Why I am Vegan
My journey to becoming Vegan Like most people, I grew up eating meat, dairy and eggs and never thought twice about eating those foods. I believed that was normal and healthy and couldn’t understand why people took such extreme actions like not having cow’s milk on their cereal or boiled eggs for breakfast. But for […]
My journey to becoming Vegan
Like most people, I grew up eating meat, dairy and eggs and never thought twice about eating those foods. I believed that was normal and healthy and couldn’t understand why people took such extreme actions like not having cow’s milk on their cereal or boiled eggs for breakfast. But for 7 years now I have been fully vegan, and my diet has been entirely plant-based. So, what was it that changed my mind and was it the right decision?
It began when I was at school and asked my parents if I could become a vegetarian. I’d grown up around farms and countryside and seeing the animal agriculture first hand had connected the animals I saw outside my window with the food on my plate. Once I had connected the two and seen what was involved in producing the food I ate, I decided that I would rather have lentils in my pasta sauce than minced beef.
The idea that it was not worth killing an animal just for me to eat meat was fundamental to me for several years, but I never saw any issue with milking a cow or taking the eggs that a chicken had laid. It wasn’t until I went to university that I was exposed to many varying views of the world. This made me want to understand my diet and consumption from all aspects which included researching animal agriculture and the alternatives. The conclusion for me was to eliminate the consumption of all animal products from my life but it is important to recognise that is far from perfect. While I believe there are clear problems with the industries surrounding animal agriculture; plenty of alternative crops / meat-free foods can cause harm to humans as well as the environment when produced in the wrong way. My goal by transitioning to a vegan diet was to do as little harm as possible.
My reasons why being Vegan is important
For me, animals were the principal reason for becoming vegan. A lot of their exploitation goes unnoticed which is understandable when taking note may also mean removing peoples’ favourite part of their diet. Naturally the worst conditions are in factory farms employed by large corporations who can hide the horrible environments the animals endure. There are now plenty of articles and documentaries for those who are interested in knowing where their meat, dairy and eggs come from.
Environmental issues have also become far more apparent through the media in recent years which has meant people are increasingly considering this in the lifestyle choices they make. For me, a vegan diet is a great way to reduce the impact I have on the drain of resources and damage to natural ecosystems. The air and water pollution from intensive factory farms, as well as their high-water use, makes alternative plant crops far more sustainable. Deforestation is also a massive issue: firstly, the land needed to raise the animals and then the vast number of crops that need to be grown to feed them. If the crops were simply fed to humans in the first place, far less land would be needed and hence more land would be protected for vital habitats like the Amazon rainforest.
Health is another major consideration in our diets and there are many benefits with a plant-based one. The amount of chemicals involved in producing animal products is alarming. From antibiotics for preventing disease in their horrendous living conditions, to supplements for maximising their yield, all these chemicals result in toxins being left in the food that people eat. Plant crops tend to require and contain less toxins, but this is where organic produce becomes important. Organic fruit, veg and other plant-based products are fantastic for a cleaner, vegan lifestyle. For me, working at Equinox has been great as the company shares the same values around organic and vegan produce. I know that everything I contribute at work goes towards producing a great tasting drink that does as little harm as possible to people and the planet. The nutrition in animal-based foods also tends to be much higher in fat than the plant alternatives which can be an issue if consumed in excess. Ultimately the health effects I have experienced since become vegan are anecdotal but very real for me. I have experienced better moods, improved concentration, better gut health and an overall feeling of increased fitness. This may obviously vary for everyone but for me it has been fantastic.
In recent years, finding products that are suitable for vegans has become much easier with increased options and clear labelling for most things. Eating out has also become far more straightforward as most places have clearly marked options. Beyond this, finding brands and products that meet higher standards of environmental and ethical responsibility can be very difficult. Every brand wants to be seen as though they are doing the right thing which can make it very confusing when deciding where to spend your money. Often the smaller natural / whole foods shops vet the products they sell so that customers don’t have to worry so much about researching each individual company. On a larger scale there are independent organisations like B Corp who certify companies based on various ethical and environmental standards. This means that if a company is a certified B Corp you know they meet high standards of social and environmental performance, and you can support them with a clearer conscience.
Top tips for plant-based lifestyles
So, this Veganuary if you are feeling like trying a plant-based diet out – here are some tips I have learned over the years!
- Take it slow – Once I decided to go vegan, it was a slow transition. Try replacing foods and ingredients gradually to find out what works well for your body and lifestyle.
- Reduce instead of remove – If you don’t want to go the whole way, maybe just try reducing your meat consumption for a month or two and see how you feel
- Vote with your money – Spend some time looking at plant-based brands that you are attracted to and include these products in your diet – by voting with your money, you are automatically having a positive impact on the planet
Of course, Equinox is organic, vegan and ethically sourced so I can always recommend trying some of our delicious living kombucha as a part of your Veganuary adventures. But I would say that!
Written by Ben Costello
Planning and Production Manager @ Equinox Kombucha