Veganism in Modern World
The topic about veganism has received recognition not because of the adoption of its culture, but due to the controversies surrounding it. Veganism is the practice of people avoiding animal products and their byproducts. Instead, this group of people concentrates on healthier food, such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, and grains to name a few. Traditionally, people have relied on animal products such as meat and milk due to the belief that they enhance growing and developing strong bones. However, people have shown different trends today by choosing a vegan lifestyle due to health concerns, while others could opt to follow veganism because of ethical reasons. There is a growing culture of veganism throughout the world with Israel producing the highest number of vegans closely followed by Germany (“Vegan Demographics 2017 – USA”). The same report ranks the U.S. as the fifth most significant concentration of vegans in the world. Ketler argues that the number of vegans has grown by 600% in the past three years in the U.S. (“Vegan Demographics 2017 – USA”). The figure demonstrates an increasing adoption of the culture across the world. Regarding that, omnivorous diet has many implications for environmental sustainability and public health, making veganism lifestyle the best option.
The first reason that supports veganism is the improvement of the overall health. The “Vegetarian Foods: Powerful for Health” published by the Physician Committee enumerates the wide range health benefits of veganism. The article argues that veganism prevents cancer, lowers blood pressure, prevent and reverses diabetes, and overcomes heart-related diseases. For instance, the article provides an in-depth discussion regarding the way vegans can avoid cancer. Accordingly, it argues that a vegan diet naturally has a low concentration of saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories. Instead, it has higher levels of fiber, which enables users to replete with cancer-protective phytochemicals. A study by Tantamango-Bartley et al. (288) identified a total of 2,939 incidences of cancer, whereby they noted a statistical significance between vegetarians and non-vegetarians as it pertains to cancer risk. Specifically, the authors noted that vegan diets had better protection against cancer overall in both genders combined. A similar scenario is experienced in blood pressure cases. Notably, animal products and by-products contain high amounts of fats, which contribute to a reduction of blood viscosity (“Vegetarian Foods: Powerful for Health”). Consequently, this increases blood pressure. Overall, it is concluded that veganism improves the health of people.
There exist further health implications of over depending on animal products. Besides the natural components of animal products such as meat and eggs comprise proteins and fats, whereby the emerging concern surrounds the diseases that could be spread through them (McMichael et al. 1256). Consumers of meat in the local setting usually slaughter domestic and wild animals for food without involving animal health personnel. It means that the consumption of meat from animals with diseases like anthrax and mastitis can affect the health of the consumers. Similarly, such animal products could be affected by tuberculosis and cancer germs. For instance, fish could be a potential cancer carrier if exposed to water contaminated with untreated industrial wastes. Hence, some of these diseases are life-ending, which cause pain and suffering to the affected individuals. Therefore, it can be concluded that other than contributing to unhealthy living due to their fats, cholesterol, and calories, consuming unhealthy animal products has a direct implication in the health of consumers. As a result, these scenarios result in consideration of veganism as the safest option for public health.
Additionally, veganism is essential for environmental sustainability. The notion that the world is producing enough food to meet the needs of its population is ambiguous since cases of malnourishment are widely reported. A study by Clarke provides an overview of the benefits of switching between diets with the expected increase of the world population by 2050 (Clarke 108). One of the reasons Clarke (108) offers regarding the increases cases of starvation and malnutrition despite the production of large amounts of food is its use in wrong ways. The author notes scarce resources such as agricultural land, water supply, and grains are used to produce meat and other animal products, which people have gone ahead to use for their food largely. Clarke argues that the world is using significant amounts of these resources to feed animals meant for meat. The premise leads the author to draw a conclusion that adopting veganism or at least a vegetarian diet will increase the amount of water to help the world grow more food to serve an otherwise climate-erratic world (Clarke 110). Therefore, veganism is a better option for environmental sustainability based on the hazardous overexploitation of natural resources through livestock farming for food.
In the same vein, the increased dependence of animal products and their by-products for food leads to increased production of greenhouse gases. The industrial processing of milk, eggs, leather, and pharmaceuticals contributes to the climatic changes due to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It is thought that large amounts of meat across the world have led to the need to process by-products such as hides and skins to produce leather products such as clothes and shoes. Hence, these processes not only lead to the overexploitation of the animals reared domestically or hunted, but also, lead to emissions of unprecedented levels of GHGs. Similarly, pharmaceuticals are being developed to support animal husbandry for industrial purposes. As a result, there is also a growing change in land use, which has been associated with the potential cause of global warming. The case is likely to worsen when the world population increases further by 2050 as Clarke recounts (Clarke 108). The amount of meat that people will consume will increase tremendously, compromising biodiversity. The impact will spread to indiscriminate overexploitation of critical resources such as water and land, which will negatively affect veganism. Hence, the long-term consequence is environmental unsustainability. Therefore, comparably, a clear balance between vegan diet and omnivorous diet is desirable. A purely vegan diet can result in long-lasting environmental issues.
