Ready to make a real difference?
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If I only knew then what I know now.” This for me is one of those life lessons I wish I would have stumbled on sooner. A bit of a disclaimer, I am no medical professional. This post is merely to tell my story and share my own personal beliefs. However, these personal beliefs will be backed by actual medical professionals, specialists, and medical journals. I am in no way trying to shame anyone. I am in no way perfect—nor do I expect anyone to be—I just simply wish to be informative for those seeking guidance in the matter.
If you’ve read about my battle with food, you already know that I chose veganism after being diagnosed with Gastritis and Celiac Disease. The only diet that relieved my stomach pain was a vegan/gluten free diet with proper food combining for optimal digestion. What started for strictly personal reasons, soon turned into a lifestyle that benefited myself and others. Let me also state that Heather and I still own (or sometimes accidentally purchase) a few non-vegan items. We are still learning what is considered vegan and what is not. For instance, I never associated gummy bears with animal products. Gummy bears are in fact NOT vegan because they obtain gelatin which is derived from collagen obtained from various animal body parts. GUMMY BEARS, Y’ALL! We also are in the process of “veganizing” our closets. New shoes and purses will be here soon to replace the ones we currently have. We are also seeking ethically made clothing—the more we learn about how we can make a difference in our world, the more we make those issues a priority in our lives. It's all about choosing to make better decisions. You don't have to throw away all of your non-vegan items today. Simply start choosing ethical purchases as you learn. Now, about our initial switch to veganism:
As a child, I would question every meal, “Is this a plant or an aminal? Cause I don’t eat aminals.” I might not have known how to say animals, but I knew I didn’t want to eat them. If only I would have kept that mindset. We grew up surrounded by industries and advertisements that led us to believe that we needed meat for protein and milk for calcium. I even had a Britney Spears “Got Milk” poster in my room. However, something just never felt right about it for me. I went back and forth growing up being vegetarian and then not. In my lifetime I have had Salmonella (twice) and E.coli—both can come from meat. I should have listened to my body. I also hated the texture of meat, anddd I’d type more on that but it’s physically making my stomach hurt to even talk about it. Fish and seafood were my only exceptions. When I started having major issues with my stomach, I began playing with my diet and trying to see what helped. I ran across numerous articles on vegan diets and began doing my own research. To be completely honest, I also admired some now fellow vegans on Instagram. By "admired" I mean slightly obsessed over their pages! So… I took the leap. Little did I know, I was drastically improving my health, saving lives, and helping our environment. Side Note: Heather definitely never saw herself being vegan. As an athlete, she believed she needed practically her body’s weight or more of protein a day to make the gains she desired. In fact, she was on the keto diet before she went vegan. She was eating only meats, cheeses, and fats when she switched to a vegan diet OVERNIGHT!
So how exactly do we think we are helping ourselves and others by choosing to be vegan? I hope you are cuddled up in a blanket, wearing comfy clothes, and ready to read! These might be all over the place BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS! Since I wanted this to be informative yet enjoyable though, I only listed 20 facts. (References are in pink)
Our #1 Reason: Obviously, we are saving animals’ lives. There is absolutely no humane way to kill an innocent animal. I literally start to cry when I think about the fact that this is our society’s “norm”. What makes a pig or a cow any different from the dog or cat that you have safely and lovingly lying at your feet? A vegan saves 198 animals a year. This not only is our reason for remaining vegan in our food choices, but also in our decision to make smarter choices in our clothing and accessories, as well as our makeup, hair products, cleaners, etc. Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. For that reason, we also choose to not visit aquariums or zoos. A personal choice should never compromise the well-being of an innocent being. (PETA).
2. The pharmaceutical industry sells 80% of all antibiotics made in the United States to animal agriculture (Department of Health & Human Services, 2014). The World Health Organization has stated that we are nearing a post antibiotic era in medicine. All of these antibiotics could be going directly to humans in need, instead they go to animals being bred for our consumption.
3. There is approximately the same number of hogs (being raised for human consumption) in North Carolina as there are people. This is where swine flu originated. These pigs produce the waste equivalent to 100 million humans. All of that waste is being pumped into waste pits that leach into rivers and streams. Unfiltered, it is also sprayed onto nearby fields (Scientific American, 2015, North Carolina Riverkeeper & Waterkeeper Alliance, and more).
4. Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector (Food & Agriculture Organization).
