How do I know if the vegan diet is for me?
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
What going vegan really means
Being Vegan is not like being a Muslim or a Jew. It’s not like being English or African it’s an identity that is personal to you but involves the removal of animal products from your life. Vegan refers to a life free from animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, wool, leather, honey etc. For me, Palm oil is also a no-no but sometime unavoidable.
Let’s get one thing straight, Some people think Veganism is a religion. Veganism is not a religion!!! It is not a way of making yourself different from the masses, it’s not a way of standing out and saying look at me I’m an attention seeker, it’s a conscious decision to avoid cruelty and harm to the animals which share our planet with us.
But animal products are in everything
Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out whether a food product, household, beauty or cosmetic product have ingredient in them that come from animals. Once you make the choice to become Vegan you will soon get used to checking labels. I spend more time checking labels than I do choosing what I’m going to buy and because I buy natural ingredients I only have to worry about self-care and household products.
There is no real way of finding out in-store whether a product has been test on animals prior to being deemed fit for human use unless the product clearly states it on the bottle. My advice to you, take your phone and Google it if you are not sure.
Advantages of being Vegan
Being Vegan has its advantages and they far out way the disadvantages of being inconvenienced in a supermarket or restaurant, or by missing out on the so-called tasty meat and dairy options that are available today.
If I boiled down rhubarb leaves (do not try this at home, ever) which contain poisonous substances such as oxalic acid, (a nephrotoxin) and fried them with garlic, herbs and spices you’d think it was spinach or kale and it would taste amazing. But it would kill you, not instantly but over time. As the toxins began to build up in your body you’d start experiencing neurological dysfunction, connection tissue dysfunction, block pathways of excretion, liver dysfunction, IBS, Kidney stones and most importantly, dysfunction of important glands in the body.Not only this, but you’d be suffering from a lot of pain, fatigue and even gout.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If you eat meat and dairy they might. You see, animal products especially red meat and processed meat products can contain group 1 carcinogens which over time build up in your body and cause most of the diseases named above an many more.
Most of today's illnesses and lifestyle diseases can be avoided, reversed and stopped in their tracks by moving towards a plant-based diet, drinking around eight cups of water daily and exercising more.
The avoidance or reversal of diseases just doesn’t seem to be enough for people to change their lifestyle habits. Most people have been touched by cancer whether it’s them, a family member, friend or co-worker yet most cancers can be avoided. Most diseases can be avoided through education.
If you are not worried about your children’s health, or maybe you’re worried about animals or the environment. There has to be a trigger out there that says to you. ‘I need to change my lifestyle, my eating habits, I need to exercise more, drink more water, take less prescription drugs, I need to care more’?
Some of the known advantages of a vegan diet are:
Increases the well-being of animals through the avoidance of their consumption and avoidance of animal testing
Improves your health by minimising the exposure to possible pathogens (red meat - group-1 carcinogen)
Reduces your environmental footprint
The overwhelming majority of animal products which impact on your life will obviously come from your food choices
How I started on a vegan diet
Like a lot of people I spend my spare time watching documentaries on Netflix. I watched Vegucate, Meat Matters, Forks over Knives,What The Health then Game Changers. Then I watched multiple documentaries on the BBC and YouTube and all of the information started to come together like a jigsaw puzzle. It was no longer a lot of random facts and figures but a real picture emerged. A horrifying picture. I started researching the topic and I couldn’t believe what I saw and read. The issues were never ending.
Recently there has been a further drive by documentary makers to point out the horrors of producing animals for human consumption, factory farming in particular. The way I see it, after watching those documentaries, I have two choices. I can choose between living life in ignorance or living life facing the brutality of reality. I choose the second option even though it is disturbing to acknowledge these horrors exist. Rather than taking part in these horrors passively or blindly and encouraging them to continue by choosing to consume animals and the products they make from them we should stand by our morals, ethics, our health, the environment and our animals and say no to animal products.
Animals were and are still suffering horrific pain and torture at the hands of humans so we can consume and test on them. Eco-systems are being destroyed because of it which in turn is leading to significant environmental harm and in some cases irreversible harm. And finally, what it does to us physically. We’re not meant to eat animals, but people tell me. ‘We have incisors for a reason, like lions!’ To be honest I’ve never seen a lion up close and personal but what I can tell you is Elephants, rhino’s, wild bores etc have huge incisors and they eat grass and foliage. I’ve never once heard of an elephant eating a bacon sandwich or a tiger and look at those tusks, massive.
Then there is the protein problem. If I had a pound for every time, I heard someone say. ‘You can’t get enough protein from a vegan diet!’ I would literally be a millionaire by now, honestly, I hear it that often. But this just isn’t true, in fact it’s a long way from the truth.
