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World Vegan Day: 10 reasons to turn vegan

Dr Nandita Shah gives us 10 reasons to turn vegan.

Written by Dr Nandita Shah |Updated : October 30, 2013 1:02 PM IST

veganNovember 1 is World Vegan Day.

Veganism is a way of life without animal exploitation. Vegans eat no animal products no meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk or even honey. Dr Nandita Shah a vegan and the founder of SHARAN (Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature) explains why turning a vegan is better. (Read: Vegan diet - good or bad for health?)

Better health, less money spent on healthcare

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Heart disease and hypertension are the largest causes of death on the planet. Only animals produce cholesterol and animal products are full of saturated fats. We are killing ourselves with our forks. Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and obesity are all linked to excess animal protein consumption. Meat and milk have the same composition high protein, high fat and no fibre. That's why vegetarians and non vegetarians get the same diseases. Today, all the lifestyle diseases we face are because of excess fat (which clogs the arteries and can lead to diseases of any part of our body), or excess protein. Healthcare costs would drop dramatically if people turned vegan. (Read: The truth about non-vegetarian food)

We don't need dairy or meat for proteins, not even for essential amino acids. We can get them from the same place as all the other herbivores on the planet plants. When we get them from any animal product, they are accompanied by fat and lack fibre. Our anatomy is designed like a herbivore's so we need fibre. A plant based diet is free of cholesterol and contains phytonutrients which improve immune response. It makes you feel light and energetic. There are a lot of varieties of plant based milks which people following a vegan diet can consume soy, oats, almond, rice, sesame, coconut, etc. You can even get or make cheese, curd, ice creams, paneer without the use of dairy products.
More available energy
Eating animals or their products is energy-intensive. It is said that the world's petroleum reserves would last for only 13 years if all humans were meat eaters but 260 years if all humans were vegetarian. Every single bit of meat and dairy has to be stored in refrigeration. That alone is energy-intensive. The production of meat is also energy intensive growing food for feed, transporting it to the farm animals (this currently happens across continents), transferring animals to stockyards, then slaughter houses, then packaging units to stores and finally into the consumers fridge or freezer till its eaten.

Less suffering from starvation

Today, more than 40% of all the grains grown is fed to animals. All this food could be given or made available to starving human beings. Eating lower on the food chain is much more efficient. It is said that one billion humans could be saved from starvation if Americans ate just 10% less meat. Imagine what the world would be like if no one ate any meat.

Less water shortages

The world is heading towards a drinking water shortage. On an average, it takes 500 litres of water to produce 1 kg of potatoes, 600 for 1 kg of wheat, 2000 for 1 kg of rice, but up to 100,000 for 1 kg of beef. India is the world's largest exporter of beef. 69 billion land animals are slaughtered each year for food. That's a lot of water saved if the whole world goes vegan.

More trees, forests, greenery

Our diminishing forests are seriously threatened by grazing animals. 260 million acres of virgin forest in the world have been cleared for cropland to support a meat-centered diet with about 50 million more acres going every year to create more grazing lands or grow animal fodder.

More wildlife

More wildlife habitat means more wildlife.

Less global warming

The WHO and FAO released a joint 400-page document called Livestock's Long Shadow which notes that livestock produce more greenhouse gases than all the vehicles combined!

Less pollution of land, air, and water

Manure lagoons from concentrated animal feeding operations pollute our land, air and water supply. The high concentration of manure in the rivers and lakes kill billions of fish and aquatic life and leads to a growing number of abnormalities of marine animals.

More social justice

What humans do to animals, they also do to each other. Racial discrimination and species discrimination are connected. Today discrimination, exploitation, sexual exploitation and violation, rape, murder, etc have more animal victims than human victims but this is not even being acknowledged by the vast majority. By stopping these injustices on animals, and by attributing every form of life rights, we will create a more just society especially amongst humans.

Compassion for other living creatures

69 billion land animals and countless more sea animals die every year to feed 7 billion humans that could have thrived on plants. Every animal fights till the last for the only thing it owns, its own life.

If these points fail to impress you, here's a list of various celebrities who have turned vegan and living a healthy life - Bill Clinton, Alicia Silverstone, Amala Akkineni, Ellen DeGeneres, Bryan Adams, James Cromwell, Heather Mills McCartney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Carl Lewis, Kenneth Williams, Mike Tyson, Ruth Heidrich, Venus Williams, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Wynns and many many more are all vegan and thriving.

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