“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
We are living in a nation that is plagued by heart disease, cancer and diabetes all which have been linked to a diet where saturated fats (animal products) are consumed on a regular basis. If we can eat more cleanly for our health, for the environment and harm less animals, everyone wins.
Modern science has confirmed that you can be perfectly healthy while consuming a vegan diet through all stages of life.
"It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.” *Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Heath
This is all well and good right? But I'm sure you still have some concerns such as:
"Am I going to be able to get enough protein?" Absolutely. There are numerous plant-based protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, edamame, grains, seeds and nuts and plant-based protein powders that will ensure you get enough.
"I worry vegan food is boring and bland, I don't want to compromise on flavour" You don't have to compromise! I always look forward to every meal I make because I will never sacrifice flavour. We will use fresh ingredients including lots of fresh herbs and spices that will ensure every dish packs a flavour punch!
"Am I going to get enough energy from plant-based foods?" It is very likely that you will have even more energy than before. This certainly was the case for me personally. Any sluggishness I had felt before was gone, I felt lighter in general, lost weight and never seem to feel tired or low energy. Though meat products have protein and fat content they don't offer that much more in terms of vitamins and minerals. The whole foods that you will be replacing these with are much more nutrient dense and will provide your body with more than enough fuel to keep your energy levels high.
"Will I have to have salad every time I go out to eat?" No! As long as you do a little research before heading out for dinner you can ensure in advance that you are headed to a restaurant that is going to have at least a few meal options for you or hopefully many, as there are so many forward-thinking restauranteurs who are taking note of the plant-based movement and ensuring their menus accommodate all tastes. By checking Trip Advisor or the Happy Cow website before you head out, downloading a vegan restaurant finder app or give the restaurant you are considering a quick call first, this way you can make sure you are headed to a spot that's going to have delicious plant-based options to keep going out to dinner fun!
What are the benefits of decreasing my intake of animal products?
There are many reasons to increase your consumption of plant-based foods:
Eating more plant-based foods and less animal products helps you significantly decrease your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol are associated with lower rates of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and diabetes and vegetarians and vegans are less prone to cancers associated with consumption of meat products. Upon decreasing or stopping your intake of meat you will reduce the inflammation in your body, reduce your cholesterol levels, improve the microbiome in your gut promoting more "good" bacteria, improve the expression of your genes in the way your body repairs itself as well as decrease the expression of certain cancer genes. Source
The health of the environment:
Reducing your animal product intake helps to decrease green house gas emissions, methane gas and ammonia from animal agriculture. You reduce the amount of animal waste and rendered material which seeps into nearby rivers and ocean creating "dead zones" devastating marine ecosystems and affecting nearby wildlife. Less deforestation will occur as animal agriculture is the number one cause of deforestation and thus species extinction. Much less water is used to farm plant products than animal products. 87% of fresh water in the US is used in agriculture. Source
You are not supporting animal cruelty:
Factory farming in today’s world means hundreds and thousands of animals living in horribly cramped conditions with very little space to move, no mental or emotional stimulus and are subject to abuse and fear during their short, sad lives before being transported to a slaughterhouse. As factory farming is a business, it comes down to dollars and cents and the more animals that can be "farmed" for profit the better, despite horrendous conditions and treatment where disease and infection run rampant. Widespread use of antibiotics throughout this industry has lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria forming which jeopardizes human health. Many animals have been genetically modified to grow much faster, larger and produce more milks and eggs than then normally would naturally. When their bodies give out and are no longer productive due to this extreme overuse and stress, they are transported for 3-4 days without food and water to the slaughterhouse. Source
How does this help the animals?:
Corporations and grocery stores take note of your spending. When they see an increase in revenue from plant-based milks and alternative meat and cheese products and a reduction in regular dairy and meat, they will change their buying habits to accommodate. These changes are being noticed and being responded to. Never think you can't make a difference by changing your behaviour.
You can decease your grocery spend:
It doesn't have to be expensive to eat a whole foods plant-based diet, you just need to know the main staples to build upon and ensure these are always in your grocery cart. These are as follows: Fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds (many of which are cost effective in bulk), non dairy items such as nut milks and cheeses, frozen fruits and veggies and other protein sources such as tofu and tempeh. Source
Additional Sources of Information Advocating a Plant-Based Diet:
The Plantrican Project: Their mission is to educate, equip and empower our physicians, healthcare practitioners and other health influencers with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of plant-based nutrition. To provide them with the resources they, in turn, use to inform and inspire their patients and constituents to shift from the unhealthful Western diet to a life-changing, whole-food, plant-based dietary lifestyle.
Nutritionfacts.org: The latest in peer-reviewed nutrition and health research on plant-based diets.
Articles of Interest Advocating a Plant-Based Diet:
Documentaries and Film References: