Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1232721

When I decided to go vegan, it was only for one reason: the animals! But as we grow and evolve, we realize that there are so many reasons to go (and stay) vegan. Here are my top ten power reasons to make the change:

1. We’re saving the planet:

Even if you think global warming is bunk, it’s hard to dispute the fact that meat is bad for the environment. A recent United Nations study suggests that “a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.”  The study, which is called “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production,” is one of the first of global importance. Among environmentalists, there often seems to be a disregard for compassionate eating, but vegans can be rest assured, we’re tree-huggers whether we like it or not.

2. We live longer

While our genetics have some impact on our cholesterol levels, our chances of getting cancer and the likelihood that we will suffer from heart disease, a healthy vegan diet is far more beneficial than most realize. Not only has the reversal of diabetes and hypertension been chalked up to veganism, but according to a study by the German Cancer Research Center, vegetarians, on average, live longer than those who eat meat!

3. Lose weight

We vegans are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than our omnivorous counterparts. Ever read Skinny Bitch? Those ladies are on to something! Besides the obvious health benefits of being vegan, fitting into short shorts and skinny jeans are more likely on an animal-free diet. Having said that, there are still some heavier vegans, and there’s no shortage of pride coming from the deep-fried vegan movement!

4. Better food:

When one switches from a diet full of animal products to a vegan one, a drastic change sometimes occurs…the phenomenon of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich binges. After a couple of months, once you’ve attended your first protest and found out that “soy cheese” does usually contain dairy, you start experimenting with the dozens of vegan cookbooks you’ve bought on impulse. Because of our limited dietary choices, vegans are often forced to be well-suited culinarians. One reason is because non-western diets tend to have fewer animal products, so vegans are often more likely to explore foods from different cultures.

5. Better food choices equals better people equals better friends

Vegans exist on the fringe of society. We are misfits. But, a recent study suggests that vegans may possess more empathy than omnivores. I mean, think about it: if we are making conscious decisions to not use animals for our purposes, that morality will generally creep into our personal relationships as well. Vegans are good people by reputation! Well, at least most of us are.

6. We don’t kill animals

Veganism is about more than death and suffering. We are against the use and abuse of non-human animals. One of the greatest reasons to go vegan is being able to wipe the blood off your hands. Who we choose to be, by adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle, is the moral baseline. But it almost goes without saying that it takes a certain level of awareness to connect our actions with the rest of the world. Being vegan means that you’re not murdering animals.

7. Because vegetarians are omnivores

In the words of Gary Francione, there is more cruelty in a glass of milk than a pound of beef. Being vegetarian is no different than choosing a hamburger over a chicken sandwich. The milk industry is directly related to the beef and leather industry. Every cow that gives its milk, gives a child. Remember that in order to continue lactating, a mammal must continue to have children. When those children are born, 9 times out of 10, they will end up on someone’s plate. Go vegan, and you won’t have to worry about transitional guilt.

8. Actions consistent with principles

If you oppose violence, fight hierarchy, love God’s creation, etc. you should clearly be vegan. And once you’re vegan, you’ll have a bigger reason to be a good person! Unlike other “causes,” veganism sticks. Someone once told me “if you go back from being a vegan, you never were a vegan to begin with.” And it’s true! When you’re sure of yourself, you have more confidence, and confidence will only lead to success.

9. Gives other social issues credibility

It’s hard to say that you’re a feminist and not be vegan. That is to say, that when you drink milk or eat eggs, you’re consuming products that are the direct result of female slavery. You can’t really call yourself an environmentalist, either. My veganism influences my beliefs on politics, environmental issues and social issues as well. Veganism is by no means just about food. If anything, it’s an enlightening, humbling way of life.

10. Because it’s the right thing to do

Finally, going vegan is the best thing you can do for yourself, for non-human animals and for the world. In my opinion, veganism is the least you can do; it is the minimum. Reading labels really isn’t that hard, buying vegan clothing is incredibly effortless and doing your best is as simple as choosing a veggie burger over macaroni and cheese. Don’t waste your time with vegetarian transitioning - there’s no time like the present. Just because you go vegan doesn’t mean that you have to protest, and it doesn’t mean you have to become a walking billboard for the veg-lifestyle, but it’s great if you choose to!

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What was your reason for going vegan? Any interesting stories?