11 Convincing Reasons that Going Vegan Isnt Crazy | Reader's Digest

11 Convincing Reasons that Going Vegan Isn’t Crazy

It can save you money while you still eat amazing vegan comfort food and more. See why more and more people are becoming vegan and learn how to make going vegan easy.

By Perri O. Blumberg
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    So what's going vegan?

    There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what it really means to be a vegan. The veganism philosophy can extend beyond the plate ("I won't eat anything that has a bladder or a mother") to not wearing animal products (leather, suede, fur, wool, silk, feathers), and avoiding products with animal ingredients or testing ("cruelty-free" labels). Here, we debunk the fact from fiction.

    Even eating vegan part-time can benefit your health.

    Vegans and those who avoid animal products (even part of the day, or part of the week) often have low rates of obesity, and on average weigh 5 to 20 percent less than meat eaters. Vegetarian diets on the whole are linked to lower BMIs, reduced risk of type II diabetes and lower incidents of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables lower rates of certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

    You'll get enough protein from plants.

    According to traditional dietary standards, a 140-pound woman should have 50 grams of protein a day, and for a vegan that might come from a cup each of cooked spinach (5  grams), lentils (18 grams), and tempeh (a soy product with 41 grams). (You can find more suggestions from the Vegetarian Resource Group.)

    In fact, large-scale research like The China Study have revealed that too much protein, namely animal protein, is harmful for your health. Other research shows that excess protein in your body can strain your kidneys or cling as fat. 


    Vegan recipes are cheap, plentiful, and tasty.

    Vegan diets can be extremely economical. Many vegans center their diet around grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, all of which can be purchased cheaply in bulk. Buying in-season veggies and fruits is quite easy on your wallet. Eating Vegan on $4 A Day outlines an entire day's-worth of nutritionally-complete, delicious meals that cost less than a take-out sandwich or double cheeseburger dinner.

    Plenty of grocery staples are vegan.

    PETA's comprehensive list helps identify what popular supermarket foods are vegan, including dark chocolate, Oreos (reformulated from a lard-based recipe), Twizzlers, Betty Crocker Bac-o's Bacon Flavor Bits and Kraft Taco Bell Taco Dinner.

    Surprisingly, these foods are not: Altoids (contain gelatin), BBQ Baked Lays ("natural flavor" with milk and chicken powder), and Kellogg's Raisin Bran (the vitamin D source is animal-based). Vegans ought to check non-dairy or lactose-free cheese closely, as some contain casein, rennet, and whey. Since cholesterol only comes from animal products, "cholesterol-free" is likely vegan.

    Other foods to watch: some wines are clarified with gelatin, isinglass (fish bladders) and albumin, and certain vodkas and spirits have ingredients like cochineal (food coloring from insect shells) and bone charcoal. Organic, biodynamic, or natural labels likely indicate vegan drinks; for a detailed list check out Barnivore.

    Change your plate, change the world.

    Nearly 20 percent of man-made pollution comes from the meat industry, putting factory farming ahead of transportation in contributing to the greenhouse effect. What's more, it takes about 40 calories of fossil-fuel energy to create every one calorie of feed-lot beef in the U.S. (compared to 2.2 calories of energy needed to create plant proteins).

    According to VeganOutreach.org, one person can spare about 50 animals per year by eliminating animals from his diet. In 2011, USA Today reported that nearly 50 percent of Americans are trying to cut down on meat, while approximately one-fifth of students are vegetarian, vegan, or trying to eat less meat. 

    Vegans make a winning grilled cheese.

    Vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a nondairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the butter-and-egg fest that is Cupcake Wars twice: Chloe Coscarelli and Doron Petersan both gained top honors with nondairy creations.

    So how do they do it? Petersan shares, "You can replace eggs and dairy in any recipe, if you know what you are looking for. Moisture and color? Try applesauce in your muffins. Lift and fluff? Use seltzer in place of milk in your pancakes. Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache? Use a recipe without eggs, like the ones in my Sticky Fingers Sweets! It’s not always about replacing dairy or eggs, but rather using science to recreate recipes so that you get the textures and flavors you crave without the animal products." 

    You can ease into it (and out of it).

    There's the Vegucated challenge, with daily email support around a plan that helps users eat vegan for a month, or eliminate different food groups each week; another popular option is the 28-day Engine 2 Diet.

     

    Veganism is not a fad diet.

    It may have gained momentum recently as a backbone of certain environmental and health movements, but veganism existed in ancient India and Greece, and is part of many religious beliefs such as Buddhism and Seventh Day Adventists. 

    Vegans who eat well don't need to buy additional supplements.

    There's just one: To help with brain and nervous system functions, vitamin B12 is key. Since B12 only occurs naturally in animal-sourced foods, vegans can instead eat fortified nutritional yeast and often sprinkle it over pasta, tofu ricotta, or fresh popcorn for a buttery taste. 

    Guess who's gone vegan?

    It's not as extreme as it once was: a 2012 Gallup poll found that 5% of adult Americans consider themselves vegetarian and 2% vegans. They've joined the likes of dozens of public faces: actors like Alec Baldwin to Woody Harrelson; politicians like Bill Clinton; and top athletes including Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, and Carl Lewis, and Mike Tyson.

