By Erendy Torres |Staff Writer|
Losing weight, exercising, and opting for a healthier diet continue to be popular goals among most Americans with every New Year.
Veganism was once the target for jokes and mockery; however, it has gained popularity in the past few years.
Vegans made up six percent of the United States’ population in 2015, according to FoodNavigator.com.
Veganism is as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose,” according to TheVeganSociety.com.
Veganism is not to be confused with vegetarianism.
Though both diets exclude the consumption of meats, they differ a great deal.
A vegetarian is “someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter,” according to The Vegetarian Society.
Usually, vegetarians base their dietary decisions solely on health benefits, while vegans take a political standpoint.
Differ.com presents the vegan mentality as, “[a]nimals are not here to be exploited by man, and the commercialization of animals involves a fundamental, inhumane component and lack of respect for basic life.”
Veganism. Seems like a simple, humane, and healthy way of living, but is it?
Can people easily change their omnivorous diet to a strict, animal-free diet?
It is not an easy transition.
Even doctors, activists, and famous health writers find a difficult time transforming their eating habits.
American author and activist, Michael Pollan, famous for his collaboration in the film “Food Inc.,” was heavily criticized for not doing as he preached—that vegan and vegetarian lifestyle is the way to go.
On his official website, MichaelPollan.com, Pollan backtracks to a certain extent on his opinion of veganism.
“I’m not a vegetarian because I enjoy eating meat, meat is a nutritious food, and I believe there are ways to eat meat that are in keeping with my environmental and ethical values,” stated Pollan.
It seems as though Pollan could not stay away from animal derived products himself.
Most people seem to share the same perspective as Pollan.
“I believe that if someone decides to go vegan, they have to put a lot of effort in order to live a balanced and healthy diet. It is definitely not easy. You must have knowledge of what it means to be ‘vegan,'” said Oscar Garcia, CSUSB student.
“There are a lot of people that become vegan and can’t find diversity in their meals. At the end, they end up unhealthy because they think vegan means, ‘eat lettuce.’ It doesn’t work that way,” said Garcia.
In order for a vegan to sustain a balanced, nutritious diet, he or she would have to obtain nutrients such as protein, calcium, and omega-3’s from: soybeans, kale, and flax seeds.
While most of us feel for those who maintain or are trying to implement this diet into their lifestyle, there are others who are glad people are taking this approach.
Student Seth Grijalva shared an interesting standpoint.
“I am glad six percent of our population is vegan and growing. I believe that if that fraction of the population were omnivorous like the rest of us, the food shortage crisis would be worse,” said Grijalva.
“It might not seem like it, but six percent of the population does make a difference,” added Grijalva.
If you are considering becoming vegan, educate yourself, be patient, and understand that it is a process.
Take baby steps.
Start by implementing more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Cut down on meats little by little.
Replace dairy milk with soy milk.
Before you know it, you will be part of the six percent of the vegan population.