5. Raising animals for food consumption is the leading cause of Rainforest destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones, and fresh water consumption (Stanford Environmental Law Journal, Scientific America, and more).
6. 40% of the world’s grain is fed to animals being raised for human consumption. If everyone in the US went vegan, we could feed 800 million people just with the grain currently feeding these animals. That’s enough food to feed all of the people in Europe. Think of how many starving children we could be feeding with that grain. (Cornell University)
7. You can save six showers worth of water for every 1lb of meat you DON’T eat. 51% of the world’s water goes to animal agriculture (The Scavenger).
8. Fishing boats kill not only millions of fish a year, but they also are the death to dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sharks, crabs, and other sea life. Side Note: Whales are my favorite animal! (PETA)
Personal Health Reasons
9. The World Health Organization Report has classified bacon and sausage as carcinogenic— directly involved in causing cancer—to humans (World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer). In the US, 1 out of every 4 deaths is from cancer (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).
10. Diabetes has been found to be caused by meat, dairy, and animal derived fats, NOT carbohydrates and sugar as I too once thought. As little as one serving of processed meat a day increased the risk of diabetes by 51%. (Michael Greger, M.D., Barnard, Neal, et al., The New England Journal of Medicine, and more)
11. Within minutes of eating dead meat bacteria toxins, the body gets a burst of inflammation, stiffening or paralyzing the arteries (Michael Greger, M.D. 2012 & British Journal of Nutrition).
12. The leading source of sodium for adults in America is chicken (Consumers Union).
13. Eating one egg per day is just as bad as smoking five cigarettes a day for life expectancy (Baer, Heather J, et al, Spence, J. David, et al, & Michael Greger, M.D.). In fact, the USDA admitted that eggs cannot legally be labeled as nutritious, low fat, part of a balanced diet, low in calories, healthy, good for you, or safe (Michael Greger, M.D.).
14. The number one source of saturated fat is dairy (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
15. Four worries from fish: PCB’s, Mercury, Saturated fat, and Cholesterol (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Oh, DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE WHALES!
16. 93% of dioxin exposure comes from animal products (Toxic Substance & Disease Registry)
17. There is a strong link between autoimmune disease and animal products (Journal of Nutritional Science, 2012).
18. Milk is a hormonal fluid. Dairy is LEGALLY allowed to contain, get this.. PUS! That’s freaking gross! (USDA APHIS Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health, 2014)
19. Milk does not build strong bones. Britney, how could you lie to me?! (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Feb 2003, Vol 77)
20. 70% of deaths and morbidity are largely lifestyle related and preventable (The Center or Disease Control and Prevention).
As a fitness lover, I cannot justify making my outside appearance seem healthy while neglecting my inside health. Heather and I initially decided to be vegan because of the way it made us feel, but these 20 reasons are reasons we will remain vegan. For ourselves, animals, and for others, we cannot and will not consume nor purchase animal products. It is not “hard” to be vegan. I am not “giving anything up” to be vegan. Again, I am not a perfect vegan, but I do try my best to make ethical decisions in my daily life. I hope that this post is received out of love for you, our earth, and the animals. I in no way want to shame anyone. I simply wish to inform and make a difference where I can.
Some tips for going vegan
EAT ENOUGH!! Although I labeled this a “diet”, I do not mean that in the sense of calorie restriction or aiming for weight loss. Eat ALL the fruits and veggies. Listen to your body. If you are hungry, literally eat plants until you are full. There is no restricting on a plant-based diet.
Take a vitamin B-12 supplement!
Eat raw plants first for proper food digestion. Combining certain fruits can cause stomach aches. My e-book addresses all of these things.
Drink lots of water.
When first going vegan, your body will detox. This can actually cause you to feel bloated, your skin to break out, and can cause you to have a headache for a few days. All of these things are normal and will go away! My skin drastically cleared up once my body detoxed. I also began feeling (and becoming) much leaner!
Watch documentaries! There are some great ones on Netflix. Start with What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Vegucated, & The Cove.
Shop in season. Fruits and veggies that are in season will be cheaper. However, never put a price on fueling your body with truly healthy foods. Saving animals, water, grains, the rainforest, and our earth is also pretty priceless!
You can do this! It’s a very simple way that you can make a huge impact on our world. Gain your vegan superpowers today! (Hope I have some fellow super nerd Scott Pilgrim fans out there!)
Make the change. Be the change.