Wednesday, January 16, 2013

on becoming vegan

Since the beginning of the New Year, Joe and I have converted to eating vegan.
It has been a definite challenge, but we feel pretty convinced that it is the best choice we could make. We've had a few people wondering why we made the switch, so I thought I'd explain a little bit!

Back in November, we watched the documentary, "Forks Over Knives". The gist of the documentary is that eating animal products (including dairy, eggs, etc.) is THE cause of the obesity problems and all of the icky diseases that are killing North Americans. (ex. Heart disease, diabetes, many types of cancer, liver disease, etc.) It claimed that eating plant-based prevents (and can even reverse!) these diseases. Since Joe and I generally strive to live healthy lifestyles, we thought we would research a little further.

Through a lot of reading on the topic, we became pretty convinced; Eating a plant-based diet is the best thing you can do to live a long and healthy life.

It was a huge challenge at first. We thought we could start cold-turkey, but found it challenging to cut out eggs (our high-protein, filling, daily breakfast) and yogourt (my favourite snack!) So, for about a month, we still ate those. Then at Christmas it was extra challenging, with so many yummy goodies around. We did pretty well, and only indulged on a few things. 

That being said, in the New Year, we have cut out all animal based foods. We have been eating oatmeal, fruit and peanut butter to fill up in the morning, and I have simply been choosing to snack on plant-based foods like fruit and nuts. There are definitely moments (especially being 38 weeks pregnant!) where I crave things: mostly it has been chocolate or a glass of milk. But, so far we have stuck to it.

Of course, there are other huge benefits to going vegan. As many of you know, I was previously a vegetarian for environmental reasons... so that was no surprise. I still ate eggs and dairy, though. What did surprise me, however, was to learn that the production of eggs uses more energy than the production of chicken meat! So vegetarian eating can still have quite the negative environmental impact... Anyway, here are some of the benefits we have discovered, besides the healthy benefits:

1. Environmental
 Meat production is the number one producer of Greenhouse Gas emissions worldwide. Yes...more than cars! Eating plant-based drastically decreases your carbon footprint, and that is always a good thing in my opinion!

2. Ethical
Of course... there is the fact that not relying on animals for food means that we're not supporting any inhumane treatment of animals that are raised for that purpose.

3. Financial
Relying on beans, legumes and grains for your protein tends to be much less expensive than meat. And yes, we do still get enough protein! 

Becoming vegan has definitely required a complete change in mindset around food.
By eating this way, you need to view foods more according to their nutritional benefits than whether or not they taste good. I have learned so much about the nutritional value of foods, and what nutrients my body actually needs in order to be healthy. Never before would I have considered eating a raw piece of kale, but now I do because I know how beneficial it is to my health (and my unborn child's!)  

That being said, there are still SO many delicious foods that are vegan. I'm not saying food around here is boring! 

Anyway, that just scratches the surface. It has been really eye-opening to learn about and become a vegan. We'll see how it goes!

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