Why I Went Vegan Essay

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You just finished up your lab class and feel the hunger creeping up on you. Thinking about which small snack you can have before heading to your next class, you grab a Cliff bar to get you through to dinner. A Cliff bar looks healthy and it’s a little pricey, but you just consumed 240 calories with 22 grams of sugar, when the maximum amount of added sugars an adult should consume is between 25-37.5 grams. This scenario shows that healthy living isn’t very accessible to the common man and that commercialism makes it nearly impossible for us to eat healthy.

Families worldwide struggle to provide for themselves and eat nutritious meals. Low-quality diets are often associated with lower-income families. For instance, it is more likely that higher-income households buy whole grains, seafood, lean meats, low-fat milk, and fresh produce, whereas lower-income households purchase more cereals, pasta, starchy produce, legumes, and fatty foods. Their vegetables and fruits are often limited to iceberg lettuce, potatoes, canned corn, bananas, and juices loaded with sugar. According to Adam Drewnowski, and Petra Eichelsdoerfer’s journal research article “Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet?”, nutritionists claim that all Americans have equal access to healthy fresh foods; if only they made the effort. However, various factors must be taken into account when understanding the disparity between the upper and lower classes’ relationship with food. “Food deserts” are known as geographic locations where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options such as fresh fruits and vegetables is impaired or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distance. For instance, according to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, “about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car. [1] In urban areas, access to public transportation may help residents overcome the difficulties posed by distance, but big corporations have driven grocery stores out of many cities in recent years, making them so few and far between that an individual’s food shopping trip may require taking several buses or trains. In suburban and rural areas, public transportation is either very limited or unavailable, with supermarkets often many miles away from people’s homes.” As a result, people are deprived of the same options as everyone else, which shouldn’t be the case for a “first-world” country. People’s dietary choices are limited by their budget as well. A lot of chain supermarkets sell “cheap meat” and processed foods. The reality is that these foods are cheap, tasty, and convenient to buy when compared to organic, natural, and non-GMO foods. Parents can feed multiple children with cheaper produce and prepackaged meals than they can by wasting time and money on nutritious home-cooked meals. This raises the question of whether people have a choice in healthy eating and what they can put in their bodies. Policies to address the large price differences between healthier and unhealthy foods may help improve diet quality in the United States.

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More often than not we are unaware of how many calories we’re truly consuming. Something so small like a croissant can be hundreds of calories. We’re under the impression that if it’s a salad it must be healthy or if it’s meat it must be lean protein. I, myself fell into that pit of naivety until I started tracking my calories. By doing so, I was aware of every single thing I put in my body and the results were shocking. What I considered to be healthy eating was a diet filled with processed foods and artificial flavoring. Fast food restaurants claim to come out with healthy food alternatives that are more affordable, however, it’s debatable how healthy these foods are. For example, Burger King recently came out with the Impossible Burger. These meatless burgers claim to be a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The protein content of these newer plant-based burgers has been said to compete with beef and poultry gram for gram. Both the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger have comparable amounts, the former deriving protein mainly from soy and the latter from peas and mung beans. The downside to these burgers is that they are heavily processed and are high in saturated fat. Daniel Neman, a food writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, shared his personal experience trying the Impossible Burger in his article. In his experience, “You think you’re eating something healthful, but you’re consuming 630 calories, only 30 fewer than a regular Whopper (though the low cholesterol and zero trans fats do count on the healthy side). You think you’re eating cheap fast food, and you are, but the Impossible Whopper still costs a dollar more than a regular Whopper.” This still creates an issue for the lower-income people who depend on fast food for their meals. Even if they try to go for healthier options, they cost more and are just as unhealthy. People will not be willing to waste their money on food that is more expensive yet has similar nutritional value or lack thereof. Therefore, they will resort to their normal eating routine, with big-macs and whoppers. The bottom line is that meatless burgers are good for the planet, but not always good for our health. Commercialism is the driving force for this “healthy food wave”, but it’s also the reason that companies are deceptive with their ingredients and labels.

Mcdonald's has advocated healthy eating geared toward children and has made changes in their portions to accommodate this. This has garnered a very positive public reaction for their brand because they are doing something good. The brand has added four salad options to most of its menu boards, however, each one contains about 70% of the recommended daily value of sodium—as much as a Big Mac. Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, in the article “Fast Food Has Coopted an American Value to Market Unhealthy Food”, claims that “On kids’ meals have been a gradually replacing fries with apples. McDonald’s was the first to take soda off the kid's menu, which leveraged other fast food chains to do the same. Only Subway and McDonald’s have nutritional standards for their kid's menu.” Fast food places are known for their large serving sizes. By reducing the servings, they give the illusion that the food is healthier and portion controlled. Even when changing the order to a small soda and a small fry, you would still be exceeding your daily recommended intake of sugar, get three-quarters of your daily sodium, and consume about half of the 2,000 daily calories needed by the average person. The choice often isn’t between healthy and unhealthy: It’s between small amounts of unhealthy foods and large amounts of unhealthy food. So even when fast food restaurants add a salad or veggie wrap to their menus, the impact is minimal. They create these healthy options in hopes of appealing to everyone and making them more accessible for all, but that doesn’t seem to truly be happening.

With veganism becoming increasingly popular, more and more restaurants have opened up to cater to that group. Accessibility to vegan-friendly options has increased which in turn can encourage people to adopt the vegan lifestyle. The reasons why veganism is so expensive is that there are fewer to no government subsidies and a smaller market involved which leads to a smaller production scale for vegan products. As a result of this, the produce will be charged at a higher price when there is a demand for it. The stigma behind vegan food being more expensive is mostly true when organic products are being used. That label alone increases the price quite a bit. Another factor in the establishment of veganism in society is that everyone has different preferences and follows different traditions, which may or may not make following a universal diet difficult. I attempted to try veganism in high school after being inspired by a very close friend. In my culture, we are only allowed to eat halal meat, which is not always easily accessible in restaurants in America. Consequently, I would venture off with my friend in pursuit of new vegan places to try. I noticed that vegan food cost more and was not always available in every neighborhood. When I mentioned the idea of becoming fully vegan to my parents, they refused to support it. As a family who ate meat 5 out of 7 times a week, adhering to my needs was something they didn’t find necessary or possible. My parents knew how expensive meat alternatives were as well as having to cook separate meals for me. As a result, I never fully converted to a veganism lifestyle. I do believe that the reasons to go vegetarian and vegan are growing, however.

The food crisis needs to be tackled and averted. Maggie Dickinson in her article, “Where Do Food Banks Fit into the Fight for a Green New Deal?”, proposes a solution. The Green New Deal is a resolution that calls for building a “more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food…By creating federal jobs and regulating food waste, GND legislation could upend the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in the United States.” By making more federal jobs available to the lower class, living wages would be ensured and workers would be given more benefits. Because poverty would decline when a jobs program is implemented, the overall demand for emergency food would also decline, offering food charities renewed institutional stability that would allow them more time to concentrate their efforts on community food security projects, like community farms, composting projects, and agriculture-centered youth development programs that contribute to resilient and sustainable food systems.

Transforming the food system to a more vegan-friendly lifestyle has great potential to sequester carbon, expand well-paid, clean energy jobs, and help reverse the public health crises of food insecurity. By adding a focus on food, New York’s Green New Deals also has the potential to involve larger influential organizations. In Maggie Dickinson’s opinion piece on the Green Deal, she mentions that if New York’s money was spent on healthy, sustainably grown food produced, cooked, and served by decently paid workers, healthy food options would be a possibility open to lower-class people as well. Public food dollars can also be used to make sure that stores that accept SNAP stock healthy, affordable products and that public institutions purchase more food grown and produced in New York State. Expanding the number of local food hubs can help promote mini businesses and sell local products.

A lot of the fight for accessibility to healthy foods relies on public opinion and support. A food-enhanced Green New Deal could expand that support by engaging all New Yorkers who want to leave their children a healthier and more sustainable future. By including food in the vision for a Green New Deal, we have an opportunity to make our city and state a better place to live, work, and eat. And that is something people are willing to fight for.

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Why I Went Vegan Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-i-went-vegan-essay/
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