A lot of people ask me why I’ve chosen to exclude so many things from my diet. That type of thinking for me doesn’t exist. I don’t focus on what I’m excluding, but on what I’m gaining.
I would never sacrifice all the wonderful things I’ve gained by going vegan – compassionate friendships, sustained health, wonderful food, a clear conscience and a purpose to life.
Going vegan was not a decision I made on a whim – I’m the type of person who likes to analyze and evaluate all aspects of something thoroughly before making a life-changing decision. Basically my reasonings can be included in four categories: animals, health/beauty, environment, and humanity.
Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, I never expected to become someone who excluded meat, dairy, and eggs – basically everything I grew up on – from my diet. I remember the days of catching catfish in the pond with my grandpa and frying them for dinner with the family. If the world were still innocent and self-producing like it was in the days my grandparents grew up, the world would be a much different place. Sadly, with so much demand for meat by the world’s growing population, that is not the case. Today’s current meat production not only affects our health, but also the lives and welfare of animals, and ultimately our shared environment. Eating animals is not completely necessary to our survival anymore, and there are much better options available that will prolong our lives as well as reduce our footprint on this earth while we’re here.
Becoming sick several years ago was a wake up call for me, as I realized that my health was more important than I believed it to be at the time. If you lose your health, you lose everything. (At the time it was hidden gluten intolerance, which spun into a billion other problems, but no one knew what the answer was – see My Story). I was desperate to find answers, and so I looked to people who had already found them. I began to hang out with local foodies and vegetarian groups, sought out holistic doctors and relentlessly researched health when I wasn’t working. It was after I attended a Veggie Fair and read Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s book, the China Study, that I made the switch to vegan and a new lifestyle. Here’s some of the things along the way that also changed my view.
Look up these beauties of gleaming health and tell me that you don’t see a happy healthy soul behind these eyes. Mimi Kirk, Karen Calabrese, Annette Larkins and many other beautiful people whom I have known personally in my life have shown me that beauty is ageless and knows no bounds when you’re giving your body the right things. They are truly living statements of joy and what a loving diet can do for your skin, your health, and your life’s purpose after 70. I look at so many diseased states and needless suffering around me, and think it’s such a shame when so so much could be preventable through diet, not to mention ending the needless suffering of animals. I love this quote from Mimi’s page:
Feeling like you’re in your 20’s at age 75, is quite an amazing thing… I accredit this youthful look and spirit not only to my attitude, but really to my way of eating which is a raw vegan-plant based lifestyle.” – Mimi Kirk
Immunity and Disease Prevention
While not a cure-all, the plant-based vegan diet has been studied by many, and proven to reduce or prevent such devastating diagnoses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more. I’ve found that since going vegan, I very rarely get sick, and when I do, I recover much more quickly than those around me. Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death by Dr. Gregor is a great eye-opening presentation, comparing the typical western diet to vegetarian and vegan diets – and what can be prevented just by adopting this diet. It’s astounding. For more info, refer to nutritionfacts.org and pcrm.org/health/. Have you heard of Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs)? Probably not. Consider this statement from the American Dietetic Association: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes..” More info here.
Ending the Suffering of Animals and Industry Workers
I remember asking my mom as a child about where our meat came from; at the time I remember thinking they would wait until the animal died, and then eat it. No suffering involved. Of course I now know things to be much different. Farms today are not what you imagined Old McDonald’s farm to be in your bedtime stories growing up. Farms are much more industrialized, built to save on cost and increase profits – with little concern for sanitary practices or for the animals involved. If you google factory farms, you will awaken to the state of today’s meat industry. With the demand for meat on the rise (although the number of vegetarians has nearly doubled in the past 3 years), farmers cannot keep up. This causes a number of problems. Not only do the animals (excluded from humane laws when considered food) intensely suffer, living only months of their short lives barely able to move or see daylight before they are slaughtered, babies taken away from their mothers so that we can steal their milk, and “worthless” male baby chicks disposed of inhumanely, but the human workers in these places also greatly suffer both mentally and physically. Often these workers are kicked or hurt by the protesting animal, mentally distraught, and are payed extremely low wages. For more info on factory farming, see these links: vegankit.com, chooseveg.com.
One thing you will not hear in a Prius commercial is that ridding the world if cars is not the only answer to our global warming issue. Believe it or not, cows produce the most methane gas that contributes to global warming. “But – if we stop eating them, cows will take over the world!” you say? Only if we were to keep artificially inseminating them at the rate we do today. Not only is this unnatural, but the hormones, antibiotics (causing antibiotic resistance), mad cow disease, e-coli, a newly discovered heart-disease causing bacteria in red meat, and the waste produced by the mega-farms polluting our water sources may cause you to reconsider your diet. With all of the resources it takes to feed just one cow, we could be feeding many more people, destroying less forests for grazing, using less water, and being more efficient with our scarce land. Fishing has become so demanding today, that it is destroying our underwater ecosystems, and killing many other things in the process. A great article on overfishing here, and more on environment here.
While there are many many more things I could write about that have influenced my decision to go vegan, these are some of the main ideas. Reach out to me if you have questions or need more info on a topic. There is a wealth of information out there, and I wish you the best on your journey to health. Weigh your options and do your own research before you take anyone’s advice as truth. One more site that might help your decision 😉 veganbodybuilding.com
Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” —Albert Einstein
Ready to take a first step? See my post on How to Reduce (or Eliminate!) Animal Products in Your Diet, and schedule a free Health History Consultation with me today.