Do YOU know what Ellen Degeneres, Miley Cyrus and Mike Tyson have in common?

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You may be noticing as of late that more people are changing their eating habits and their lifestyles by way of cutting back on their consumption of meat from animals or animal products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products. If you have become aware of this positive change sweeping a nation that is typically milkshake and hamburger ­obsessed, then you too may have considered making the choice to eat less meat or to eliminate it from your diet completely to take on a vegan diet. Celebrities, who people tend to look to for health and fitness inspiration, have also jumped on board and established a vegetarian or vegan diet themselves. Alicia Silverstone an actress, is one of those celebrities who swore off eating and wearing animal products at the young age of 21. She said at the time; she had acne, insomnia and even asthma, which all subsided after a time eating a vegan diet. Joaquin Phoenix is another actor who made his choice to never to eat meat or animal products when he was just three years old. This was because when he watched his family members catching and killing fish on a boating trip, he said he just couldn’t justify why it could be appropriate to kill and then consume these beautiful living creatures. The list of vegan and vegetarian celebrities goes on to include people like Miley Cyrus, Ellen Degeneres, Mike Tyson, Usher, Alanis Morrisette, and even politicians Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

We all know that there is the issue of killing animals and animal cruelty involved in the animal agriculture business, but there is also harm caused to the environment. When livestock farmers have to keep up with the demands of producing meat to billions of people, it takes a toll on our Earth. Did you know that massive amounts of land need to be used to keep livestock and to produce their feed? This means that thousands of acres of our land need to be cleared, and whole forests need to be cut down for these animals to be raised for human consumption. The fact that 2500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of meat may help to put things into perspective, as well as the fact that raising animals for their meat is the cause of over 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions due to the methane gas produced by their bodily excrement. Livestock production facilities can produce as much waste as a place inhabited by more than 12,000 people. Since cows must eat a generous amount of food to grow, and they consume more food than all of the billions of people on Earth. So the very thing that humans eat to sustain themselves is showing that it might not be very sustainable practice after all.

The good news is that we can do something about it to be proactive. Becoming a vegetarian or a vegan is a very impactful personal choice to make if you want to be the change you wish to see in the world as Mahatma Ghandi once said. You may have already begun to implement vegetarian and vegan eating habits into your daily life or decreased your consumption of animal products, which is wonderful. Vegan and vegetarian food is far from boring, and there are plenty of amazing and delicious vegan meals you can prepare right in your home kitchen. Easy vegan recipes can be found online, and there are plenty of foods that can be eaten to acquire the necessary protein needed. Vegetarian and vegan sources of protein include beans and legumes, for example, chickpeas have 11.9 grams of protein per cup, and pinto beans have 14 grams of protein per cup. Healthy gluten­free grains like quinoa, for example, has 8 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa. Seeds and nuts are also a fabulous source of plant­based protein. Almonds have 8 grams of protein in only a quarter of a cup of almonds and hemp seeds have 10 grams of protein in a quarter cup. Vegetables also pack in some protein with peas containing 9 grams of protein per cup and spinach containing 5 grams of protein per cup.

So whether you intend to cut animal products out of your diet and take on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or you simply want to cut down on the amount of meat you want to eat, you must make sure that you are replacing the animal products with plant­based products that have a high value of protein. If you have concerns about eating gluten, there is plenty of vegetarian food and vegan food that you can eat without having to eat wheat or soy. Try hummus which is a delicious vegan and gluten­free snack that has great protein. You can enjoy it with cut up vegetables or gluten­free, vegan crackers to dip into it. If you live in an area that doesn’t yet have a lot of vegan or vegetarian products to purchase, you can always order them online and have them delivered to your home. Going out for meals, you can call the restaurant ahead of time and ask what their vegetarian and vegan options are or if their chef can create something just for you.

If you want to keep meat as a part of your diet, there are some alternatives that you can explore. We are what we eat because we absorb the energy of the animal products we consume. So we need to make sure that the animal products we eat are produced in a conscious way and lived healthy lives in order to be healthy for human consumption. Always try to choose

organically raised chicken, pork or beef and only use eggs and milk that comes from happy, free range chickens and cows as much as you can. Adopting a healthy vegetarian diet can help our environment, and it is also a very healthy choice to make. Cutting back on meat means cutting back on carbon emissions since animal agriculture contributes to 18% of greenhouse gasses, which is more than the carbon emissions produced by all forms of transportation. Even if we reduce carbon emissions from vehicles, the projected impact of the methane gasses from animal agriculture will still surpass the limit exponentially. One person can make a difference. You can make a difference by reducing or cutting out animal products from your diet and choosing a more sustainable way of living that is positive for yourself, our Earth and all living beings.*

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