Veganism, An Explanation Part 1:

 

Veganism: a change in perception, an awareness, a connection, a conscious

In this post, I am going to be discussing veganism by answering questions people often ask me about it.

What made me become vegan?

Like most teenage girls, I had a false perception of my body. I have never been “fat” a day in my life, but there have been times, even when I was in elementary school, where I perceived myself to be. This was all based on a number on a scale. I swear my heart would beat right out of my chest, if I stepped on the scale to see I gained an ounce. The doctor even made my mom take the scale away, and this was when I was around the age of nine or ten.

Most girls gain weight when they go into high school. Its normal. We are just growing, but that is not how I saw it. For some reason, I did not think I would gain weight. My metabolism was still pretty fast. I was a skinny tall cheerleader and could eat whatever I wanted. I thought exercise and eating a normal amount of food is what kept people skinny. I knew nothing about nutrition or what I was putting in my body, and I had no interest in learning about it. I felt that as long as I kept cheerleading, I would be skinny. But then something happened, I wanted to quit cheerleading.  I loved the exercise I got from it, I loved the connections I made from being on a team, and I loved to tumble, but when I got into high school it stopped being fun. There was all this jealousy and competitiveness, and I felt tons of pressure. Managing cheer and school gave me an insane amount of anxiety. I have always been anxious and have struggled to manage school, a social life, and cheer. Basically, I stopped my main form of exercise, and went through a growth spurt, so naturally I gained weight. I hadn’t planned on stopping exercising and I still wanted to continue with tumbling in some way. This did not happen right away, and when I started to gain weight, I began to worry. Basically, for the next year, I developed bad eating habits and tried to lose weight, but never stuck to a diet. I wanted an easy fix and had become lazy. At one point, I figured, my best chance would be becoming anorexic. I didn’t realize you don’t become anorexic. It goes much further than this and becomes a psychological issue, where people are not just eating to be skinny. Anorexia was too much of a commitment, or I just really love food. Bulimia was out of the question. I have a real phobia for vomiting (I’d rather get punched). So, I’d always be trying different exercise routines, looking up celebrity diets, and trying detox teas, but never committed to anything. Girls on youtube make videos all the time about the diet they follow to stay skinny, so I would watch videos and see which one I could try.

One time, I came across a video on veganism. Then, I found tons of people who said they lost weight by becoming vegan. Watching videos about it, eventually led me to the more important reasons people became vegan, and the reality behind what I had been eating. Seeing where the foods I was eating came from, what they did to my health, and how they were affecting the planet, was a wake up call. A few days after learning about veganism though, I soon forgot about it, and still lacked the ability to make the connection between the world around me, myself, and my food. I definitely looked at going vegan, as giving something up, but it did seem like an easy way to become “skinny” (like I said, I have never been overweight, but always saw myself that way). It did take me a while to become fully vegan, like I said commitment issues, but as soon as I did, my body was cleansed and so was my mind. I finally saw the importance of me being vegan. It was more than just being skinny.

I  began to see that I was more than a body and began to “discover” myself. Through becoming vegan, I became more connected with myself , built a better relationship with myself, gained self respect, found passion and creativity, and most importantly, gained compassion and gratitude.

Another question I am always asked is,”Isn’t it hard?”

Not anymore. If you think about it, its really just making a conscious decision each time you eat. I have been vegan for almost a year now, and I don’t even think about it really. It is just what is normal for me. I no longer view me being vegan as different. Now, eating meat doesn’t seem normal to me, but there was once a time where it was. There is stigma against veganism. We are conditioned to believe that eating meat, dairy and eggs, is normal.  Is it?  Or, is it tradition?

If you mean is it hard, as in am I questioned and criticized for my decision? Questioned? Yes. Criticized? Maybe, people don’t say anything to my face, but I am sure they have their opinion. I just don’t understand why they would care that I am vegan, or what difference it makes?  However, my family and some friends, will make fun or crack jokes, when I do not eat what they are having. I don’t let this bother me anymore.

Why should I want to change my diet?

We have all this new technology and medicine, yet diseases are more prevalent than ever. Wouldn’t you rather cure or prevent a disease or ailment, rather than just live with it, taking pills for the symptoms, pills that come with a cost?  In Western society we pay more for healthcare, than any other country, yet we are the sickest country in the developed world. Ever ask why? My guess is there is no money in healthy people.

You don’t have to be the perfect healthy vegan. There is vegan junk food that does not taste bad, and you should treat yourself every once in a while. I find its important to keep in mind that you eat to live. You don’t live to eat. Eating shouldn’t be something you constantly have to worry about or obsess over. Adopting a plant-based diet will give you more energy, so you don’t have to worry about feeling sick and tired. Now, I am not saying as a vegan you will never get sick. Vegans catch colds too, but staying hydrated and eating foods packed with nutrition will help build your immune system, and help prevent against constantly getting sick, during the winter and all year round. If you do get sick, while being vegan, it is not to blame on your diet, and it is not because of a lack of protein and nutrients. You should not be deficient in nutrients, if you are eating an abundance of plant-based foods. Healthy diet and lifestyle are your best chances at preventing and fighting sickness.

