“Having a vegan girlfriend is awesome. You save so much money on dinner by taking her to your backyard and letting her eat your grass!”
“Isn’t vegan ice cream just, ice?”
“Can vegans eat animal crackers?”
“Is it possible to be vegan and quiet? Just asking.”
These are all tweets I’ve scrolled past on my Twitter timeline in the last couple months. I do not understand why vegans are at the butt end of so many jokes. Being a vegan is not an “extreme” diet, and they obviously eat a lot more than grass and ice cubes.
In case you aren’t sure on what a vegan’s diet consists of; vegans do not consume any product made from animals or a by-product of animals. Basically, no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey.
I am a vegetarian who fully supports the vegan movement. Not only am I annoyed every time someone asks “but where do you get your protein?” I have trouble understanding why so many meat eaters enjoy bashing diets they know little about. You don’t need to watch the “Cowspiracy” or “What the Health” documentaries to understand the merit in going vegan or vegetarian.
The vegan movement stands for much more than simply animal rights. People go vegan/vegetarian for many different reasons. Personally, I gave up meat as a protest against the animal agriculture industry and the havoc they reap on the environment.
For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m referring to, here is a quick run down: It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and 1,000 gallons to produce one pound of milk. Animal Agriculture, or the mass production of animal meat and their by-products, accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the combined emissions from all transportation. But the real danger comes from methane emissions, which have a global warming potential 86 times greater than CO2 emissions. For some context, cows produce an average of 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
I haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to problems concerning the amount of land it takes to raise animals for slaughter, the food is takes to feed animals used solely for slaughter, the resulting damage to oceans, wildlife and overall waste in the production of meat and dairy.
As humans, we are obsessed with animal products and mother nature is paying the price for us. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry this year. Meat consumption is increasing worldwide every year with no signs of slowly down.
To be fair, I know some annoying vegans, and I understand the urge to roast them if they make you feel bad about eating animals every time you just want some chicken fingers. Just as I would ask my meat eating friends to be more understanding of the positive environmental effects of going vegan, I would also ask my vegan friends to be more understanding that not everyone has the money, time or desire to go vegan.
Vegan options aren’t readily available at most fast food chains, and if someone doesn’t have the time or money to cook homemade meals regularly, they shouldn’t feel pressured to go vegan in order to save the environment.
It’s a personal choice, and I understand that. What I stress to my meat and dairy loving friends is to educate themselves. Joking about how vegans can’t eat anything “normal” is an ignorant assumption. I can only hope that after learning more about the toxic effects on the environment caused by the meat industry, the carnivores of the world will have a better appreciation for why vegans refrain from consuming animal products.
Also, if after learning about the environmental benefits of going vegan you want to help, but don’t think you have the willpower to completely eliminate animal products from your life, don’t fret. Simply reducing your consumption of animal products is a great step and will help reduce your carbon footprint. I have faith that we can save the world one veggie burger, soy latte and tofu scramble at a time.