VEGETARIANISM: GROWING WAY OF LIFE, ESPECIALLY AMONG THE YOUNG” So read a page headline in the New York Times, March 21, 1975. The idea of vegetarianism has not waned with time, nowadays, more than four (4) decades later, more and more people are going vegans, and what is more, veganism is becoming increasingly popular. Come to think of it: is a vegan diet healthy for you? Why is there a rise in vegans? Why is veganism trending on social media? These questions beget our answer, but first what is veganism?
According to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, the term “veganism” is “the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products particularly in diet and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals”. So in a nutshell, veganism is a lifestyle that abstains from all animal products and attempts to limit the exploitation of animals as much as possible.
Conversely, a “vegan” is an individual who follows veganism diet and philosophy. It is a word coined in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who chose not only to abstain from eating meat like other vegetarians but also consuming dairy, eggs and any other products of animal origin. The word “vegan” is derived from the combination of the first three (3) and the last two (2) letters of “vegetarian”.
There are basically three (3) main categories of vegan and when it comes to their eating pattern, we have five (5) main types.
Talking of category, a vegan can be categorized as:
Dietary Vegan (i.e. “strict vegetarians”): these types of vegans refrain from consuming meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other animal-derived substances.
An Ethical Vegan: - these are called “moral vegetarians” because they do not only follow a vegan diet but extend the philosophy into other areas of their lives, they oppose the use of animals for any purpose.
Environmental Vegan: - are those who avoid animal products on the premise that the industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
And speaking of their eating pattern, a vegan could be classified as:
Dietary vegan – plant-based eaters
Whole-food vegans – an individual who eats a diet rich in whole food like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seed, etc.
Junk-food vegans – an individual who eats processed vegan food, like vegan meats, fries, non-dairy, ice-cream, etc.
Raw food vegan - an individual who eats only food that is raw or cooked at a temperature below 118`f
Low-fat, raw-food vegans - fruitarians. An individual who feeds on fruit
Granted, comprehensive statistics on the number of vegans are often hard to come by, but according to a study conducted in 2014 by Friends of the Earth and the Heinrich Boll Foundation, 15 million people in the United States are identified as vegetarian. The number continues to rise as veganism becomes a trend on social media.
Why is there a rise in vegans, you might ask? Basically people choose to go vegan because of one or more of the following four (4) major reasons:
Their Health – Asides from helping to lose weight, vegan diets offer an array of additional health benefits
The environment – More people are becoming vegans because of the negative effect animal farming is having on our environment. N02 emission, C02 emission, deforestation, and others.
The Ethic (Compassion and Religious factor) – Ethical vegans believe strongly that we all have an equal right to life and freedom. Humans and animals alike.
The Economic factor – it cost less to eat on vegetable diet than on a diet including meat.
Having considered the aforementioned, it might seem plausible to go vegan. But is it really better to be a vegan? Is a vegan diet healthier for you as claimed?
The vegan diet is nutritional. No doubt about that. They help people lose weight, offer some protection against type 2 diabetics, lower blood sugar levels, improve kidney function, lower the risk of Heart disease, help manage pain from Arthritis and even protect against certain cancer. However, a strictly vegetarian diet often is deficient in vitamin B12, essential elements that prevent the type of pernicious anemia that causes brain and spinal cord degeneration. A vegan diet may also be deficient in Vitamin D, as well as Iron because the best and most readily supply comes from meat, particularly liver, shellfish, and other animal foods.
By and large, following a vegetarian diet can be one of the healthiest ways to eat, however, vegans need to ensure that they are getting key nutrients from their diet.
I encourage you all to meet with a nutritionist before trying a new diet and to live a healthy lifestyle that works for your health and body!