The 4 Best Benefits of Going Vegan
These days, being vegan is like being on easy street. Gone are the days of unseasoned tofu blocks or lackluster side salads—now, vegans don’t need to skip out on yummy junk foods or turn down a restaurant get-together with friends because there’s nothing on the menu for them. Chances are, you’ll see a solid vegan option wherever you go.
But why go vegan in the first place? What are the benefits, and are they really worth making the shift? (Spoiler alert: it is worth it!)
What is veganism?
First things first: the basics. What is veganism?
Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that has been around for thousands of years and is currently growing in popularity in places like the United States. Often grounded in compassion for animals, vegan adherents decide to only consume products made from plants and exclude animal products of any kind. So, no hamburgers, no omelets, no cheese pizza, no leather handbags, and the list goes on.
But before you think that veganism is all about not doing things, there is a whole world of exciting products to explore that are so much better for animals, the environment, and your own body.
What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?
Before getting into what makes vegans and vegetarians different, we should first point out what makes them the same: a concern for the wellbeing of animals, the planet, and personal health. Religious concerns can also play a factor in whether people abstain from meat or certain animal products.
While vegans cut out all animal products, vegetarians eliminate only meat. Think chicken breasts, steaks, fish fillets, hot dogs, bologna—products that are made directly from the flesh of animals.
Vegetarians do continue to eat eggs and dairy products, sometimes with the rationale that these products do not require the animals to be killed. But, while vegetarianism has its benefits, the industries that produce milk, cheese, and eggs cause a huge amount of animal suffering and can be terrible for your health and the planet’s health as well.
1. Benefits of going vegan for skin
Since we’re all about skincare here at Kinder Beauty, we thought we’d kick things off by showing you how veganism can benefit your skin.
Do you love a splash of cream in your morning coffee? How about a bowl of Cheerios with milk? Do you love an ice cream cone on a hot day? We’ve got some bad news for you—especially if you’re prone to acne.
Dairy products have been shown to actually cause acne and make existing acne worse. And often, no amount of pricey products will clear up your troubled skin, since topical solutions can be no match for dietary-related issues.
Ditching dairy can be great for your skin even if you don’t have acne woes. Because a vegan diet typically contains all sorts of fruits and veggies, which are loaded with good stuff like antioxidants and vitamins, your complexion can improve. So many skincare products are crafted using these foods (avocado facials, anyone?), so it makes sense that eating fruits and veggies on the daily can beautify you from the inside out.
While it might not seem immediately obvious that animal products may be lurking in your skincare, the reality is that they often are. Common ingredients like lanolin, squalene, and hyaluronic acid show up in everything from moisturizers to serums to lip balms and can be derived from animals.
At Kinder Beauty, we scour the market for brands that offer totally vegan products. So if you’re looking to score some vegan skincare, check out our marketplace and sign up for a Kinder Beauty Box subscription today!
2. Health benefits of going vegan
The benefits of veganism are more than skin-deep. A healthy vegan diet can improve your heart health, stave off disease, and promote all-around wellness. Sound too good to be true? We’ve got the science to prove it!
Not all vegan diets are created equal; there’s a ton of vegan junk food out there that won’t necessarily result in the benefits discussed below. A healthy vegan diet consists of whole foods (meaning minimally processed foods), healthy fats, and whole grains—so if your diet revolves around these foods, you could be on your way to improved health.
Vegan diet and cancer
Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the United States. But if everyone followed a healthy vegan diet, cancer rates could potentially be much lower.
Research suggests that eating fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of dying from cancer, and can help stave off certain types of cancers, including colon, breast, and prostate cancers.
Vegan diet and heart disease
A vegan diet can be excellent for your heart health.
Animal products can wage an all-out assault on your arteries: causing high blood pressure that hardens artery walls and elevating cholesterol levels that can clog up arteries. Both of these things can lead to heart disease and heart attacks.
With a vegan diet, both blood pressure and cholesterol levels tend to be much lower than meat-rich and even vegetarian diets. Studies have shown that vegans are 75 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure and are up to 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease. It’s pretty hard to argue with those numbers!
