As you may know, it is the 1st of November. That also means that today is World Vegan Day. Whether you are vegan yourself, or have never even thought about giving up your weekly steak, you might be wondering: “is eating vegan natural for us humans?” Find out how I think about it.
First of all, why would you want to eat vegan? I think there can be various reasons that can make you switch to a vegan lifestyle, both moral and physical. The moral motives being to prevent animal suffering or to reduce the environmental impact of our food production. While the physical reason is more concerned about the positive health-effects of removing animal products from the diet. Although the opinions are highly divided about the health effects, I think there certainly are health benefits to regularly eating vegan.
When looking at myself, I do like to eat a lot of vegan dishes. My main reason for that is that I think they are more creative and inspiring than most “normal” recipes. When following a plant-based eating pattern, you have to come up with different solutions to substitute traditional ingredients. That way you are encouraged to rethink your eating habits. Because of that very reason, I think that a lot of conscious vegans eat healthier than people with “regular” eating patterns. How much of that is caused by the more conscious approach to food, and how much by the actual plant-based diet, that is something I’m not so sure of.
Reasons aside, let’s look at whether it is a natural thing for us humans to have a completely plant-based diet. To be honest, it is not. One of the first, and major, indications for this is the fact that we are originally built as omnivores. Evidence of that can be found in our entire body. From the form of our teeth to the function of our digestive tracts, we are build to eat both plant- and animal based food. Of course our body can adapt itself to a vegan lifestyle, but that is not the way of living our genes are based on.
The Exception: Milk
There are exceptions to the general notion that animal products are a natural part of our diet. One such exception is the drinking of cow’s milk. (Or milk from any other animal.) On the whole earth, there is no other animal to be found who drinks milk in an adult stage of life. Let alone the milk of other species! So I think that is something to keep in mind. Drinking cow’s milk, or eating cheese, for that matter, is not a natural thing for us to do.
Less Animal Products
On the whole, I have to stress that right now, the diet of the average person greatly exceeds the required amount of animal protein, particularly with regard to meat! That is something we should change. Whatever your reason is, moral or health-concerned, decreasing the amount of animal protein in your diet is always a good idea. (Except perhaps when you already eat a lot of vegan dishes.)
The Happy Medium
As for the moral reasons for going vegan, I definitely think there is truth in those reasons. There is indeed a lot of animal suffering because of food production, and there is a lot of emission of greenhouse gasses from cattle and pigs. But I see no reason to stop eating animal products completely. Because really, for example, the chickens my parents have at home will keep laying eggs. If we all turn vegan, will those eggs be left to rot? I think that would just be a waste. I’d much rather see everyone being more conscious in their shopping and eating behaviour. Instead of eating meat every day, reduce that to twice a week and buy cheese and other animal products from an organic and (when possible) local source.
Aim for Balanced and Conscious Food
To conclude, I certainly recognise the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and most of my own food is vegan. Mostly because of the creativity, food-awareness and positive climate effects it brings. It is for those reasons that I would encourage everyone to try it at least once.
But when you would ask me if eating vegan is a natural thing to do, my answer would be no. I would much rather see a more conscious approach to food in general. A balanced, considerate diet is what we should aim for, with or without animal products!
How do you feel about veganism?
Note: Most of the recipes on my site are vegan or have a vegan option. Why not try one of these?
– Home-Made, Slightly Healthy Chocolate Chai Latte– Home-Made Apple Pie Granola
– Oatmeal with Apple Maple and Pecan
– Hearty Oatbars
– Spiced Berry Juice
– Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread