Saturday, August 6, 2011
Happy Anniversary to ME!
August 6, 2010 was the day I decided to go vegan after being a vegetarian for 7 years. When I went vegetarian I did it 'cold turkey' and I knew I had to do the same when I decided to go vegan. I know some people need gradual change but for me, it's all or nothing when it comes to a lifestyle change. I don't handle some change well so my personality dictates that I either jump in or I don't do it at all.
I think many vegetarians eventually find their way to becoming vegan. I did it for a couple reasons. Ethically, I couldn't lie to myself any longer about egg production and how chickens are treated. It doesn't matter if they are 'free range' or 'cruelty free' or 'cage free' because egg production can't be anything but cruel unless you have your own chickens and gather eggs for your own family. Don't fool yourself into believing that the eggs you buy with the fancy certifications are ok to eat. Chickens naturally lay about 17 eggs a year so for chickens to lay eggs daily means they are being 'helped' and that is something I want no part of.
I also couldn't pretend that consuming dairy was ok because 'the cow isn't killed for it's milk.' Dairy cows endure something even more horrific - their babies are stolen. Cows don't just 'give milk', they are mammals, just like us, so in order for mammals to produce milk they need to be pregnant so a cow is forcibly raped and impregnanted and then when they give birth, their baby is ripped away from them. Female babies go into the diary cow life to start the horrific process over again and male babies are tossed into a tiny crate, left alone and scared, to become veal.
Cows yearn for their babies and they bellow for them. Baby cows do the same. In order for you to drink that milk, the baby must be denied. I find that cruel and horrific. I cannot be a part of that. I especially cannot be a part of that knowing I don't have to be a part of it. There is no reason for humans to drink the milk of another species. Human babies need human breastmilk, yes... but only as long as it takes for them to grow and get on solid food. There are acceptable and yummy alternatives to dairy products.
Plus, not consuming dairy is healthier.... which leads me to my second reason for going vegan.
I've done a lot of research on the plant based diet. I've read both sides and it is my belief that a plant based diet is the most healthy diet and the most natural diet for a human being. I won't get into the scientific explainations of how our bodies are not designed to process flesh and dairy products but you can research on your own if you are interested.
My original thought when going egg and dairy free was to see if my health improved. I decided to try going vegan for a couple weeks to see if I could notice any change, any differences. I actually expected to go back to eating dairy on a very limited basis, mostly because I had it in my head (like most vegetrians looking to go vegan) that I probably couldn't live without cheese.
I was wrong.
I can and I do live without cheese. Well, I still have 'cheese' but it's a homemade vegan version and it's fantastic and it's healthy so I can indulge and enjoy it, knowing I'm nourishing my body istead of harming it.
Once I had dairy out of system I felt lighter and better. A fog was lifted. I got a flatter stomach, I rarely have any stomach issues, my skin cleared up and my conscience was clear. I also no longer have rapid heartbeat, which was something I'd have a couple times a year.
Going vegan was pretty easy for me but when I decide to do something, I do it. I still struggle when I'm out in restaurants because I like to be in control of my food so it's hard when someone else is cooking for you and they don't share your beliefs or even understand them. I often take my own food to events like parties, cookouts or picnics. I do that because I want to continue eating the right foods and not compromise unless I absolutely have no other choice.
For me, the key to being successful at avoiding certain things is to make those things very undesireable. I did a ton of research to find out why eggs and dairy were so bad for my body. I found out what is actually in dairy (yuck) and that made it pretty easy to avoid it. Thinking about what an egg actually is made it simple to avoid those but the reason I'm successful is because I have a vast vegan universe at my fingertips - the internet!
Over the past year I've had a few food cravings that involve dairy so I've gotten online to do a search for things I want to make that are traditionally dairy and egg filled like mac & cheese, cakes, cookies, fudge, cheese and others. I have been successfully able to find a vegan version of everything I want to eat. I am not deprived nor am I starving. I eat and eat and eat and what I eat is fantastic and full of flavor and best of all it's good for me.
I've also found new friends, vegan friends that have taught me and supported me and have become a beacon in the non-vegan jungle. I've lost friends by going vegan but that just shows me who my true friends are. I've inspired people to try going meatless or making the move toward becoming vegan. I've opened the eyes of countless people who had no idea about cruelty or ingredients.
My heart led me to being a vegetarian (I wouldn't eat my dog so why would I eat a chicken?) and my head keeps me there (it's the healthiest way to eat) and my goal going forward is that I not become part of the system - the system of sickness, surgery and popping pills to manage diet and lifestyle related diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. I will not go willingly into the second half of my life as a victim of the government and a victim of processed food. I will take control instead of having choices made for me.
So, a year into being vegan has made me wish I started years ago but the truth is that you have to start somewhere and you have to make the choice to not take what you are given and to start questioning what you've been told and taught and brainwashed to believe.
You must sit down and do it. You can be free of pain and unwanted pounds, you can have energy and feel good. You can cure and stop the progression of disease. You can stop taking medications and start nourishing your body with the food that empowers it. You only get one body and you should take care of it instead of trying to sabotage it. You probably take better care of your car than you do your own body.
Finding true health is 80% diet, 10% exercise and 10% genes. Exercise is for your cardiovascular health, muscle fitness and stress relief. You can't do anything about your genes but you can control your diet. You control what goes in your mouth.
Following a plant based diet isn't about giving things up, it's about finding new things and choosing to be selective about what passes your lips. A plant based diet is full of whole and fresh foods. You can eat a ton of food and still maintain a healthy weight when it's good for you and not processed and full of sugars and chemicals that your body can't process.
I am always here for anyone that needs guidance and advice. I am no expert but I've learned a lot over the past 8 years and I'd like to be a beacon in the non-vegan jungle as others have been a beacon for me.
So, happy anniversary to me. and yes, that's a vegan cupcake.