“Why are you Vegan?” Anyone who has chosen to live on a vegan meal plan is very familiar with this question. It can even sometimes be an intimidating question as those asking it can often be rather antagonistic when asking. They also will often have their own assumptions about why you choose to be Vegan and can be entirely wrong.
The Vegan diet is becoming more and more popular over time, although its proponents are very much still a minority. In 2002, a study showed that in the United States about 0.#2% of Americans self-reported as being Vegan. That number has risen to close to #1% or even 1 1/2% as of late. Although still a very small number, that is an impressive upturn. What are the reasons for the increasing popularity of the Vegan diet? Why do people choose to be Vegan?
A couple years back, I was the head of a Vegan support group that met on a monthly basis. Of our members, there were many differing reasons why people were choosing the Vegan diet. Some people had several reasons overlapping and some people had one, strong reason. In the media today, you can see these reasons popping up over and over. It seems to boil down to about seven main reasons that people are choosing the Vegan diet. I find all of the reasons to be reasonable and fascinating. There seems to be something very freeing in following a diet and lifestyle based on conscientious choices. Perhaps it’s the reality that when your mind is choosing what you eat rather than your appetite, it gives you a sense of control and power. It allows you to feel that you’ve taken the reins and are the master of your own destiny. The following seven reasons seem to be primary in this conscious decision making:
1 Vegan Reason: Health
Although listed as number one in the list, it may or may not necessarily be the 1 reason people choose Veganism. I’m not aware of a study that has been done to determine this rank. However, health is definitely one of the strongest reasons people are choosing the Vegan diet and is one of the most publicized reasons found today in the media-and for good reason. Over and over again, the Vegan diet has been proven to be one of the most healthful diets, if not THE most healthful.
2 Vegan Reason: Environmental Concerns
Today, more and more people are sharing a growing concern over the destruction of our environment. It is perhaps the greatest concern being discussed. Solutions to the problem are vast and varied, ranging from recycling, to carpooling, to getting rid of the vehicles depending on unrenewable fuels. Interestingly, a Vegan diet ranks very high on ways to reduce your carbon-footprint.
#3 Vegan Reason: Animal Compassion
One of the most debated reasons for becoming Vegan is also one of the most strongly defended. The topic of animal cruelty is a hot one. Many Vegans may not have health concerns or environmental concerns, but they have a genuine heart for animals and this reason alone is enough for them to make lifelong decisions to avoid any product relying on animals or animal byproducts. They not only adopt a Vegan diet, but also refuse to wear, purchase, endorse, or consume anything that in any way involves animal usage.
#4 Vegan Reason: Religion and Spirituality
Just as there are many forms of Religion and Spirituality, there are many varied thoughts on what those Religions teach. Being most familiar with the Christian Religion, I find it interesting that some churches teach that it’s Biblical to refrain from an animal-based diet and others teach that the Bible has declared all foods to be acceptable for our diets. It seems the same wide range exists in many other World Religions as well. In Buddhism, some sects lean toward Veganism and some don’t. One thing that seems consistent is that the question exists amongst most, if not all, of them.
#5 Vegan Reason: Taste Preference
This reason is probably one of the most simple. It comes down to personal preference and, therefore, no-one is right or wrong. Some people like meat and dairy and some people don’t. Although a simple reason, it is no less forceful to those who make Vegan choices based upon it.
#6 Vegan Reason: Popularity and Uniqueness
More and more, the media is focusing on famous people who are making a turn to Veganism. The more this happens, the more people are following in their footsteps-especially young people. It is becoming more “hip” or non-traditional to break away from the standard “meat and potatoes” diet of the old days and to enter into the sleek and modern ways of Hollywood stars. For some, this reason alone is enough for them to make the change and stick to it.
#7 Vegan Reason: Financial
In the United States, this single reason all by itself is probably not the reason people are changing to a Vegan diet, but it is a factor for many. In many third world countries, meat is a luxury. Often, the diet of these countries is more simple out of necessity and not out of choice. But, here in the United States, we tend to like to save a little money if we can. And those savings can be significant when choosing Vegan ingredients and recipes. This reason may be supplemental, but is a positive one.
So, as you can see there are a wide variety of reasons people choose to be Vegan. In the next seven articles, we will look more deeply at each of these reasons. Each reason has a multitude of facets to it that are fascinating in themselves. For example, when it comes to Animal Compassion, there are a whole host of issues to consider. Some people will be more touched by one particular issue than another. This almost creates subcategories for choosing the Vegan diet and gives it an almost endless dimension.
The question “Why are you Vegan” is not as simple as it may seem. Vegans have many and varied reasons for their lifestyle. As we explore these reasons, my hope is that you will gain more insight and awareness on the issues that prompt Vegan choices.