“The Economist” declared 2019 to be “The year of Veganism”. For the uninitiated, veganism is the practice of abstaining oneself from using animal products. As a philosophy, it preaches that ‘animals should not be treated as a commodity’.
Which is to say that the hardcore vegans not only say ‘No’ to animal diets but also avoid using silk clothing, leather accessories, and wool blankets amongst a host of other things. Most of the people who go vegan do it because of the horrible treatment which the animals are subjected to.
A little history of Vegan Lifestyle
span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The term ‘Vegan’ was coined by Donald Watson in 1944, who co-founded “The Vegan Society” in 1944, but that is not when the practice actually started. The roots of the principles over which modern veganism stands upon go long back – well before the birth of Christ.
Tracing back to about 3300 BC in Indus Valley Civilization, people had started boycotting animal products because of the inhuman treatment of animals. Some famous historical figures including Mahavira, the Tirthankara who revived Jainism, and even Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, are known to have a similar outlook. Even the acclaimed Mauryan dynasty, including Chandragupta and Ashoka, are said to have practiced vegan principles.
Benefits of a vegan diet
There are a ton of benefits which comes along the vegan diet:
- In the age of global warming, a vegan diet can reduce a person’s carbon footprint from food by about 73%.
- For nature enthusiasts, the benefits are even more – it would reduce global acidification and eutrophication.
But the biggest reasons why people are opting for Veganism in such large numbers aren’t just these. These ideas had been lurking around for many millennia before veganism becoming a trend, and it was not until the 2010s that the movement gained popularity and skyrocketed in terms of supporters, which were majorly dominated by a sheer number of millennials.
How Millennials Brought back the Vegan Culture Back.
With great internet speed comes great awareness. As soon as the myth of the “Vegan diet” being synonymous with just “salads and veggies” broke, people started giving it a try. Coupled with the ever-increasing climate change and the brutality of slaughterhouses, many people started developing aversions to animal-based food.
And the final nail in the coffin came when celebrities started going vegan. With the power of social media, the word spread faster than the speed of light. From Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberbatch to Ellen DeGeneres, and from the sports champion Serena Willams to the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, a gargantuan number of celebs have opted for this extreme form of the vegetarian lifestyle.
In 2010, following his heart surgery, Bill Clinton decided to focus on health that ultimately led to him becoming vegan. Jason Mraz, the singer living on an avocado farm, opted for this kind of lifestyle to support a friend. The famous actress Natalie Portman and singer Miley Cyrus are vegan as well, in which the latter’s social media feeds are full of posts about vegan meals and kindness towards animals.
As the hashtags are getting more and more popular and the trend deepens, public figures like Liam Hemsworth, Peter “Tyrion Lannister” Dinklage, and the legendary Titanic director James Cameron have had a significant contribution in inspiring others to give the vegan lifestyle a try.
The Global Impact of Veganism
Having listed a bucket full of the secondary reasons for turning vegan, the first and foremost remains the same – kindness towards animals. Farming and fishing industries are the worst in this aspect, as they treat animals to be machines whose only purpose of existence is to maximize their profits.
Many people originally believed that having milk and eggs won’t harm animals, but the truth was quite the opposite. Once the rate of milk production in dairy farms or the egg-laying capacity of hens declines, they are brutally slaughtered for beef and meat.
As PETA and many similar NGOs have grown and spread awareness about the cruelty that animals face, many have sworn never to eat that meat again. And as the demand for animal-based food and apparel falls, so does the scale at which animals are reared like crops.
Certainly, taking the vegan route helps save a few innocent lives which might have otherwise been taken. In fact, about 70% of the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock. If a huge chunk of the world goes vegan, most of these lands can be used to restore the glorious days of lush green forests, which would, in turn, provide animals their natural ‘homes’.
Surely, a lot of farmworkers and fishermen might lose their jobs. But that’s the kind of risk that can be mitigated. Their skills can be easily used in reforestation and growing crops for the newly turned population.
There are obvious hurdles that stand in the way to achieve this. Meat has immense cultural and ‘taste’ importance – the biggest reasons why efforts to reduce its consumption have often failed. But on the plus side, a global vegan world would drop the mortality rate by 5-10%, as it would prevent certain heart diseases and cancers.
In a nutshell, going vegan not only helps save animals but also has a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse emissions. So, rescue the world, prolong your life, and become more humane just by adjusting your lifestyle a little? It sure looks like a deal worth taking.