As Captain Planet puts it — by our powers combined, we can make change in the world. Even if you did not grow up on the adventures of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, you would have known that Mother Nature is deteriorating year by year at an expedited rate unseen, since the time of the dinosaurs. This elevated pace of extinction is the result of humans’ unsustainable use of all of the world’s resources. Issues like the excessive burning of fossil fuels, and large-scale deforestation and farming all contribute to this scary phenomenon.
Something that we have all heard is that doing our part by going green would help save the world. The term ‘going green’ can feel a bit dirty, since it has come to encompass so many things at once. But for the sake of this article, let’s look at it one step at a time, in terms of our diet.
Why Should We Turn to Veganism?
Something that a lot of people fail to recognise is that the food on our lunch table contributes to a sizeable amount of greenhouse gas that leads to global warming. In particular, it is the meats that are chiefly responsible, as animals like cows and sheep produce the greenhouse gas, methane. In countries like Australia and the United States of America, animals are raised as livestock at such a rapid rate and on a wide scale that the amount of methane produced has inflicted lasting damage on our world.
When we are asked to go green, it is mostly about reducing our meat consumption. If we were to cut meat and dairy out of our diet, it could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by about three quarters, dropping the total greenhouse gas emissions by a huge chunk. Not to mention, the grasslands that the animals graze on and the water needed in raising animals for food can be put towards planting more trees and greens.
Your Health Improves
On a personal level, holding off those animal products and introducing plant-based foods into your diet have been known to improve your health by leaps and bounds. Research has been done on this subject and it has revealed that the switch can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart-related diseases and certain types of cancer. If you are worrying about the lack of proteins and nutrients that the abstention from meat might bring, a vegan diet can equally provide the same nutritional balance, since there are many vegan alternatives on the market, like tofu or nuts. For example, some might grow anxious about contracting anaemia from the lack of vitamin B12 that is found in animal products. Vegans have found a solution to that problem by supplementing their diet with fortified soy products or cereal to prevent any deficiencies.
You Lose Weight
Due to the fibre in your plant-based diet from consuming more beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, you will find yourself losing a few inches at the waist, since the increase in fibre keeps you feeling fuller for much longer, thus you are less likely to snack. In general, weight loss usually happens when you consume less calories in a day than the calories expended by your body. How most vegans lose weight is by ensuring their diet does not exceed their caloric output and by ensuring their diet does not consist of junk food, which has a much lower nutritional support. When you rummage through a box of vegan peanut butter cookies, you still run the risk of gaining weight, as compared to eating the same amount of calories from your fresh vegetables.
You Feel Less Stressed
If we are not careful and give in to those greasy and high-sodium foods that our body craves for, we would find ourselves so much more lethargic and find our ability to deal with stress waning. Did you know that stress can elevate our blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels to such a high level that it hikes up our risk of having a heart attack? Thankfully, going on a vegan diet of low-fat, high-fibre and carb-rich food produce can help us reverse those negative effects. When we take a yummy mouthful of fresh vegetables, the vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium would help bring our blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels to a comfortable range. You can bid goodbye to any stress-related food binges during or after work. Not to mention, it has been found that meats like beef and chicken contain a large amount of the amino acid called leucine that triggers acne breakouts. By cutting down on those, your skin will thank you for your generous sacrifice.
Variety, Variety, Variety
When you are getting starting on your new journey as a vegan, a great tip to remember is to always inject creativity into your meals. Most vegans may find keeping to their diet difficult, as they believe they are restricting themselves to a certain food group. Instead of thinking of it as a limitation, you should look outside the box for fresh new ideas to spice up your meals. A bowl of salad greens seven days a week would very easily ruin your appetite and you would find yourself craving for a box of chicken nuggets or a plate of grilled steak on the third or fourth day.
On the Internet, you would be able to find interesting recipes that have been cooked up by renowned vegan chefs and experimental food bloggers. Take a leaf from their adventurous spirit and start experimenting with new ingredients each day. On Manic Mondays, bake yourself a tray of vegan mac and cheese; on Pasta Tuesdays, whip up a large creamy bowl of butternut squash linguine for the family and on Grill Wednesdays, ramp it up by grilling yourself a platter of sweet potato veggie burger. The possibilities are really quite limitless, if you are willing to step beyond the boundaries of just fresh vegetables and a toss of seasoning spice.