Why try Veganuary? – NCS grad, Josh

ncs 11/01/2019

Veganism. It’s one of the fastest growing lifestyles in the world, and a heavily debated subject. I’ve been vegetarian all my life, and vegan for a few months. Although I’m no chef or nutritionist, I’ve picked up some knowledge and tips along the way to help kick-start your possible vegan experimentation in 2019.

Why should you go vegan?

Well, animal agriculture is simply not sustainable to feed an exponentially growing world population, in terms of land, and climate. Animal agriculture is one of the leading industries in greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide pollution, all contributors to the greenhouse effect. 

Animal agriculture is responsible for roughly 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the entirety of the transport industry (13% of emissions). If, as a population, we consume less meat and cut back on animal agriculture in general, it will allow us to slow down the effects of global warming and preserve global climate for future generations.

We have finite resources on this planet, and one of those is land. Right now, there is rampant deforestation happening all around the globe. 1-2 acres of rainforest is being cleared every day, mostly in the Amazon rainforest in South America. And this is having a huge knock-on effect.

Deforestation fuels global warming. Forests are known as ‘the lungs of the earth’ and without trees taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere increase considerably. What’s more, the destruction of forests, particularly rainforests, destroys habitats, native culture and biodiversity. Every day, around 137 species of plants and animals are wiped out. 

How does this link to veganism? 

Well, aside from timber and mining, animal agriculture is one of the main driving forces behind deforestation. Land is needed for the livestock, but also to grow the huge amounts of crops to feed the livestock. There’s a rising demand for beef, and as a result 70% of deforestation is coming from cattle farming.

Yes, a rise in veganism would cause an increase in demand for crops such as corn, wheat, maize and soya, but this would arguably require less land than if the demand for meat continues to rise in line with population growth. As a movement, veganism could go a long way in reducing deforestation.

What are the health benefits?

Various studies have tied meats, particularly red and processed meats, to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Cutting back on meat and replacing it with meat alternatives in certain meals, such as Quorn (a mycoprotein with more protein and less fat than most meats), can benefit your health without sacrificing your favourite meals. Quorn has been a staple in my diet all my life, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.

Where do you start?

Everyone knows going vegan is a massive step to take, and it’s much easier done gradually as opposed to making the switch overnight. I went from vegetarian to vegan, so cutting out dairy and eggs was much easier than having to drop meat at the same time too. Maybe start by going veggie for a few weeks, then stop eating eggs, then cheese, and so on, transitioning gradually. 

Alternatively, you could eat vegetarian or vegan on some days, and not on others. Find a middle ground where you can still enjoy your favourite meats but also make a good start in your transformation. My best piece of advice would be to set yourself a period of time to try out veganism – a week, or a month maybe. 

Veganuary is a charity encouraging people to try veganism for the month of January, and hopefully for the rest of the year. If you’re unsure where to start, check out their website for loads of great vegan recipes. The beauty of trying it for a month is that if you feel it suits you, you can just continue – if not, nothing’s stopping you from giving it up at the end of the month. 

Veganism has changed my outlook on many issues. I’m proud that I’ve been able to lessen my negative impact on the environment and the living creatures of this earth. I hope some of you will consider joining me in this, not only through cutting back on meat consumption, but also by recycling, avoiding single-use plastics and trying to spread awareness of these issues and other things you feel passionate about. I hope you all have a fantastic 2019.