I’ve been sitting here for almost half an hour now just trying to figure out how to start this. The amount of information I could share with you about veganism is too much to fit on this page. Therefore, I have decided to focus only on the health related aspects of veganism because that is what I am the most knowledgable about, but down below I listed my favorite resources that also touch on the animal cruelty and environmental aspects of veganism. So…
Yes, we know fruits and vegetables are healthy.. but how healthy are they really? Can they reverse diabetes? Shed 200 lbs off an obese individual? Save the planet??? (quite possibly.. check out Cowspiracy on netflix). Going plant based has so many benefits. Your energy increases, your metabolism speeds up, you lose weight, you save lives, you can reverse chronic diseases, increase your lifespan.. the list goes on and on.
Below I discuss the main problems with meat, dairy, and eggs. I encourage you, if you are not already vegan, to read this with an open mind. From the moment you were born the meat, dairy, and egg industries have been paying fortunes to brain wash you. These industries have an insane amount of power, so I encourage you to use your best judgement and try to forget about all the commercials you saw as a child telling you milk builds strong bones.
Lets start with protein shall we?
The main concern people have with this diet is becoming protein deficient, and I am here to tell you.. RELAX. Yes, protein plays a big role in your body and is an extremely important macronutrient. However, unless you have been depriving yourself of food for the last four days or are recovering from a severe burn, odds are you aren’t protein deficient. Your body really only needs about 10% of your caloric intake to be from protein. I bet, vegan or meat eater, you’re probably consuming much more than that. The real concern here is not protein but what is attached to the protein. If you are consuming your protein from meat, eggs, and dairy, you’re likely consuming large amounts or saturated and trans fat. These fats are what lead to high cholesterol which in turn leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. These fats, believe it of not, actually lead to diabetes as well. The reason we think sugar is the problem is because diabetics have a large amount of glucose in their blood. Well the reason it is in the blood is because when there is excess fat in the body, the fat gets stored in the cells. Therefore, there is no room for glucose to enter the cells where they belong, and instead remain in the blood. If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here… sorry I’m getting off on a tangent.. back to protein.
If you were to walk out to the street right now and ask people where they are getting their protein from, the most common answers you will likely receive are meat, eggs, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Let’s take a closer look.
Meat (red meat, seafood, poultry, etc.)
Oh meat.. nothing like eating a large piece of rotting dead carcass for dinner. I mean there is just no study anymore that can prove meat promotes longevity. Cholesterol can only be found in foods that come from animals. Your body already produces all the cholesterol it needs, and any extra intake is just stored in your arterial walls as plaque. This leads to atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attacks etc. Even if you are eating the leanest meats you can find from the most organic local brands, you might be taking away some excess fat but the cholesterol is still in the meat no matter what.
From an anatomy stand point, our digestive organs, specifically our intestines, are much longer than that of a lion or tiger. A lion’s digestive tract is very short. This is because they are carnivores. Their digestive system is short so that they can quickly eliminate the rotting flesh form sitting in their organs too long. When meat digests in a human body, it sits in there for long amounts of time which leads to an increase in bad gut bacteria. This bad gut bacteria, on a minor scale, leads to symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation. Unfortunately, on a larger scale, it leads to deadly diseases, especially colon cancer. To learn more about meat’s relationship to colon cancer, I recommend you check out this article by Harvard.
Okay seriously guys, you are not a 2 month year old cow. Stop drinking this cancer causing hormonal mixture of rotting pus.. (sorry that was aggressive). But really, what is milk? Milk is the perfectly created formula made over many centuries for the genus B. taurus (aka the cow) to turn their young 80 pound calf into a 2,000 pound adult cow. Now let me ask you.. does that sound like something you want to pour over your cheerios tomorrow morning?
So the point is dairy is formulated for mammal growth. Dairy consumption increases the levels of insulin-like growth factor I. So as humans when we consume this, especially after we are fully grown, the dairy is still promoting growth, and when there is no direction left to grow our cells can start replicating out of control. This my friends, is called cancer. Now disclaimer: there are many causes of cancer and I am by no means saying this is the one and only cause, but there are more and more studies linking dairy to certain types of cancers.
