment. They are aware of the world around them. Their lives are valuable and they are not just resources or tools for human use.
Any use of animals for food, clothing, entertainment or experimentation is the use of animals against their will, causing suffering and, in most cases, murder.
The health and ethical benefits are undeniable, but switching to a plant-based diet is also good for the environment.
New research shows that switching to a plant-based diet can reduce your personal environmental impact more than switching to a hybrid car. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 30% of the world’s land that is not covered with ice is used directly or indirectly for the production of feed for livestock.
In the Amazon basin, almost 70% of forest land has been converted into space used as pasture for cattle. Overgrazing has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem productivity, especially in dry regions.
The two-volume report entitled “Livestock in a Changing Landscape” made the following key findings:
1. More than 1,7 billion animals are used in animal husbandry worldwide and occupy more than a quarter of the earth’s surface.
2. The production of animal feed occupies about a third of all arable land on the planet.
3. The livestock industry, which includes the production and transport of feed, is responsible for about 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
According to a recent study on the environmental impact of plant-based meat substitutes, every production of plant-based meat alternatives results in significantly lower emissions than the production of real meat.
Animal husbandry also leads to unsustainable use of water. The livestock industry requires high water consumption, often depleting local supplies amid growing climate change concerns and ever-dwindling fresh water resources.
Why produce food for food?
Reducing the production of meat and other animal products not only supports the fight to save our planet and contributes to a more sustainable and ethical way of life.
By ditching animal products, you not only significantly reduce your environmental impact, but you also play your part in improving the lives of people around the world.
Animal husbandry has far-reaching consequences for people, especially for the helpless and poor. According to the World Health Organization, every year more than 20 million people die as a result of malnutrition, and approximately 1 billion people live in constant hunger.
Much of the food currently fed to animals can be used to feed the hungry around the world. But instead of supplying grain to people in dire need and to those affected by the global food crisis, these crops are being fed to livestock.
It takes an average of four pounds of grain and other vegetable protein to produce only half a pound of beef!
A plant-based agricultural system brings not only environmental and humanitarian benefits, but also economic ones. The additional food that would be produced if the US population switched to a vegan diet could feed 350 million more people.
This food surplus would compensate for all the losses from the reduction in livestock production. Economic studies show that livestock production in most Western countries generates less than 2% of GDP. Some studies in the US suggest a potential reduction in GDP of around 1% as a result of the country’s transition to veganism, but this will be offset by growth in plant-based markets.
According to a study published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), if people continue to consume animal products, rather than switch to a balanced plant-based diet, this could cost the United States from 197 to 289 billion dollars a year, and The global economy could lose up to $2050 trillion by 1,6.
The US could save more money than any other country by switching to a plant-based economy due to current high public health costs. According to a PNAS study, if Americans simply followed healthy eating guidelines, the US could save $180 billion in health care costs and $250 billion if they switched to a plant-based economy. These are only monetary figures and do not even take into account that an estimated 320 lives are saved per year by reducing chronic disease and obesity.
According to one study by the Plant Foods Association, economic activity in the U.S. plant food industry alone is about $13,7 billion per year. At current growth rates, the plant-based food industry is projected to generate $10 billion in tax revenue over the next 13,3 years. Sales of herbal products in the US are growing at an average of 8% per year.
All of this is promising news for plant-based lifestyle advocates, and new studies are emerging demonstrating the multiple benefits of avoiding animal products.
Research confirms that, on many levels, a plant-based economy will improve the overall health and well-being of people around the world by reducing hunger in developing countries and reducing chronic disease in the West. At the same time, our planet will get a little break from the damage caused by the production of animal products.
After all, even if morality and ethics are not enough to believe in the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, at least the power of the almighty dollar should convince people.