An Increasing Number of People Across the Western World Are Adopting a Vegan Diet. Is Veganism the Future?

Updated on July 24, 2018
Yanna Khir profile image

Yanna Khir is a Psychology student and part-time medical translator for material about alternative medicine.

Veganism may just be a type of diet, but for some people it is a lifestyle, which rejects the harm or use of animal products for any reason, such as food, clothing and other purposes. The supporters of this lifestyle/philosophy are called vegans. People become vegans for numerous reasons, such as health and ethical issues. Although nowadays veganism is the most widely known trend, I firmly believe that veganism isn’t the future because a vegan dietary is very strict and limited in nutrition sources, which leads to a higher likelihood of developing mental or physical health disorders.

It is true that for some people veganism is a sophisticated way of living and a new philosophy which they want to turn into a religion. Those people are divided into two categories: the dietary vegans and the ethical vegans. The first type, dietary vegans, have chosen this lifestyle because of the health benefits, well-planned vegan diets as per nutritionists may reduce the likelihood of some types of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cholesterol. Compared with others, vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum of cholesterol and low blood pressure, which leads to a small probability of having cardiovascular diseases. (Harvard Medical School, 2014) The second group which are ethical vegans, turn into vegans for ethical reasons. They support and stand for the fact that the killing of animals is a sin, because they believe animals have souls too and that eating/harming them is just not right. Some ethical vegans strongly believe in veganism as they do about religion, claiming that it brings about bad karma eating fellow living creatures and that consuming dead bodies won’t help in spiritual growth and awakening. (Johnson, 2015) To a certain extent there is proof that veganism may be the right option to keep the body in a healthy condition as going vegan reduces the risks of diseases. It also helps an individual keep fit as he/she will be consuming much more fruits and vegetables, which are packed with loads of vitamins and nutrition, however it still shouldn’t be lifelong option.

Firstly, veganism has some essential nutritional shortfalls, which may lead to a higher risk of having physical health issues. By avoiding meats and fish, vegans are not getting enough protein, which helps with balancing weight loss and provides the body with important levels of energy. Also, animal-based protein plays a significant role in muscle development, bones and hormones growth. They consume far too many and too much grain products, such as pasta, bread, rice, cereals, which could often lead to a huge gain in fat count and even obesity. (Strong, 2015) Vegans are eating a lot of substitutes of meats and fish as well, which contain more preservatives and are high in sodium. Generally, these products are unnatural and modified, which makes it harder for the body to digest them.

Secondly, vegan diets lack micronutrients that helps our brain to function properly, which leads to a high probability of developing psychiatric disorders. Contrary to some widely known beliefs, plants and meats substitute don’t contain vitamin A, this vitamin helps significantly in vision, learning and memory. As well as vitamin D that can be found mostly in animal products, which maintains brain cells and slows their damaging. (Craig, 2009) Another vitally important vitamin is B12, which may be found mainly in animal and dairy products, such as meats, eggs, fish, milk and cheese. This essential vitamin helps the body to synthesize DNA, RNA and red blood cells, the lack of which or the prolonged deficiency leads to a whole variety of mental disorders, such as depression, memory problems, split personality or even worse fatality. (Khatri, 2017) Other micronutrients that are higher in animal products are iodine, iron and zinc. Those vitamins are natural antidepressants and each one of them is important for healthy mental maintenance. Iodine is very critical for brain growth and maintenance, the lack of it may lead to intellectual disorders. Iron is a brain energy for memory, cell signaling and baby brain development. Zinc itself reduces the severity of depression symptoms. Lastly, not to forget the most important vitamin is the omega-3, which can be found in fish oil is extremely significant in connection between the brain cells. (Ede, 2017)

Thirdly, ethical veganism can be a practice but cannot be a religion. This is as ethical veganism is the philosophy of respecting every living soul on this planet by avoiding harming or killing them and not causing any source of pain to any animal. A religion is a set of beliefs in superhuman power, which is one or a few gods, and the explanation about creation of nature and purpose of the universe. (Grillo, 2013) Contrary to religion, veganism itself is just a plant- based diet. Although there are several religions that support veganism, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, they refer to gods and just one part of their spiritual practice by avoiding the consumption of animals as the body is the temple and it should be holy. Thus, they refrain from eating another living being’s soul, as those religions support the fact that every life has a soul. (Johnson, 2015)

Lastly, in the modern-day veganism might be more of a trend or something people choose to adopt because of what they view on the internet. People may chance upon videos on their social media accounts that show the inhumane ways that animals are killed for food and thus feel disgusted and discouraged from ever consuming anymore animal products. People might also be more aware of the methods that industries use to produce meat that harms the environment in several ways, such as the release of harmful gases which includes methane and carbon dioxide. Large amounts of these gases will continue to severely damage the ozone layer causing more dramatic climate change. (Briggs, 2017) Animal activists are also becoming more fanatic by engaging in many numerous ways to try to convince people to go vegan. As we all know, vegan cafes and restaurants are popping up everywhere in major cities, this may lead curious passersby to try these foods and end up falling for them. These cafes and restaurants are also very welcoming, and they ensure first time diners feel like by converting to a vegan, they will be part of an elite group. Therefore, it may be more of a trend than a belief. (Hancox, 2018) Hancox also goes on to mention how besides the rise in vegans cafes and restaurants, there has also been a rise in hipster events that advocate veganism “Veganism might have recently acquired a hipster cache at buzzy London events such as Vegan Nights and the weekly Hackney Downs market established by influential blogger Sean O’Callaghan, AKA “the Fat Gay Vegan”, but its surging popularity is a national phenomenon, with plant-based food festivals and businesses booming from Bristol to Inverness.”

In conclusion, for all the above-mentioned reasons vegans should be mindful of the consequences of not consuming animal and dairy products as it may cause a wide range of diseases and furthermore affect their own children from early age. As we can see, there are several reasons why people choose to be vegans. However, no matter how popular veganism is getting and the number of people that are converting to veganism, veganism cannot be the future. There are far too many shortfalls of veganism as listed above and since the dawn of time, human beings were never made to be herbivores. Meat and animal products have always been a fundamental and essential part of our diet and will always be.

© 2018 Iana Kirilitsenko

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