Weekend Thoughts - 9.12.15

Image by  William , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by William, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. A brief summary of how being vegan tremendously helps the environment. Aside from the scientifically-proven health benefits and demonstrating compassion toward animals, this article details how vegans are actively combatting the largest source of carbon emissions (meat), how climate change creates and exacerbates human and animal health issues, the plunging cost of vegan diets compared to omnivorous diets, and how vegans have a drastically-reduced carbon footprint. Studies have shown that vegans save 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land, 45 pounds of grain, and one animal's life each day. To me, going vegan was a no-brainer decision, although it can require a bit more planning and acceptance of increased responsibility than the standard American diet. Having been a vegetarian for two years and a vegan for 1.5 years, I don't see myself ever going back to my prior omnivorous ways and greatly enjoy my current lifestyle and diet. I do understand that it is not for everyone, but I believe that everyone can take steps, no matter how big or small, toward a more sustainable diet.

2. An article on the "dark side" of coffee explores the harms that the drink can cause and suggests healthier alternatives for readers to try. Although many people have no doubt seen studies showing that coffee is beneficial to health, there is enough contradictory evidence showing that it is actually damaging instead. I imagine that we may be in an era that believes coffee is beneficial to one's health, similar to how previous generations believed cigarettes were healthy. The article is definitely worth a read, and it's worth considering whether drinking coffee is actually helping you or not. I would suggest doing what I have done before: cut out coffee for several days, weeks, months, or years, and then return to it and see how you feel.

3. Is American car culture being replaced by technology and social media? An article explores the emerging trend of age-eligible teenagers who opt-out of obtaining their driver's licenses at 16. Back in the day, teenagers were more-than-excited to earn their licenses as soon as they hit the required age mark, but nowadays they are opting to wait longer. The article proposes the idea that maybe the ability to reach more people and explore more of the world via a mobile phone has replaced the desire to get behind the wheel. 

4. I enjoyed this light-hearted piece about the science behind why we kiss. It turns out that it is a combination of nature and nurture—kissing most likely originated from a missed attempt to smell another human up-close-and-personal style, and the act is a learned behavior that most hunter-gather societies don't share.

5. Former federal prisoner Michael Santos explains how he learned about the Internet and published a website from inside prison. His story is full of great tidbits, like how he realized a lot had changed in society when he got online and saw that the average attention span was drastically shorter due to the short formats that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Vine have popularized. I was especially enchanted by the way that he used the Internet to help him achieve success in the real world, which is generally a very difficult for ex-prisoners to do.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.