This is a guest post by Rachel Watson.
There are many stereotypes that people have about vegans, yet there are so many benefits to be gained by having the whole family become vegan. If your family is considering making a switch towards veganism, I’d like to explore three main reasons for going vegan: compassion for animals, health benefits, and caring for the environment.
Compassion for Animals
As parents, we teach our children to be compassionate to others. Ethical treatment of animals is a logical extension of this compassion. If you’ve heard about the way animals are treated by meat and dairy industry, you probably know that compassion is not a part of the process.
It may not be easy to have a conversation about slaughterhouses and dairy farms with your children, but a gentle approach to this tough subject can make a huge difference both for your kids and for animals. Explain to your kids that animals have to go through a lot of suffering for humans to have meat and dairy products on their tables. Let your kids know that by becoming vegan, they are cutting down on the terror that animals experience as they wait in line to be put to death.
However, it’s important not to shame your family into becoming vegan. Instead, let them see that the compassion that they already display towards animals like pets can go an important step further. When people believe in something, it can make behavior changes that much easier to make.
Health Benefits of Veganism
Going vegan can bring along many health benefits. Vegans tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Studies have shown that being a vegan may greatly lower our risk of cardiovascular disease. Properly planned plant-based diets reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or help make diabetes more manageable for people who have already developed it.
A diet high in plant-based foods is going to clean out your intestines regularly. Plant fiber is an important component of human diet because it helps feed the gut bacteria that comprise our microbiome. In the recent years, multiple studies have connected healthy microbiome with strong immunity, healthy body weight, and even improved mental health. Building a healthy gut is a long-term investment in your kids’ physical, emotional, and social health.
Vegan Diet and the Environment
Animal product production puts a heavy strain on the environment. An enormous amount of water is needed to grow crops to feed to the animals. Much of the deforestation happening at alarming rates on our planet is due to all the grain, corn and soy needed to raise animals destined for slaughter. Oftentimes this feed is not even grown on the same continent as the animals it’s meant for, so transporting it internationally requires large amounts of fossil fuels, which taxes the environment even further.
Another important aspect in favor of going vegan: much of the malnutrition in developing countries is happening because the farmers in those countries are turning to growing ‘cash crops’ for animal feed instead of food for themselves and their families. In contrast, vegan diet implies a smarter use of natural resources, as it allows to ‘skip the middleman’ by growing food directly for human consumption. Growing a variety of crops for plant-based diets instead of environmentally taxing mono crops is a wiser choice for the farmers in the developing countries. When your family switches to veganism, you are doing a small part to help decrease world hunger.
How Do I Start?
If your family members are not buying into the idea of going vegan just yet, you may want to start the ball rolling by going vegan by yourself first. Start with serving up some tasty vegan meals regularly so that your family sees that vegan diet doesn’t have to be boring and bland. Let your children help you prepare some plant-based dishes before cutting out their non-vegan faves.
Keep in mind that not all people will see the value of going vegan right away. Keep taking baby steps in the direction that you hope to steer your family towards. Make sure to keep communication open by talking about why you’ve decided to go vegan. Listen to their concerns. Your family members may be hesitant because they don’t know what going vegan will look like for them. Your children may be concerned about how they will fit into pizza parties with friends, or if their diet will be made fun of for being different than the diets of their meat-eating peers.
Help your children be prepared for the comments of the naysayers by educating them on the impact of their choices. When kids know exactly why they are going vegan, it becomes easier for them to feel strong in any arguments. Also, take a step towards meeting other vegan families with kids in your community if possible. Having vegan friends can make things easier for your children.
Veganism for the whole family has many benefits. It’s great to know that your family is on the right track towards compassion for all creatures (including humans) while also reaping health benefits of veganism and being kind to the environment. If you have been toying with the idea of becoming vegan, it helps to know what to expect when you make this important switch. Veganism is becoming more and more mainstream every day. Some people choose to dive in head first and cut out all animal products at once, while others start slow and gradually reduce the amount of meat and dairy in their lives. I hope that this article served as a general guide that showed you just a few of the many benefits of going vegan. Good luck!
About the author: Rachel Watson is the manager at OurStart.com – a lifestyle website that focuses on pregnancy, parenting, family, and motherhood topics. When she is not writing and researching, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family, exploring cute cafes, and feeding her unhealthy stationary addiction.