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Is it a time to be a vegan?

According to Vegan Society, the vegan diet has been one of the fastest growing lifestyle in Britain, can it really make us healthier and is it really ethically perfect?

Food contains Vitamins B-12 and D. Photo: JeShoots

“We are here to save the world!”

Gillian Ward, a vegan for 14 years, said this firmly.

When you hear this kind of slogan, you may wonder if you’re speaking with ambitious politicians or fanatics. But it is a quite common sense to many vegans and vegetarians.

Giving up meat has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle in Britain, as well as Cardiff specifically. This past February more than 1300 people participated in the Vegan Festival at City Hall, featuring over one hundred food stalls.

According to the UK Vegan Society, there are more than three million vegetarians and over half a million vegans now living in the UK, with about 2000 people ‘going veggie’ on every week.

 

Visitors are having lunch in the main hall. Photo by Shaung Chen

The reasons of cutting meat from diets may varies.“The first reason is always the compassion for animals,”said Gillian. “Apart from that, the second motivation for me to insist a meat-free diet is keeping fit.”

Justin Carswell, the manager of Viva! (a vegan campaign) said, “I think ethical reasons are most concerned by vegans or vegetarians. The average person in Britain eats over eleven thousand animals in a lifetime, by going vegan you’re obviously not contributing to that. Most people don’t realize that animals are very young when they’re killed. Pigs for instance, usually killed at six-months-old. That’s so cruel!

Another reason is we should do more to protect our environment. Less meat we eat; fewer crops we need to grow to feed the animals. Stockbreeding is one reason due to the global warming, and there is 70 per cent land in Britain is used to feed farmed animals now. If we can decrease the number of farmed animals, we can put less pressure on our land.”

To Jane Oriel, ‘going veggie’ is more about personal health. No matter how much her carnivorous friends might deny it, Jane believes cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. “If you want to lose weight and be healthy at the same time, going vegan would be really helpful. I have lost five pounds since I followed the strict vegan diet. Moreover, as I am a vegan, the ‘mad cow disease’ and the ‘poison eggs’ will not bother me at all.”

Sophie Delarny, one organiser of the Vegan Festival said, “We intend to educate people on the benefits of lifestyle. It’s really a positive way for people to come and learn veganism and try amazing vegan food.”

Animals’ photographs on display. Using such pictures was to engage more people to save animals. Photo by Shuang Chen.

But can we really create a better world by being vegans?

Well, not always.

But can we really create a better world by being vegans?

Well, not always. Many researchers hold the view that being a vegan does have some side effects.

Wayne Martindale, a researcher from Sheffield Hallam University thinks that vegans have the same nutritional requirements as any human, but since they cannot get enough protein from meat, most of them rely on soy protein. Not only can soy harm our health by influencing human hormone system and increasing the risk of miscarriage, the soy industry can also do harm to the environment.

From a report of WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Brazil is one of the largest producers of soybeans in the world. To make money, soy farms across Brazil are replacing the rain forest and polluting river systems with pesticides.Deforestation due to farming destroys important ‘carbon sinks’, increasing the risk of carbon dioxide fuelled climate change.

Deforestation due to farming destroys important ‘carbon sinks’, increasing the risk of carbon dioxide fueled climate change.

Neither can a vegan diet guarantee that you’ll stop worrying about your weight. Many people find they turned heavier after being a vegan. The reliance on sugar-rich fruits and other calorie heavy foods such as nuts are necessary for nutrition, but can leave people eating more calories in one day.

In the case of children, the vegan diet should be used cautiously. The Vegan Society claims that a vegan diet is suitable for every stage of life but children on vegan diets have been known to develop rickets and other problems resulting from a lack of proper vitamins and minerals,according to US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.

Other potential medical issues vegans face include weak bones, and deficiencies in vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Dietary supplements may alleviate these problems, but the high price tag makes this a financially limiting option.

 

Vegan alternatives for all kinds of food, including cakes, are becoming increasingly popular. Photo by Shuang Chen.

Maybe we should re-consider our culture’s perspective on vegetarianism and veganism.

Although it may not be impossible for everyone to ‘go veggie’, many of the benefits can be achieved if even some of us do.

One study found that the World Health Organization’s dietary recommendations would bring the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions down by 17% – a figure that would drop by an additional 40% should citizens further avoid animal products and processed snacks.

Even without a complete switch, vegetarian philosophy is still something to consider in this era of overwhelming meat and junk food. We can all be encouraged to make healthier and more environmentally-friendly dietary decisions. After all, to most of us, especially in the era that most of us are overtaking meat and junk food.

Unfortunately, there is one drawback of veganism which may never be solved: taste.  “I’ve been living in China for four years,” Paul Creedy, a new vegetarian, said, “It was so hard for me to refuse all delicious food there! No matter how much I manipulate tofu or wheat gluten, it will never taste like a real cow.”

Even so, vegan and vegetarian alternatives can be found in practically every cuisine style the world over.

Watch the video below to get ideas for a  delicious Chinese vegan, gluten free meal.

One-day gluten-free diet: