OurView: Stigma around veganism outdated with rise of impossible foods

Veganism has always been surrounded by stigma and stereotypes. However, the diet is becoming accepted on a larger scale thanks to the Impossible Burger. The Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that looks and tastes like regular meat. With the rise of the Impossible Burger and other vegan alternatives like Beyond Meat and Daiya dairy products, veganism is becoming less taboo.

Vegan food has long been deemed too bland or simply too much work to prepare, but in the last few years, the food options have improved immensely. The plant-based protein has been so successful that even fast-food restaurants are catching on. McDonald’s, the biggest fast-food chain in the world, has announced it will test out a meatless, plant-based burger. In the last year, fast-food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Burger King have expanded their vegan options. KFC has tested out vegan fried chicken made with beyond meat, and Burger King has added the Impossible Burger to their menu.

Today, it’s becoming increasingly important to be educated about vegan food and veganism in general. Being vegan does not mean you’re a health freak. Just because something is vegan does not mean it’s healthy. The stereotype that being vegan means that you’re judgmental of what other people eat is outdated. Vegan food does not restrict you from unhealthy, tasty foods. It just means you’ll probably feel a lot better physically than those who eat meat and dairy.

Adopting a vegan diet would lessen the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This is because meat and dairy products contain high levels of cholesterol and fat, which clog your arteries over time. Vegans also tend to have higher energy levels than those who eat a traditional diet. Who wouldn’t want to reap these benefits?

Veganism not only benefits the individual; but the world as a whole. If the entire world went vegan, we could save up to 8 million lives over the course of the next 30 years, according to the University of Oxford’s Martin School researchers. Half of these projected deaths would be avoided by reducing red meat consumption, calories and obesity. Another benefit would be reducing carbon emissions by two thirds. Veganism would cut food-related emissions by 70%. A traditional Western diet adds 135% to the emissions, according to a study by John Hopkins University.

Something else to consider is that about 70% of the grain grown in the U.S. alone is fed to livestock. Imagine how many people could be fed with that — 800 million, to be exact. We could solve the pressing world hunger problem in the world if everyone adopted a vegan lifestyle. 

I understand that the change can be difficult and is unrealistic for those with chronic health conditions, but if you are able-bodied and able to choose where your food is coming from, consider this: One pound of hamburger meat produces 75 kilograms of carbon emissions. We, as a species, need to start making smarter choices for ourselves, for the animals and for our planet.