By Laura Slitt

It’s “Veganuary” in the U.S. and U.K. Take the challenge for optimal health, quality longevity, animals and our kinship with them and planet we share.

Veganuary is a non-profit organization that encourages people worldwide to try being vegan for the month of January and beyond. During the 2021 campaign, more than 500,000 people took the pledge to try a vegan diet, according to the group’s website veganuaryj.com.

On the website, you can find a cookbook, nutrition tips and eating guides and blog posts about the positive effects of vegan diets for ourselves and the world.

Throughout the year, Veganuary encourages and supports people and businesses alike to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people.

Here are 10 reasons to adopt plant-based food as nature provides:

1. It’s the best Way to help animals

Did you know that every vegan saves nearly 200 animals per year? There is simply no easier way to help animals and prevent suffering than by choosing plant-based foods over meat, eggs and dairy “products.”

2. Slim down and become energized

Is shedding extra pounds first on your list of goals for the new year? Vegans are, on average, up to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. And unlike unhealthy fad diets, which leave you feeling tired (and usually don’t keep the pounds off for long), going vegan allows you to keep the excess fat off for good and have plenty of energy.

3. Be healthier and happier

Being vegan is great for your health. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegans are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure than meat-eaters are. Vegans get all the nutrients they need to be healthy, such as plant protein, fiber and minerals, without all the nasty stuff in meat that may slow you down and make you sick, such as cholesterol and saturated animal fat.

4. Vegan food is delicious

When you go vegan, you can still eat all your favorite foods, including burgers, “chicken” sandwiches and ice cream. The only difference? You’ll be ditching the cruelty and cholesterol that go hand in hand with using animals for food. As the demand for vegan food skyrockets, companies are coming out with more and more delicious meat– and dairy-free options that taste great, are much healthier than their animal-derived counterparts, and don’t hurt any living beings. Plus, we have a list of some of our favorite products and thousands of tasty kitchen-tested recipes to help you get started.

5. Meat is gross

Animal flesh is often contaminated with feces, blood and other bodily fluids — all of which make animal-derived foods the top source of food poisoning in the United States. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested supermarket chickens’ flesh and found that 96 percent of Tyson chicken packages were contaminated with campylobacter, a dangerous bacterium that causes 2.4 million cases of food poisoning each year, resulting in diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever.

6. Help feed the world

Eating meat doesn’t just hurt animals — it hurts people, too. It takes tons of crops and water to raise farmed animals. In fact, it takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh. All that plant food could be used much more efficiently if people just ate it directly. The more people who go vegan, the better able we’ll be to feed the hungry.

7. Save the planet

Meat is not environmentally friendly. Consuming it is actually one of the worst things that you can do for the Earth. Meat production is wasteful and causes enormous amounts of pollution, and the industry is also one of the biggest causes of the climate crisis. Going vegan is more effective than switching to a “greener” car in the fight against the climate crisis.

8. All the cool kids are doing it

The list of stars who shun animal flesh is basically a “who’s who” of today’s hottest celebrities. Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Lizzo, and Alicia Silverstone are just some of the famous vegans who regularly appear in People magazine.

9. Look sexy and be sexy

Vegans tend to have more energy than meat-eaters, which is perfect for late-night romps with your special someone. (Guys: The cholesterol and saturated animal fat found in meat, eggs and dairy “products” don’t just clog the arteries to your heart. Over time, they impede blood flow to other vital organs as well.) Plus, what’s sexier than someone who’s not only hot but also compassionate?

10. Pigs are smarter than you think

Although most people are less familiar with pigs, chickens, fish and cows than they are with dogs and cats, animals used for food are every bit as intelligent and able to suffer as the animals who share our homes are. Pigs can even learn to play video games.

And a huge bonus: athletic strength and ability, faster restorative energy, decreased risk of fractures and illness from plant-based nutrition. See the popular film “The Game Changers” to find out more.

For more information, see "The Real Truth About Health" conference at tinyurl.com/3y95kf2f.   

Laura Slitt owns Taste of Life Cooking With Plants for the Planet.

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