If you would have asked me several years ago I never would have thought I would become vegan, or even vegetarian for that matter. Growing up in a typical North American family and society, I was taught that meat was the only source of protein and milk was a magic elixir that built strong bones and teeth. In my later teenage years, food took over as an unhealthy focus in my life, which eventually led me to re-evaluate my food choices.
My new mindset on food and life in general led me to transition my diet from SAD (Standard American Diet) to pescatarian, to vegetarian (summer 2012), and then eventually full vegan (January 2013). As I made this shift I found that my relationship with food and with myself really improved. I could genuinely enjoy the food I was preparing and eating, I was happier overall, and I felt a lot healthier.
“So why are you vegan?”
For the Animals
There is no shortage of vegan propaganda out there, and some people may find the messages extreme; the sad thing is that it is not exaggerated. Chickens are confined to cages they cannot stand or flap their wings in, piglets are castrated without painkillers, cows are artificially impregnated to produce more milk, and seafood is overfished to the point of extinction. The push for ‘humane meat’ while a step in the right direction, is not always ideal. For example, “free-range” is a loose term with no legal definitions.
For the Planet
The consumption of meat has huge implications of the health of our planet. In comparison to growing plants, the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions, and uses more land and water. It has been noted that a vegan diet requires about a third of the land compared to conventional North American diets.
I’ve always been interested in good nutrition, health, and longevity and a vegan diet is really in line with all these points. After reading The China Study I didn’t need further convincing that a whole-foods plant-based diet is good for your health.
Spirituality, Yoga, and Ahimsa
In yoga, there is a term calledÂ Ahimsa which translates doing no harm and causing no suffering. This component of yoga has always weighed heavy on me, and I do my best everyday to cause no harm to any Â being, including other people, animals or myself. The practice of yoga also advocates a vegetarian diet. Since yoga is such a huge part of my life, it only made sense for me that eating a vegan diet was part of my life as well.
Becoming, or even showing interest in a vegan lifestyle exposes you to a whole new community of people who share your similar interests! There are a ton of online and in-person communities devoted to sharing tips, tricks, and a passion of a compassionate form of living.
“But isn’t being vegan hard?”
My answer to this question is, “for me, no”. I’m not going to say it will be easy for you, but there are a new key points that certainly make a following a vegan diet simpler.
Find your anchor(s)
I summarized me anchors above, but sticking with any life style change requires some sort of change in mentality. If you can identify reasons why becoming vegan (or even vegetarian) is important to you, then it will be easier I promise. Do some research, some soul searching, and you’ll find yourself empowered!
Embrace your inner chef
Having a joy of cooking is immensely helpful in sticking to a vegan diet. It is awesome how new companies are popping up with great new veg*n options, and this will no doubt make the shift easier for many cooks and non-cooks. If health is important to you, however, realize that these options are not always the healthiest. Yes, a vegan diet is very healthful, but hailing Oreos, Duncan Hines frosting, veggie dogs, and bagged lettuce as your four food groups won’t get you very far. Not only would you be missing important nutrients, you would probably get pretty bored! Invest in a good cookbook, get yourself a blender or food processor, slap on an apron, and learn to love the kitchen!
Boy and girl scouts taught you well. Yes, it’s true that there aren’t always a plethora of vegan options available wherever you go. Do yourself a favour and throw a container of mixed nuts or a granola bar in your bag, download the Happy Cow app for your phone, and look up the menu to the restaurant you’re going to ahead of time. Being armed with plant-based goodness ahead of time will avoid potential frustrations and headaches that could potentially deter you from veg*n awesomeness.
Though I’m by no means an expert, and I don’t claim to be, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email with any questions! I’d be happy to discuss
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