- Finley Heinzen ’23
People go vegan for a handful of reasons, maybe because they want to save the animals or write an article about veganism for their school newspaper, but one reason stands out from the rest: they want to help the environment.
A report released this summer by the World Resources Institute, the World Bank, and the United Nations, states that feeding the world’s population with our current meat-based diet will “entail clearing most of the world’s remaining forests, wiping out thousands more species, and releasing enough GHC emissions to exceed the 1.5° C and 2°C warming targets enshrined in the Paris Agreement – Even if emissions from all other human activities were entirely eliminated.” This means if everyone stops eating meat, a major cause of pollution, it will give us a huge chance of saving the Earth. Even though vegetarians don’t eat meat, it didn’t seem like enough of a challenge to not eat meat for a week, so I decided to go vegan for a week
First off, going vegan wasn’t easy. Some of the many things I commonly eat that aren’t vegan include cream cheese, butter, cheese, ice cream, milk, and eggs. I was able to find an alternative for cream cheese that was not very good, but I’ll give it credit for being something to put on my bagel when I’m hungry. Likewise, all the other kinds of vegan cheese I tried, weren’t good and I’ll remember to stay away from them in the future. Speaking of more alternatives, plant-based meats are also an option.
One day, I had a Beyond Meat burger, but as cardiologist Dr. Sean Heffron explains to the New York Post, “Plant-based burgers have to replace [ground beef’s natural fats] with something.” This means these burgers have lots of fat, even comparable to a burger, so they are not a nutritious alternative to beef.
As you may assume, there came a lot of challenges with being vegan. On my first day, during health and wellness, Ms. Nagy had pizza and cookies which, as you can guess, were tempting to eat, but I knew I couldn’t. Another time, when I was trying to make a vegan grilled cheese (with fake cheese of course) I almost used butter on the pan, but my sister yelled at me, reminding me butter isn’t vegan. Checking all my food to make sure it was vegan became very repetitive, but I didn’t want to fail by accident, so I continued to do this. It began to make sense why it is called a challenge.
Even though I mentioned some of what I hated, there was a lot of food that worked well or that I didn’t know vegans could eat. A good example of this is pasta, even though some pasta has eggs, many pastas are animal product free!. I was able to have a nice penne pasta with an heirloom tomato sauce and some dandelion greens. It was a very good dinner that also happened to be vegan. Another great vegan dinner I had was ginger turmeric tofu with rice and kale on the side.
Another challenge was lunch. If you have ever been to the cafeteria, you probably have noticed the lack of vegan food, so I had to bring my own lunch to school. One of the easiest lunches I brought was hummus with carrots and pita bread. It is easy to make, filling, tasty, and most importantly, vegan. Other easy lunches include salads, and peanut butter and jelly (but make sure the jelly is vegan).
I’m still surprised by how much I enjoyed being vegan. I loved finding new foods to eat to fit my new diet and challenging myself to try new things. As previously mentioned, going vegan helps the environment a lot, since the world’s meat-based diet is slowly killing the environment. As with most people, going vegan is hard, even just for a week, so don’t forget that there are many other ways of helping out the environment. You can go for a straightforward approach with going vegetarian, but some people don’t want to give up meat 100%, so Michael Pollan has a good solution to this. He once summed up a healthy and sustainable diet in just seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” You should stick to eating plants and it is fine to eat some meat, but keep it to a minimum.
This will satiate your cravings for meat when you want it, but is also a good way to limit your intake. You may not always be able to go to the rallies or pass the laws, but you can always help the environment in your own way, one step at a time.