Photo Courtesy of Mary Vance NC
Yorba Linda High School

Don’t chow on that cow: Veganism explained

As we transcend past the fortitude of the most recent Thanksgiving holiday, we are still reminiscent of the impassioned sentiment that this annual season of gratuity extends to us. From the long-awaited reconciliations with relatives, to the omnipresent Macy’s Day Parade, to the most elemental prospect of the holiday is most obviously the customary and benignant array of food.

This cultural accession to the sharing of a meal dates back to the extent of human interaction. Its universality emphasizes its importance as a shared value across the globe, influencing the societal, political, and artistic confines of self-expression.

As of today, we are fortunate enough to have continued this tradition of communal interaction with the equivalent or amplified emotions of the past, even taking into account the various dietary predispositions of modern-day culture. Of these preferences, one of the most prevalent and widely known is the concept of veganism. And although that this term has been tossed around rather half hazardly or even satirically, the evident realities of this lifestyle are quite misrepresented by its contemporaries.

Despite the critiques of others, the vegan lifestyle is more than just almond milk, incense, kale chips, and Birkenstocks. It is simply a comparative community of peers devoted to the economic, ethical, and environmental benefits of abstaining from the consumption of animal products.

Housing a multitude of benefactory opportunities thus reducing the effects of cultural negations, veganism is literally and most realistically defined as ceasing from the expenditure of all commodities derived from animals in order to reduce the global environmental footprint, humble the abuse of animals, and curtail the risks of disease, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

As Yorba Linda High School senior Christine Choi puts it, “the sustainability of veganism is undeniably progressive in the prospect of reducing pollution, but can’t materialize if we continue to promote the lifestyle as a trend without understanding the ethics behind it.”

Now, when it comes to the omniscient and frequently perturbed questions: “What if the whole world went vegan?” and “Would we all benefit from a solely plant-based community?” The answer is just not that simple.

While veganism does have its advantages, there are still a multitude of unknown factors that have the possibility of coming to fruition in the presence of this dietary preference. For example, livestock farming is responsible for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, thus being a primary contributor to the global warming crisis. Additionally, the meat and dairy industries use approximately 27% of the worldwide water footprint, exhausting our natural water resources and risking the feasibility of deficiencies of both water and food.

If the majority of society were to adopt a vegan lifestyle, the overconsumption of water would decrease significantly, given that we would only need a growing space equivalent to 20% of the African continent to meet nutritional sufficiency. Thus we would be able to stifle the global malnutrition crisis while simultaneously amending the environment.

But while veganism does seem like an optimal solution to contributing to a more ethical and environmentally responsive world, the likelihood of embodied success is not completely apparent. For instance, in light of the new-found abundance of herbivores, we would have no use of the animals that would be potentially slaughtered, thus leading to the unknown predictability of their survival, and possibly decreasing the genetic variability of the world’s animal species. Additionally, it has the potentiality of harming the economy given that it would outsource agricultural employment in both developing and developed countries in response to the incomparably decreased amount of land, we would need in order to feed everyone.

Whatever your dietary preference is, the judgement of one’s lifestyle is completely immature and frankly an artifice to underlying insecurity. While omnivorous individuals shouldn’t scrutinize those pertaining to their plant-based morale given its economic, ethical, and environmental benefits, vegans shouldn’t shame those who consume animal products and byproducts because humans have habitually expended these resources since the beginning of recorded history.

There are arguments against the specifications of both, but the truth of the matter is that the variability in the human diet is completely individualized, and as of now benefits from a combination of both of these partialities.