Will I lose weight, if I adopt a vegan diet?

You may see a difference in your weight and body fat, but the biggest difference you will feel. You should begin to feel more energized and see an improvement in your digestion, skin, hair, and  pretty much every aspect of your health, as long as you are not doing something else that would affect your health in a negative manner. For some, there is a stage, when becoming vegan, where the body is cleansing out all the toxins from the meat, dairy, and eggs they were consuming before, so they may feel, well, not their best. After this rough patch though,  people  will feel better than ever and slowly over time,  will see whatever health issues they had, become less significant.

If you are trying to lose weight, then this diet will help in conjunction with exercise. It is different for everybody. Some people lose weight after going vegan without exercising. If losing weight is a concern, because you are already thin, then don’t worry, just make sure you are eating until you feel satiated and always have a snack, when you are on the go, to ensure that you will have energy throughout the day. Plants are less calorically dense than meat and dairy. They may fill you up fast, but will also digest fast, so you need to eat larger servings, or eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day.4309910263_8378434d76_o

Don’t we need meat, dairy, and eggs for things like protein and calcium? Aren’t these things good for our health? How do vegans get important nutrients?

Protein: Plant-based foods provide human beings with all the nutrients they need and almost all of them contain some amount of protein. Protein deficiency is rare, especially in vegans.  Most of your daily calories should be from carbohydrates, not protein. Actually, only 5% of your daily calories should come from protein, or about 40g a day (according to the World Health Organization). Do your own research to find what is best for you, your body, and a healthy diet plan that you can commit to. Good sources of plant-based protein include: all different kinds of fruit (some more protein rich than others), starches, grains, beans, lentils, nuts, leafy greens, and soy products (edamame, tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, tempeh).

Calcium: Like many, you have probably always been taught that you need to drink milk to get calcium. Calcium is important, because it aids in the growth of strong healthy bones. It is especially important to obtain calcium through the food we eat, because, although we initially have calcium in our bones, we naturally lose this calcium through our hair, nails, urine, and even our skin when we sweat. Plant-based sources of calcium include: plant milks (almond, soy, hemp, cashew, coconut, oat) , tofu, citrus fruits, kiwis, and dark leafy greens. I will talk later in this post about why milk is not a good source of calcium, and how it can actually be harmful to your bones.

Other important nutrients you need and how to incorporate them into your diet:

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is incredibly important for your immune system and also the development, growth, and repair of your body, as it allows your body to properly absorb calcium and phosphorous. Our most common source of vitamin D is the sun. However, if you live in a place where you experience cold snowy winters, where the sun does not stay out for long, then you may be lacking. You need to ensure you get vitamin D, during the wintertime, through the foods you eat.  Good plant-based sources of vitamin D include: soy products, oranges and orange juice, mushrooms, and of course the sun. Don’t just sit in the sun for hours without sunscreen to get vitamin D. That’s not good for you, and I think you know that already. You will still absorb vitamin D from the sun with sunscreen on. Just be careful when buying sunscreen as some contain toxic chemicals and non-vegan ingredients. Lastly, another source of vitamin D is through taking a supplement (ask your doctor about this first). Vitamin D supplements are another thing to be careful when buying. Vitamin D3 is not vegan, and is generally obtained from sheeps’ wool or other animal products.

B12: Vitamin B12 is important, because it plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, the functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the regulation and synthesis of our DNA. No animal is able to produce vitamin B12 naturally. It is only derived from bacterial growth. So, the argument that we need to eat other animals, so we can gain B12 is irrational. They do not naturally produce B12. On factory farms, some animals are even supplemented B12, because they are only fed corn and grain , while other animals absorb their B12 by grazing on grass. B12 is found in the soil and dirt. Unlike humans, when these animals graze, they do not first wash the dirt off their food, so they ingest some of the soil containing the B12.

So, if animals are supplemented B12, it is perfectly rational for humans to too, because most of us are not willing to eat vegetables with dirt still on it. It is important to buy supplements that absorb well and that are the most natural (not including ingredients made in a lab). When looking for B12 supplements, make sure you buy methylcobalamin B12, not cyanocobalamin, which is not natural to your body (because it was created in a lab). The most absorbable B12 supplements are sublingual sprays, which you spray underneath your tongue. You can also incorporate B12 into your diet by drinking kombucha (contains probiotics or healthy bacteria), nutritional yeast (similar tasting to cheese, can be sprinkled on top of foods), and spirulina (usually comes in a powder, can be added to smoothies).

Iron: A lack of iron in your diet can lead to fatigue and lethargy. It is essential in the movement of oxygen in your blood and throughout your entire body. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia (a lack of blood). To avoid this, eat iron rich plant-based foods, such as, sweet potatoes, spirulina, quinoa, tofu, pumpkin seeds, lentils, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens. Iron can also be supplemented.

