I became a vegan at the start of this year. According to Wikipedia, there are mainly 3 types of vegans: dietary vegans, ethical vegans, and environmental vegans. I consider myself as none of them. If I had to categorize my identity, it would be a casual vegan. While I do think killing animals is both unethical and environmentally unsustainable, that is not a strong enough reason to stop eating what I like. Let’s face it, we are all selfish. Animals get killed whether or not I stop eating meat.
A dietary vegan is the only kind that is motivated by a selfish reason. I did a research on whether or not a vegan diet is actually healthier, but I couldn’t find a compelling evidence for it. I don’t want to give up eating meat only to find out 10 years later that it’s actually nutritional.
You are reading this maybe because you want to become a vegan but can’t give up eating pizza or muffins. Or you are forced to become one but don’t know how. Whatever the case, finding a selfish reason makes it easy.
Here are the 3 selfish reasons to become a vegan.
1. It Fosters Creativity
I got interested in vegan when I was doing a catering business last year. Catering is a unique and challenging business because guests have little to no choice for the food. If your entire menu contains animal products, a vegan guest will have nothing to eat. That motivated me to develop vegan menu.
At first it seemed impossible. How could I possibly make any food without batter, milk, eggs, cheese, or meat? But then I realized that there is a whole array of substitutes available. Soy milk, soy meat, vegan margarine, vegan cheese, you name it. Using these ingredients to mimic the original taste is quite challenging and fun.
But you don’t have to rely on the substitutes. You can simply choose food that doesn’t contain animal products, for example salad, pickles, baguette, pasta, and tortilla. That’s way simpler and cheaper than trying to make a vegan hamburger, which leads to...
2. Less Choice is Sometimes Better
Don’t you feel paralyzed when trying to decide what to cook for dinner? I have a solution for you. Become a vegan! Now grocery shopping becomes super simple and fast. I just go to a vegetable section and grab whatever is cheap or fresh. That’s it. I usually sauté some veggies or make a Japanese pickle. Nothing fancy.
We have created a culture where eating the same meal two nights in a row feels wrong, just like wearing the same outfit two days in a row feels wrong. A vegan lifestyle forces you to live with less. I’m not saying less choice is always better. If the only available jobs on the market were collecting garbage or cleaning toilets (and somehow all the other jobs had been replaced by AI), the world would be an unpleasant place to live. It’s unpleasant just to imagine what that looks like. But when it comes to food, we have way more choice than we know what to do with.
3. It’s Cheaper
No question about this one. Yes, you can buy cheap bacon and sausage, if you are willing to kill your body. More likely, you buy good quality meat and fish. If you learn to live without them, you will save so much money now and in the future.
Not only is a vegan diet cheaper, it encourages you to cook more and eat out less. Though it might be easy to find a vegan food in the U.S. or European countries, it’s nearly impossible in Japan. In a convenience store, the only vegan food available is Onigiri. In a cafe, every sandwich contains meat or cheese, usually both. And good luck trying to find a vegan restaurant in Tokyo. When there is nothing to eat outside, you have no choice but to cook your own food.
It Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing
I have a confession to make: I’m not 100% vegan. There is only one non-vegan ingredient that I still use, which is dashi. Dashi is essential for Japanese cuisine, including miso soup. Also when I go out with my friends, I eat whatever is available because I want to be flexible. Don’t be dogmatic about this. Just know why you are doing this, and make an exception when appropriate.