By Hannah Irvin 

People tend to explore a vegan diet or lifestyle for one of three reasons: health, sustainability, or ethics.  

The documentaries “The Game Changers,” “Forks over Knives” and “What the Health” demonstrate the negative effects of animal products on the human body and the positive effects of a plant-based diet instead.  

“Casine, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, is the most significant carcinogen we can consume,” said Dr. T. Colin Campbell “Forks over Knives.”  

The documentary “Cowspiracy” informs viewers about the devastating world-wide effects of animal agriculture. The consumption of animal products contributes to malnourishment in the developing world, water scarcity, pollution, deforestation, species extinction, land degradation and global warming. Animal agriculture has also been linked to 55% of global erosion.  

The documentaries “Food, Inc.” and “Earthlings” showcase the inhumane and cruel practices that are still used to produce animal products. Roosters cannot produce eggs, so when they are born into egg production factories, they are put into a blender alive and ground up. Cows are artificially inseminated and after they give birth, their baby is killed and their milk sold.  

If the dog meat trade in Korea upsets you, I urge you to think about what you’re supporting here in America. I don’t think there is a “humane” way to kill an animal.  

So what keeps people from adopting a vegan diet? 

When I took a gap year between transferring colleges, I decided to give veganism a go. I watched the previously mentioned documentaries and realized that what I considered a “healthy diet” was based on ill-informed textbooks and outdated research. 

Stores like Wal-Mart and Publix were beginning to adopt plant-based alternatives such as almond or soy milk, and vegan cheeses. This made avoiding animal products easy for me. Meat was replaced by a veggie alternative or tofu, and cereal was now accompanied by almond milk. I had plenty of time to research and prepare meals. When I started attending college again, however, things became more difficult. 

I’ve now switched to being only vegetarian when eating out because my schedule does not allow me to fully plan meals and on-campus options do not provide many plant-based options. Although locations like Burger King have introduced meat-free alternatives, it is important to consider the ingredients if approaching veganism from a health-conscious view. 

Even if you cannot commit to being entirely vegan, small everyday changes can have a huge impact on your life and on the environment. Small changes like skipping meat on your Moe’s order, trying a garden burger instead of beef and opting to use plant milk instead of dairy will make a difference.