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Five good reasons to go vegan once a week

The vegan lifestyle ‒ meaning a total avoidance of any animal products whatsoever ‒ is one of the biggest dietary trends to emerge over the last few years. Whether extreme or not, healthy or restrictive, debates still rage on the pros and cons of going vegan. It’s easy to become polarized on this issue, but many people still start by taking baby steps and follow the middle path.

1) Excess meat consumption is harmful to health.

A worrying report from the WHO has recently come out: regular consumption of processed meat such as sausage and ham increases your risk of bowel cancer. Meat dishes often contain excessive amounts of fat and salt, which are factors in cardiovascular disease, excess weight and high blood pressure. One vegan day per week would be a good first step towards minimizing these risks.

2) Less animal suffering

Wretched-looking hens in battery cages or pigs crammed into trucks. It’s difficult to get behind industrial animal farming, even when you don’t think of the cow that died for the steak on your plate. The fact is that extreme forms of the animal industry only exist because of the huge demand for (cheap) animal products. A more moderate approach and a willingness to consume fewer animal products are not only good for our conscience, they’re also good for the environment:

3) A smaller animal industry is good for the planet

Rearing animals for meat sucks up incredible amounts of resources, both directly and indirectly: an omnivorous diet, for example, requires around 15,000 liters per day; a vegetarian diet needs 4,500 liters and a vegan one just 1,100 liters or so. In addition, cultivation areas used to produce fattening feed ‒ read destruction of the rainforest ‒ produce vast amounts of waste gases, etc. Eating these cultivated plants directly, instead of in the form of meat, protects resources and therefore the environment.

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4) A trip for the taste buds

Delicately spiced smoked tofu, aromatic maple syrup, hearty seitan burgers or nutty almond milk: plant foods are more than just a substitute for animal products. They open you up to wholly new taste sensations and tickle our bored and dormant taste buds. We love a bit of diversity and the small pleasures of life, so why not try a slice of egg-free cake once in a while, or a spread made from chickpeas? There’s a veritable cornucopia of recipes, ideas and information online and in books and magazines!

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5) More variety on the menu

An oft-repeated argument against a purely plant-based diet is that it is too restrictive. But is conventional nutrition automatically balanced? Not really: Those of us living in industrial nations still often lack certain nutrients, despite shelves upon shelves of choice. How many different vegetable varieties have you eaten this month? When was the last time you ate a handful of walnuts or a helping of lentils? And why do you only ever put olive oil in your salad? Those who start out eating vegan once a week will be introduced to a vast selection of foods, because relying too heavily on animal products soon becomes pretty dull.