Moreover, ethics support the use of a vegan diet. As stated earlier, some people support vegetarianism due to health reasons and others for environmental sustainability. However, there are those obliged to this culture due to spiritual and religious connections. The moral question of “right” and “wrong” guides many religious affiliations to resolve to veganism. Particularly, Johnson (34) argues that some religious faiths believe that life is divine, rendering humans caretakers of nature and animals. It evokes the need for equality in all life forms, including a commitment not to harm other living beings. Therefore, ethical veganism should be considered as a religious practice without further investigating the claims of the adherents (Johnson 34). Additionally, Subramaniam (4) discusses a specific case of Hindus in Malaysia and why they support veganism. The Malaysian Hindus believe that eating meat creates aggressiveness and Rajasic, an unstable mind. Conversely, The Malaysian Hindus believe vegetarianism imparts Satvic qualities. Therefore, this proves that many religious denominations support veganism for various reasons, mainly motivated by spiritual connections.
Despite the enormous support that veganism continues to obtain in the nutritional world, switching to veganism is profoundly difficult and inconvenient. It was identified earlier that there is a growing number of vegans across the globe. However, it remains the fact that the number of vegans remains low (Leitzmann 4S). Therefore, it makes it difficult for vegans to share their meals with their friends and family who have not adopted the culture. Similarly, it is difficult to find restaurants that provide a wide range of vegan food, and those do, sell them at exorbitant prices. The situation is compounded with the difficulties of accessing organic food, making them even more expensive. True vegans also tend to avoid clothing made from silk and leather since they are processed from animal by-products. They do not permit products like alligator skin and related products. Besides, the unavailability and costs of products that can support pure vegan living, post the challenge of relapsing to otherwise kind of life. Veganism is an expensive life to live not only among the vegans but also, interacting with those who do not believe in it. Therefore, it is difficult to lead a pure vegan life compared to the omnivorous diet.
Additionally, there are health implications associated with veganism. The social invariances caused by the veganism culture is the only part of the overarching issues related to a vegan’s life. An overdependence of vegan diet or actual observation of veganism can lead to nutritional deficiencies, resulting in significant health problems. The use of animal products such as milk and eggs facilitate the building of stronger bones and teeth. Plant-based diets contain low levels of Vitamins, proteins, calcium, zinc, and iron (Craig pp.614-615). Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting proper growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. Vegans can only obtain Vitamin D from sunlight while their omnivorous counterparts have expanded resources from animal products. Therefore, vegans living in climatic-regions with insufficient sunlight risk their health. Similarly, Craig (615) opposes vegan diet since the equivalent mineral in animal products are highly absorbed. It is also thought that vegans risk experiencing iodine deficiency, hence, chances of suffering from goiter.
To sum up, veganism is a growing culture in many parts of the world. Israel tops the list while Germany and the U.S. take position three and five respectively as countries with the highest concentration of vegans. There is widespread debate as to whether veganism is a better option or not. Veganism support that it is suitable for both public health and environmental sustainability purposes. Additionally, some religion supports the culture based on the Holy doctrines that observe the sanctity of all life forms. The religious ethics make some denomination observers of veganism. However, the unavailability and cost of vegan food render it difficult for vegans to observe pure veganism. Additionally, a vegan diet is deficient in a wide variety of minerals or have a limited amount of essential elements that are instrumental for proper body growth. Nonetheless, veganism has many advantages over an omnivorous diet.
Clarke, Alexls. “Vegetarianism and sustainability.” Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, vol. 21, no. 2, 2015, pp.106-111.
Craig, Winston John. “Nutrition Concerns and Health Effects of Vegetarian Diets”. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, vol 25, no. 6, 2010, pp. 613-620. Wiley, doi:10.1177/0884533610385707.
Johnson, Lisa. “The Religion of Ethical Veganism”. Journal of Animal Ethics, vol. 5, no. 1, 2015, pp. 31-68. University of Illinois Press, doi:10.5406/janimalethics.5.1.0031.
Ketler, Alanna. “Why Veganism in The U.S. Has Grown by 600% In The Past 3 Years”. Collective Evolution, 2018, https://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/02/11/why-veganism-in-the-u-s-has-grown-by-600-in-the-past-3-years/. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
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McMichael, Anthony J., et al. “Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health.” The Lancet vol. 370, no. 9594, 2007, 1253-1263. Elsevier, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61256-2.
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Tantamango-Bartley, Y. et al. “Vegetarian Diets and The Incidence of Cancer in A Low-Risk Population”. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, vol. 22, no. 2, 2012, pp. 286-294. American Association For Cancer Research (AACR), doi:10.1158/1055-9965.epi-12-1060.
“Vegan Demographics 2017 – USA, And The World – Vegan Bits”. Vegan Bits, veganbits.com/vegan-demographics-2017/. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.
“Vegetarian Foods: Powerful for Health”. The Physicians Committee, www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-foods-powerful-for-health. Accessed 25 Oct 2018.