A plant-based diet is often looked at as a trend for hipsters and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supporters. With October beingVegetarian Awareness Month, proponents say it’s time to demystify the benefits of going vegetarian.
Animal activist group Mercy for Animals says on their website chooseveg.ca, eight billion animals bred for our consumption “are confined in windowless sheds, tiny barren crates and filthy wire cages. The vast majority of these animals are mutilated without painkillers, denied veterinary care, and ultimately slaughtered.”
These animals take up 30 per cent of the earth’s land mass and produce more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.
Toronto Pig Save activist and supporter Radhika Subramanyan said there is no difference between the animals we call pets and the animals we call food.
“I think people have a real cognitive distance between what they’re eating, or who they are eating, (and) who they care about,” Subramanyan said.
A widespread perception about going green is that we cannot get enough protein from plants. According to the Vegetarian Society, however, protein is available in peas, beans, lentils, seeds, peanuts and numerous vegetables.
In addition to all the options listed there are several mock meat products that are made with mycoprotein, a form of protein derived from fungus.
“I don’t think vegetarian dishes can be uninteresting because there are a lot of varieties of vegetables. You can use spices that make the taste much better, even better than meat,” said Roy Qian, back house manager of Grasshopper, a downtown Toronto vegetarian restaurant.
Enthusiasts of the lifestyle also claim economic benefits. According to the Vegetarian Times, eating a plant-based diet would cut individual food bills by an average of $4000 a year.
“We are brainwashed into thinking that (the cost of) processed and microwavable meals are the standard price for food, but in reality we should be eating food from the ground,” said Humber first year Fashion Arts student and Richelle Kingsland, a vegetarian for four years.