Veganism is the solution

Point/Counter-Point: This article is one part of an Op-Ed Duel. To read the other side of this debate,"Veganism will create problems," click here.

People perceive vegans as radical, self-congratulatory, and cult-ish. They think being a vegan means announcing it upon walking into every party, crying each time you pass a farm, and throwing pig's blood on celebrities who wear fur. There's a whole lot of unnecessary context added to what is, for many, just a dietary preference.

My digestive system sees nothing but plants, beans, nuts, legumes and grains with the exception of the fermented sugars called champagne. My feet are a different story. [Pan down to my leather shoes.]

Now pan out and take a look at global veganism. Many vegans want the world to be vegan, which would ultimately tear apart the economic infrastructure of the food industry by eliminating the demand of an integral trading system. That's a sure way to make a key portion of the economy take a dump. Even if you don't think animals should be used for food products, we still rely heavily on animals for non-food products. These products include insulin, violin strings, glycerin, antifreeze and yes, my leather shoes.

Global veganism is a far-fetched goal but individual veganism is a rather common habit, gaining widespread popularity.

Three years ago, I cut meat and dairy out of my diet as a dare. I continued the diet when I realized carbon emissions are at an all-time high — I prefer the general climate remain as is. What do carbon emissions have to do with veganism? Cows raised for dairy and beef production release a greenhouse gas called methane that accounts for more carbon emissions yearly than all the cars in the world combined. Earth is heating up and, as a result, other animals have their environment threatened because the demand of your bacon and steak is so high. So high in fact that animals are forced to reproduce (a.k.a. rape) to constantly be pregnant and therefore be able to produce milk and offspring for future meals.

By not eating these products, I'm not participating in the demand. Yes, the meat is still on the shelves at Trader Joe's. However, when enough people make the change to veganism, the grocery stores will be forced to reevaluate their inventory, and how much meat they will carry which leads to revising orders from farms.

A great example of this exists in West LA. It's crawling with vegan-friendly options, full-blown vegan restaurants, and grocery stores with vegan products like Chikin. This is a beautiful example of supply and demand. Westsiders demand vegan options. As a result, the supply of stores who want to profit provide those options for that specific market, decreasing the amount of meat being produced.

Now that we've gone over economic implications for those concerned with the cash money from the meat industry, let's move on to the dietary implications.

If you start your vegan counterargument off by saying vegans can't get enough protein, I am going to laugh at your lack of nutritional education. Protein exists elsewhere besides meat and animal by-products — the only difference is the volume of protein per ounce. A 6-8 oz. chicken breast typically has 22-27 grams of protein whereas 10 oz. of peanuts have about 56 grams of protein. If you know which foods to eat, your protein consumption should be just fine.

When done right, going vegan — or simply implementing vegan meals into your daily life — will improve your diet radically. It is easy to be a dietary vegan and consume the proper amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, with the exception of iron and vitamin B (both of which there are supplements for). You only need to know what and how much you should be eating based on your lifestyle and nutritional needs.

In fact, many beauty companies and celebrities endorse specific products that are vegetarian or vegan, claiming that these products contribute to outer beauty. While this may be a stretch, consuming the proper amount of vitamin D and C, keratin, and calcium will improve the health of your hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

The change to a vegan diet is radical, frightening, and interesting. In America, foods containing meat and other animal by-products are the most commonly advertised and consumed. Just take one look at any fast food menu, and you'll see meat in just about every dish. We romanticize and idealize our relationship with meat and animal by-products rather than think critically of the impact it has on our bodies and the environment at large with the horrid amounts of methane produced from a forced, man-made industry. I know that every day I make the choice to be sustainable by eating vegan and I hope the idea of correcting human-induced climate change through veganism deters you from supporting a violent industry that is destroying the world it needs to thrive.