December is the time when we re-evaluate our choices and make plans to improve ourselves for the new year. The new year feels like a fresh start and is a great opportunity to quit bad habits and start living a healthier, more compassionate, environmentally friendly way of life. The best way to achieve all this is to go vegetarian or vegan.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Do you want to lose weight, get healthier, save money, and be a better version of yourself? If so, we have a good news for you: you can accomplish all these goals and more, by going veg! Here are 21 good reasons to go veg in 2021.
Plant-based diets benefit heart health because they contain no dietary cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and abundant fiber. A plant-based diet can also help improve your chances of avoiding common indicators for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and inflammation.
Vegetarians have an overall lower rate of cancer. This is due to multiple factors including the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, which have a number of cancer-protective factors, and the exclusion of meat, which has been shown to increase the risk of some cancers.
A plant-based diet also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity-related diseases, osteoporosis, dementia, kidney disease, diverticulitis, gallstones, and more. Another good incentive to go veg!
Plant-based foods are culinarily exciting, delicious, and infinitely versatile. You can still eat all your favourite familiar foods, including burgers, ‘sausage’ rolls, and pizzas, but in a healthier, wholesome, more compassionate way. You might be like a lot of vegetarians who eat an even wider variety of foods after making the switch, as you seek out new options to replace your old diet.
Food is a package deal. It’s impossible to get iron from red meat without the cholesterol, saturated fats, and carcinogens, or omega-3 fatty acids from fish without bad fats and toxic pollutants, such as mercury. It is simply safer and healthier to get your nutrients directly from plants, without the harmful substances. What’s more, plants are also loaded with fiber, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds.
Long gone are those days when vegetarians were forced to eat only fries at restaurants and having to send food with their kids when they went camping. The business of providing plant-based meals is booming. You will find a vegan version of every food you love. Vegan ice creams, petrol station pies, 100% plant-based burger pizza? No problem!
More and more world-class athletes, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to our own All Black champion TJ Perenara are going plant-based to enhance their performance. Whether you are aiming to run your first marathon in 2021 or simply wanting to improve your fitness, a plant-based diet can help you.
If your goal in the New Year is to save more money, start by spending less on food. Meat and dairy products tend to hurt your bank balance, whereas the bulk of plant-based meals, such as beans, lentils, brown rice, peanut butter, root vegetables, etc. are very cheap. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also affordable and so are frozen ones. Eating healthy, plant-based meals can be very inexpensive.
Most Kiwis do not get enough fiber. Fiber has many vital functions in our bodies, including assisting with blood sugar, cholesterol, and bowel function regulation. It helps us reach satiety quicker at mealtimes and, very importantly, feeds our gut’s microbiome.
Animal agriculture is the largest contributor to New Zealand’s gross greenhouse gas emissions – bigger than the energy sector! Take it off your plate and make a positive difference for our climate.
It’s not only the animals you see on your plate that die for your meals. Animal agriculture is the leading driver of climate change and deforestation, which ruins natural habitats and endangers wild animals. There is also a conflict between using land for livestock and habitats for wild animals. We don’t have to go far for an example; in New Zealand the bounty that was put on Kea resulted in the death of 150,000 of these beautiful endemic alpine parrots, leaving them highly vulnerable to extinction. By choosing to go veg, you are taking extinction off your plate!
Animals are conscious, sentient beings who do not want to suffer and die. It’s that simple.
In New Zealand, we kill over 130 million land animals for food in a year. The majority of these animals are chickens, living under miserable conditions. The best way to reduce these enormous figures is to take them off the menu. Read more.
A comprehensive study led by the Ocean Cleanup team of scientists found that fishing nets account for 46% of ocean trash, with the majority of the rest composed of other fishing industry gear. This is all driven by the fishing industry and we have the power to stop it by changing the way we eat.
Discarded fishing gear is much more than just pollution. These so-called ‘ghost nets’ kill millions of animals – including sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, whales, and birds.
There is plenty of evidence that fish feel pain and suffer. They are also a lot smarter than many people know: some fish can even use tools.
On average, Vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat-eaters. It’s easy to see why. Plant-foods have low-calorie density, meaning you can eat until you are full without consuming too many calories. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are high in fiber which also help you to lose weight. Say goodbye to portion control, calorie counting, and guilt!
There are plenty of beliefs that were once normal and acceptable that are now unconscionable; for example, keeping slaves and stoning women for infidelity. Thankfully, social norms change and evolve. Veganism is one of the fastest-growing social movements. According to a new study, 34% of New Zealanders have cut down their meat consumption already. Go veg now, and be on the right side of history!
Being vegetarian means that every time you sit down to a meal, you are making a positive difference in the world.
Although there exists enough plant-based food to nourish the entire human population, most of the crops are fed to livestock. If all food crops grown globally were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people. Just think about it!
Supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants are full of delicious plant-based foods, all waiting for you to try! There are abundant amazing and healthy recipes online. Pick some recipes you like and start your plant-based journey. If you are stuck, just ask your vegetarian/vegan friends for advice or contact the NZ Vegetarian Society.
Wishing you all a compassionate, healthy New Year!
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