Editorial: Vegetarian and vegan

The discipline of a plant-based lifestyle is not something that should be discounted as just another “diet.”

Vegetarianism and veganism have been around for centuries and trace back to Buddhist values of sparing life. However, there is much skepticism surrounding the intentions of those whose diet and lifestyle avoid animal products.

I decided to live as a vegetarian a few years ago, but on May 11, 2016, I took things a step further by going vegan. The difference in these two ways of eating is that vegetarians still consume dairy and sometimes eggs, while vegans do not.

I found the change to be easy and spent a long time perfecting vegan recipes and finding plant-based alternatives to products like cheese and chicken nuggets. However, the hardest part of the change was others’ assumption that I was now pretentious.

In some small minds, people find those who do not want to feast on animals as thinking that they’re somehow better than everyone else. This is false. There is also a strange reference to hunting and gathering times, as if that is and always was the basic way of life. Yet when is the last time someone actually hunted for their food? I’ll wait.

Another agonizing part of this lifestyle is the assumption that there can’t possibly be enough protein in plants alone. In all actuality, there is plenty of protein in vegetables, but it just requires larger quantities. Conversely, I do enjoy beans and nuts very much. A good trail mix is my guilty pleasure.

Regardless of people’s misperceptions, the most difficult aspects of the change is the learning curve. I used to think sugar was just sugar. I never realized that the reason refined sugar is white is due to animal bone char. Also, let’s not even discuss harsh reality of what gelatin is (Google it).

The reason veganism is referred to as a lifestyle is because it demands a great deal of learning to actually live without depending on animal products. Things like not buying leather goods and researching cruelty-free brands is challenging. There are so many companies that test their products on animals for consumers’ benefit. However, if these chemicals are harmful enough to need testing on non-humans, should we even be putting them on our skin?

The misconceptions are endless, but the facts are that plant-based living is healthier and guilt-free. At the end of the day, I’m doing for this for the animals and the environment. Vegetarianism and veganism diminish some of the damage done to the Earth, which is helpful and necessary.

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