The Environmental Vegan

The world’s leading cause of climate change is animal agriculture, an industry contributing more than 51% of greenhouse gas emissions (a conservative estimate).

Beef is a huge product among consumers, and the love affair Americans have with the industry valued it at $60 billion (in the U.S. alone) in 2015. There is a financial incentive to perpetuate this environmental and health hazardous industry and discredit facts presented by its opposers to maintain the industry’s foothold at the nuclear family’s dinner table. Our consumption of these animals is continuing to enrich this $60 billion industry while we, the consumers, harm our health and our environment.

As you may know, many vegans and vegetarians choose their diets for different reasons, the environment being one of those reasons.  The environmental vegan refuses to accept and contribute to an industry that exists in the environmentally irresponsible way that the animal agriculture industry does. The facts below are some of the environmental reasons vegans and vegetarians choose to refrain from contributing to the animal agriculture industry, thereby “voting with their dollars” against it.

Quick facts about animal agriculture and climate change (Sources: Cowspiracy Documentary, this article):

  • The methane produced by cows in the animal agriculture industry is 86 times more destructive than CO2 in its contribution to climate change
  • Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day
  • Livestock contributes 65% of all nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions
  • Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times more destructive than CO2

What if we all changed our diets for the better? (Sources: this research paper, this article)

  • If everyone ate a vegetarian diet, emissions would fall by 44 percent ($973 billion savings in health costs)
  • If everyone ate a vegan diet, emissions would fall by 55 percent ($1 trillion savings in health costs)

So what could it mean for humans if we chose a diet that would be better for our health and our environment? We could live longer, healthier lives and we could have an environment capable of sustaining our extended lifetimes.

Climate change is no longer a problem of the future. The future is here and it’s us– it’s how you and me and everyone else decides to shape it. As soon as 2050, much of our land above sea-level is predicted to be below it. That means that there will be no Miami Beach for me to spend my retirement in (I don’t know about you but I don’t want to lose that view).

Two important documentaries on the subject of climate change and the animal agriculture industry’s contribution to it are Before the Flood and Cowspiracy. I recommend these to anyone who has an interest in knowing the scope of humanity’s impact on the health of the planet.

Informative, easy-to-read articles on this subject from Vegan and Conservation websites:

Can Veganism Save The Planet?

The World’s Leading Driver of Climate Change: Animal Agriculture

What If The Whole World Went Vegan?

 

Vegan Side Effects: Healthy Brain & Healthy Heart

Vegans are typically health-conscious individuals who, after cutting meat and dairy products from their diet, also choose to eliminate highly processed foods from their diets, even if those food products are vegan (like Spicy Sweet Doritos, for example).  The benefits of following a healthy vegan diet (it’s okay to cheat on your diet with vegan guilty pleasures every now and then) are many, but the most impactful benefits are the benefits to your heart and your brain.

Heart Benefits

  • At least 25% reduced risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease (Source)
  • TMAO, which increases the risk of heart disease, is lower in vegans/vegetarians than in meat eaters (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction and Stage B Heart Failure Burden (Source)
  • Reversal of existing coronary artery disease (Source)

Brain Benefits

  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Multiple Sclerosis (Source)
  • Reduced risk of senile dementia (Source)
  • Reduced risk of having a stroke (Source)
  • Regression of diabetic neuropathy (Source)

Check out this fun article on brain superfoods (11/12 vegan options).

Some other benefits: reduced risk of cancer, obesity, hypertension, gallstones, cholesteroldiabetes, and more. Vegans also have lower mortality rates.

Please feel free to google around for more sources. It’s fun to do your research, challenge your beliefs (and challenge assumptions in others’ beliefs), and in the end learn something new! If you’ve ever tried the vegan/vegetarian diet, leave me a comment! How did you feel afterward? Did it help you? Did it not? I’d like to know! Thanks for reading 🙂

Looking at the Menu

The world has changed a lot since 2011, a time when being vegan/vegetarian meant you were forced to stick to the appetizer and sides menus at restaurants. In 2017, nearly every restaurant I go to has at least one meatless entree item and choices that accommodate the dairy-free. When I went to this restaurant called Earls a few weeks ago, I ordered a vegan burger which prompted the manager to come by our table just to tell us that they offered a vegan alternate to every item on their menu (side note: Earls has the best vegan sushi rolls I’ve ever tasted, which the manager gave to us on the house).

