ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

People often stereotype vegans as being hippies who shop at Whole Foods and are often judgmental when others order the Big Box Meal at KFC. Perhaps they have a reason to judge because not only is being vegan healthier for the body, but it is also healthier for the planet.

This diet excludes everything a vegetarian diet would plus eggs and diary products and emphasizes eating fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains. Vegans also refrain from using any animal products or by-products like eggs, dairy, honey, and leather. Veganism is not just a diet; it is a way of life.

There really is no sound scientific theory behind this diet. The most common goal of veganism is to treat all living creatures with equality. The amount of restricted food is high in veganism, so it is common that new vegans often become ill from a lack of protein and low-calorie consumption, which makes it very important to monitor what is being eaten.

Some of the foods that vegans commonly eat to provide themselves with adequate protein are lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peanut butter, spinach, and broccoli.

This high-vegetable diet is extremely low in fat, but can also be low in some other crucial vitamins and minerals. A vitamin that is almost altogether excluded from the vegan diet is vitamin D, but the skin when penetrated by sunrays can also absorb this vitamin.

Another option can be to drink vitamin D-fortified soymilk. Calcium is very high in dark green vegetables, so replacing those for milk will also help keep the diet balanced.

A recent article has stated that the meat industry alone is responsible for 14.5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the number of people on the planet eating meat is on the rise.

In 2009, a study done at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency stated that if everyone on the planet became vegan, methane emissions would be reduced by 24 per cent and nitrous oxide emissions would be reduced 21 per cent by 2050.

Recently, Paul Ehrlich, a famous environmental scientist, stated that the adverse affects that human’s cause to the environment coupled with population growth may collapse civilization. So even though veganism may be very difficult to start and maintain, vegans can rest assured knowing that they are making an honorable sacrifice for the planet.

That being said, many people are still skeptical about the diet.

Danielle Owusu, a second-year student, says “I would only become a vegan if I had some sort of medical condition in which I would have to reduce my meat intake.”

Another second year student, Avechi Chimara was also hesitant about the diet. “I wouldn’t become a vegan because with all the food exclusion I’m not sure what I would actually eat. Most things use animal products so it’s probably very challenging to be completely vegan. I really enjoy my meat, and the furthest I think I could go is vegetarian,” says Chimara.

The benefits of veganism are evident, but whether or not this change is worth the sacrifice continues to be a topic open for debate.

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