As a self-proclaimed vegan, I admit, the word vegan itself is quite scary. Today there are types of vegans, along with sub types of vegans, and then vegans who shamefully nibble on chocolate, and then there’s the obvious separation between a “vegan lifestyle” and a “plant based diet”. As I’ve come to realize, the word vegan itself carries a heavy stigma. Regardless, the outcomes are promising. With New Year’s resolutions perhaps waning, now would be a great time for people to acknowledge the vital need to not only reduce waste, but increase awareness around the cruelty that some industries participate in: fashion, meat and dairy industries are the top polluters of our planet, and things like “veganuary” puts conscious shopping and decision making on a pedestal.

 

We hear many thoughts about veganism and the purpose behind it in our media today. People choose to follow this lifestyle or diet primarily for the sake of compassion, health and raising awareness of what’s on our plates. It can also be looked as a trend, or something that people annoyingly preach about. But why is adopting a vegan lifestyle in this time so important? Isn’t going to the gym promising enough?

 

With the vastly increasing plastic epidemic and the rise in people acknowledging the environmental consequences of the meat and dairy industry; a vegan lifestyle could become almost inevitable. Veganuary is not only an implication of hope for humankind, but also a kind step forward to saving ourselves and this planet.

 

In the end, we all share the same end goal, and that is to live in a more sustainable environment, reduce effects of climate change and endorse in ethical and loving surroundings. It’s a fact that committing to a plant based lifestyle and diet can improve our quality of life in an environmental, health focused and ethical way. Starting the challenge could be as small as choosing to refrain from meat for 24 hours, or to sort your recycling. The smallest difference causes a shift in the industry and an everlasting stir in how we view our lifestyle and its impact on our planet.

 

Pledging yourself to veganism is beyond changing your diet, its changing what we indulge in as a society. From the beauty and fashion perspective, it starts with consuming cruelty free products, faux fur, advanced technology in producing vegan leather: its changing the fashion industry to consider being more sustainable. With sustainability and clean beauty on the rise in 2019, conscious shopping promises a small step to awareness of climate change and our role.

 

The intention goes beyond health and the environment, but also elevates our understanding of compassion towards animals to acknowledge the alternative ways taken to avoid cruelty and its consequences. The point is not to tell everyone to be religiously vegan, but to embark a journey of change that is in dire need. Switching a diet and a lifestyle takes baby steps, and in a world that has so much judgment, I encourage everyone to do the best they can to make the slightest shift in our environment, ethical views and perspective.

 

I have adopted a plant-based diet for almost four years now. There are still a lot of steps I need to take. Today could be reducing my waste, and tomorrow could be buying a metal straw. The point is, the rise in popularity behind the vegan pledge isn’t veganism at all; it’s about acknowledging the help our world needs in an environmental and compassionate perspective. It’s about taking small steps to shift our decisions that improve our daily lives as well as the earth. It’s about your own journey into bettering yourself and your environment. For a word with many negative connotations, I would like to bring the positive impact vegan could have to make our world a more sustainable one.

For more information, check out:

Cowspiracy

101 reasons to be vegan

What the Health

Earthlings

Forks over Knives

 

Hareer Al-Qaragolie is an Online Contributor for MUSE Magazine.