I once read somewhere that the only group viewed more negatively than vegans were drug addicts.
I mean, even the late Anthony Bourdain has been quoated as saying “vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit” … WHAT?!
I sadly understand why vegans get a bad rap … It’s in part why I avoided telling people I was vegetarian for over a year! And I’m not the only one I’ve talked to that has done the same thing -just take a look at this article recently published in the Globe & Mail!
Veganism and plant-based eating has gone mainstream, for good reason. Eating a more plant-based, whole food diet is finally being widely recognized as the best way to prevent chronic disease and cancers AND it’s evidence based.
In just a few short years, our food environment has made a major positive shift towards supporting plant-based/vegan eaters. From marketing more plant-based options on television and social media, to being able to go to almost any grocery store or restaurant without having to worry that they will have plant-based/vegan options!
It is a HUGE win for us plant-based folk and I am so excited that 2019 has been dubbed the year of the vegan, pop the bubbly!
What is the difference between plant-based and vegan?
The two terms often get used interchangeably, but they are different.
Someone who is vegan follows a plant-based diet, but not everyone who follows a plant-based diet is vegan … follow?
A plant-based diet has to do with just that, your diet.
If you follow a plant-based diet, you eat a variety of minimally processed foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lentils along with beans. You may also choose to limit or avoid animal products in your diet!
Being vegan, on the other hand, is much more than just eliminating animal products from your diet. By definition, you avoid anything that involves the exploitation or cruelty to animals for food, clothing or other purposes. Veganism is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
I chose to cut out meat cold turkey (pun intended) …
about three years ago after watching multiple documentaries about factory farming. They made me feel physically sick to my stomach and the transition was easy for me! This is not the case for everyone though.
In addition to eliminating animal products from my diet, I choose to not buy furniture, cosmetic products or clothing that uses animal products!
My primary reason for becoming vegan was purely ethical at first – I couldn’t and still can’t stand the fact that millions of animals are suffering on a daily basis.
It has only been within the last year or so, that I have come to fully appreciate the environmental impact that eating a meat-centric diet has. Some of the facts are pretty staggering:
- Up to 92% of our fresh water is used for farming, with 1/3 of that used for the production of animal products.
- Livestock is the world’s largest use of land resources, contributing massively to deforestation.
- Cattle rearing produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined.
Although I am a vegan Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I promote incorporating more plants into peoples diets, I recognize that not everyone is ready or able to make the transition to vegan.
The fact is, veganism doesn’t work for everyone, but the truth is, everyone, absolutely everyone, could benefit from incorporating more whole, plant-based food into their diet.
In my blog posts you’ll notice I choose to use and promote the phrase plant-based most often, not vegan.
Because I am encouraging dietary changes for better health! Of course, if I am working with someone and they’d like to transition to a vegan lifestyle, I would support them wholeheartedly with that and be their biggest cheerleader.
Unfortunately, in promoting plant-based, not veganism, I have received some harsh criticism from the vegan community.
I totally understand this and am very grateful that there are strong advocates out there promoting the vegan lifestyle and advocating for animal rights, in my personal life, I do the same!
Professionally though, my role as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is to help people adopt ways of eating that are healthful to them. Luckily eating more plants and less animal products is the best way to go about bettering your overall wellness and it’s what I educate people on.
To sum up…
Does eating meat and other animal products on a regular basis have a HUGE negative impact on the environment? YES!
Do vegetarians/vegans have lower rates of chronic disease, including cancer? YES!
Does what you choose to put in your mouth really make a difference for our plant? ABSOLUTELY!
Do you have to go vegan overnight to affect change? Of course not.
You have to do what is right for you, your body, your family etc.
Even the smallest shifts towards eating more plant-based is beneficial! My goal with this blog is to show you just how delicious and simple plant-based eating can be.