Isobel scanned the shelves, looking for something… anything that’d help with her dissatisfied feelings of hunger. Chocolate? Too sickening. Potato Chips? Probably shouldn’t.. What about some tasty non-chicken chicken made out of tofu?! Sounds like a treat! But is it?
A vegan diet is defined as the representation of a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation, and cruelty to other animals for food. Being vegan is becoming an increasingly popular trend, especially among people within a younger age range, as close to half of all vegans are aged from 15 to 34. Why is this diet becoming such a trend in today’s society? Is it all worth it?
Since 2006, there has been a 350 percent increase of people opting for this vegan diet in the United Kingdom alone. The vegan diet has been advertised all over social media and has been popularised by celebrities, making it one of the most talked about and desirable diets in the world we live in today. Although the food does look enticing when taken from the best angle with the best Instagram filter, it is hard to tell if this diet is worth it, or if it is only appealing in photos and in social media.
In my own experience, I feel like the vegan diet is similar to exercise. It is absolutely impossible to get into at the start, but the overall benefits of it did make a difference to my own well being. When going vegan for a week, I discovered that it is harder than I had originally thought to find meals that seem appropriate for my picky taste buds, but the effort felt worth it in some cases. The week was hard. My friends would mock me and try to rekindle that chocolate addiction living inside of me, and it would drive me insane. My decisions when eating out would become restricted, and I would be driven away from getting the normal, deliciously unhealthy foods that I love, making me feel worse and worse about my diet as the week continued.
Were these implications worth the experience of clear skin and a healthy mind? I actually do think so. At the time, I saw no difference or change in anything that happened, but as the next week progressed, the pimples came out yet again and my sleep went down. My journey was a hard one, but I believe that it did turn out to be positive. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to feel a bit better overall and about themselves, and think that the short time I participated in this diet was only just tolerable enough for me to enjoy my experience amongst this lifestyle, although it was a difficult one to take part in.
Along with the benefits of clear skin and not feeling disgusting, there are many other apparent benefits that one may face when participating in a vegan based diet. Many people decide to go vegan, as they are believed to be preventing the exploitation of animals. This is through the lack of support in the farming and animal industry, as it is shown that 95 percent of all animals are killed prematurely in situations where they are needed for food. Josie Klausen, a year 12 student at Burnside High School, and a former vegan, explains that one of the reasons she decided to opt for this diet was due to these reasons, stating that people should never get products that don’t state they are cruelty free, as she believes the companies selling these are “selfish and money hungry”.
Apart from this massive moral benefit that vegans will definitely feel accustomed to, the vegan diet can encourage weight loss, as recognised by nutrition experts, Debbie Jarrett and Cath King. Debbie, a food and nutrition teacher at Burnside High School states that “Vegans will be of a healthy weight, as I would assume they wouldn’t eat many junk foods either”, which is similar to nutritionist, Cath King’s result of “Vegan teenagers tend to have a healthier BMI (body mass index) – indicating they don’t have as much problems with obesity than teens who eat meat.”. Among the adolescent’s age group, this is a massive bonus, as now is the time you want to look your best, and if a healthy weight is what you’re aiming to succeed, it may be beneficial to go down this dietary path!
Many celebrities such as Beyonce and Jay-Z have tried out this diet and have definitely seen the beneficial outcome. According to a study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, those following a vegan diet could lose five pounds more than those on a generic diet in the short term. Although this diet is not a promotion of weight loss in any ways, the increased health benefits can lead to a healthier persona and body if needed. Along with these benefits, veganism can provide you with clearer skin due to a lack of dairy and fish, which is linked to issues revolving skin. The vegan diet can not only clear one’s skin, but can also clear one’s mind.. Josie Klausen, the 16 year old former vegan, identifies this diet as a positive one, and talks about how during these times she’d had the most energy she’d ever had, and made her feelings and overall wellbeing a lot better when eating vegan.
In a more negative light, there are certainly some downsides to the attractive lifestyle surrounding veganism. Through nutritionist Lea Stening’s eyes, there are many consequences surrounding a vegan diet, especially amongst teenagers who are constantly growing. Stening states that the biggest problem revolving this diet is the lack of energy and fatigue that can become extremely common, as it is hard to find the right sources of food, and a lack of protein can lead to an increased hunger which can be a huge problem within the adolescent community as we all know…
Other problems around teenagers can be the introduction of other health problems such as anaemia and a range of eating disorders, through a lack of iron and through an increased weight loss that could encourage teenagers with a lower self esteem to take this further. Worst of all, being vegan restricts your diet, meaning you can’t eat your daily blocks of chocolate anymore, which may actually end up to be a good thing in the long run. Also, you better forget about ever eating something without reading the label at least three times either.. It is excruciating! It isn’t all bad though. There are heaps of treats that people can still snack on as vegans, and with the right care and knowledge, you’ll be away flying!
Isobel impatiently bolted through the supermarket, past that chocolate, past those potato chips and disgustingly fake chicken, and into an aisle that she’d never seen before. The vegan aisle. She grabbed a pack of cashews and a bag of oranges and ran to the counter. In next to no time, Isobel had eaten and was already feeling more revitalised. She started to wonder; Should she be treating herself or her body more? What actually is a vegan diet? She was determined to answer these questions, and immediately hurtled towards home to find out.