So, you have gone your whole life believing meat, dairy, and eggs are necessary and are good for you. Same. But, come to find out they’re not?:

Milk(and other dairy products): Although milk contains calcium, which is good for your bones, it also depletes calcium from your bones. You barely absorb the calcium in milk, when you drink it. When consuming milk, the animal protein acidifies the body’s pH, which the body then needs to correct by using the calcium already in your bones. Not only does milk deplete your body of vital calcium, but it also contains puss, literally. Many cows have infections or “production related diseases” that cause inflammatory immune cells which form puss in their milk. Does consuming puss really sound healthy? Other than puss, milk also contains casein, in fact casein makes up 87% of milk protein. It is also a major carcinogen (directly involved in causing cancer). Now that you know milk is not really healthy here are few more questions to ponder, that will probably make it seem even more so:

Ever question the fact that you are drinking another species milk, made to grow a baby calf into a 2,000 pound animal, that at some point stops drinking its own mother’s milk, yet we never stop drinking milk?

If you were out in the wild, would you go up to a cow and squeeze some milk out of its udder? Or, would you much prefer sticking to water?

Eggs: Eggs are not baby chicks. Ever wonder where eggs come from? You know they come from chickens, but what exactly makes a hen lay an egg, well, of course, like female humans, it’s part of their menstruation cycle. The chicken eggs you cook for breakfast are unfertilized eggs or periods. Another species menstruation cycle does not sound healthy to consume to me. That’s because it’s not. Eggs are not a good source of protein, because along with being acidic animal protein, eggs are also your highest source of cholesterol. Trust me, you don’t need anymore cholesterol. Your body naturally already has it. And, another thing, no plants contain cholesterol. So, stop eating eggs, and you won’t have to worry about eating Cheerios to lower your cholesterol, unless you like Cheerios. While I’m on the subject of Cheerios, just make sure they don’t contain honey, because honey is bee vomit, and humans consuming bee vomit is not natural or necessary. If you don’t believe that its bee vomit, well, why would someone try to sell a product and call it what it is? You don’t see cow flesh shoes being advertised. You see suede shoes being advertised. Who would buy bee vomit to eat and shoes made out of animal flesh to wear?

Meat: The industry telling you you need to eat meat to get protein, thats the meat industry. I know its shocking. Lets call it what it is. Its propaganda.  They also tell you humans have always eaten meat to survive. If you look at our evolutionary history though, you’ll see that humans diets were mainly plant based. Some of the strongest men in recorded history, gladiators, were either vegan or vegetarian, and stuck to a mainly plant-based diet. Ancient Egyptians were also mainly plant-based. These were the people smart enough and strong enough to build the pyramids. They must of been smart about what they were putting into their bodies too.

So, what does meat actually do? It increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. All meat, dairy, and eggs contain saturated fat and cholesterol, which create these types of health issues. How can eating meat be apart of human beings’ natural diet, if it causes health issues? If this was the proper diet for our species, wouldn’t it nurture our bodies, not destroy them? You don’t see lions struggling with dietary related diseases. Lions are eating what they are meant to, which is meat. There is a reason they have sharp claws and canines and we do not. There is a reason they have short intestines, while humans have long intestines. Humans need long intestines to break down fiber and absorb nutrients. Where does fiber come from? Plants. Lions’ intestines don’t need to break down plant fiber, but ours do. So, our bodies are literally designed to absorb nutrient rich plants. And, lastly, lets get real. No human has the desire to kill a cow, unless they’re a sociopath. No human is going to see a cow, realize they’re hungry, and then go try and sink their dull nails and blunt teeth into its flesh. Its just unnatural. To get someone to eat a steak, you have to disguise it, by cooking it and adding different seasoning and sauces to it, until it no longer resembles raw animal flesh.

“Lets say I go vegan. I can’t have cheese? So, then, what do I eat?”

There are vegan options for everything. Yes, there are even non-dairy substitutes for cheese and ice cream. It is almost too easy to find and create delicious vegan recipes. Really, anyone is capable. You just have to be willing to try things out. If I’ve got you interested in becoming vegan now, I am going to post a beginners guide later on, with recipes and grocery staples, that will help people transition from eating meat, dairy, and eggs, to a completely plant-based diet.

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I will also be posting a part two to my explanation, where I will discuss the environmental and ethical reasons of why I am vegan.

In the meantime, here are a couple of articles on veganism:

If you like junk food, you’ll enjoy this: http://www.peta.org/living/food/accidentally-vegan/

http://nutritionstudies.org/animal-protein-carcinogen/

https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/apr/protein.htm

http://www.unep.org/climatechange/News/PressRelease/tabid/416/language/en-US/Default.aspx?DocumentId=628&ArticleId=6595

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/new-study-reveals-ancient-egyptians-were-mostly-vegetarian-001638

https://www.bustle.com/articles/137865-8-reasons-meat-is-bad-for-you-yes-even-chicken

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-pirello/vegan-benefits_b_909761.html

https://www.buzzfeed.com/deenashanker/satisfying-vegan-dinners?utm_term=.ye51qWGQY#.goA4VP05w

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1627S.full

And Documentaries About Veganism on Netflix:

Cowspiracy

Forks Over Knives

Vegucated

Food Inc.

Food Matters

Plant Pure Nation

Live and Let Live

This video might just make something click in your brain. It clearly defines how becoming vegan is healthier for your whole being, and to me, makes more sense than being an omnivore.

 

 

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