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Veganism is often misunderstood or stereotyped, but it can offer heath benefits.

There are many healthy options with a lot of nutrients to support a vegan diet.

Devon Krummenacher

There are many healthy options with a lot of nutrients to support a vegan diet.

Imagine a world without the essentials: ice cream, chicken and pizza. Vegans do just that. Those who follow this lifestyle are not just weird, animal loving hippies that eat leaves and dirt. Vegans are people who go without consuming or using animal products.

“I can’t eat or drink anything that comes from animals, so no eggs or milk,” junior Sonika Gajagowni said. “I mostly rely on salads, rice and fruits.”

The word ‘vegan’ was created around 1944 when Donald Watson and his colleagues were thinking of what to call their new way of life. He was strongly against the wrongdoing of animal exploitation. People were hesitant at first but eventually, it obtained a following, all according to thevegansociety.com.

Veganism has its health benefits and detriments. Those participating in the diet have to worry about nutrient deficiency, but have a lower blood pressure and cholesterol, according to livestrong.com. Dietician, Emily Melz, has been working for Mercy Hospital for a year dealing with both inpatient and outpatient diets.

“When done correctly, vegan diets are naturally low in nutrients that are not very healthy for us, including saturated fat, sodium and added sugars,” Melz said. “On the flip side, they are naturally high in other nutrients that are extremely healthy for us, and unfortunately the typical American diet is lacking in these nutrients. They do actually lack in key nutrients that are found almost exclusively in animal products like meat and dairy. Vegans must make sure they find alternative food sources or take supplements for vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids and protein.”

Veganism can stem from various factors such as the hatred of animal exploitation, desire to live healthier or religion. It can be very difficult if someone lives a strict vegan lifestyle. Gajagowni finds it challenging to be vegan in our society of meat lovers, but she has religion to help her through it.

“When I have Youth in Government we go to McDonald’s to stop for lunch, and while everyone else is eating their food I just watch them hoping we can go home soon,” Gajagowni said. “It’s getting better now because there are more restaurants that offer vegan foods. My mom told me if you give something up for God, he will always support you, so I have this hoping that God would always be there for me and help me in the times of need.”

Meat seems to be a necessary as part of the American Diet, but life is possible without it. Gajagowni is just one person who proves it is possible. Dieticians such as Melz can help newly vegans find their way. The vegan lifestyle may not be for everyone, however, for those who want to give it a shot have the opportunity to do so.