To be honest, I always hesitate to tell people I’m vegan. That label comes with a lot of incorrect assumptions. It feels similar to telling people I’m a feminist. No one wants to hear it because they hold nothing but negative misconceptions about it.

Let’s look at a macro scale of this attitude because it’s gotten the entire planet into fatal trouble. The reality is that veganism, or at minimum a plant-based diet, would end global hunger many times over. Not to mention benefits to the global and local economies.

Another reality is that the vast majority of people are able to adopt a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet. They’re not restricted by health reasons, they don’t live in a food desert, they have time to cook. They’re simply choosing not to.

While cost can sometimes be a barrier, it often isn’t. A vegan diet is cheaper than an animal-based diet throughout the majority of the world. 

Freedom of choice

Claiming that veganism is restricting people’s choices is hard to justify. Particularly when you consider that animal options leave you with maybe two dozen different protein choices. Meanwhile, plant-based foods leave you with hundreds of thousands.

When you think about the damage animal agriculture is doing, claiming veganism “restricts choices” seems a bit disconnected from reality. We will always find reasons to eat animals, but given the current situation, we need to assess if it is wise, not if it is possible.

91% of deforestation is for animal agriculture.

MILLIONS of people are dying of starvation because of animal agriculture. 

Slaughterhouse workers are experiencing PTSD at unprecedented rates.

And they commit violent crimes at a higher rate than other professions. Many experts cite the nature of their work as the cause. 

You have to be able to admit these are global problems and humanitarian issues. This is our reality.

This isn’t about the minority

Again, this isn’t about the small group of people who are medically or financially unable to go vegan or plant-based. This isn’t about the people starving to death in developing nations because the crops they grow are used to feed the animals we consume instead of feeding them. 

This isn’t about the people who CAN DO NOTHING to fix the problem. It’s about the literal BILLIONS of people who can and choose not to. If you are one of those people, we all need you to wake up. 

A common misconception is that there is a global food shortage. Roughly one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. This translates to 1.3 billion tones of food. There is no food shortage. The food supply system is simply not working in an equitable way. 

We produce much of our grains and produce in developing countries for livestock consumption. We then ship this food to wealthy countries to consume. Leaving the people in the countries who grew the food, to starve.

Imagine for a moment that we could eat only what we could grow domestically. Suddenly impoverished countries would have food to eat. But what about us? Japan has successfully engineered vertical greenhouses. Many other countries have followed their lead.

Thinking differently

Vertical farms take up minimal room compared to traditional farming. Sparing us of transportation costs on the scale of international shipping rates. Also eliminating many of the harmful pesticides we consume.

Now that you know this, isn’t it clear that the way we go about manufacturing food is all wrong? See the difference even a degree of education on a subject makes? Which brings me to my final point.

If people have food, they can think, this implies they can learn. If they can learn, they can understand world issues and make informed decisions. Arguably, climate change wouldn’t even be deemed ‘controversial’ in America if the population was both well fed and well educated. 

It also stands to reason that if people were educated on the matter they’d have a different perspective. They would realize that the way we manufacture food is exclusively for the benefit of the major corporations involved.

The Next Step

If you’re considering a vegan diet, it’s important to know what to expect. Everyone’s experience is unique, but there are some overlaps and common struggles all vegans go through. In addition to research, take the time to read personal stories of vegans’ journey.

Everyone has an impact, big or small, positive or negative. Consider what kind of impact you want to make. Veganism is something that makes a substantial impact and is well within the control of most people to partake in.

Will one person going vegan solve the climate crisis? Hardly. But a few billion will. Our individualistic thinking is what got us into this mess. Maybe we should try a different approach to get out of it.