January 1st, 2017, I became a vegan. As I begin this new adventure with WokeDaddy.com, I feel the need to come out. For those of you who are not familiar, being vegan means consuming exclusively a plant-based diet, free of all animal products (understand meat, fish, eggs and all dairy products). I use the term “coming out” intentionally to express the resistance and push back I experienced from society as a whole and from my peers. Today, I am very happy with my choice and would like to share the reasoning behind my decision.
An holistic vision of healing and living
This is not my first exposure to veganism. Last year, I went vegan for a month as part of a detox program that I initiated with a Naturopathic doctor. Like many, I first went vegan for weight loss as I was tired of yo-yo-ing with my weight. In my journey through health and self discovery, Naturopathy has actually been the catalyst of it all. Naturopathy is an holistic form of medicine based on the healing power of nature. When treating a patient, a Naturopathic practician takes into account the person as a whole (mind, body, soul) as well as considering its environment. My inner (unexpressed) values resonated deeply with this philosophy of inter connection between people and nature. I went all in.
“Naturopathy is an holistic form of medicine based on the healing power of nature.”
At the end of the program I felt amazing like I never felt before in my entire life. I did really experienced first end the healing power of nature. Let alone the enormous amount of weight that I managed to let go, almost effortlessly (yes, you read that correctly) as I barely worked out, I found myself with increased energy and creativity, elevated mood, much younger looking skin. I started to realize the impact of food not only on my body but on my mindset. At the time I also started to combine this new lifestyle with a regular mediation practice: I was ready to embrace this new lifestyle as my own, feeling complete and sereine.
At the time, my entourage, immediate family and circle of friends were skeptical at best. Saboteurs sometimes. So much so that I slowly but surely gave up on it, slipping back onto old eating habits mainly caused by either peer pressure or by allowing other people’s self limiting beliefs influence my own. This slow regression lead me to finish 2016 gaining back all the weight that I had lost with a strong sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction: I really had the feeling to have fucked myself. Once again.
Increased mindfulness and improved food education
While my first experience with veganism ended painfully, it did open my eyes to the fact that all that we are, is the result of what we put in our mouth and what we put in our mind. To that regard, I realized that most of my life I did not challenge enough what was put in front of my eyes and inside my plate. Growing up in France, I was fortunate to be surrounded with fresh fruit and vegetables all my life at home and at school. Luckily for me too, my mom has always been avant-gardiste as it comes to food and health, notably by raising me with homeopathy or questioning the supposed benefits of “milk”. As far back as I can remember, she would always question the status quo of mainstream wellness. But I digress. Making a conscious choice of becoming vegan definitely improved my food education for the better. Such a drastic diet change forces you to get acquainted with nutrition, which helped me make significant breakthroughs.
“I started to realize all the myths that I have been fed literally and figuratively by popular make beliefs.”
I started to realize all the myths that I have been fed literally and figuratively by popular make beliefs. From all the baseless myths that are generally passed around the one that particularly stood out is the one that present animals as the main and best source of protein. This is a flat-out lie. Not only there are plenty of plant-based protein sources available as most of vegetables and legumes contain protein, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that not only both plant-based protein and meat build muscle equally but plant-based protein are actually better in the sense that they contain much less harmful components than meat based protein. As reminded by the excellent website riseofthevegan.com. “meat also comes with additional components that are harmful to our health, including antibiotic residue, hormones, saturated fat, trans-fats, endotoxins, cholesterol, Neu5Gc, heterocyclic amines and contaminants such as high levels of metals including copper and arsenic.” Obviously all those components favor the development of a variety of chronic diseases and inflammations.
The only lifestyle that actually makes sense intellectually
Have you ever questioned what you put in your mouth? I honestly never really did for the biggest part of my life. While being vegan may appear extreme by many, here is the main argument that made me truly question everything and ultimately make the shift. How come there are animals that are perceived as acceptable to be eaten and others that are not? Where is it exactly that you draw the line? There are birds that we eat and others that we cherish. There are animals that we pet, others that we roast. Would you agree that a dog has emotions? Many reasonable people would say yes and therefore would never ever eat dogs. How is it different with pigs? With cows?
“How come there are animals that are perceived as acceptable to be eaten and others that are not? Where is it exactly that you draw the line?”
Well, there is no difference. The short answer as where you are drawing the line is culture. Period. In some cultures cows are sacred. In others they are delicacies. This is all absolutely arbitrary. Let’s keep it real, there have been extensive evidence backed by scientific studies that have proven that animals have feelings. Here is a few examples of proof showing that animals have feelings. You should read the entire article on the science blog of nymag.com.
- Dogs and horses can read human emotions.
- Evidence of empathy, and even comforting behavior, has been observed in a variety of species.
- Some research suggests that a few animals have demonstrated signals of self-awareness.
Yes. Wether you like it or not there is such a thing as unnecessary animal cruelty. Being vegan reconcile the divorce that man started with nature. By only sticking to plant based products, there is some sense of logic by only consuming what grows abundantly, without hurting anybody. At least this is a good start.
Being vegan at this day and age is a political act
You may think that this is far fetched but consider this. Do you know what are the two main causes of death in the United States? The number one is heart disease. The second is cancer. Diabetes is number 7. You won’t have to do intensive research to unveil the relationship between meat consumption and coronary heart disease, or processed meat consumption and diabetes or dairy consumption and cancer. That is 3 major causes of death (included the two deadliest) that can be directly linked to the intake of animal products. I still have not found a serious study that link a plant based diet to a major illness. If your degree of self love is not high enough maybe will you be interested by the effect of the meat industry on the environment? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production, processing and distribution of meat requires huge outlays of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. And if you want to get into specifics here are a few numbers that should make you question the meat industry:
- EWG estimates that growing livestock feed in the U.S. alone requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year across some 149 million acres of cropland.
- If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million
- A 2009 study found that four-fifths of the deforestation across the Amazon rainforest could be linked to cattle ranching.
I am not looking to convert you. I just want to raise your awareness.
I am grateful to have started this journey and to share it with you. My goal is not to make you become vegan or to convince you in any way. My purpose is to raise awareness about the impact of food on our lives and to encourage you to be as mindful as possible as it comes to your diet. Do your own research, take control and do not accept make beliefs constructed by the food industry and pharmaceutical companies. Do not outsource your personal power and your health: you are too precious for that.