Veganism is on the rise all over the United States, according to Forbes. Several reasons for this surge toward vegan diets include health benefits, celebrity support and awareness of how non-vegan lifestyles harm the environment and animal populations.
A vegan lifestyle, according to healthline.com, is defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing or any other purpose.
For some people, such as Ohio State University freshman Elena Stojanovaski, avoiding personal contributions to animal exploitation and cruelty pulled her to be vegan.
“I really love animals and didn’t want to hurt them,” she said. “Plus, being vegan is very good for the environment.”
As Stojanovaski said, being vegan helps to limit the amount of harmful carbon emissions created by the food industry during the various steps of production.
Being vegan results in a reduction of carbon emissions one’s individual lifestyle produces. According to an infographic from vox.com, vegans only produce 6.4 pounds of carbon emissions every day as compared to 12.4 pounds of carbon emissions every day from medium meat eaters, or people who eat 1.7 and 3.5 ounces of meat each day.
Angel Sterringer, a student at BGSU, was drawn to the vegan lifestyle for a few reasons.
“I decided to become vegan for my health, for the environmental impact, and for athletic performance reasons,” she wrote.
Sterringer and Stojanovaski are part of the 3% of people aged 18-29 who have decided to give a vegan diet a try. According to an infographic created by Forbes and Statistica, the 18-29-year-old age group are tied for the second most likely to be vegans, as compared to 4% in the 30-49-year-old age group, 1% in the 50-64-year-old age group and 3% in the 65 and older age group.
Some people won’t partake in the diet because they believe it will affect their quality of life too much. Junior Gerontology major Veronica Voinovich falls into this group.
“With all the things that I’m allergic to, being vegan would restrict my diet in a way that would not be healthy for me,” she said.
Not being healthy and getting all the nutrients is a concern many people have when considering vegan lifestyles and diets.
“Anytime I ever tell people I'm vegan they automatically ask me what I eat and how I get all the nutrients and protein and how many supplements I have to take, which can actually be very frustrating because a plant-based diet provides nearly everything I need/would get from a regular meat and dairy diet,” Sterringer wrote. “The only supplements I ever take is vitamin B-12, a vitamin most people are deficient in, and iron, only because I am anemic and was anemic even when I was eating meat and dairy as well.”
Even though Sterringer needs dietary supplements no matter what she eats, Stojanovski conceded she had to start taking supplements after beginning the vegan lifestyle.
“My iron got a bit low after becoming vegan, but it’s all good now because I take a supplement,” she said.
Other concerns with lack of nutrients include lack of protein and vitamin B12, both of which are important to the healthy function of the human body. However, like Stojanvoski stated, vitamins are available to supplement a vegan diet.
Moreover, researching different vegan foods with protein and B12 and adding them into one’s diet can help to avoid lack of those nutrients in the first place.
“Protein can be found in so many things, nuts, beans, tofu, legumes, soy milk, fake meat, etc., so protein is never an issue. Education on the proper plant-based diet is so crucial,” Sterringer wrote.
In addition to educating oneself about vegan diets and lifestyles before hopping into one, Sterringer also recommends getting a few vegan cookbooks to come up with new recipes.
“Get yourself some vegan cookbooks! I got myself a few because I was catching myself making the same things for dinner every night and the cookbooks are super helpful and great resources,” she wrote.
She also recommends finding someone willing to make the transition as well.
“Try and find someone to transition to this lifestyle with you. It is so much easier having someone checking on you and keeping you on track and supporting you along the journey. Both of my sisters went vegan as well and they have been a great support system when all I can think about is the Dunkin' cart in Olscamp,” she wrote.
Stojanovski recommended transitioning slowly and even just trying specific parts of a vegan diet, but not transitioning fully.
“Just putting effort into doing what’s good for the planet and animals is already a step in the right direction. Little things, such as cutting out things little by little or doing meatless Mondays, are great starts and do a lot of good,” she said.
For more information about being vegan, visit vegan.com.