    You can make friends!

    Even if you're the only vegan in your personal circle of family and friends, a simple search on Meetup.com for "vegan" yields thousands of events across the country, from vegan potlucks to "Vegan Ladies Who Lunch" to "Raw Vegan Singles."


    Sources: Marisa Miller Wolfson, director of documentary film Vegucated; Ashlee Piper, manager of the Vegucated community Doron Petersan owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and author of
    Sticky Fingers' Sweets; Chef Chloe Coscarelli author of Chloe's Vegan Desserts (Feb 2013) and Chloe's Kitchen, Skinny Bitch; Crystal Tate, President of Food for Lovers, Inc.; Brendan Brazier vegan athlete and founder of Thrive Forward; Gena Hamshaw, clinical nutritionist and founder of choosingraw.com; Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet, Daiya Foods, The Vegetarian Resource Group,  PETA.org, The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Gardein, Freekeh Foods, Lisa's Organics.

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    Your Comments

    • http://www.naturallifeenergy.com/ Aqiyl Aniys

      I haven’t been sick since I adopted a plant based diet! That is the number one reason for me.

    • Helen Tam-Semmens

      Want a really good reason to be a vegan? Meat and dairy production today is incredibly cruel. Animals have to be pumped full of antibiotics and chemicals just to be kept barely alive, due to horrific living conditions. Actually half of all chicken died before making it to slaughter houses. How can we continue to eat the diseased chemical-laden meat/diary on our plate, knowing so much suffering is behind it? Have mercy. Watch the short clip ‘Farms to Fridge’ on YouTube.

    • Moderation

      The green house effect was a lie and has been disproven in the 1990′s, and so is global warming. Guess what, climate science has proven that the earth is cooling not warming, but people are still on the climate change train. If we were to cut out all CO2 from this planet all plant life would die, because they actually breath in CO2 and release O2 into the atmosphere. Meat is actually good for the body in moderation just like grains in moderation. Jenny Craig has one of the best weight loss programs in the world, and you know what it is about? Portion control is how you lose weight effectively, because it teaches you to eat LESS. Also, all the God haters out there need to know that he created certain animals to be received with thanks giving. Read 1Timothy chapter 4. All through the bible it talks about moderation, and Jenny Craig is a good tool to teach how to be moderate with your eating.

      • Mary

        God did not intend for billions of animals to be slaughtered every year after living an awful life where they aren’t even let outside. They stand in their own fecal matter their entire lives, and don’t get to raise their own young. Broiler chickens live in cages the size of a laptop and have their beaks and claws seared off without anesthetic after hatching to keep them from attacking each other in close quarters. Veal calves are removed from their dairy producing mothers hours, HOURS, after they give birth to provide milk for their OWN OFFSPRING, not our own human species. If you can honestly say that you buy all of your animal products from local, free range, ‘humane’ (in quotes, because it’s hypocritical to think that killing a living creature is humane) farmers that you know personally and have seen them care for the animals, than more power to you, you’re better than most non-vegans. However, seeing as Jenny Craig does not locally source their products and creates them in a factory setting, I doubt that can be true, seeing as you are such a strong proponent of their company. P.s. Not a god hater, was raised Catholic, consider myself a Christian, go to church every sunday and sing as a cantor. I know for a fact that my god, the merciful loving god I was raised to follow, would never want to see his earth and it’s creatures desecrated.

        • duh

          Unless he kills them all in a Great Flood.

      • mypipsranout

        So what about “Thou shall not kill” then? Pretty clear to me. It doesn’t say thou shall not kill humans. Plus whatever your faith, we evolved (or are all those fossil & bones fake), & we evolved alongside our mammal brothers & sisters. You enslaved take courage, you meat-eaters take care for this Earth was made a common treasury for all to share.

      • duh

        If there were no green house gases in the atmosphere, then the Earth would be too cold for humans as carbon traps heat from the sun in. This has been true for millions of years.
        Go to school before spouting out religion as “science”.

    • Chloe A. Carl

      B12 is NOT from animal sources. GET IT RIGHT PLEASE, make a correction.
      Like AJ said, it’s in soil from bacteria.

    • Michelle

      Just to clarify, if someone wears leather or fur, or uses health and beauty products which contain animal by-products or tests on animals, they are not vegan. Vegan isn’t just a dietary lifestyle, it’s everything in your life. The Readers Digest description is better suited to a Total Vegetarian, meaning they omit all animal products in food, but not necessarily in any other aspect of their lives.

      • cozco

        The term vegan has evolved, as words often do.

        It is now appropriate to use the word vegan to indicate food that contains no animal products or a person who ingests no animal products.

        Technically, they are dietary vegans but they are often called vegan for short and that’s not a problem. Virtually all dietary vegans end up learning about the pain & suffering they’re causing via the use of various other products and they end up eliminating their use of those products.

        • Thomas Hisey

          The term vegan has not evolved, as you put it, it has been misappropriated — and there is an enormous difference!

          The foundational cornerstone of veganism is that it is an ethical and compassionate lifestyle that is fully and completely devoid of any animal exploitation.