Vegan diet and weight loss
Diet culture can be pretty toxic, promoting poor body image and low self-esteem. At Kinder Beauty, we believe that beauty comes in all sizes.
But when it comes to interest in vegan diets, one of the most common questions people ask is: can eating this way make me lose weight? So even though we believe that you should feel good about your body no matter what, we’re here to tell you that a vegan diet can, in fact, promote weight loss—and more importantly, can help you maintain your optimal health so you feel your best.
One study found that vegan diets can be more effective for weight loss when compared with other diets, including vegetarian, pescatarian, and omnivorous diets.
3. Environmental benefits of veganism
Taking care of the planet is kind of a big deal, since we all depend upon a healthy global environment to survive! We’ve only got one planet to live on (for now—looking at you, Elon Musk), so we need to take care of it.
Fortunately, going vegan is a great way to do your part towards safeguarding a future where everyone on Earth gets to thrive.
Reducing climate change
When we think about climate change, the polluters that often come to mind are cars, planes, and oil and gas companies that are directly responsible for expelling emissions into the atmosphere.
But guess what? Animal agriculture is a major player when it comes to carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses that are accelerating global warming and causing climate change worldwide.
One study found that the five biggest meat and dairy companies emit even more CO2 than the biggest polluters of today (Exxon, Shell, and British Petroleum). And these numbers could be even higher since meat and dairy companies are notorious for underreporting and underestimating their emissions.
Part of the reason for all these carbon emissions is due to the waste that animals produce. Dairy cows, for example, produce a lot of methane gas, which is a very potent greenhouse gas. Plus, farmed animals need to eat: the food (often grain) that is grown for them must be processed and shipped to factory farms, resulting in yet more carbon emissions.
A vegan diet is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73 percent.
Reducing air pollution
Factory farms, where thousands of animals are raised in high densities and close quarters, emit vast amounts of toxins into the air. Hog farms are particularly serious culprits of air pollution. The biggest hog factory farms can produce the same amount of animal waste as that from a small town. Much of this waste goes untreated and is collected into huge lagoons, or it can be sprayed onto neighboring farm fields as fertilizer.
The stench of these farms can be so bad that it causes constant headaches and even deadly diseases in neighboring communities.
Wild ecosystems of all kinds, from forests to prairies, harbor an incredible diversity of plants and animals, each of whom plays a vital role in maintaining the interconnected webs of life upon which we all depend.
At one time in relatively recent history, much of the world was covered with wild habitat, with towns and cities being more akin to islands in a vast sea of wilderness. These days, the opposite is true. The remaining wild spaces on our planet are being increasingly brought under human control, with animal agriculture helping to drive this trend. In the Amazon rainforest, for example, forested areas are being burned and cleared to make way for cattle ranching and for cropland used to grow food for farmed animals.
Destroying wild spaces means that more and more species are losing their habitats. Many species are going extinct.
While vegan food also requires cropland to grow fruits, vegetables, and grains, this diet requires far less acreage overall. And with sustainable farming methods, croplands can actually become habitats for a diversity of wild species.
Ultimately, vegan diets leave way more room for the wild and all the species who live there.
4. Why veganism is good for animals
Animal welfare tends to rank lowest on people’s reasoning for going vegan, but this could be because the impacts on animals are largely hidden from view.
When we think about farming, an idyllic red-painted barn might come to mind. Perched atop rolling hills, home to a couple of dairy cows, a small pigsty, and a flock of chickens who can fly around as they please, this kind of small farm was the way much of the food in the US used to be produced.
Things are much different today. Factory farms now produce virtually all of the animal products consumed in the US. And, sadly, factory farms are very cruel to animals.
Some of what you’ll read below might be difficult to believe. But after learning about what animals are put through to make the products so many of us know and love, you’ll understand why veganism is a huge benefit to animals.
Pigs, cattle, and chickens
The animals used to make meat are treated very badly on today’s farms.
Pigs are raised in factory farms that keep them in crowded pens, often on concrete slatted floors that injure their feet. They are kept indoors for their entire lives, just like most other factory-farmed animals.
