From Del Taco, Qdoba Mexican Eats, Burger King and now McDonalds, vegetarian options are on the rise. With World Vegetarian Day on Tuesday, how could we not talk about it!? This phenomenon has become so widespread around the world, people are achieving this lifestyle without major difficulties. Everyone has probably come in contact with non-dairy milks and cheeses, coconut yoghurts, and imitations of beef, chicken, lamb, fish on any supermarket. The first trend came from people wanting to cut on animal products for their welfare. Some staggering numbers include:

  • 11 million people died in Hitler’s holocaust. The U.S. alone slaughters 112 million pigs per year – source
  • Every year, we slaughter 950 million birds for food consumption through electrical water baths or gas – source 
  • We kill between 1 and 2.8 trillion fish every year; 143-400x the amount of the entire human population – source
  • Domesticated cows have an average lifespan of 20 years; on dairy farms 5 years.

The trend eventually shifted from ethical reasons and religious convictions to concerns about personal health and most importantly, our planet. Some follow a vegetarian diet because they cannot afford to eat meat. But for whatever personal choice, you can’t deny “meatless Mondays” are not a thing.

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According to Dr. Springmann from Oxford University, “if the world went vegan, it could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse emissions by 2/3 and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion”. Beyond Burger alone generated 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, required 46 percent less energy, and had far less impact on water and land use than the beef burger, said the New York Times. With an almost-full plant based diet, we will not only improve our environmental carbon footprint but also reduce the cost of food in developed and developing countries.

The Economist recently published that 25 percent of Americans (age range from 25-34 years old) identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian; New York City being the third most vegan-friendly city in America (HOORAY!). This number is exponentially growing, but unfortunately meat consumption is increasing worldwide especially in the Chinese market. It is yet unclear if whether plant-based proteins are replacing meat or if consumers are eating them in addition to meat. But in order to decrease meat consumers and the drastic climate changes occurring, plant-based companies have to continue making these products available, inexpensive, and tasty with the right texture. Otherwise, not many will be willing to make the change.

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A look at several datas have suggested, as you may all know, that improvement in health is in fact very true. Because vegetarians consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and receive more Vitamins C, E, fiber, folic acid, and potassium just to name a few, they have lower blood pressures, body mass index, and LDL ( bad cholesterol). A reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart attacks, type-2 diabetes, and cancer as well as longevity are also associated with a vegetarian/vegan diet. And for both mind and body, you are what you eat. What we consume mentally influences how the mind feels—”pleasant and happy or roiling with indigestion”. Whole-food diets heavy on the fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed protein can lift our moods and protect us from depression.

Now let’s be honest. This article will probably not stop you from consuming animal protein products, but hopefully it will lean you to make some little shifts in your diet. Adopting an overall healthier diet will lead to reduce symptoms of depression, trouble sleeping and chronic diseases. And I mean, if there are so many articles talking about vegetarian/vegan diets then some of it must be true!

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