Why do people go vegan?

Why do people go vegan?

This Veganuary, we help you to understand the different reasons that people go and stay vegan

If you’re new to veganism, or you’ve got friends and family who don’t quite understand why exactly people go vegan, it helps to have pre-prepared answers and facts. We’re here to help, with four of the main reasons that people go and stay vegan, for Veganuary and beyond.

For the animals

Whilst preventing the exploitation and abuse of animals is not everyone’s reason, for many people, it is the first trigger and remains a key factor in their decision to stay vegan. There are two main sides to this: pain and suffering, and consciousness and personhood, AKA sentience.

Even though animals’ reactions to pain are sometimes different to humans’, they still feel it. As such, many compassionate people abstain from animal products so that they are not contributing to the needless cruelty and harm that is inflicted upon animals, helping to lessen the demand for products that instigate this.

Lots of people also believe that animals are sentient; that they are thinking and feeling beings that deserve the right to a life free from exploitation and entrapment. That animals experience consciousness and emotions and so should get the same basic rights as humans. Evidently, avoiding animal products is one of the most direct ways that you can show respect for animals’ personhoods to hopefully, help to take a stand against industries that say otherwise.

For the environment

According to Oxford-based professor Joseph Poore, a vegan diet is the “single biggest way to reduce your impact on the planet”. This is because animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions (contributing to rising global temperatures), water wastage, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Here are some hard-hitting facts that support going vegan for the environment:

• Animal agriculture is estimated to be responsible for 80 per cent of global deforestation — land is cleared to grow feed crops and as pastureland for farmed animals (sentientmedia.org).

• If everyone in the UK ate one less red meat meal per week, we could reduce UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 million tonnes (equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road) (meatlessfarm.com).

• 35 per cent of human GHG emissions come from food production — of these, 57 per cent are from meat production compared to 29 per cent plant-based (meatlessfarm.com).

• Cows around the world drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day — nine times
as much water and seven times as much food as all humans (cowspiracy.com/facts).

For health

A well-planned vegan diet is suitable for every age and stage of life including pregnancy and infancy, according to the British Dietetic Association, as well as the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But as well as being safe for anyone to follow, a vegan diet has many benefits over an omnivorous one.

Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer (vegansociety.com).

Going vegan is the perfect opportunity to learn more about food, nutrition and cooking, helping you to improve your diet with many great side effects to weight management, energy levels and intake of vitamins and minerals.

Getting your nutrients from plant foods allows more room in your diet for health-promoting options like nuts, fruits, whole grains, seeds and vegetables — packed full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial fibre. This also helps you to avoid highly processed foods that are high in salt, cholesterol and saturated fats.

In 2015, The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked meat as a group 1 carcinogen, which is the same category as asbestos, cigarettes and alcohol; they also classed red meat as a group 2A carcinogen. According to WHO, eating just 50g of meat per day (the equivalent of two rashers of bacon) increases a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

When it comes to everyday health and wellbeing, a vegan lifestyle is the way to go. In a 2021 survey, veganism was linked to improved sleep, digestion, energy levels, stamina, recovery and muscle mass gain (vegansociety.com).

For people

Not only is following a vegan diet a more sustainable option for looking after our environment, it’s also a more sustainable means of feeding the population. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is now used to grow soya beans for the feeding of farm animals in Europe.

Not only does this mean a lot of rainforest deforestation, but it promotes developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow animal feed, as opposed to food for themselves.

Shockingly, we could feed twice as many humans with our annual global harvest, if we did not feed farmed animals but instead consumed the yield ourselves (kearney.com). Further to this, a 2018 Oxford University study found that animal farming provides just 18 per cent of calories but takes up 83 per cent of our farmland (josephpoore.com).


The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.