Livestock farming contributes more to climate change than all the cars, planes, ships and trains on the planet. It is also a key driver of deforestation, it wastes land, energy and water, and it pollutes the air, waterways and the earth. Moreover, it causes appalling and unnecessary suffering to billions of animals. A diet based on animal products cannot feed the world’s population, many of whom starve while grain is being fed to farmed animals, and it raises the risk of suffering cancer, heart disease and diabetes for those who do eat it. Objectively speaking, all that sounds rather reckless, and yes, extreme!
Conversely, a diet that is plant-based is kinder to the earth, human and other animals, and is better for those who choose to eat it. In fact, 97 per cent of Veganuary’s 2017 participants said they felt healthier as a result of eating plant foods for a month.
Of course, it can feel daunting to think about making the change to a vegan diet but if getting rid of all animal products seems extreme, it may be because it is a new concept to you, or because you don’t know anyone else who has already done it. The good news is there are millions of vegans out there for whom it was all new once, and who, almost without exception say: “I wish I had done it sooner.”
The food itself is far from extreme unless you consider pasta, baked beans, peanut butter and bread to be radical foodstuffs. In fact, lots of the food you already buy is vegan, perhaps even those bacon-flavoured crisps and your favourite chocolate biscuits! And the rest of it can easily be substituted, like for like: plant milks, yoghurts, ice cream and cheese for the dairy versions; faux meats for the fleshy ones; and vegan pies, pasties, casseroles, soups, curries, stir-fries, fajitas, burgers, chilli, sausages, schnitzels, sausage rolls, ‘fish’ fingers and so much more for the non-vegan ones. Far from being extreme, you might not even notice the difference.