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my thoughts on veganism



What do you consider when you buy food? I’ve written an article about food waste before, and since then I’ve been thinking about the production of food. Veganism* has become one of the themes of my diet after considering how what I eat every day affects society and the environment. Today, I’m writing this article because I want to think about veganism with you.

* ヴィーガン:動物性製品やその副産物を消費しないこと。例えば、赤身、白身の肉、魚、家禽、卵、乳製品を消費しない。また、蜂蜜、蜜蝋、ゼラチン、その他の動物の副産物成分も消費しない。食料品以外でも通常シルク、革、羊毛などの動物製品も生活に取り入れない。一方ベジタリアンは肉、魚、家禽は食べないが、卵や乳製品、蜂蜜などを消費することができる。しかし、一人一人食事のルールが違うのではっきり定義することは難しい。

* Vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products. For example, vegans do not consume red and white meat nor fish. They also do not consume eggs and dairy. And also they do not use honey or beeswax, gelatin, and any other animal by-products. They do not typically use silk, leather, wool, and any other animal products as well. On the other hand, vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and poultry, but can consume eggs, dairy, and honey. However, it is difficult to clearly define them because each person has different dietary rules.


Especially since I started living and buying food on my own, I started thinking about the behind-the-scenes of animal agriculture. Now I try to avoid purchasing meat, fish, eggs, and dairy at supermarkets as much as possible. I have two main reasons: 1) the strong connection between animal agriculture and environmental issues, and 2) ethical issues in the livestock industry. Since learning this, I began to question my habit of consuming animal products every day. Here are some videos that opened my eyes.

カウスピラシー:サステイナビリティ(持続可能性)の秘密 / Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)


A Netflix documentary showing how industrial animal agriculture is destroying resources on earth, and why the crisis has been ignored by major environmental groups.

ダンテさんのInstagram / Dante’s Instagram

僕が肉をやめた理由 / The reasons why I stopped eating meat

僕が魚を食べない理由 / The reasons why I don’t eat fish


Watching these videos, I felt that avoiding animal products is necessary in order to tackle environmental issues because meat production is one of the biggest causes of global warming. Specifically, there is data indicating that about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions is attributed to food production, of which about a sixth is attributed to animal agriculture. This comes from: methane gas emitted by livestock by burping (which has the ability to warm the planet 86 times as much as carbon dioxide emitted from vehicles), deforestation to secure land to keep a large amount of livestock, for growing their feed such as cereals, and the consumption of large amounts of water and energy used to raise and feed livestock. And also, livestock production is energetically inefficient even though it uses a lot of land and energy. According to data, over 80% of farms are used for livestock production, but it only produces 18% of calories and 37% of protein of practically all food that is eaten. There is also data that shows that per 100g of protein, producing beef creates up to 105 kg of greenhouse gas, while producing tofu creates less than 3.5 kg.


Moreover, I felt uncomfortable that the animals I eat every day are treated not as animals, but as commodities. Livestock is trapped in confined spaces, castrated without anesthesia, or get their tails or beaks cut off. Dairy cattle are raped for a lifetime and exist as machines that produce milk. Hens that have been bred to be “better” and are more susceptible to bone fracture and reproductive tract disease. Male chicks are killed immediately after being born because they don’t lay eggs. I witnessed through videos that show the exploitation of animals’ bodies by human desires and the capitalist animal industry. These videos made me want to take action and follow my ethical stance, even if it's in small steps.


I feel that there are a lot of challenges in suddenly changing your eating habits and becoming a perfect vegan. There are various hurdles, such as peer pressure, advertisements of animal products, invisible animal products such as snacks and processed food, lack of knowledge about nutrition, and so on. And also, I think many people are reluctant to change their eating habits even if they agree with veganism. I actually haven't completely become a vegan yet. Anxiety and fear come with suddenly not eating what I was eating every day.


Therefore, I started by reducing the amount of animal products I eat in a day. For example, I started having lunch at a vegan cafeteria on weekdays. In the cafeteria, they mainly use beans (including processed foods such as tofu and soy meat), seeds, nuts, protein-rich vegetables, and grains, and I feel the meals there are well-balanced and nutritious. On the menu, there are various dishes such as soup, curry, and ankake (a type of Asian cuisine topped with a thick starchy sauce). And also, I feel that oat and soy milk taste better than cow's milk, so I never buy any cow’s milk. When I started with what I felt I could do without pushing myself, I didn’t feel any stress about my diet.


