More and more, I’ve noticed a negative view of vegans in the people around me. 

To start, a vegan diet doesn’t involve any meat, or animal products, such as dairy, honey and eggs. This is different from a vegetarian diet, where one can eat animal products, and a pescatarian diet, where one can eat fish and animal products but no meat.

Is it really much better than an omnivorous diet?

About 14% of human climate emissions are from cows and similar livestock and they also produce around a third of human methane emissions, and this is without factoring in the deforestation for farmland to grow their feed and the reduction in emissions if we repurposed the land to directly grow food for humans. However, it still has some negative impact on the environment, when exotic fruits and vegetables are imported from abroad, though it is much less. Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians had a lower risk of heart disease but a slightly higher risk of stroke, maybe due to a lack of B12. In terms of health benefits, the vegan diet was found to be better than even pescatarian and vegetarian, because the large amounts of legume, fruits and vegetables compensate for any flaws with the diet.

What is an average vegan diet?

The average vegan diet is similar to your own diet in the sense that carbohydrates, like bread and rice, are prioritised and vegans still need their five fruits and vegetables every day. But one of the main differences is that the diet places more emphasis on beans and pulses - besides the lack of meat and dairy of course. There can still be plenty of variety in the ingredients in the diet though; vegans eat beans, soya (like in tofu), peanuts and quinoa, as well as green veggies, nuts, seeds and grains, including wheat. And if you’re wondering, they get their protein from the beans and soybeans, which also have fibres and important minerals, and may have dairy alternatives. Did you know that soy milk has around the same amount of protein as cow’s milk? They may need to take vitamin supplements despite all this, but one can require supplements regardless of diet.

So why does veganism have such a bad reputation?

Despite the success of Veganuary, particularly in 2020 when several hundred thousand tons of carbon dioxide were saved, the general opinion of vegans as a whole has declined as a whole. In the media, they are often portrayed as preachy, overbearing and often forcibly trying to convert others to veganism. This could be due to ‘That Vegan Teacher’, a viral internet personality who aggressively promoted veganism and was received very negatively.