Everyone is suddenly concerned about their protein intake when it never used to be an issue before the 80’s, I blame BIG AG and the dairy and egg Industries for the super hype attached to the importance of the consumption of animal products. What people don’t seem to understand is that all plants contain protein and all the protein contained in plants is reusable by the body.
Only around 28% of the protein that you get from animal products reusable and as such the body must work harder to convert meat products to usable protein. Your body doesn’t like this, you might like the taste of it but your body hates it.
I work out a lot and I’m always complaining that my muscles don’t grow, and people tell me. ‘No wonder your muscles don’t grow (I work out every day) you don’t eat enough protein, it’s that stupid diet you’re on. You’ll never build muscle on that diet!’
Firstly, let me say I do eat enough reusable protein, my muscles aren’t huge because I don’t lift heavy enough and I don’t want to be big and bulky. I used to be a body builder in the 1990’s and muscle has memory but at the age of 50 the last thing I want to do is look like Arnie and that is why my muscles don’t grow and I just like to complain about them not growing.
I have one question for anyone that says you can’t build muscle on plants or a vegan diet. ‘Have you seen the size of an ox, a cow, an elephant, a giraffe for goodness sake. They all eat plants! Have you seen the size of Patrik Baboumian? Patrick is an Iranian-born German-Armenian strongman and former bodybuilder. He promotes veganism and stars in the film Game Changers on Netflix. Have you seen Jim Morris, a 75-year-old body builder who won Mr. California and Mr. America, Yes you got it, he’s vegan? What about the power, stamina and body of Venus Williams, yes, again, vegan? All of whom are successful and healthy.
What happened when I decided to go on a vegan diet?
After I made the decision to go vegan people in my social circle thought I was crazy. They thought that any way, so I wasn’t put out by it too much. The things people said to me were very predictable and expected. Things such as ‘You’ll lose your muscles!’, ‘It’s not healthy!’ ‘You’ll get ill’ and the worst of all. ‘Mark my words, you’ll not last longer than two weeks.’. Well six years on and hey presto I’m still vegan!
One thing I learnt from going Vegan is, people will always find a way to pull you down, knock you down and keep you down. But only if you let them. So don’t let them and that advice goes for anything and everything. If you try to do something to better yourself you will always get people trying to pull you down to their level or lower as it makes them feel better about themselves.
Is a vegan diet for everyone?
In short, it should be. This is where I start to sound nuts. The system wants you to eat meat and consume meat products. It needs to make money and where better to make money than sickness. Yes, sickness and illness. Coronary Heart Disease for one. I’ll cover the illnesses related to meat consumption in a different article but for now let’s look at why the system wants us to eat animal products.
The same companies that produce the animal products own, are owned by or work in association with Big Pharma.
In my opinion a long-term transition to a healthier diet should be recommended to everyone. But if you fit into one of these categories, you should not follow a complete vegan diet right now, think about going vegetarian first:
Pregnant women, with no guidance and/or experience of following a vegan diet.
If you suffer from a severe mental or physical illness, where your doctor is actively advising against following a vegan diet.
What do you eat on a vegan diet?
Boring veg! No not really, just kidding. Before I went vegan I ate beige food, boring food with very little taste other than what was added to it and a lot of grease. Now I eat a lot of interesting meals that are healthy and tasty and never fail to make me feel full.
There are a lot of extremely good vegan cookbooks out there with some very impressive recipes in them. For day-to-day recipes my go-to is How not to Die by Doctor Greger, one of my favourite advocates of a plant-based diet. I also use the following books which I just love because the recipes are simple and cost effective (most of the time).
A step-by-step guide to become a vegan
To help you decide whether a vegan diet is for you I’ve written a few pointers for you to help guide you in your journey and transformation. Write each one down and answer as honestly as you can and date it. Come back to it at the end of each week and repeat. Check your results at the end of each month and I can guarantee once you’ve analysed who you really are you will think differently to how you think today.
1. Ask yourself why you want to become a vegan
2. Change your mindset – don’t focus on old ways move towards more positive ways of doing things
3. Be prepared for resistance – Life is never without resistance; it makes us stronger
4. Set a new standard for yourself – raise the bar on yourself and your standards
5. Analyse your eating habits – what should you not be eating what should you be eating.
6. Eat more whole-food, plant-based foods – not beige processed food
7. Buy vegan alternatives – when ever the opportunity arises to buy the vegan alternative, buy it.
8. Buy vegan clothes – they are not always available but where possible buy vegan as this has a huge but positive impact on animals and the environment
9. Live in alignment with your values and beliefs – be who you really are not what is expected of you
10. Establish your own identity - and you are . . .?
11. Build Courage – Don’t let people get you down, stick to being you
12. Establish Boundaries – People like to take advantage, don’t let them
13. Find Focus and Direction – be true to the new you
So, here is to the new you, hopefully and at least give it a go. You never know how a vegan diet can positively impact all areas of your life.
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