          If that is not the single, underlying core of your behavior, moral compass, lifestyle choices, and belief system — then you are simply not a vegan.

          A vegan strictly eats a plant-based diet. That is correct. Others who eat nothing but a plant-based diet but lack the ethical and compassionate commitment to non-exploitation of any other animals, are NOT vegan.

          • Mary

            Amen!

    • Rick Carter

      Very interesting article. I will be sharing this with my family, and a couple friends too.

    • Ileana Roger

      THE REASON I WENT VEGAN WAS BECAUSE OF THE CRUELTY TO THE COW AND THE BABY COW ALSO THE PIG I LOVE ALL ANIMALS I HAVE A CAT SHELTER AND 2 DOGS I DID NOT KNOW THE CRUELTY WITH THE ANIMALS. I SAW A TEXT ON FB ON THE COW AND I STARTED INVESTIGATING IT TOOK ME 2 WEEKS EVERYDAY AND I WAS IN SHOCK WOW IS ALL OUT THERE . CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF THE CRUELTY WITH ALL ANIMALS IS TERRIBLE…. I HAVE FAME ON MY COOKING I HAVE GIVING UP AT LEAST 100 DISHES THAT I WILL NEVER EAT AGAIN……OR COOK…AGAIN…….I AM VEGAN AND PROUD OF IT I CAN HONESTLY SAY I LOVE THE ANIMALS…….BUT I WILL NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE SLAUGHTER THAT IS GOIN ON EVERYDAY……..THANK YOU …GO VEGAN.

    • Mary

      Okay people,
      Vegan and plant-based diets are DIFFERENT. If you don’t want someone to think you’re vegan for animal rights (which is stupid; you’re ashamed for being confused for someone who’s compassionate?), then you eat a plant-based diet. You probably wear leather and wool, don’t feel a moral dilemma about zoos and aquariums, and may on occasion ‘cheat’ by eating a favorite ‘luxury’ food such as cheese, eggs, or meat. You went ‘vegan’ for your health, and nothing more. Think Dr. Ornish and Dr. Barnard (both wonderful men and pioneers in nutritional science who are doing great things spreading wellness information but not really on the forefront of the vegan culinary/animal rights movement).

      If you chose to pursue a more compassionate lifestyle, if you looked at your dog or cat and thought “why don’t I eat or wear them?”, if you could no longer live with the thought of contributing to the suffering of millions of animals every day, then you would consider yourself vegan. The term vegan came about in the 1940′s in England and was created by a man, Donald Watson, who thought vegetarians were hypocritical for excluding certain animals from their circle of compassion. Watson’s British Vegan Society, the origin of veganism, states explicitly that a vegan is someone who does not exploit animals of any kind, for any reason. It is a moral and ethical dilemma. Think Isa Chandra, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and Christine Pirello.

      Either way, good for you. You’re doing what’s right for your body, what’s right for the earth, and what’s right for animals (even if that’s not a direct intention of yours). But please realize the difference; it confuses the heck out of people when you say you’re vegan but eat a steak every once in a while and wear leather, and quite frankly, it’s annoying.

      P.S. Yes, I have heard the ‘how do you know there’s a vegan in the room” and every other joke directed at Vegans and vegetarians. SO, please don’t feel too funny when that’s your only response to this post.

      • Michelle

        I just spoke to someone the other day that said, “I’m vegan, but I still take Salmon oil supplements. It’s important. T. Colin Campbell does it too.” Yeah, well guess who’s not vegan then?! I clarified the same thing about this article– I don’t understand how people keep missing this VERY crucial point.

        • Mary

          It drives me bonkers! Especially when people say “I’m vegan now, but not for the animals, it’s for my health” Than guess what, you’re not vegan. Vegans don’t go on drunk fried chicken binges every weekend.

    • Doug S.

      Oreos are in no way vegan. Yes, they have no animal products in them, but that’s only part of the spirit of being vegan. Avoiding processed foods is central to veganism. Oreos and twinkies hardly count as “whole foods.”

      • cozco

        For vegans who want to eat junk food, Oreos are vegan junk food.
        Not all vegans eliminate junk food from their diet.

      • Gary Loewenthal

        Being vegan isn’t a quest for personal purity. It’s striving to refrain from inflicting avoidable harm on others. A vegan chocolate chip cookie every now and then isn’t going to kill you, but it is fun.

    • Nataki

      I like the title but think some of the points are ridiculous, in the literal sense meaning worth ridicule. Case in point, “identify what popular supermarket foods are vegan, including dark chocolate, Oreos (reformulated from a lard-based recipe), Twizzlers, Betty Crocker Bac-o’s Bacon Flavor Bits and Kraft Taco Bell Taco Dinner” Just because there is no dairy or meat in the stuff doesn’t make it “food” let alone “vegan food”. The garbage listed is still garbage shown as food. Shards of glass, Poison ivy, and antifreeze are free from animal products too. That doesn’t mean you should ingest them just because they are vegan. Nutrient rich + life affirming + healing + disease reducing + building or cleansing + vegan =food. NO EXCEPTIONS