Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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Vegan Diet

Definition of Veganism

When The Vegan Society became a registered charity in 1979, the Memorandum and Articles of Association updated the definition of “veganism” as: 

"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

From 'junk food vegans' to raw food vegans, and everything in between, there's a version of veganism to suit everyone. Yet one thing we all have in common is a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey - as well as products like leather and any tested on animals.

A global move to a vegan diet would prevent millions of human deaths, cut planet-warming emissions and save a billion dollars annually in healthcare costs and climate damage, scientists have found.

In the first ever study to estimate both the health and climate change impacts of a widespread adoption of a plant-based diet, Oxford Martin School found that by the mid-century it would:

• avert up to 8.1 million premature human deaths every year;

• reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%; and

• save up to $1 billion per year in reduced global healthcare costs.

“How much more compelling independent research do policymakers need before they start accepting plant-based diets as the solution to health and environment crises? The sheer scale of the projected benefits speak for themselves,” said Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society.

“Action is so desperately needed on climate change. But without a wholesale shift in our diets away from animal products, we will fail to meet our global warming targets by a long, long way.

“It is up to Governments to encourage dietary transitions away from animal products. Our campaign, Grow Green, does exactly that, calling for subsidies for farmers diversifying away from animals into crop growing,” de Boo added.

The report’s lead author, Marco Springmann, agreed: "The value of these benefits makes a strong case for increased public and private spending on programmes aimed to achieve healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets.

"The food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change. What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment."

Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change, responsible for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the transport in the world combined. Yet unlike the transport, waste and energy sectors in which emissions reductions have repeatedly been attempted, the livestock industry escapes scrutiny.

There are many great and unexpected advantages to a vegan diet, with increased health being one of them.

Vegan diets have been praised for a multitude of benefits, which include a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and premature death. But it’s important to realise that vegan diets aren’t all the same: thanks to the prevalence of vegan junk food, some may be full of starchy, salty snacks and sweet treats!

Despite this, it is true that vegan diets tend to be higher in fibre, which decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Vegans also tend to eat seven or more pieces of fruit and vegetables per day, meaning we have a 33% reduced risk of premature death compared with people who eat less than one portion.

Given the wide array of tasty and simple vegan meals that are bursting with fruit and veg, it’s not surprising that we reap this health benefit. We also may feel the benefit of lower-calorie meals, which when compared to other dietary groups, means that vegans are leaner, have lower BMIs and have lower percentages of body fat. All this means that we’re less likely to get weight-related diseases such as diabetes, have a reduced risk of heart disease and have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and mortality rates. Vegans even have a reduced risk of prostate cancer!

And that's not all. A recent study conducted by experts at the prestigious Oxford University's Oxford Martin School - who specialise in cross-cutting research on global challenges - have found that by 2050, widespread adoption of plant-based diets would avert 8.1 million premature human deaths every year. This was found to be the case due to factors including the reduction of red and processed meat, which the World Health Organisation has classified as carcinogenic due to the risk of colorectal cancer.

With all that scary stuff out the way, you may also be interested to know there are many benefits to veganism that you could feel right away. Some vegans experience increased energy, clearer skin, reduced allergy symptoms, stronger hair and nails, and relief from the pain of migraines and PMS. That’s not to mention the feeling of wellbeing that comes from knowing your lifestyle is alleviating animal suffering and limiting environmental damage. So don't feel bad when you reach for that vegan cupcake now and again: you're already doing a great job.

Remember, your chance of living a longer, healthier life is increased by making sure you eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and other nutritious foods each day, including B12 fortified products. For more information, check out our nutrition and health section. If you’re sporty and interested to know more about vegan diets for athletes and protein requirements, check out this article.

If you're not already vegan, please take the 30 Day Vegan Pledge today.

Permission is generously granted by the Vegan Society for the information provided above. Click on the link below for a informative and inspiring website by the Vegan Society. The Vegan Society is an educational charity that promotes and supports the vegan lifestyle.

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