What's So Great about the Vegan Lifestyle?
Jun 03, 2013 03:18PM
What's So Great about the Vegan Lifestyle?
by Lindzie St. Martin
I must admit if you'd have asked me, even just a year ago, if I'd ever consider the Vegan lifestyle, my answer would have definitely been, "No way!" I was conditioned with the mentality that something was missing in a recipe if there wasn't any meat or eggs with it. Even though for a short time in my twenties, I flirted with the idea of incorporating more vegetarian meals into my regimen. Not for any other reason than to develop a better relationship with vegetables, AND of course, find what I thought might be part of the secret formula to losing weight. . . My intrigue was very short lived!
This year has shed some new light for me on the concepts and philosophy behind a TRUE "plant based diet". Through the last few years, my love and passion for ultimate health and well-being has heightened quite a bit, and with my drive to constantly find new inspiration in the kitchen, I've found myself attracted to several vegan blog sites. When I came across veganblogger.com, everything started to make sense. Originally I was searching these blogs for no other reason than to find alternatives for cooking without eggs. Suddenly my eyes had been opened -- this is a much deeper philosophy for many vegans, more than just not liking animal products, or avoiding them solely for weight loss.
To the true Vegan, it is a lifestyle! This isn't just about avoiding meat and dairy. If that were the case, people could call themselves vegan while they run around with a bag of potato chips and a smoothie. This lifestyle of eating is driven by the desire for optimal health and the freedom from disease. And for many, it is for much deeper ethical reasons -- A passion and love for animals, and a refusal to contribute to the inhumane treatment for mass production. As I've researched deeper for myself, the reasons have become very clear, and I discovered that not all vegans are created equal. So, without much experience in this area myself, I decided to gather some feedback. . .
I asked a young lady named April, to share a bit about her Vegan lifestyle with me. She is twenty-eight years old, and has a Master's Degree in Public Health, and works as a Wellness Coordinator at an employee health center for a major tech company. After sixteen years as a vegetarian, she recently decided to eliminate the last few animal products, like cheese, from her diet. Here is her story:
"I became vegetarian sixteen years ago, after I watched a video in the seventh grade on how animals were raised for meat. I was disgusted and saddened by what I saw, so I vowed to stop eating it. I did so successfully for many years, and about three years ago became disgusted again with the concept of drinking milk from an animal or eating an animal's unfertilized egg. I had read, 'Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating', which compelled me to start flirting with Veganism. So, I went on to read, 'Veganist' and 'Skinny Bitch'. I had always thought it was so extreme, and something only extreme people did, but the more I read and learned, the more I felt I needed to see if it was possible.
My sister and I started with a week of Vegan eating. We prepped a little and planned meals, so the week went well and we felt pretty proud! That week was preparation to see if we could do a full 30 days. We planned for the month as well, and used each other as motivation, and someone to check in with and share recipes. We successfully completed the month, and I began thinking it would be much easier than I thought to live on a plant based diet. I also noticed that by only eating vegan foods, I had stopped eating many of the foods and snacks, that were less healthy, I had eaten either daily or from time to time before. I still occasionally went back to some of my favorite foods with cheese (it was essentially the only animal product I was eating) but definitely began to feel GI issues, as well as feeling not super proud of the food I had eaten, for health and ethical reasons. Then I read 'The China Study', a book a physician I work with shared with me, about the greatest study on nutrition ever. It shows strong correlations between the increase in initiation and growth of cancer in rats who consume casein (milk protein), and decreases in cancer growth for those who ate a diet with less than 5% casein (far less than the typical American).
I don't see any difference in the dogs we have as pets compared to cows or pigs. I have also learned how significantly the production of animals for meat and dairy harms our planet. It is unbelievable all of the unintentional consequences that come from raising, breeding, milking, and consuming these animals.
As for eating a healthy diet, if you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils and nuts, you can get all of the protein, fiber, and fats necessary to be healthy and feel well. I have never not felt great eating this way!
And lastly I would say, it's great being Vegan because you are eating the best foods for your body for optimal health, you are respecting animals and not contributing to the grossly inhumane treatment they receive, and you are eating a diet that contributes far less to global warming, and will help sustain our world resources for ourselves and our children and their children."
As you should realize now, Veganism is much more than just deciding not to eat meat and dairy. This is an ethical way of life, and one that can bring you to the source of some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Furthermore, is has been brought to my own understanding , that not all vegans arrive at Veganism for the same reasons.
So, what about you? Have you had some curiosity. . . tired of feeling just not right? Perhaps you're frustrated, like many others, with the industry of animal production, and feeling like you want to see a change. So if you have the same questions I believe most of us have in the early stages of considering a new philosophy of eating -- "Where do I begin?" -- There is a wealth of information to help you consider if Veganism is for you, and an abundance of bloggers who can guide you through the healthiest way to live on a plant based diet, while they share amazing recipes to inspire you. Like April's story, read a few books and decide where your passion lies. Find some great recipes and make a plan, and perhaps find yourself an accountability buddy who'll try this new lifestyle along with you. You'll discover new fruits, vegetables, roots, sprouts, herbs, grains, nuts and seeds of every variety, as well as bringing an abundance of optimal wellness to your life. The sky is the limit, and to the dedicated vegan, it's simply ALL of this that makes the Vegan lifestyle so great!