One disease we can almost certainly connect dairy to is osteoporosis. Wait.. that’s crazy???? Milk is such a great source of calcium!!!.. Um not exactly. Yes, calcium and vitamin D are needed to build strong bones but getting your calcium from milk is not the way to do it. Before I get into the science of it, just think of it in this way: America is the country that consumes the most milk and yet America is the country with the highest rates of osteoporosis.. coincidence? The pH of a cow’s milk (6.5) is more acidic than the pH of the human body (7.4). To compensate for the acidity our body actually pulls calcium from the bones. Many studies have linked dairy consumption with increased risk of osteoperosis. One study in particular showed that 3 glasses of milk a day was associated with significantly higher bone and hip fractures as well as higher risks for mortality.
Lets touch on cheese real quick, and then we will move on. The one thing people think they can’t give up is cheese. Why? Well like alcohol or tobacco, your brain is addicted. Casomorphins are protein fragments produced when milk is turned into cheese. Casomorphins have an opioid effect on the brain. It gives you a high. You are quite literally addicted. Casomorphins stimulate your brain in the same way any other addiction would. Fortunately, like any other addiction, two weeks without it and you can break free from the cravings!
A few years back egg consumption was on the decline because word was getting out about how much cholesterol was really in eggs. The egg industry, panicked, decided to conduct their own research trials to show the cholesterol in eggs wasn’t related to blood cholesterol. Ladies and gents, if you don’t know anything about research at all, at least just know to always be aware who’s funding the study. The egg industry funded and created their own research to show that their product wasn’t unhealthy… um hello?
The egg industry cannot even legally say that eggs have high nutrition content, or that their healthy, healthful, or contain healthful components. A while back the egg industry wanted to run a campaign saying that eggs are “nutrition powerhouses” however the USDA denied approval because you cannot legally label eggs as healthy or nutritious due to it’s extremely high saturated fat and cholesterol content.
You may have already heard vegans referring to eggs as chicken periods. While a chicken’s menstruation is clearly much different from a humans, this statement makes sense once you understand a chicken’s menstrual process. I think Peta2 described the process well: “Female chickens have a menstrual cycle that can be daily during certain times of the year. Like women, hens have ovaries. During a hen’s cycle, an ovary sends a yolk on its path. The yolk forms what we know of as an “egg white” as it moves through the reproductive tract into the shell gland. The shell takes about 21 hours to form and “Cluck!”—out pops an egg! These are the eggs that make it onto store shelves and into the frying pans.”
I’ll let you ponder that one.
But Our Ancestors Ate Meat?
False. We definitely weren’t always at the top of the food chain. Until very recently when weapons were invented, we were mostly gatherers. I mean seriously, how on earth would we chase down a wild animal and dig into it just using our teeth? I am currently reading a book titled “Sapiens” (and it has absolutely nothing to do with veganism). However, it does touch on briefly about the diet of homo sapiens before weapons were created. We were gatherers and maybe in a blue moon if we were lucky, we would eat some meat leftover from a carnivore’s lunch, but thats it. We were most certainly not milking cows or sautéing 10 oz filet mignons.
If you look at out canines, it looks nothing like that of carnivores. Our teeth are perfectly designed to eat fruits and veggies, not dig into a live animal. As I mentioned earlier, our digestive system is also perfectly designed to digest fruits and vegetables, not animal flesh.
SO.. now that I have scared you with all the things you shouldn’t eat, let’s talk about all the delicious things you can eat!
- Vegetables (obviously)- leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine and other lettuce) broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini and so on.
- Fruits- berries, melon, apples, bananas, mangos, grapes, oranges, lemons, limes, etc.
- Legumes- lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, refried beans, white beans etc.
- Grains and starches- bread, crackers, rice, quinoa, pasta, potatoes, oats, barley, etc.
- “Healthy” fats- peanut butter, hummus, avocado, nuts and seeds, olives
Veganism is such an incredible lifestyle, it boosts your energy, your metabolism, your mood and so much more. I apologize if any of that came off as aggressive but I just get so passionate about this lifestyle. If you aren’t already following this lifestyle you are seriously depriving yourself of the person you could be morally, healthfully, mentally, and physically. I do understand that transitioning to a plant based diet can seem scary and difficult, but you are not alone! The vegan community is awesome! There are so many youtubers, bloggers, organizations etc. that would love to help you! Down below I have listed some resources that I highly recommend if you are interested in learning more. And of course feel free to reach out to me with any of your questions! 🙂
- What the Health
- Forks Over Knives
- The Cheese Trap by Neal Barnard
- Dr. Neal Barnards Program for Reversing Diabetes
- The China Study
- How Not to Die
- The Exam Room by the Physicians Committee
- The Rich Roll Podcasts