I’m sure when you see the words «vegan diet» or «plant-based diet» you have the same thought as I did a couple of years ago, «I could never go vegan.» You’ve probably also thought that the diet is reserved only for tree-hugging hippies. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only is that not true, but that this diet could change your life.
When I first heard about the plant-based diet, I was interested, but quickly dismissed it, because how can a human live without meat, dairy, and eggs? I didn’t think it was possible, or frankly healthy. Thankfully with more and more studies coming to light, my mind was changed quickly. I realized that not only could a human live without eating animal products but also thrive.
Okay, so I’ve mentioned that meat, dairy, and eggs are bad for you, but why? Let’s get to the basics — Studies have shown that the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal products cause numerous health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), Alzheimer’s, stroke, acne, asthma, kidney disease, and the list goes on! We as humans don’t need to consume dietary cholesterol because our bodies make all the cholesterol we need, nor do we need to be consuming saturated fat in such huge amounts.
Now you’re probably thinking if all these things are true, why aren’t doctors, nutritionists, the media, etc. warning us about it? Well, unfortunately for us most doctors have zero to very little knowledge about nutrition, their studies don’t require them to. Nutritionists and the media are many times sponsored by the meat and dairy industry to push their agenda. The pharmaceutical industry also benefits greatly from all this. Very little money can be made on nature and a healthy civilization.
However, let’s not dismiss the doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians completely! There are more and more health professionals becoming more aware. With a quick Google search, you can find plenty of plant based health professionals. Just to name a few, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neal Barnard, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Dr. Michael Klaper and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn are all respected professionals in their field and have helped many to prevent and even reverse disease.
Even the World Health Organization has declared processed meat as a number one carcinogen. The American’s Dietetics Association has also taken a stance on the vegan diet, stating it is safe for all stages of life, including pregnancy and infancy.
So I’ve mentioned a lot of things about the vegan/plant-based diet, but what is it exactly? A plant-based diet can come in all kinds of shapes and forms, but one thing is for sure, it is 100% free of animal products, so that means no meat/fish, dairy, eggs, or other animal based products.
A plant-based diet does not automatically mean it is a healthy diet; you could be eating only vegan cookies and cakes, and sure it will be plant-based, but it doesn’t mean you are eating healthily. You’re definitely better off than the alternative because no plant food contains cholesterol, but definitely not better off as you could be! That’s why I want to emphasize that a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) is the key to good health.
So how are you going to do it? For many, the transition is like nothing, but for some, it can be a real hassle! Some of us have grown extremely attached to our food choices! Just remember you’re not a slave to your taste buds. There are so many ways to satisfy your taste buds while staying plant-based, you just have to get a little creative!
«What do you eat?» Is a question I seem to get often. Though it may seem like the end of the world giving up animal products, you’re actually entering a whole new world. You can try first to veganize all your meals, then try to pick 3 or more new vegan recipes, and lastly, pick 3 or more WFPB recipes to add to your life. Find all the foods you do and don’t like, and be open-minded to trying to foods you’ve never tried before! After a few weeks, you will see how your taste buds will change and start to crave more whole foods rather than junk.
As positive as a WFPB diet sounds, one still has to be aware of all the vitamins and minerals one needs. Unfortunately, very little amounts of Vitamin b12 (bacteria found mostly in soil) and d3 (from the sun) can be found in a plant based diet. These two vitamins are vital for you, so make sure you’re taking a b12 supplement and perhaps even a d3 supplement if you’re not getting enough sunlight, especially in the winter. With that said, you also need to pay attention to all the vitamins and minerals and ensure you’re getting enough of everything your body needs.
My own personal experience was a positive one. I saw my energy increase, cholesterol lower, and my mood improve. I was plagued with many skin issues, but now I rarely get blemishes, my eczema disappeared, and warts I would occasionally get lessened. My period improved greatly, including my bleeding and cramps! My parents have shared a similar experience as I have and something I should mention, my dad used to have terrible seasonal allergies, which he suffered from for decades. He needed an inhaler and even ended up in the hospital because he couldn’t breath! He no longer needs an inhaler, because he no longer has allergies!
Still not convinced about the plant-based diet? Here are some other reasons why you should go plant-based!
THE THE ENVIRONMENT:
If it wasn’t already hard to hear that your health is being seriously damaged by animal products, but animal agriculture is seriously damaging the earth! Here are some facts to put everything into perspective.
«It takes 1,000 gallons to make one gallon of milk.»
«2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.»
«Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. «
«Transportation exhaust is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions. «
«Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. «
«Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20-year time frame.»
«We could see fishless oceans by 2048.»
These facts are not only worrying, they are frightening! For years we all fought for the environment by using less electricity, taking shorter showers, riding bikes instead of cars, etc. If you’re like me, you had no clue that it’s what’s on our plates that are causing our environment to suffer.
A great quote from Howard Lyman that really hit me and opened my mind was «You can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat. Period.» After this, I completely changed my lifestyle and continue to improve it every day.
FOR THE ANIMALS:
Unfortunately, it’s not only our bodies and the environment who take a beating. The suffering goes even further. Over 56 billion animals are killed each year, for the consumption of humans. Many people brush the ethical argument off their shoulders. We are taught by society to view animals as objects, who are less intelligent than us, therefore their suffering is meaningless. We’ve all been there and we’ve all said: «They’re just animals!»
But they aren’t just animals, they’re living sentient beings, who feel happiness, suffering, and sadness. They have bonds with their own kind, they have families, they have a will for freedom, and they certainly aren’t stupid. They feel pain just like us or our beloved pets. So when they’re being tortured, raped and killed, they know exactly what is going on, and if you put yourself in their shoes, you can imagine their suffering is nothing humane.
If you think you’re ready to try the plant-based diet, I highly suggest to watch and read the following:
What The Health
Live and Let
How Not To Die — Dr.Michael Greger
The China Study — T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD
The Cheese Trap — Dr. Neal D. Barnard
All this information can be incredibly overwhelming, this is understandable because it goes against the narrative and everything you thought was right. We have all been there, you are not alone. We are incredibly lucky to live in a generation where endless amounts of information are available to us. With a quick Google search, you can find the easiest vegan meal to the connection between disease and animal products. The internet will be your friend whenever you’re feeling lost. So don’t get discouraged, get educated!
If you’re interested in more things related to health and fitness. You can visit my YouTube channel — https://www.youtube.com/user/Sofabar and my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sofa.bar/ — I post weekly workouts or recipe videos and pictures.