Why 2015 is a great year to go vegan

471

2015 is a great year period, as life and "Back to the Future II" have taught us. But it’s an especially good time to try a plant-based lifestyle, as recent events indicate.

Health benefits of veganism are becoming more recognized on a national basis. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines, published every five years by the USDA, has notably changed its tune. For a long time it mainly recommended reducing your intake of red meat. This year it encourages limiting consumption of animal products in general.

The Scientific Report, found on health.gov, states: “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”

An additional trend of veggie alternatives in fast food joints—many, such as White Castle, offered nationally—show that there’s a change in the wind.

Health isn’t enough? No worries. It isn’t for me either. Oreos are just too delicious. When interning at "Mercy For Animals" in Los Angeles last semester, I ate avocados every day… but drank vegan milkshakes almost as often. (With 60 vegan restaurants in the city and one practically on every block, who could blame me?) So for those junk food junkies among us, it’s also prudent to look at agricultural impact. We’re going to run out of natural resources pretty soon due to the strain of having to feed a huge and growing population—if we keep up with our current animal agriculture-based food production habits, that is.

According to University of California’s Soil and Water Specialists, 5,214 gallons of water go into producing a pound of beef; 1,630 go into a pound of pork; and 815 go into a pound of chicken. Compare this to the 49 gallons required for apples, 33 for carrots, 24 for potatoes and 23 for tomatoes. There are similar findings for the grains and land used for livestock.

When we eat animals and animal products, we’re also consuming all the food and water that fed them over a lifetime. In order to mitigate the effects of our food production on the planet, we should skip the animals and go right to the plants. It is not only beneficial, but necessary. As news of droughts and greenhouse gas emissions have indicated, we need to be more careful with our natural resources.

Admittedly, a lot of this is stuff I learned in Los Angeles. The DePauw Bubble keeps news from reaching me as much as it does the next person. One of my main challenges in returning to school this semester, besides mourning the loss of vegan milkshakes, was adjusting outreach strategies when moving to a different environment—in this case, a sleepy Midwestern town. In light of that, I hope that sharing a bit of my experience eating vegan here will show that a vegan diet is very accessible.

Greencastle has a good variety of vegan options. A few of my favorites are birthday cake oreos from Walmart, So Delicious Ice Cream from Kroger (any flavor), Big Sur sweet earth burritos from the Den, the black beans and rice dish at The Duck and eggless fried white rice at the Hub.

I’ve tried my best to summarize the benefits of veganism here, but alas, I couldn’t cover them all. Spend a few minutes Googling things, and you’ll see for yourself the numerous upsides of adopting a healthy, sustainable vegan diet.