Slowly but surely, I cut out all animal products. And let me tell you, it was the best decision I've ever made.
I've received so many comments from friends, family, and stranger alike about my diet. Their reaction is usually something along the lines of:
After the initial shock wears off, that's when the all the scrutinizing questions make an appearance. "Where do you get your protein?" has to be the most common one. The answer is simple: plants. Nature provides all the vitamins and nutrients humans require. Although it's quite a controversial topic, I firmly believe that we do not need to consume animal or their byproducts to thrive.
And I am definitely thriving.
I have never felt better, both physically and mentally. There are three main reasons that typically prompts a person to go vegan that I can definitely attest to.
After eating vegan for nearly a year, I have never had more energy or had clearer skin than now. Filling my body with nutritious and delicious foods has done wonders for my health. I never feel sluggish and lethargic after a meal like I often did before going vegan. In fact, I feel energized and ready to take on the day!
It's a common misconception that vegans only eat salads all day. Trust me, I have never really been a salad kind of girl, and yet I'm still going strong on a vegan diet. The possibilities of what to eat are endless. While I love eating simple fruits and vegetables, I also could never live without my favorite carbs, such as rice and pasta. In today's world, we are constantly reminded to eat smaller and smaller portions in order to maintain that "perfect" figure. However, as long as you are filling yourself with whole, plant foods, you don't have to concern yourself with restricting and can eat until complete satisfaction! You too can be as happy as this bunny eating a raspberry.
2. The Animals
In addition to helping myself by going vegan, the animals are also receiving the benefits. Contrary to popular belief, I do not think that other animals were put here on this earth for our exploitation. In this day and age, we don't need meat or any other animal byproducts to survive. They are actually quite detrimental to our health. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, dairy consumption has little to no positive effects on our bones. There have been studies that claim that dairy actually leeches calcium from our bones, which is quite a startling discovery considering most Americans have a diet heavy in dairy.
A lot of people, vegetarians included, are unaware that consuming milk and other dairy products is almost equally as lethal to cows as eating them. Unfortunately, the majority of dairy cows are sent to the butcher once they are no longer useful for their milk anymore. Even while they are dairy cows, their lives are extremely sad. Imagine being constantly impregnated and having your baby taken away from you each time, so that you are constantly producing milk. It wouldn't be pleasant for humans, and it's not pleasant for the cows. Contributing to the dairy industry contributes to the meat industry as well. Unfortunately, they are one in the same.
By eating a plant based diet, lives are being spared every day!
3. The Environment
If saving the earth sounds like your cup of tea, good news: it goes hand in hand with veganism! The documentary Cowspiracy, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, does a wonderful job of explaining why animal agriculture is just not sustainable for our environment. It's definitely a must-watch film! Of course, most people have heard about the negative impacts of methane that are caused by farm animal. According to timeforachange.org, animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming.
Additionally, farming animals takes so much more resources and water than farming crops. In order to produce meat, a farmer must grow crops to feed the animals which then are processed and fed to humans. Going vegan cuts out a step, which in turn saves lot of energy. While turning off lights and taking shorter showers are also important steps in conserving energy, going vegan makes for one happy earth.
A main argument against veganism is that it goes against the natural hierarchy of our food pyramid. However, just as the earth has evolved over the years, so have humans. Just because our ancestors used to eat meat to survive, doesn't mean it's the most ideal diet for us in the twenty-first century. Cutting out animals products is much bigger than sacrificing the taste of bacon. It goes beyond our tastebuds.
Even if you choose to only have one day of eating vegan a week, that's a great step in the right direction! I promise that your body and the planet will thank you for it.
Lead Image Credit: Liz West via Flickr Creative Commons