Living in California, it seems like everyone is going vegan these days, or at least attempting some variation of it. Because of the intensity of the trend and the volume of converts, the word “vegan” can have a negative connotation to some individuals. Due to the selectivity of their diets, vegans get a bad rap, and are sometimes labeled as “annoying” or “picky.” However, going vegan truly has many benefits, ranging from personal health gains to increasing the health of the world around us.
Veganism, as defined by The Vegan Society, is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” In a survey conducted by veganbits.com, it was found that out of 11,000 adults over the age of 17, two percent of Americans are vegetarians and 0.5% of them are vegan. To go vegan means saying goodbye to meat, dairy products, honey, etc. And yes, that means no ice cream (made with milk at least). Nonetheless, there is an increasing number of vegan restaurants like Native Foods and Veggie Grill that make the vegan lifestyle more achievable (Hello vegan cookies!).
Despite the restrictive diet, people are not in short supply of reasons for wanting to go vegan, from feelings about animals and trying to protect the environment, to personal health reasons. PVHS Senior Rachel Hood, a two-year vegan, says, “For me, choosing veganism started with a concern for treatment of animals in the factory farm industry, but over the past few years my choice has evolved into not only a concern for animal rights, but for the detriments the livestock industry has on the environment and the role that politics has in it.”
Partly out of concern for animal welfare and partly to see the health benefits vegans rave about, I myself went vegan for five weeks a few years ago. And, let me be the first to say that it is no easy feat. There were countless trials and travails, from buying “nutritional yeast” (supposed to taste like cheese), to realizing that some tomato soups do indeed include cream (after consuming an entire bowl). I missed sushi, and coffee with almond milk just wasn’t the same. Though my time as a vegan was shorter than most, I gained an immense amount of respect for anyone who commits to this diet and/or lifestyle.
It is easy to see that the vegan diet is much more complex than just being some “Los Angeles trend”, and serious kudos, not complaints, are warranted for anyone who decides to dedicate themselves to this venture. And who knows, perhaps I will just have to give veganism another chance.