As a baby, my mother called me her little carnivore. At Sonic, I order a pretzel dog in addition to my cheeseburger. One year for Christmas, I wrote Santa Claus a letter asking for parmesan cheese. My profile picture on Instagram is a photo of me holding a hot dog.
But after a month long road trip with nothing but leftovers from restaurants, I returned to New Jersey with blemished skin, 15 extra pounds and an overall unhealthy feeling.
This led me to research alternative diets, and I decided that veganism was the way to go. Veganism is good for animals, the environment and perhaps most importantly, people.
A popular reason to go vegan is to protest poor living conditions for livestock. Following a plant-based diet saves over 100 animals each year, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Because the meat and dairy industries use so much water to grow feed for livestock and manure is a leading cause of pollution, not consuming products from these industries reduces an individual’s carbon footprint by 50 percent, according to PETA. This is even more impactful than if you replaced your car with a Prius.
Leading a vegan lifestyle can even help communities around the globe. About 13 pounds of grain is used to produce each pound of meat, according to PETA. Giving this food to people instead of livestock would help to reduce world hunger.
Veganism is also beneficial to an individual’s health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Vegans also avoid the high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat.
Some may argue that vegans can’t have proper nutrition, but with the protein found in foods such as beans and tofu and the readily available supplement pills it is possible to get all of the nutrients necessary to a healthy diet.
Since going vegan I feel happier, healthier and I get almost as excited about guacamole as I used to about a steak. I don’t see myself returning to meat and dairy anytime soon.
I think I’m changing my profile picture.