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Simply Vegan

When people choose to be vegan, they say no to eating and using animal products.

This ranges from not eating meat, to not using skin care products tested on animals.

Vegans avoid any form of exploitation to animals.

“Being very connected to animals, and living with them, and knowing them on a personal level, it really motivated my veganism,” said CSUN Central American Studies professor, and vegan activist Dr. Linda Alvarez.

For many, veganism represents a larger ethical approach.

“Try to suck less in life,” vegan blogger Al Borja said. “Meaning, whatever it is that you are doing, you can be more conscious and aware of what it is you are consuming: animals being one [thing], the products that come from animals are another…[Veganism] is a holistic approach, an awareness of what’s really happening in your lives. Veganism is really just a label, to get people familiar with what [the larger ethical issues are]…”

Other vegans believe veganism is healthier. They say one of the benefits of a meatless diet is increased energy, but vegans say it is also important to be educated when going vegan. A well-planned vegan diet can provide enough protein, iron, calcium, and other key essentials, and this can benefit your health by reducing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

“Being vegan is probably the [most nutritious] way to go. But there are so many different levels of that and so many different layers, that it really is a personal choice,” said CSUN’s Klotz Student Health Center dietitian Ellen Bauersfeld. “Diet quality is important, whether you are eating animal products or not, and as a vegan you still have to make good choices.”

“I had really high cholesterol; I was over 200 in cholesterol, and my grandfather was going through pancreatic cancer,” Borja said. “That lead to research, and that was really important, trying to figure out if it really was for me, if it was something I could do. The most important thing for me was doing the research and making sure it fit with who I am and what I want to become. It’s a journey.”

Still misconceptions about protein deficiency in a vegan diet persist.

“You have to be educated, and you have to look at eating and an overall balanced diet,” Bauersfeld said. “But if you are smart about it, it would be very unlikely that you would have a protein deficiency.”

Many experts believe that being a vegan is also good for the environment, although the arguments are complicated and controversial. Avoiding animal products will likely help lower a person’s carbon footprint, while eating in fast food chains can be environmentally harmful, as well as unhealthy.

“You don’t have to be in prison to be on death row,” Borja said, about fast food restaurants lined up on streets of the San Fernando Valley and other communities.

Alvarez suggested getting involved in organizations that help promote animal rights and going vegan or vegetarian.

“We need to have animal advocates out there, discussing the issues that affect animals,” she said, “because there are so many ways that we continue to further oppress animals. Even in our daily talk, someone can say ‘he treated me like a dog’. What does that mean? When we refer to animals, [it’s] something always negative.”

For those looking for healthier diets that are less damaging to the environment and animals, there are many different choices, including veganism and vegetarianism. Many nutritionists advocate pescetarianism, a mostly plant-based diet that includes fish; and flexitarianism, a plant-based diet that includes occasional meat and dairy products.

“Everything is on a continuum,” Bauersfeld said. “And that’s the beauty of this: you get to pick and choose, if you want to make those changes.”

Moderator: Luzita Pineda

Producer: Jose Duran

Anchor: Rosa Rodriguez

Social Media Editors: Adam Hajost, Arianna Takis and Lexi Wilson

Reporters: Jose Duran, Adam Hajost, Luzita Pineda, Rosa Rodriguez, Arianna Takis and Lexi Wilson

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