Making the Switch to Veganism

Vegan+products+are+becoming+increasingly+available+in+grocery+stores+in+the+area.+Plant-based+cookbooks+are+also+popular+in+the+vegan+community+for+those+who++are+just+beginning+the+transition+to+veganism.

Samantha Freeman

Vegan products are becoming increasingly available in grocery stores in the area. Plant-based cookbooks are also popular in the vegan community for those who are just beginning the transition to veganism.

Samantha Freeman, Staff Writer

Giving up all animal products to transition to veganism may seem like an impossible task. But many students and teachers assure that it is not.

There are many reasons why people choose the vegan lifestyle. For starters, there’s the preservation and protection of animals as well as personal health benefits that come with the switch. This includes a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other common health complications. 

“I became vegan a couple of years ago, after having been vegetarian for about 7 years. Prior to that time, I had started phasing out meat because fish and poultry didn’t really appeal to me anymore. I haven’t eaten beef since college, when I noticed that I would get really sick after eating it,” said Emily Price, AP Environmental Science teacher. 

After going vegan, many people notice improvements in their health and begin to eat more mindfully.  

“I feel like becoming vegan has just made me more aware of what I’m putting into my body and appreciate it more. It just motivates me to be more healthy overall and look at where things are coming from,” said senior Desiree Rivera. 

There are also many environmental gains that have resulted from more people deciding to become vegan. Veganism reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and effectively preserves water. It is one way in which many students and teachers have begun to reduce the effects of climate change. 

“By maintaining a vegan lifestyle, a person is not contributing to the mass production of livestock for food. One issue is the release of greenhouse gases associated with livestock farming. Ruminants like cows produce a lot of methane through their digestive processes and this gas contributes to global climate change. A huge portion of the land devoted to agriculture must be cleared to grow this grain or to allow herds to graze. This clearing is often accomplished by slash-and-burn agriculture in developing countries and the burning of biomass contributes to the release of CO2,” said Price. 

I feel like becoming vegan has just made me more aware of what I’m putting into my body and appreciate it more. It just motivates me to be more healthy overall and look at where things are coming from”

— Rivera

The lack of vegetation as a result of clearing also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that is removed from the atmosphere. This allows for the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Less meat production would reduce greenhouse gases and increase the amount of land for other purposes. Veganism is a more sustainable option for diminishing the effects of climate change. 

For those considering the vegan diet, it’s important to start small: beginning with vegetarianism and slowly making the transition to a completely vegan “diet.” The switch seems less daunting when begun little by little. 

“I think it’s hard to go straight to vegan. I’d recommend just cutting out little things at a time. In middle school, I stopped eating red meat, and I only ate chicken and fish. Later, I became vegetarian. Then freshman year, I decided to go vegan,” said Rivera. 

There are many more vegan options available today. It’s easier to find places to eat out, so the vegan diet doesn’t interfere too greatly with the social lives of these students and teachers. 

“Vegan food has become more available in recent years and I’m actually surprised now if I go to a restaurant that doesn’t offer vegetarian or vegan options. If I am going to be in a social situation in which I may not be able to eat, I eat a small meal beforehand and, if there is a vegan option later, I eat again. Bonus!” said Price. 

While they may miss certain non-vegan foods, to many of these students and teachers, the benefits of veganism outweigh the now-appearingly insignificant losses. According to them, as long as you’re making the switch for the right reasons, maintaining a vegan lifestyle will be easy and relatively unchallenging. It’s a significant change but is one that many of these students and teachers believe is important both on the individual and global level.