The convenience of Veganism


Grant Levinson, Staff Columnist

If you had told me five years ago beans and tofu would be my favorite foods, I would have said you were crazy. But here I am today, consuming beans and tofu every day.

I stopped eating meat around ten years ago, and dairy, eggs and honey around three years ago. The growth in vegan products I have noticed since even two years ago has been incredible, and it’s true that today, it really has never been easier to eat plants.

There’s a misconception that being vegan or plant- based is a sacrifice. I hear people all the time say things like, “wow I could never” or “that must be pretty boring.” And in some regards, it’s true. It’s hard to give up foods you love, and for me, it was foods I thought I couldn’t live without. When I was vegetarian, I consumed dairy almost every day, and cheese and eggs were probably my two favorite foods. It seemed daunting to wake up one day and have that be the last time I ever ate them. Initially, and even sometimes now, there are times when it is difficult, but moving away from those foods has exposed me to a whole new way of eating and a whole new appreciation for foods I never enjoyed before.

There are about 200 plant species and about five animal species that people tend to eat in the U.S. However, most of us tend to consume the limited animal options much more frequently than the plentiful plant options. When we get into eating patterns, we forget how much is truly out there. It doesn’t necessarily have to be black and white either; rather than transitioning to a completely plant-based diet out of the blue, start small by incorporating more greens into your meals that would normally contain meat.

I have learned over the years that veganism is truly not a sacrifice; I’ve gained so much knowledge and appreciation for plants that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, but more importantly, vegan options are becoming more and more available in restaurants and grocery stores. From a vegan section at Stop & Shop with wide varieties of plant-based milks, meats, and cheeses, to the “Impossible Whopper” at Burger King, the business world is catching on to the fact that there truly is a market for plant-based products. Even some gas stations have beef jerky created by Beyond Meat. The growing presence of these products represents a big step forward for both animals and the environment.

But what has happened already is nothing in comparison to what the future holds. On November 17, 2022, the FDA announced that lab-grown meat is “safe for human consumption,” which means sooner rather than later, you’re going to start seeing it in the grocery store. While products such as the Impossible and Beyond Burger have created a formula to turn plants into a burger-like product, lab grown meat is very different. Lab grown meat is cultured, which means it is grown using real cells from an animal. Scientists have discovered a way to place a cell in an environment where it can replicate itself and eventually become “meat.” Despite the recent advancements, wide- scale lab-grown meat production still has many hurdles to jump through before it becomes readily available, but the benefits of this technology make it worth it. Being able to consume meat without causing an animal to die is a huge step for humanity: from chicken, to pork, to steak, it can all exist in a similar, more ethical form.

In regard to veganism and cell-cultured meat, the concept is no different; there are clear benefits to move toward these new products, but fear of the change that comes with it is also incredibly evident.

But regardless, cultivated meat and the future of plant- based eating in general presents a solution to many of the problems we face today. Whether or not we choose to embrace that solution is up to us, but I know that I’m ready with a fork and knife for whatever is coming.