The female pigs used for pumping out litter after litter of piglets, known as sows, are often kept in gestation crates for the duration of their months-long pregnancies. These crates are barely bigger than their own bodies, preventing them from walking, visiting other pigs, or even turning around. This intense confinement causes their muscles to atrophy, and they are often driven insane by boredom.
Cattle raised for beef might begin their lives out on pastureland, which is a semblance of the life they would live in the wild, but at only a few months of age, they are loaded onto trucks and driven to feedlots along with sometimes hundreds of thousands of other cattle. In these crowded lots, they stand around in their own filth, eating grain meant to fatten them up before they are killed.
Chickens who are raised for meat are called "broilers." These birds are kept in massive sheds and are usually prevented from ever going outside or even looking out a window. These sheds are dimly lit, extremely crowded, and the air is often toxic to breathe thanks to the bird’s droppings.
Once they’ve reached "slaughter weight," they are rounded up and stuffed into cages for transport to the slaughterhouse and subjected to deaths that are widely considered to be inhumane. Part of the reason this treatment is legal is because the animal welfare laws in the US don't consider birds to be animals. Makes sense, right? (Not!)
The idea that dairy cows simply produce milk all of the time is an enduring myth, and one that the dairy industry doesn’t go out of its way to dispel.
The truth behind milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream is that cows must give birth to calves before they begin producing milk. This biological fact leads to some of the most heart-rending farming practices out there.
Cows are artificially inseminated. Then, right after birth, their calves are taken away from them, forever. The industry likes to say that this immediate removal makes it easier on the mothers, who often cry and chase farmers who are carting away their babies. Cows have been seen to continue crying for many days afterward.
But this is done so that all of the milk the mothers produce can be consumed by humans. Once the cow has finished lactating, they are artificially inseminated again, repeating the cycle once a year for around three to five years, until the cow’s body is so spent that they can often barely make it up the ramp to the slaughterhouse themselves.
What happens to calves is equally awful. Sometimes, calves are shot mere hours after birth. Other times, they are sent to veal crates, where they spend a few weeks tied to a stall, prevented from running, walking, or socializing with other animals so that their meat stays tender.
Egg-laying hens don’t have it easy either. Conventional farming methods see these birds crammed into "battery cages," providing each bird with about the same amount of space as a piece of lined paper. It is within these tight confines that hens will spend the entirety of their short lives until their bodies are so spent from laying unnaturally large volumes of eggs that they are shipped off to the slaughterhouse.
How to go vegan?
Whew! That was a lot, we know.
Clearly, there are so many benefits to going vegan. But how easy is it to take the plunge?
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when you’ve begun your vegan journey is to take it slow. Try adding in new foods gradually. Maybe start with the goal of going vegan 3 days a week, and gradually increase from there. Science shows that gradual change can be more lasting than quitting something cold-turkey (and yes, there is vegan turkey out there!).
Also, remember to be easy on yourself. Many of us have been eating animal products since we learned how to chew: these are habits that run deep, and habits can be tough to kick. If you “cheat” sometimes, don’t worry about it. Accept that you are doing your best, and just keep trying. Things will get easier!
Now, for the fun stuff. Thanks to recent innovations, there are really tasty vegan alternatives to so many animal products out there. Non-dairy milks have been around for a while, but have you tried Oatly? Give this oat milk a go—you might like it even more than cow’s milk! Plus, they make ice cream … just saying.
Beyond Meat and Impossible make meaty and delicious alternative beef products using peas. You can enjoy hamburgers, sausages, and meatballs that smell, taste, and look like the real thing. If you’re into egg brekkies, be on the lookout for Just Egg in grocery stores. Made from mung beans, this product turns into authentic-tasting eggs that are perfect for scrambling or for making veggie omelets.
If you’re an at-home chef, get excited—because there are a ton of amazing cookbooks you can draw inspiration from. We love Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes.
When you’re out and about, especially if you’re traveling to new and unfamiliar places, head to Happy Cow’s searchable database of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants.
One way to kickstart your vegan journey is to sign up for Kinder Beauty’s monthly beauty boxes, which feature 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free, and clean beauty products!
Enjoy the journey, and know that you can make a difference.
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