The other day, I made cinnamon buns without cow’s milk or eggs! The recipe is simple; I just replaced cow’s milk and eggs with the same amount of water. You can also replace cow’s milk with plant-based milk. And also, instead of butter, I used olive oil and margarine which is plant-based (be careful when buying margarine -- sometimes animal-based oils are in it). I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and there was no significant difference in the taste. Also, when I buy chocolate I choose ones that are vegan because I eat a lot of chocolate. I don't think there is any necessity to consume animal products especially for snacks, which I don’t eat for nutrition.

また、バランスよく植物性食品から栄養を取るための情報収集や勉強している。私が主に参考にしている栄養に関する論文が2つあるので紹介するね。The Permanente Journalというジャーナルに載っているJulieanna Hever の 「Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guide」The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition に載っている Winston J. Craig の 「Health effects of vegan diets」 という記事。簡単にまとめると、バランスのとれた植物ベースの食事は野菜、果物、全粒穀物、マメ科植物、ハーブ、スパイス、少量のナッツと種子で構成されている。記事の中では炭水化物、タンパク質、脂肪、ビタミンB12、ビタミンD、カルシウム、鉄分、亜鉛を植物性食品から、具体的にどう摂取すればいいのか詳しく書かれている。体重や運動量によって好ましい摂取量が違うので、どのぐらい取るべきとは書けないけど、「 1日に1〜1.5カップのマメ科植物(カルシウム、鉄、亜鉛の優れた供給源)を消費することが理想的」、 「1日あたり30〜60gのナッツがおすすめ」などと書かれているので、なるほど、と思って参考にしている。

In addition to making small changes in my diet, I’m also trying to learn about plant-based nutrition to make my meals well-balanced. There are two articles about plant-based nutrition that I mainly refer to: Julieanna Hever's Plant-Based Diets: A Physician's Guide from The Permanente Journal, and Winston J. Craig's Health effects of vegan diets from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To summarize, a balanced plant-based diet consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices, and small amounts of nuts and seeds. The articles explain how to get a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc from plant-based products. I can't say how much people should eat of each food item because the recommended amounts of nutrients vary depending on body weight and physical activity. But as a general guideline, the articles say: “It is ideal to consume one to one-and-a-half cups of legumes (a good source of calcium, iron and zinc) per day." and "30 g to 60 g of nuts per day is recommended.”


And also, people who rely on meat, fish, eggs, dairy products for protein and calcium need to be careful when switching to a vegan diet. It’s better to strive for a nutritionally balanced meal just using plant-based foods rather than just excluding meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Foods particularly rich in protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, soy foods, whole grains, and so on. Excellent plant sources of calcium include leafy vegetables, especially bok choy, broccoli, plant-based milk, calcium-fortified tofu, almonds, oranges, sweet potatoes, and beans. I still have a lot to learn about nutrition, so I will keep studying. I really feel that I have been able to healthily reduce my consumption of animal products at my own pace. My ultimate goal is to live consuming only plant-based products.


What I want to say in this article is simple: just making one meal plant-based has a positive impact on the environment and society. Veganism is nothing extreme and it doesn’t have to be alienating; reducing animal food consumption is an action we can take immediately. I think the focus of veganism isn’t to resist the temptation for meat and dairy products, but that it is an option to eat well and be friendly to our society and the Earth. Vegetarian and vegan food can be as tasty as you want depending on how you cook it, and we can get enough nutrition from only plant-based food. Therefore, choosing a vegetarian option isn't a huge hurdle, and you don't have to be a perfect "vegetarian" or "vegan.” I hope this article makes you think about​​ what went on behind the scenes of your meal today. How do you feel about veganism?


Here are some websites and Instagram accounts where you can learn about plant-based nutrition and veganism:

Vegetarian Nutrition

Brenda Davis RD

Vegan Health

The Vegan RD

The Vegetarian Resource Group

The Vegan Society





BBC News - "Plant-based diet can fight climate change - UN"

The Guardian - "Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth"

Images by Akari

Edited by Kiara and Hikari

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