#VEGCURIOUS ?

(A post written for the Mancunion – The Manchester Uni student newspaper).

Definition: someone who is interested in exploring veganism and experimenting with vegetables in new ways, but not quite ready to commit.

Been having some affectionate thoughts about vegetables lately? Perhaps you’ve been wondering about alternative sources of protein but you’re not quite ready to talk about it with your mates? You might be what experts are calling ‘vegcurious’.

In the UK, over half a million people are completely vegan, almost 2 million are vegetarian and new figures are showing that many more people are vegcurious and want to know more about this plant-based lifestyle. In the US, the figures are even higher, and a staggering 40% of the population in India follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Veganism is drifting into the mainstream as research is showing that going vegan is a win, win, win situation. Good for the animals, good for the planet, and good for us.

Animal welfare and ethicality is of course still a really important issue, however it’s no longer the most popular reason for going vegan. Veganism is becoming as much an environmental cause as it is an animal welfare cause. Agricultural studies show that rearing cattle for food is the main effector of deforestation and has the biggest impact on global warming. A common misconception is that soy bean plants are causing deforestation, however 85% of these plants are used as feed for cattle and not human consumption, and therefore are also a part of the animal-product industry. Many of you will have heard the devastating news about the Great Barrier Reef last year caused by overfishing and global warming; moreover, the planets rapidly decreasing biodiversity is being dubbed by experts as the 6th extinction crisis. I think it’s time humans took responsibility for the harm we’ve caused, take a long hard look at the evidence and realise that it is the production of animal products for food which is exerting the greatest damage in our environmental crises.

If you’re not much of an environmental activist, that’s fine. But surely you care about yourself? Your health? With the popularity of veganism growing, so has the demand for scientific studies identifying the effect of this diet on your body, and whether or not a plant-based diet is able to provide adequate nutrient acquisition. The results are astounding, and show that not only is a vegan diet adequate, but it also decreases your risks of getting various diseases including different forms of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even osteoporosis. However, the risk of certain deficiency’s are higher in vegans because most people were never taught how to eat a well-balanced, vegan diet and therefore miss out key macro and micronutrients, and it’s important to transition your body safely into this new lifestyle as it is quite a drastic change in diet if you’ve always been a meat eater.

So if you’re a transitioning vegan or a conscientious meat-eater, make sure you’re filling your plate with balanced, nutritious foods that are going to supply you with the complete repertoire of nutrients your body needs. And try and be a little friendlier to vegetables.

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