If I’m out to dinner and there’s someone at the table I’ve never met, one of our mutual friends will undoubtedly make my diet a topic of conversation before the waiter comes by to take our order. It usually starts off with someone saying, “oh, Natalie is vegan by the way,” to which this new acquaintance will either say “me too!”, or ask a bunch of questions about what it means to be vegan like “where do you get your protein?” or “do you care if I eat meat in front of you?”

As a culture, we are desensitized to what it means to eat meat. Even as a vegan, I can’t say it bothers me to see people eat meat because it is so engrained in our culture. But if I really think about the question “do you care if I eat meat in front of you?” I have to think, why are you eating meat if the ethical option is there for you? When we think about the health risks of eating meat, how animal agriculture is damaging our environment, and the millions of animals who are suffering for five minutes of our gustatory satisfaction, contributing to this industry seems insane but our society does it anyway. The right choice is clear but we’ve designed it to be the alternative, and although the groupthink is changing, it’s not changing fast enough.

This week I’m going to write about the three common reasons people become vegan/vegetarian: health, environmental, and moral. I think a lot of people who aren’t vegan/vegetarian assume vegans/vegetarians abstain from meat eating because we don’t think animals should be killed for human consumption. While that is part of the reason for many of us, it’s not all of it.

Where Do Vegans Get Their Calcium?

Hi guys! I made another clustered bar graph to show my common sources of calcium. The graph is based on the serving sizes on nutritional labels. If you haven’t tried Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Milk, you’re missing out!

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For more information on vegan sources of calcium, click here. Below is a quote directly from The Vegan Society webpage which easily explains calcium absorption.

Some foods, such as spinach, contain a high amount of calcium but is bound to a substance called ‘oxalate’ which hinders calcium absorption.This is why replacing spinach with low-oxalate vegetables such as rocket, cabbage and kale are key to a calcium-rich diet.

Interestingly, calcium in cow’s milk is not as easily absorbed, meaning that vegetables such as kale are much better sources of calcium than animal milks or ‘dairy’.

🙂

My Top 3 Vegan Restaurants in South Florida

There are plenty of vegan/vegetarian restaurants to try in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. Below are my top 3 based entirely on the taste of their food. I wish we had a “Loving Hut” down here (it’d definitely make the list). If you’re ever in South Florida and only have the time to eat at one of these, go to Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin. It’s a tiny little restaurant with the best vegan/vegetarian food you’ll ever try.

Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin

Address: 73 NE 167th St, North Miami Beach, FL 33162

Menu here

Eden In Eden

Address: 1248 SW 22nd St, Miami, FL 33145

Menu here

Plant Food + Wine

Address: 105 NE 24th St, Miami, FL 33137

Menu: here

 

Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?

Every vegan/vegetarian has been asked this question at least once. I made this little clustered bar graph to show the common sources of protein for me. The graph is based on the serving sizes on nutritional labels but I think most of us usually eat more than the recommended amount😂.

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If you’re a vegan who’s into working out and getting big, there are several vegan bodybuilders you can learn from like this guy. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help :).

Mayan Guac – 5 Minute Recipe

This is by far the best guac I’ve ever tried (it’s my mother’s Honduran recipe). Be careful when making this, you may never want any other type of guac again!

Ingredients you’ll need for a party of one or a party of four:

  • 1 slice of avocado (4 slices)
  • 3 cilantro leaves (12 leaves)
  • 1/2 a tomato (2 tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lime (2 limes)
  • 1/4 onion dices (1 onion)
  • sprinkle of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
  • sprinkle of pepper (1/8 teaspoon)

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Directions:

  1. Mash up the avocado until smooth (it’s okay if it has a few bumps)
  2. Dice up 1/2 a tomato
  3. Dice up 3 cilantro leaves
  4. Dice up 1/4 of an onion
  5. Mix tomato, cilantro, and onion into the mashed guac
  6. Squeeze half a lime into the guac mix
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the guac
  8. Voila! You’re done 🙂

Please let me know in the comments if you try this recipe! And if you have any delicious guacamole tips, send them my way!