Why a plant-based diet?

Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: health, vegetarian, wellness | Tags: |

My Journey:

Over two years ago, as a senior in college, I turned vegan for a 30 day challenge assigned by my “Live Simply” class. The professor challenged us to pick one challenge that would lessen our footprint, complete it for 30 days, then present it to the class– what we did, why we did it, and how it affected us. At the time I was eating meat at every meal, and them some.

With having a few friends that were either vegan or vegetarian, I decided that I would adopt a vegan lifestyle as I was interested in both learning the environmental and health impacts of a meat-based diet. I went cold-turkey (pun intended)– no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy for thirty days. It took me a week or two to become more creative and plan ahead for meals, as I couldn’t just throw a piece of chicken on the George Forman.

And let me tell you, wow, were those thirty days difficult. I give so much credit to vegans. I did complete the challenge and actually enjoyed it. I grew my repetoire of recipes and did extensive research on the environmental and health impact of eating meat. However, the vegan lifesyle was not for me. To be honest, my sweet tooth got the best of me and I missed my milk, yogurt and eggs. I also felt socially ostracized at times and did not feel like the diet suited me best. However, the research I did for the project caused me to continue giving up meat and fish post the thirty day challenge.

Case in point:

After reading several books including The China Study, Skinny Bitch, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-vegan Worldas well as watching Food Inc., I felt strongly about the adverse effects that a high meat comsumption diet has on both the environment and one’s personal health. Thus, I stayed vegetarian for a year then have since became pescatarian because to be honest, I craved fish more than meat and the environmental impact of eating fish is less than that of meat.  Thus, I have been a fish eating vegetarian (aka pescatarian) since.

So you may be wondering what information made me change my lifestyle after 23 years of eating meat. Environment. Health. And more recently, the treatment of the animals. I will give some facts on each subject below.

Environment: land is destroyed for cattle farms including , cattles are the highest producers of methane gas, 16 pounds of wheat and up to 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of grain-fed beef, run-off from factory farms or confined-animal feeding operations cause zones of inhibition– basically pollution of coastal waters to the point that fish and other organisms cannot survive, and a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for 7 times greenhouse-gas emissions than vegan-based diet.

The sites also advocate for sustainable vegetables, fruits, and grains as buying produce that has been shipped thousands of miles and has sprayed with pesticides is not good for the environment also. I have yet to fully adopt buying local and organic fruits and veggies so this is something I can work on.

Health: meat-eating societies have higher cholesterol levels and higher rates of coronary artery disease than plant-based societies, a study shows the addition of meat to the diet of vegetarians who rarely consumed other animal foods produced a rapid and significant increase in blood cholesterol levels, toxins and pollution from CAFOs contaminate the air and contribute to asthma and other respiratory disorders, nitrate levels rise secondary to run-off from CAFOs, meat-based diets are significantly linked to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes

Animal Rights on confined animal farming operations: animals are crowded into existance on factory farms with chickens tramplings others to death and animals existing in their own feces, many animals do not see sunlight during their existance, cows are forced to eat cornmeal that they are unable to digest, egg-laying hens’ claws grow around their wire cages, given drugs and hormones to produce more and faster than they are naturally able to do

This is all the more reason to use locally raised meat and eggs on farms that treat their animals with respect and dignity.

Closing:

I hope this post inspires you to look more deeply and intently at your lifestyle and eating habits and adopt a diet that is more environmentally, health, and animal friendly.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on
Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for reading and enjoy your veggies!

Resources*: http://www.sierraclub.org/sustainable_consumption/food_factsheet.asp, http://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/consumer-choice/social-environmental-impacts-meat-eating, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-and-environment.aspx, http://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/environment/environment-industrial-livestock-operations, http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/18/science/science-watch-health-effects-of-meat.html, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/obesity.aspx, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming.aspx, http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/, http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty-glossary.aspx AND the books listed above.

*These are not the same resources I used two years ago, but the information is the same. I searched for all .org sites, as they are more credible.

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6 Responses to “Why a plant-based diet?”

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Great post!! I just recently started my journey of a Vegan diet. Reading Eat to Live was really eye opening along with watching many different documentaries such as Vegucated and Fresh, eye opening!

Diana, thank you for sharing. I will have to read Eat to Live and please share any documentaries as I love watching them! Has it been difficult to transition to a vegan diet?

It hasn’t been bad. I already ate a lot of veggies it was just basically removing animal proteins and adding more plant proteins and eating a lot more. I have noticed that I no longer have sugar cravings- awesome!!! I loved Fresh, the movie, Farmageddon, Fat sick and nearly dead, and this amazing speech http://youtu.be/es6U00LMmC4

Enjoy!!

Thank you! I will check them out. Hopefully I can ditch the cravings as well!

Thanks for sharing the story of how you became a pescatarian – I enjoyed it! I’m impressed that you were able to stay vegan for an entire month for a class project. Although I’m vegan now, and love it, it took me a long time to get here. I was certainly not perfect for the first few months. Like you I craved sweets, especially ice cream, and on numerous occasions I made late night runs for Ben & Jerry’s. Those days are over now. For one thing, my taste buds have adjusted to the vegan diet. I don’t crave the foods I used to eat anymore. I’ve also learned how to make amazing vegan goodies, many sweetened only with dates, that you’d never believe were vegan. I tend to go on about my vegan ways, so I’ll shut up now.

Anyway, I noticed you were following my blog so I wanted to check out your blog and say “Hi.” I think your blog is awesome, so I’ve decided to follow your blog too. Keep on blogging! Celeste

Celeste, thank you very much for stopping by and following me! I really appreciate it. Great idea with the dates! To satisfy my sweet tooth, I have discovered recipes by Chocolate Covered Katie (health dessert blog) and Chloe Coscarelli (vegan chef) and while they aren’t outright decadent, they are pretty darn amazing! I choose recipes that I can easily sub an old banana, apple sauce, or stevia for the sugar. I look forward to reading your blog and sharing thoughts in the future!


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