If your last visit to Burger King has you wondering why you should should swap a beef Whopper for an Impossible Whopper, I'm here to dive into the various reasons people choose to go vegetarian or vegan and the impact those practices have on our bodies and our planet.
One big reason people give up animal products involves health concerns about animal protein, particularly red meat. For decades, public health officials and health practitioners urged consumers to eat less meat, especially beef and pork. They cited health concerns such as heart attack, stroke, cancer and more.
However, recent research revealed that people may have held the wrong conviction toward red meat for all these years, noting that the evidential ties between red meat, processed meat and illness were weak at best. Another long-held belief about red meat – that its saturated fat content clogs the arteries -- was also recently debunked.
That said, no dietary recommendation is appropriate for every person, so take the evidence and do with it what you will. If you have poor reactions to animal protein, that's reason enough to try plant-based meat. And whether real beef or faux meat is healthier, well, that's the question of the decade (and probably the next one).
Animal welfare and moral values
This is a key reason for many people in their decision to start and continue a vegan diet. Many vegans strongly believe that all animals, including those that have long been staples in diets all over the world, have a right to life and freedom. That's certainly a fair standpoint, and having emotional attachments with animals often contributes to that view.
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If you ask a vegan why they decided to eat vegan, there's a good chance they'll mention something about the environment. Many people who eat plant-based diets are passionate about protecting the environment, and that's all with good reason -- we should all strive to do our part for our Earth.
Many consumers and even environmental experts attribute current environmental issues to animal agriculture, citing flashy statistics about greenhouse gas emissions, water and land usage, waste, labor costs and transportation involved in raising livestock.
Some people choose to eat a plant-based diet because they don't believe that humans need animal sources of food to survive and thrive. While there is some truth to that statement -- you can certainly meet your daily nutrient requirements on a vegan or vegetarian diet, even if you exercise a lot -- anyone on a plant-based diet should take steps to ensure they consume enough nutrients that come largely from animal sources. Those include vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, calcium, zinc and iron.
Fortified plant-based foods, like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, offer similar nutrient profiles to that of real beef. So if you're looking for plant-based alternatives but don't want to risk nutrient deficiencies, give one of these faux meat burgers a try.
Some people choose plant-based diets for all the reasons on this list and some choose to eat plant-based simply because they don't enjoy animal protein and dairy products, or they have sensitivities to them -- like lactose intolerance.
At the end of the day, you don't really need a reason for choosing a plant-based burger over a regular burger -- you shouldn't feel obligated to explain your food choices to other people if you don't want to.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.