Going Vegan (Part 2): Green Activism!

I’m not lying when I say that it has taken me months to put this post together (and gather the courage to publish it). Talking about vegetarianism or veganism can easily become a sensitive topic yet one I can’t avoid writing about.
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Nobel Prize winner Alvin Roth says: “Instead of focusing on making people repugnant to meat, promote the positive aspects of vegan eating”.
I’m a big fan of this approach so instead of ranting about how inhumane the meat industry is (there are more than enough documentaries about this out there), I’ll share some information on how reducing meat in our diets can have a huge positive impact on major areas of our existence on this planet. Contrary to the first part of my Going Vegan series of posts (From Omnivore to Vegan), this second bit is more information loaded but I’ve managed to boil everything down to three main points, please read on.

“It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly and also healthier.”

1. Livestock issues:
“Livestock farming is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting meat consumption, environmentalists argue, would help stem global warming and improve the environment…”
Raising livestock for consumption takes an incredible amount of resources: on land to maintain all the animals + land to grow crops to feed them, water, fuel, etc. This is all taking its toll on our planet with the toxic gas emissions from livestock being higher than those of transportation. Our meat demand is directly destroying our environment.

2. Food distribution:
“…ironically, more than nine thousand children die each day from causes related to hunger and under-nutrition. It is a painful realization that the grain and resources we use to raise livestock could be used more directly instead to feed the starving and malnourished children in the world.”
This is probably the piece of information that had the most impact on me. I’m someone who very actively supports efforts to raise funds for causes fighting hunger around the world (Save the Children to be more specific).
It was a shocking realization finding out that this world is producing more than enough food to end hunger but we choose to put those resources where it is more comfortable for us. I can’t justify a steak on my plate when I know the food used to raise that cow could have been given to a malnourished kid.

3. My health:
“The world’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states that: vegetarian eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes, including lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.”
I have my personal experience to back me up on this one: ever since I started cutting down on meat my body has experienced the biggest positive change in my whole life. Even before fully quitting meat, when I was still eating it once or twice a week, I already noticed a difference. I naturally ended up losing quite some weight but what has surprised me the most is the incredible amount of energy I have now compared to the past. My body feels lighter, cleaner and healthier in general; I rarely fall sick and can keep up intense and long levels of activity without big struggle (will talk more elaborately about this point on part 3).

Let me close this post with this excerpt that wraps up and binds everything together nicely for me:
“Science informs us that when our diet is more plant based, and when we exercise regularly, our health will improve. By mindfully reducing meat consumption, you are also performing a miracle, because your change in diet indirectly helps make food more available to hungry children in underdeveloped countries as well as reduce global warming. When more of us practice mindfulness this way, we are creating transformation at not only the individual level but also the collective level. We are changing the world.”

Think about it and help me spread the word ~~

Sources:
Peaceful Dumpling: Exclusive Interview: Nobel Prize Winner Alvin Roth On Future Of Food
- Daily Mail UK: Norwegian army goes vegetarian as it goes to war against climate change by cutting ‘ecologically unfriendly’ foods
- “Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” – Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung
- Irish Times: On the Menu: Why ‘Meatless Monday’ plan is good news all round 

Going Vegan (Part 1): From Omnivore to Vegan

GoingVegan1BlogFrom omnivore to flexitarian to vegetarian to vegan… Everything has a name nowadays and when it comes to diets (at least the ones focused on meat intake) I think I’ve gone through them all.

Last week I completed my July Vegan Challenge. As the name reads, I followed a strict vegan diet for a whole month and happily succeeded at it.
As promised, I’ve written down my thoughts after completing the challenge, what has now turned into a three-part series of posts in which I share how and why I decided to quit eating meat.

I’d like to start by explaining the evolution of my eating habits…

Plant-based diets seem to have gained tons of popularity the past few months and even though it all has this “trendy and fashionable” vibe to it, I’m thankful because it was all this buzz (and additional research) that helped me gather the courage to try out vegetarianism (and later veganism) and be assured I wouldn’t be alone and that there are more than enough sources to get help and support from.

(One of the first articles I linked about plant-based diets’ increased popularity: Nobel Prize Winner Predicts Rise Of Veganism In 2014 – Source: Peaceful Dumpling)

I believe that even if I’m one in the million, I’m already one less person adding to the problem.
My activism towards promoting plant-based diets started by supporting worldwide campaign Meatless Monday through my blog, developing and posting vegetarian recipes every week and encouraging people to reduce their meat intake (dropping meat at least once a week makes a HUGE difference not only on your body but on our environment).

During this phase I was considered a flexitarian (semi-vegetarian): someone who follows a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat products.
Eventually, my meat intake was so minimal that I started to play with the idea of just dropping meat altogether. I began to do more research on healthy eating, which then lead to an interest in conscious and sustainable eating, mainly looking to further educate myself and seek inspiration since this is the lifestyle and message I want to follow and promote and what I want this blog to be about.

The book that got the ball rolling for me was It Starts with Food from Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, which is funny because this is not really a book promoting vegetarianism or veganism, but eating extremely clean and healthy in general. I learned incredibly much through this book and their Whole30 Program, not only about what foods to eat but also about nutrition and how the body works. If you’re looking into a healthy eating lifestyle, this book is a must!

At some point in the book it is recommended to watch the documentary Food Inc, which I did and one day later I was a vegetarian. One piece of information lead to the other, I came across writings from Michael Pollan, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mark Bittman, TED talks, etc. They all carried facts that backed up and confirmed what my heart was already put into: going into a full plant-based diet.

In Part 2 I’ll share the bits of information that had the most impact on me and list the main reasons why I decided to go vegan – Find the second part here: Green Activism! ~~