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Why Are So Many People Turning To A Plant Based Diet?

Over the last decade there has been a significant increase in the amount of people turning to a plant-based diet. With modern technology allowing us to be more aware of what is happening in the world and the ability for us to research exactly what we are eating; it has become a lot easier for us to make a choice over what we put in our bodies and be more aware of the impact we are leaving on the environment around us.

The first main reason people are turning to plant-based foods, is the benefits to their health. There have been many scientific studies that show reducing meat consumption significantly or completely can lead to-

· Reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.

· Decreasing the risk of certain types of cancer such colon, stomach and pancreatic

· Lowering Type 2 diabetes risk, due to increased consumption of fruits, nuts, and whole grains.

· Lowering blood pressure, which in turn decreases the risk of suffering a stroke

· The benefits of more fibre in your diet, as plant based foods are often higher in fibre compared to animal products

These are just some of the health benefits that plant-based living can bring. Now that doesn’t mean that there can’t be unhealthy vegans either. There can be overweight vegans, who like myself enjoy too many plant-based snacks, along with vegans who aren’t getting the right nutrients which can cause major health issues as well. However, if planned and followed correctly, just like any healthy lifestyle, plant-based living can help lower the risk of multiple diseases and extend your life.

The second major reason people are increasingly turning to plant-based living, is to decrease their imprint on the environment around them and turn back the effects of climate change. Scientists have been warning us for years now that a Sixth Mass Extinction Event is already underway, and we need to do what we can to try and stop it or at the least decrease the effect it will have on all of us. Unfortunately, unlike the 5 previous Mass Extinctions which were caused by a series of badly timed natural occurrences such as volcano eruptions, shifting ice plates around the Earth, asteroid impacts, and ocean acidification, this Sixth Mass Extinction events main reason for taking place, is from human impact. While volcanos and other natural disasters will always occur, it is human behaviours that are the leading cause of our planet’s current path of destruction. Below are just some of the human causes and results of climate change-

· Some species are becoming extinct 100 times faster than they would without human impacts.

· Populations of wild animals have more than halved since 1970, while the human population has doubled

· Animal agriculture - with increased greenhouse gasses such as Methane and Nitrous Oxide in the air and loss of biodiversity due to the need for more cleared land for the dairy and meat industries to feed the ever-increasing human population

· Human over population is putting more pressure on the Earth’s natural eco systems. With the need for more land for housing, development and agriculture needs to support us, we are losing more and more of our natural resources

· Heavy pollution leading to an increase in global temperatures and rising sea levels. Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most electricity is still produced from fossil fuels; only about a quarter comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources.

· Overfishing depleting natural marine stocks, which impacts the health and biodiversity of the entire ocean

Vegan living helps offset some of these causes of climate change as vegans get most of their nutrients from plant-based proteins, like nuts, beans, and lentils. These use only a portion of the land that is required to produce dairy and meat. A shift to plant sources of protein would free up land that could be used to support natural ecosystems, such as native forests that absorb carbon dioxide. Plant-based living decreases the need for meat and dairy products, which helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the air and with less people eating fish, this will stop our oceans from being over fished. This combined with sustainable living practices and the use of renewable resources in the building, energy, and agriculture sectors, can make a significant impact on reversing the damage humans have done to this planet.

The last major reason so many people are turning to a plant-based diet is due to the animal cruelty involved in the dairy and meat industries. Animal cruelty is the price we pay for cheap meat on our supermarket shelves. Over consumption of animals in the Western World has led to the industrialisation of animal production in factory farms. Why do people in Western cultures frown upon the torture and slaughter of some animals, but are happy to blissfully ignore the cruelty inflicted on factory farmed animals?

We see footage all the time of the overcrowded cages, animals left to spend their short lives in their own waste, to the stress that live exports suffer when they are transported on planes or ships. While the Australian government and Individual state governments have tightened laws and regulations on factory farming over the last decade, there is still much room for improvement here and overseas.

The genuine welfare of farm animals is not just about changing our values but working together to create a stronger, healthier planet. With animal welfare linked by multiple scientific reports to human health and welfare, we can not stand by and watch the unnecessary torture and slaughter of these animals. Poor welfare of animals has been proven by multiple scientific reports to increase the risk of spreading disease and viruses not only between animals but also to humans.

While we can’t deny the fact the meat industry brings millions of dollars to the Australia economy, we must find a better way of doing things. While it is not possible or viable for us as a country to just stop factory farming instantly, as we have people whose livelihoods currently depend on the industry, we can introduce gradual changes and make our own choices as individuals to show that we will not support the slaughter of innocent animals, along with encouraging other people to make the same changes as us.

So, whether it is for personal health reasons, environmental impacts, animal cruelty or a combination of all three, there are plenty of reasons for people to try plant based living.

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