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Plant Based Diets--Healthy or Trendy?

Previously, diets had been a trend, and now complete lifestyle changes are becoming prominent. A 2008 study was published by the Vegetarian Times stating that about 7.3 million people were either vegetarian or vegan in the United States. Why are so many people changing their diets? We hear the term “being vegan or going vegan” all the time. But what does it actually mean? Google describes someone who is vegan as “a person who does not eat or use animals products”. This includes meat, poultry, beef, seafood, gelatin, eggs, and honey. Vegans also do not use/wear animal products such as leather and fur. Plenty of people call it a fad, but this so-called “fad” is actually having huge impacts environmentally and health-wise.

Vegans and vegetarians are similar. The main difference is that vegetarians can consume dairy and wear animal products. I became a vegetarian at the beginning of my freshman year in high school. Before this, I never really thought twice about the consumption of meat. Growing up with Caribbean parents and relatives, eating meat isn’t a question; it’s part of living. I never really stopped and thought about what I was consuming. I watched a multitude of Netflix documentaries like Cowspiracy, Rotten, What the Health, and Forks over Knives. At the time, I did it for ethical reasons (I love animals too much) and learned so much about the meat industry and how it is negatively affecting our day to day lives. Through research, I’ve seen horrible and scary images of how companies slaughter animals for our consumption. These massive corporations put up a wall so that people cannot truly see how appalling these processes are. Animals’ necks are sliced open as their life pours onto a pool of blood. The lives of these animals are regarded as nothing. Little chicks, for example, are thrown into grinders alive. These are the realities that we cannot ignore.

As a multi-sport athlete in high school, I found it hard to adjust my diet and make sure I was eating enough protein. I did my research and found an overwhelming amount of protein substitutes like lentils, quinoa, tofu, almonds, peanut butter… the list goes on. On the other hand, people can argue that veganism isn’t healthy, because, Oreos are vegan, Frosted Flakes are vegan, along with many other sugary foods. But my daily calories are mostly vegetables, fruits, carbs, and proteins, all while consuming very little fats.

Beyond foods, I noticed physical changes in my body. I feel so much lighter. My skin cleared up. And aside from my personal experience, there are proven facts that being vegan has tons of health benefits. Heart disease kills one out of every three Americans. One out of thirteen people in America has diabetes. And 21% of 12 to 19-year-old Americans are obese. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegans and vegetarians show lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower chances of getting cancer, and a decreased change of heart disease. It gets a bit repetitive but just in case you missed it, taking meat out of your diet is good for you!

Going vegan or vegetarian is no easy task. Changing your diet instantaneously is not a healthy or safe idea. Slowly making changes to your diet will improve your overall health and wellness though. I hope I have given you some food for thought. The point I’m trying to make is to BE EDUCATED! Learn where your food is coming from and understand the impacts of what you eat.

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