There are numerous paths that can lead a person to start eating plant-based. You can ask 10 different people and although you may find similarities in their stories, eating plant-based is a very personal decision.
1. Health and Nutrition
Many people who choose plant-based are drawn to the long-term health benefits of eliminating artery clogging and disease-accelerating animal products from their lives. Some specifically turn to a plant-based diet to improve their health and well-being and eventually adopt the lifestyle because of the numerous negative impacts of animal agriculture on animals and the planet.
2. Environmental Protection
If you haven’t noticed the mainstream rise of the green movement in recent years, you must be living under a rock! As the impacts of accelerating climate change have become more widely known, the need for us to take steps to curb the destruction of our precious planet has become abundantly clear. Industrialized animal farming is a huge factor that is contributing to environmental degradation the facts are so compelling that anyone seeking to live a more sustainable or eco-friendly lifestyle cannot help but question the impact of their food choices on the environment. Similar to those drawn in by the health argument for veganism, once people learn about industrialized animal farming and the horrific treatment of animals in factory farms, embracing the animal-free lifestyle beyond their plate becomes a logical next step.
Long before the health and environmental benefits were brought to the forefront of the argument in support of adopting a plant-based cruelty free lifestyle, people have been going plant-based solely for moral reasons. Anyone who admires or adores animals has probably (at some point in their lives) questioned whether there is any difference between the animals they care for and protect and those that we breed and kill for food. Some of us find a way to justify this clear disconnect, citing physiological, historical, cultural and other reasons why we are meant to eat and use animals. While others realize that these amount to nothing but excuses and that the only sensible first step that anyone who loves animals can take is to not eat them. This easily transitions into the broader realization that no form of animal use is morally justifiable and that we shouldn’t be wearing them or using them when animal-free alternatives exist.
4. Social Justice
Anyone who is opposed to injustice in the world, should pause and think about the fact that we breed and kill billions of animals on an annual basis, just so that we can eat them. People who passionately believe that the world would be a much better place if we all learned to look past our differences and embrace the common ties that bind us will eventually have to confront the injustice we inflict on animals for our pleasure, convenience and entertainment. If you oppose racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination based on class, sexual orientation, physical appearances or abilities, then veganism can be looked upon as a natural extension of the belief in equality. This doesn’t mean that humans and animals are the same in every way and animals need to enjoy the same rights as human beings. What this means is recognizing that animals do not exist solely for us to use them as a means to an end.
I don’t mean to imply that all the other paths to eating plant-based are not logical ones. However, many people turn to plant-based food because of a combination of all the above factors. They turn to this lifestyle choice as the most meaningful step one can take against institutionalized systems of exploitation of living beings, to do something positive for their health, the environment and to live in a manner that reflects their ethics. Eating plant-based is a logical choice because it is good for us, for animals and the planet. If you respect life, you should not directly or indirectly participate in the exploitation of life; if you respect nature, you cannot support industries that contribute to the destruction of our natural world, and lastly, if you value your own existence, you wouldn’t want to consume products that can have a detrimental impact on your health. It’s that simple, and you don’t need elaborate theories, complicated moral reasoning and a billion scientific facts to help you arrive at eating plant-based as the solution.
Ultimately, the path you choose to get to plant-based does not matter; what truly matters is you begin the journey and stay the course!