Despite Glasgow being hailed the Vegan Capital of the UK, there is still huge stigma surrounding plant–based diets, with vegans being stereotyped as ‘hippies’ or anti-capitalist layabouts. The mere mention of the word ‘vegan’ can initiate a heated debate in seconds. Most commonly, the phrase “I could never cut out [insert meat/dairy product]!” is exclaimed at vegans, by people who are adamant that this lifestyle too much hassle for them.
However, veganism is far more accessible than many people believe. If you really can’t live without chicken nuggets or fish fingers, technology has produced vegan doppelgangers for both! Similarly, hormone filled cow’s milk can easily be replaced due to the wide range of plant based milks available, extending even to flavoured milk (chocolate soy milk actually tastes better than regular chocolate milk!)
Obviously, there will be losses that can never be fully replaced: crispy bacon, a juicy beef burger, or an extensive range of cheeses. Still, a vegan diet satisfies something that food never can: your conscience. As Donald Trump drags the USA out of the Paris Climate agreement with his denial of scientific fact, it is our duty as intellectuals to do something beneficial for the environment. Studies have found that the two most effective methods of slowing, or reducing, the effects of climate change are by switching to a plant-based diet or by not having children.
The University of Glasgow was the first university in the UK to be accredited by the Vegan Society; our university has a history of activism which we should proudly continue, either by giving a vegan diet a shot or by supporting those who do.
Last week, The Guardian published an article praising not only veganism, but vegetarianism, or simply reducing the amount of meat in your normal diet. Multiple benefits can be seen from even the smallest of changes, to personal health, the environment and animal welfare. Looking at one aspect of those three benefits alone, factory farming most heavily destroys natural environments across the globe – livestock and livestock feed covers 45% of the earth’s total land, reducing habitats and aiding climate change through mass methane production. To quote the article itself, “to eat less meat is an accomplishment; but to eat meat occasionally isn’t a failure.” So, this summer, attempt the vegan diet to find out if you can deal with the ‘hassle’ of avoiding meat-based produce. If this does not work, at least you tried. But do not give up! Try again: vegetarianism. Also, note that if your meat-lapses or returns to “carnism,” in the words of Simon Amstell, keep appearing after nights out, remember that your hangover will never be worse than the Earth’s hangover from the effects of climate change.