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As last years' holidays went on, many looked forward to cooking and indulging on slow cooked turkey or ham, but for 0.5 percent of Americans, this is not the case. 

In the United States, approximately 0.5 percent of the population is vegan, which may not seem like a lot but is actually 1.6 million people. These 1.6 million people do not participate in eating or using any animal products, and there are many reasons people choose this lifestyle, with the top three being health, taste preference, and animal concern.

Living a vegan lifestyle comes with many benefits. One of the biggest benefits is the low risk of developing many life-threatening illnesses, such as various types of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis. By being vegan, the risks of developing these illnesses decreases because no animal fats are consumed. Consuming animal fats has been linked as a main factor in developing these illnesses, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and heart disease.  

Many physical benefits come along with living a vegan lifestyle. The main physical benefit is weight loss, because the body is relying on nutrient-dense whole foods, such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which reduce calorie intake. Vegan foods are also fiber rich, leaving the body feeling full longer and promoting bowel regularity. By regulating weight, most vegans maintain a lower BMI than the average person. This is because they have less fat on the body and maintain a healthy weight. Some other things that the vegan lifestyle can improve are energy, healthy skin, body odor, bad breath, migraines, allergies, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Most vegans are also activists for improving the environment and the concern for animals. Growing plants, fruits, and vegetables takes less energy than growing animals, which has less of an impact on the environment. This is a concerning topic because as the meat industry grows, it contributes to global warming and pollution. Aside from the concern for the environment, many people just can't stomach the thought of eating an animal. Animals are treated horribly throughout the process of getting to the local grocery store, which is a main concern in why people choose the vegan lifestyle.

Some people think that it is too much time and effort to live a vegan lifestyle, but the time is worth the benefits. By incorporating the vegan diet just into two days of the week can have numerous health benefits, and while the vegan lifestyle may not be for everyone, it is a good option for people to consider who have health concerns or just want to eat cleaner.