What do you think of when you hear the word 'vegan'? Most people have a specific image of someone who calls themselves a vegan. They might care deeply for animal welfare; perhaps they live an exceptionally healthy lifestyle. It's seen by many as an extreme diet and something that's very difficult to achieve.
If you're in this boat, I'd like to change your mind about how veganism can be much easier than you might think, and why it's important for more people to acknowledge the environmental significance of this kind of diet.
Why are more and more people choosing to go vegan?
Over the last few years, the number of people adopting a vegan diet has been on the rise. There are around 600,000 vegans currently in the UK, and it is one of the quickest growing lifestyles in Britain. It is becoming so popular that many supermarkets are quickly adapting to include a 'plant-based aisle' to keep up with Britons' dietary changes.
More people are becoming aware of veganism as a whole, partly due to its trendiness. Celebrities with all types of audiences, such as Ariana Grande, Woody Harrelson and Joaquin Phoenix - to name a few -are switching to a vegan diet.
There are an abundance of reasons that someone may choose to go vegan. The most common ones being personal health, as there are many health benefits to a vegan or vegetarian diet, if done properly. Animal rights activists may also decide to go vegan to campaign against factory farming and the overconsumption of meat.
The reason I'd like to focus on is the impact that going vegan can have on the environment. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the news telling us about global warming, food shortages, overpopulation, and not knowing the best way to help.
"Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent." - The Independent article by Olivia Petter
Veganism is extreme, because it's often considered the biggest way to do your part and reduce your environmental impact. It's easier than you might think, too!
Veganism personalised to you
What's really special about veganism is how you don't need to be perfect to make a difference. How you choose to 'do veganism' is your personal decision.
You may choose to try a vegetarian diet and only cut out meat; this alone reduces an individuals carbon footprint 2.5 times more than eating meat. Not only this, but it saves a vast amount of water that is used to produce meat.
If you're worried about not getting certain nutrients that you'd usually get from meat, a pescatarian diet also works. People who are pescatarian cut out most meat, but still eat nutrient-dense fish.
"Food choices can be flexible and what you choose to eat depends on your beliefs, ethics, and knowledge. For example, I know a vegan couple who keep their own (very pampered) hens and so eat eggs." - lovelygreens.com By Tanya Anderson
Some vegans still eat honey - despite some people arguing that it is still an animal product. Or some wear leather or use cosmetics that are tested on animals, whilst maintaining a vegan diet. There are so many ways to personalise your own vegan diet to make it accessible to you!
Be the extreme change
The most important thing about being vegan, is doing something good for the planet, instead of doing everything completely perfectly.
"It is not about being ‘zero’ waste. It’s not about living off the grid in a self-sufficient commune in a yurt. Perfection is not the goal. And it is not about living a life on higher moral ground." - Family Footprint Project
Hopefully, I've been able to change your mind about veganism or encourage you to incorporate some new dietary habits into your lifestyle. Whether it's cutting out meat and dairy entirely, eating meat-free for 1 or 2 days a week, becoming vegetarian or pescatarian at your own pace, there are so many easy options to incorporate into the way you live that allow you to make a huge impact on the environment for the better.