In our family’s continued efforts to reduce our impact on the globe we have now added a vegan diet to our lifestyle. Many of you may be familiar with the term vegetarian, well vegan is one step further excluding the consumption of any animal products from one’s diet. No meat, no dairy, no cheese, but lots of other yummy feel-good foods!
Why would we choose to do this you might ask? Well for several reasons: improved health and wellbeing; reduced environmental impact; and reduced animal cruelty. I will explain further:
1. Improved health and wellbeing:
“The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of the last century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined.”-Neal Barnard, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
“We are now seeing fatty deposits in the coronary arteries of children as early as age three. By age 12, two-thirds of children on a typical north american diet have these first stages of coronary heart disease.”-Charles Atwood, M.D., pediatrician and medical author.
Based on the largest study of its kind out of Boston University that followed the health of 5,000 meat eaters and 6,000 vegetarian and vegans over a period of 20 years showed on average vegetarians lived 7 years longer than that of meat eaters, and vegans lived on average 15 years longer.
All interesting and alarming “headlines” that certainly got our attention. But what is it like to not eat a meal containing animal products for over a month and a half. That right, we have not eaten meat, milk, cheese or other animal products in over a month. Well I find I have more energy than ever, my previous digestion issues (IBS) have corrected themselves, and our meals have been more interesting than ever! Tracy has found some amazing recipes full of healthy, fresh, and nutritious ingredients. In fact we haven’t yet repeated the same meal twice. Way to go Tracy!
Our diet includes things like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and rice milk. I like them all, but rice milk has seemed to taste the closest to skimmed cow milk. We also eat many different beans, soy cheese, fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Earth’s General Store, Planet Organic, Save-on-Foods, and the Farmer’s Market have all the goods. A little more expensive-yes, but we look at it as paying for a preventative measure against cancer, heart disease, and other serious ailments.
2. Reduced Environmental Impact:
“One cow grazing on one acre of grass will produce 58 pounds of meat, which is enough to sustain a person for two-and-a-half months. If the same grass were replaced with soybeans, the beans would contain enough protein to sustain the same person for seven years!”-Good Medicine, Autumn, 1996.
“You can save more water by not eating 1 pound of beef than not showering for 9 months.”-John Robbins, The Food Revolution.
Having considered the last two quotes, the American food industry brings to slaughter over 10 billion animals each year. Industrial livestock operations (ILO’s) contribute in huge ways to soil erosion, ground water pollution, antibiotic resistance in humans, hormone disruption in humans, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and the list goes on… more on that later.
You should also know that the average North American eat sapproximately 95 animals each year. I found this hard to believe, but have come across this statistic in several sources.
3. Reduced Animal Cruelty:
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings we are still savage.”-Thomas Edison, Inventor.
This third reason supporting veganism is pretty self-explanatory, but to add, research has shown that pigs have a higher intellectual and emotional intelligence than that of dogs. We wouldn’t think of eating Fido now would we?
These are just a few points that we have come across as we begin to explore a new lifestyle, a new diet, and further reduced impact that actually leads to immediate improved health.
Some famous vegan/vegetarians (for interest sake):
- Leonardi da Vinci
- Sir Isaac Newton
- Benjamin Franklin
- Mahatma Ghandi
- Vincent Van Gough
- Albert Einstein
- Henry Ford
One final thought:
“All truth passes through 3 stages:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self evident.”-Arthur Schopenhauer, Philosopher