Why not veganism?

Man holding box of food in vegan store.

Photo: Tore Kubberød / Bil Bolig Fritid Magasinet (BBF Magazine)
The first vegan store in Norway opened in Moss in 2016.

Maya Lindemann
Oslo, Norway

There are many reasons why one should be vegan, may it be ethical reasons and justice for animals, the environmental impact of animal agriculture, or simply the health benefits of a plant-based diet. According to the Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as it’s possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.”

Personally, I changed my lifestyle around two years ago. I met an inspiring guy in New Zealand who introduced me to the concept of human kindness towards all living beings. It did not take much to convince me that eating animals was not a good idea, and after watching a documentary about the impact of livestock on our climate, my decision was final.

Since then I’ve gone through a long process of self-development and self-realization. The most valuable lesson I have learned is that there is not one right way to live your life and that human beings are beautiful and kindhearted creatures. However, meat and other animal products are a substantial part of the diet for many people around the world. Due to a lack of alternatives, people rely on consuming animal products to ingest the essential nutrients needed to survive.

In Norway, things are a little different. Even though the cold climate makes it difficult to grow food for most of the year, globalization and Norway’s strong economy are making it possible to import nearly all types of food and products from anywhere in the world. Although we have the opportunity to live a healthy life and eat a balanced diet without having animals suffering for it, the majority of us still make the decision not to abstain from animal products. Why is that?

It is important for me to make the point that veganism is more than a diet—it is part of something bigger, and that requires awareness. Veganism is about compassion for all animals; it revolves around justice and consciousness. But how can we, as humanity, be compassionate with animals if we cannot even manage to be compassionate among our own species? We are living in a world where our clothes and mobile phones are produced under the sweat of children’s hands. The same way we fail to account for the costs of globalization, we fail to make the connection between animals and the meat on our plates.

Even though more young people are deciding to change their lifestyles, the concept of being “vegan” still seems very extreme to most people. In Norway eating meat is a big part of the culture, and in many households a meal without meat is not an option. Especially for the older generation, the idea of going meatless does not make sense and may even be conceived of as unhealthy. How can we alter our thinking and become more open to an alternative, more sustainable way of life?

I am happy to say that more people in Norway are becoming aware of the negative impact animal products have on the environment and our health. I hope that this awareness will increase and that Norway and its citizens can become a model for other countries.

Due to a growing demand for vegan products, the quality and range of goods in supermarkets is steadily increasing. Access to plant-based products is getting better and vegans have more variety in their diet. The challenge of cooking delicious food without animal products seems more manageable, and that will hopefully motivate more people to join the movement.

At the end of the day, it is on all of us individually to make positive change. Some people are realizing that things in our world are headed in the wrong direction. So who is going to do something about it, if not us? We all have the power, through our actions and consumer behavior, to influence the ones in power. One way to help is to go vegan—for the animals, for your own health, and for the planet that gives us everything.

Maya was born in Germany and left home two years ago to travel solo around the world. She currently lives in Norway undertaking a bachelor’s degree in International Environment and Development Studies.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 1, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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