I’m the daughter of a meat cutter (although my papa is recently retired), I come from a culture where it’s completely normal to eat meat, I grew up in the land of the best burritos ever created (San Diego), some of my favorite things to eat when visiting Mexico included tacos de adobada and up until almost eight years ago I had no idea what “vegan” was.
So you see, I get how “weird” this vegan stuff can sound and I understand when you say that you “love meat.” This post and this website were not created to convince you to “go vegan” or to put you on a guilt trip about what you put on your plate. Even after you read this article what feels right to YOU might be different than what feels right to ME, and that’s okay. Whatever your reason for being here hopefully this post gives you some clarity on what truly feels right for you and I’m happy to support you either way; whether you want to go fully plant-based or simply include more plants in your life.
I went vegan overnight and I wish I could give you a long list of detailed studies, explanations and statistics that convinced me that a vegan diet is better for my health and the environment but I didn’t learn about those things until a few years ago. I went vegan for a simpler reason: compassion. I don’t want any animals to die so that I can eat.
Let’s rewind to eight years ago…
I had gained some weight and was determined to break up with diets so one night I bought a book about healthy eating for extra motivation. I started reading it as soon as I got home and I quickly realized the book wasn’t just about losing weight and getting healthy, it was about deeper issues than my growing waistline. I stayed up the entire night reading about factory farming and animal cruelty and somewhere between 11pm and 4am I decided to go vegan. I didn’t know if it would be hard to give up eating meat, chicken or dairy and I had no idea what kale or tofu was, I just knew I couldn’t know those things and not change something.
Since day one it’s been about the animals for me and I believe it’s the best and strongest reason to go vegan. Obviously it’s not the only reason and there are many people that switch to a vegan diet for health or environmental issues. But regardless of the reasons someone might switch to a plant-based diet it’s truly one of the easiest and most powerful ways to have an impact on something bigger than ourselves.
If you’re curious about going vegan the list below might help you decide to go full force and get your plant-powered goodness on. And what if you think going vegan sounds awesome but you feel you could never give up meat? Well then go vegan at least a couple of days during the week. Even small changes can be a good thing so I invite you to consider the list below anyway and use it a reminder to incorporate more plant-based food in your life.
WHY GO VEGAN? EIGHT REASONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO SWITCH TO A PLANT-BASED DIET.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into any of the topics outlined below I’ve included links to videos, books or websites that might interest you. Please note that some of the videos (which I will make note of) contain graphic images. I prefer watching documentaries about food and I can’t handle videos about animal abuse or factory farming but I’ve included links to both in case you’re interested.
1. BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T KILL AND EAT A DOG
I know this sounds harsh but let this settle in for a moment. I’m sure you hate knowing that some people eat dogs, cats and horses in other parts of the world and when you found out that people hunt beautiful animals like lions, rhinos and elephants you were appalled. A cow, pig or chicken may not look as “cute” as a dog or cat and certainly not as impressive as a wild animal but ALL of these animals (dogs, cats, rhinos, elephants, cows, chickens, pigs) are living, breathing creatures that are capable of thinking and feeling things like fear, happiness, pleasure and pain. Why do we protect and love only the ones that can be part of our family or the ones that are exotic but we support the mass killing of others on a daily basis?
LEARN MORE: Watch this presentation by James Wildman (*includes graphic images). Watch Vegucated by Marisa Miller. Watch Earthlings by Shaun Monson narrated by Joaquin Phoenix (*includes graphic images). Read Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs & Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
2. BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A COW
I don’t know how else to say this but basically, cows produce milk for their babies and for their babies only. It’s the same way a dog produces milk for its puppies or a human produces milk for her newborn. Humans have no need for cow milk just as we have no need for dog, cat, monkey or giraffe milk.
LEARN MORE: Read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD and Thomas M. Campbell MD. Read Why The Meat and Dairy Industry is Unsustainable by Care2. Read Cow’s Milk by Peta (*includes graphic images in video). Check out this page on dairy by Michael Greger M.D.
