All around us we’re seeing more and more plant-based options in supermarkets, restaurants and fast food chains. Dunkin’ has introduced the Beyond Sausage Sandwich, and even McDonald’s has announced a partnership with Beyond Meat for its new McPlant menu items, which are still going through testing. Despite the rising popularity of plant-based options, many people remain skeptical about veganism.
Justin Slud, a University of Maryland senior math major and president of Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has been a vegan for four years. He said switching to a plant-based diet is an easy way to change your lifestyle, since “the makers of the plant-based alternatives have done an amazing job at replicating the taste of meat or the texture of milk,” so there’s no sacrifice, and you’re not supporting the animal-product industry. Many people feel a vegan diet won’t allow them enough protein to get through the day.
“There are plenty of plant foods with lots of protein - beans, tofu, and lentils to name a few - but many other foods have small to medium amounts which add [up] over the course of the day as well,” Slud said.
Emily Fultz is a registered dietician and owns her practice, Fit with Food, LLC. The only protein that a vegan diet is missing is animal protein, but that protein goal can be reached many other ways, said Fultz
“Some plant based proteins that have all the essential amino acids include quinoa and soy products, like tofu and tempeh. Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lentils will also provide quality protein while following a vegan diet,” said Fultz.
However, a blood work test can be done to check for any deficiencies in your diet.
Senior Spanish major Madison Brimigion became a vegan a little over two years ago as her New Year's Resolution. After a few weeks of the vegan diet, she noticed she had lost a little weight, she was feeling more energetic, her skin cleared up, and she felt better physically overall. Her mother joined her on this journey, and in a few months she had lost over 30 pounds and most of her previous health issues disappeared. However, Brimigion noticed more than just her physical health improve.
“I have noticed that since becoming a vegan my appetite has changed, I no longer feel hungry frequently and I can go longer without eating in between meals,” Brimigion said.
Shyla Cadogan is a senior dietetics major and has been a vegan for about five years. Shehas noticed some of the same effects of maintaining a vegan diet as Brimigion.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing a good thing for my body and animals and everything literally just feels lighter,” Cadogan said.
However, going vegan isn’t for everyone. Plant-based products can be expensive, making it less accessible for many people. Staples of the plant-based food industry include stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods, whose prices can be problematic, especially for those in college.
Even so, eating meat does create many environmental issues, such as air, water and ground pollution. Many factory farms use antibiotics and artificial hormones in their livestock, meaning that humans are intaking those preservatives. Since most of the population in the world eats meat, that means factory farms are utilized as a quick way to breed, feed, and kill animals. The conditions in these so called farms are horrendous. Saving animals from unethical treatment not only promotes sustainability but prevents more animals from being killed, since plant- based diet trends are increasing. No matter your view on veganism, trying more plant-based options or cutting out meat will not only save animals but can add a refreshed feeling to your mealtime.