Hooray for the weekend!
This week was a big one for me. It was the second week in recovery from my recent ACL reconstruction (and an unexpected hamstring tear) AND marked the end of the 30 day vegan challenge I have recently taken part in…a sigh of relief. Just kidding!
I have to say, I’ve really loved how eye opening and empowering this experience has been (the vegan one, not the knee op!). Eye opening in a sense that I can no longer see milk and cheese as just dairy products anymore, without seeing the suffering of cows and calves, and empowering because it allows me to take a stand against cruelty by not supporting these practices. As such, I’ve decided to keep on going! I feel positive I can maintain the change in my life at this point in time and excited that living this way allows me to align with my values.
Yes it was challenging to forfeit the usual dairy milk latte, Cadbury dairy milk chocolate and the occasional meal with meat/seafood etc as documented in my earlier post, but overall, living on whole foods, mainly plant based, has been pretty much the staple of my diet for the past couple of years anyway! Plus with plenty of non-dairy milk options, raw chocolate, refined sugar free alternatives and a plethora of natural foods, it makes sense for me to embrace this next step in my journey. Without a doubt I can also say I have an overwhelming sense of compassion for animals, and for them, I will put my money where my mouth is and go cruelty free. Small changes in making this world a kinder place.
To wrap up my vegan challenge series, have a read of a few more things I’ve learned:
Veganism is becoming trendy
Have you heard the news? Queen B (Beyonce) and hubby Jay-Z recently embarked on a 22 day vegan diet;
a) to help them kick start a habit (based on the notion it takes 21 days to create a habit) and
b) because Beyonce herself is partnering up with her trainer Marco Borges to deliver 100% plant based, organic and vegan meals to the masses via Borges’ business 22 Days Nutrition.
Borges, the longtime fitness expert, who has been a leader in the field for over 20 years, says it’s really not about asking everyone to become a vegan but rather to make simple healthier food choices “so they can live a more energetic and productive life”.
Pretty awesome if you ask me. Such a power couple in the music industry with millions of followers worldwide, so no doubt, this will influence a lot of people in making healthier choices! That is after all, the aim of the game.
Of course, they are not the only celebrities to choose the vegan way. Many have been dedicated vegans for most of their lives. People such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Ellen DeGeneres, Natalie Portman, Mike Tyson, Usher and of course Woody Harleson (who lives it up on his working organic farm in Maui and co-owns Sage, a vegan restaurant and the world’s first organic beer garden!!) Love that guy.
It’s definitely a good thing to have such advocates as these and hopefully we start to see veganism becoming even more mainstream.
No, I’m not going to hug a tree or grow dreadlocks. But this is definitely one of the most common stereotypes out there. No disrespect to the hippies, whatever works I say! But in all seriousness, that’s not what being vegan is about. In fact, I think it’s so important to make sure you don’t go hardcore and scare people away, and remember who your audience is when advocating a cruelty free lifestyle. Again, it goes back to the animals, and making sure the clothes you wear don’t overshadow your message about ending cruelty against these beautiful creatures.
Most people think vegans are ‘weak’ by not eating animal products and the biggest misconception out there is that they don’t get enough protein.
According to a recent study, it was concluded that non meat eaters achieved higher amounts of plant based protein in their diet as well as other important nutrients such as beta carotene, magnesium and fibre. On average, the requirement for protein is just 42g per day and vegans/vegetarians are able to achieve almost 70% more protein than they need everyday.
Interestingly, it has been discovered in the US, that fibre is what people are lacking in their diet. Particularly meat eaters. That’s because fibre is only found in plant foods. Fibre is crucial for moving things along the digestive tract and acts as a broom sweeping away toxic build up. Not only that, it helps create the sense of fullness so we don’t overeat, and thus over consume calories.
As stated in another publication, “plant derived diets tend to contribute significantly less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and most times, fewer conditions related to microbial or parasitic contamination and infestation than omnivorous diets; while at the same time offering more fibre, folate, vitamin C, and phytochemicals from higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains.”
What has shown up however, is the tendency for vegans to be deficient in B vitamins, particularly B12. But this is important just as much for meat eaters, to ensure this is supplemented as part of a balanced diet. I’ve been taking Tresos B which seems to be working well so far.
Live by example
During this endeavour I have learnt the importance of being respectful to the people in your world who do not fully comprehend the process of going from farm to table, or are against a vegan lifestyle. I for one, can’t say I necessarily agree with some of the hardcore vegans out there, who are so passionate (and sometimes too dogmatic), their message is muffled by the sound of their own trumpet.
It’s one thing to be proactive and inform others of what is happening in the food industry but not if it means alienating those around you. Especially because the focus should be the animals, so it’s important to do what it takes for them whilst also helping others to understand in a respectful way. It’s also important to be healthy. If people see that you look ill, washed out, weak but also negative towards their choices, they are not going to want to partake in what is being shared! So, it’s important to live by example, share your thoughts on the matter, be a healthy, vibrant and positive person, in order to be effective.
Veganism and the environment
Did you know going vegan means you drastically reduce your carbon footprint? That’s because meat is a big industry and just as big to run. The production of meat alone contributes to 51% or more of greenhouse gases!
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) of the United Nations, “the main sources of emissions are: feed production and processing (45% of the total), outputs of greenhouse gas during digestion by cows (39%), and manure decomposition (10%).”
For us Aussies, a study in Victoria found that “food items in a typical shopping basket have travelled a total of 70,803km to reach your table…” Thus, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Now that’s food for thought.
Admittedly when first starting out, I didn’t put a lot of thought towards seafood. Mainly because I don’t eat a lot of it. So much talk is aimed at the welfare of farmed land animals but fish are also farmed and made to suffer abhorrent conditions. Fish are usually farmed on aqua farms which mimic the conditions of factory farmed animals. That is small, cramped, and contaminated spaces, where they are often given growth hormones and slaughtered inhumanely.
For those of you who do like to eat fish, have a read of these guidelines by Australia’s Sustainable Table.
I guess for me, this whole endeavour has been about being a voice for the voiceless. Questioning what is mainstream and saying no to animal cruelty, but also being wary of not alienating myself from others. To remain authentic and realistic about the world we live in.
Global animal rights organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hit the nail on the head when they said;
…veganism can’t just be about us or it will become just one more narcissistic cultural fad. Veganism must be about helping animals.
Thanks for sticking with me on this. It’s my longest blog post so far, but I just had to get it out there.
I’ll now leave you with one of the cutest vids going around!