3. BECAUSE IT’S NORMAL AND NATURAL TO EAT PLANTS FROM THE EARTH
Some of the things people have told me when referring to my plant-based lifestyle are that it’s too extreme or it’s not natural. I understand that it’s definitely not the norm but I’m not sure what’s so extreme or unnatural about eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eating plants is one of the most normal and natural things a human can do.
LEARN MORE: Watch Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death video by Michael Greger M.D. (I love everything about this site!) Read The #1 Dietary Risk Factor is Not Eating Enough Fruit by Michael Greger M.D.
4. BECAUSE YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT ANIMALS TO SURVIVE, THRIVE AND BE HAPPY
Really, you don’t. The reasons most people eat meat are because of habit, tradition, taste and convenience and very rarely for survival. When you consider that a plant-based diet provides what you need to not only survive but to be healthy and thrive it becomes very difficult to justify the torture and murder of the animals we raise for our food simply because we “like how it tastes”. So it’s not about a human life vs an animal life (because I don’t believe they’re the same) it’s simply a choice between killing animals and not killing animals.
5. BECAUSE YOUR CHOICES MATTER
Animal agriculture is one of the most destructive, inefficient and wasteful industries in existence. The environmental damage of raising millions of animals for humans to eat is alarming; air & water pollution, climate change, fresh water scarcity, deforestation and erosion. Although these problems wouldn’t completely disappear even if everyone went vegan every choice has the power to make a difference, even a small one.
6. BECAUSE IT’LL HELP YOU GET FIT & HEALTHY (EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT A PRO)
When people adopt a vegan lifestyle (if the focus is on whole and minimally processed food) they usually experience more energy, better sleep, cleaner skin, and weight loss. The extent of the health benefits is different for everyone but when you combine a plant-based lifestyle with daily physical activity your body will change. Athletes and people who love to run, workout or stay active benefit from a vegan diet because of the immune strengthening and anti inflammatory properties of plants.
7. BECAUSE YOU’LL SAVE MONEY (EVEN IF YOU’RE BROKE)
I understand that fruits and vegetables are not always the cheapest things to buy but consider how much money you’ll save if you’re not buying junk food, processed food, meat, chicken, pork or dairy. Legumes, fruits, veggies and whole grains turn out to be much cheaper (and healthier).
LEARN MORE: Watch Food, Inc by Kenner Film
8. BECAUSE YOU WANT TO PREVENT AND REVERSE DISEASE
We’ve all felt the pain of seeing someone we love affected by heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis or other illnesses. Although going vegan is not a guarantee for a perfectly healthy life it is a powerful way to decrease the chances of disease. By adopting a plant-based lifestyle you’ll reduce inflammation in your body, lower your blood cholesterol levels, strengthen your immune system, improve your heart health, decrease the expression of cancer genes in the body and dramatically reduce your chances of getting Type II diabetes. And those are just some of the health benefits.
That’s a lot to take in, I know. Consider if any of these things made complete sense to you and if any of them feel right, then take what you need, apply what you can and share what you want. I realize that we all have different circumstances and not everyone can (or wants to) ditch all animal products overnight. But I think we all care about at least ONE of these things, I’m a firm believer that every person, every small habit and every seemingly small change can make a difference whether you’re trying to lose twenty pounds or save the world.
Now I’m not saying that going vegan will solve world hunger, fix global warming or bring peace to this world and I’m not talking about anything extreme or becoming an activist. I’m simply saying that consistently having a smoothie for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs, eating a salad for lunch instead of a hamburger and enjoying lentil soup for dinner instead of steak WILL make a positive difference in your life, in the lives of the animals that don’t get slaughtered and in the earth.
Do I wish that everyone were vegan? Of course. But I also wish I was a mermaid and that I could fly, so there’s that. The point is that what is most important to you (even if that doesn’t include health, animals or the environment) moving towards a plant-based lifestyle positively contributes to that one thing you care about. So the real question becomes, why not include more plant-based foods in our life? It’s a total win right? So stick around, get excited and I’ll introduce you to some kale.