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Opinion: Veganism doesn't have to be pricey

Because we live in a world where consuming animal products is commonplace, it can seem extreme to choose not to. Many people think that following a plant-based diet must be difficult. But I would argue that being a vegan is actually not extreme or all that challenging.

Plant-based foods are plentiful, affordable, healthy, easy to prepare and delicious. When you consider this, it seems more extreme to raise and slaughter animals for no valid reason.

Veganism is a lifestyle which seeks to avoid contributing to the exploitation and cruelty to animals in all ways possible. This means not eating them, wearing them or supporting industries that exploit them for any other purpose.

There are many reasons why people choose this lifestyle. The main reasons are health, environmental and ethical reasons, but my primary reason for being a vegan is the ethical one. I have always had a passion for animals and am someone who is very driven by my passion. This made transitioning to veganism very simple for me.

Living a plant-based lifestyle can seem difficult because it isn’t the norm and it can be intimidating to challenge a habit that most of society considers traditional. Consuming animal products is what is familiar to most people and is oftentimes more convenient. So it’s understandable that many people assume that being a vegan is difficult.

Though there can be some challenges, it isn’t as hard to be vegan as one might think, and it even gets easier with time. Plant-based food can be found almost anywhere. Contrary to popular belief, you can find everything you need to eat a healthy and satisfying plant-based diet at the average supermarket. There is also an increasing amount of vegan options at restaurants these days, making it easier than ever before to eat out as a vegan.

Eating a vegan diet is not impossible or impractical. Vegan food is both accessible and affordable. A plant-based diet does not require any fancy ingredients; you do not have to follow any complicated recipes or buy exclusively organic produce. You also don’t have to give up your favorite foods, as there are plant-based alternatives for nearly all non-vegan foods.

A common misconception about veganism is that it is an expensive lifestyle. This is not even remotely true. It is far easier to eat a plant-based diet on a budget than it is to eat a standard meat-heavy diet. Staple foods like rice, beans, potatoes, bananas, pasta and other grains are some of the cheapest foods you can buy at most grocery stores.

The money I save by not buying meat and dairy products I use to buy fruits, vegetables, my favorite grains and nondairy milk, which is usually slightly more expensive than cow’s milk. I buy all of my food at Walmart and don’t typically splurge on organic things, as I have a very limited budget. It’s also easy to save money by buying food in bulk and opting to buy produce that is in season. Since going vegan, I have significantly reduced the amount of money I spend on food.

Though being a vegan is probably more convenient in a larger city with more restaurant and grocery store options, a plant-based lifestyle is completely attainable, even in Cedar City.

Being a vegan is made especially easy by the internet. There is an abundance of information on how and why people should go vegan across the web. You can find out if almost anything is vegan with a simple Google search. There are thousands of online communities, YouTube channels and blogs dedicated to promoting the vegan message, educating people and helping them transition into this lifestyle. One does not have to look far for advice, support or resources to learn more about a plant-based lifestyle.

Like any lifestyle change, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people manage to go vegan overnight and find it’s easy for them to cut out animal products immediately and abruptly, while others say going vegan is a transition that takes time, and it’s best to go at your own pace.

In any case, the benefits of being vegan, specifically the happiness that comes from knowing that you do not contribute to unnecessary suffering, make the challenges seem miniscule.

In my next column, I will address some more common misconceptions about veganism and explain why we do not need animal products to thrive.

Sierra Stone is the senior reporter for the University Journal. She can be reached at sstone@suunews.com

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