WHAT IT IS
Vegetarianism is a diet in which a person does not consume meat, including fish. [WebMD]
Veganism is a diet, and often lifestyle, in which a person does not consume meat and products that contain animal byproducts. [PETA]
- A vegan lifestyle can also include cutting out non-food products that harm animals, such as cosmetics or clothing.
- People make this choice of diet based on health benefits, religious reasons, or medical requirement. [TIME], [Harvard]
WHY IT MATTERS
There are still many public opinions on what is healthy for the body. [The Wall Street Journal] While there are several clear benefits to a plant-based diet, there are also hidden negative consequences. Since diet is a personal choice, it is beneficial to know all the facts.
Each person consumes an average of 75 pounds of meat per year. Some believe this is a lifestyle that Earth cannot sustain indefinitely. [United Nations University]
Many who follow a plant-based diet do so because they feel it is morally wrong to consume animals. This is a fight often led by PETA. [PETA]
Numerous studies reveal that a plant-based diet provides more medical benefits and contributes to a longer and healthier life. [Harvard Health Publishing]
Those who do not eat meat may be missing out on vitamin K and vitamin D, as well as protein and other nutrients. [Live Strong Foundation]
Vegan dieters are at risk of deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D3. Dairy products are a common source of calcium in the American diet. [Topics in Integrative Health Care]
Those maintaining a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle may spend more money than someone consuming a meat-based diet, as fresh produce can cost more. [Metro]
Although more people are choosing plant-based diets, there are not as many meat-free products available which can make the switch difficult. [The New York Times]
WHERE WE ARE NOW
PETA has created guides to shopping for a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle across various income levels.
Intensive farming, or "factory farming", causes harm to the environment that potentially outweighs the food it provides. [The Guardian]
The plant versus meat-based diet debate is a persistent topic on a variety of social media sites.