Remember awhile back I mentioned that I had undergone a few major changes, and as a result I was experiencing some health benefits in my life? Some of these benefits included:
- Experiencing a drastically reduced amount of soreness relating to exercise, allowing me to exercise longer, with more intensity, and more frequently. All leading to me getting fitter, faster, and stronger more quickly.
- A natural “shrinking” I don’t weigh myself, so I can’t tell you I lost weight, but I can tell you that parts of my body naturally have started to feel smaller as a result of the whole body system functioning at a healthier level.
- I cut my dangerously high cholesterol in half, and cut my triglycerides and LDL-C in half. (I had been told they were high as an association to my kidney disease).
- Developed a more natural energy and sense of calm, which allowed me to naturally stop drinking coffee. I was used to drinking minimum 2 big mugs everyday. (to be honest I have no guarantees to how long this will last because I freaking love the taste, but my body does feel a lot better without it).
- Initially my strength went down, but is now back up to where it was before. So now I have more endurance, more power, more speed, and the same amount of strength I had before.
- I ran 5 km as fast as I could in high school without running in years.
- I can swim as fast and as long as I could in high school again.
- I am eating MUCH more vegetables than before.
- I am eating a crazy amount of carbs compared to before! Shocking right! Carbs are supposed to be in the “bad” category aren’t they!?
- I used to have defined black circles under my eyes- these decreased dramatically.
- This is among many other changes that I will touch upon over the coming blogs.
So with all of these changes I have decided I need to write about what I have been exploring. It’s going to take me a few blog posts to get through, but let’s start here:
I have virtually stopped eating meat and dairy products.
** Disclaimer below.
What started as a dietary change for environmental reasons soon became a dietary change for ethical reasons, which very quickly and easily became a dietary change for health reasons. What started as “I’ll eat meat maybe once a week” has turned into a desire to have no meat at all.
When I initially became aware of the impact animal agriculture was having on our environment I made a conscious decision to drastically reduce my meat consumption (I already didn’t eat dairy). I never even gave thought to the fact that perhaps my own personal health was going to benefit. Naturally as I began to see health improvements I was further compelled to continue to eat in this manner now for health reasons as well.
Over the next couple weeks I will explore these topics with you. I will cover the controversial topics surrounding to eat meat, not to eat meat, how to do it “ethically” and “sustainably”. How eating meat can affect your health, and how one diet is not for all people.
I also plan on tackling such topics surrounding veganism such as “are you always hungry?” , “where do you get your protein”, “aren’t you missing certain vitamins such as B12?”. As I am new to this world I plan on researching these topics also for my own benefit to ensure I am very well educated in my food choices and ensuring that I am doing what I feel is right for the health of my individual body. I encourage you to do the same for the health choices you are investigating. And remember, my blogs and advice are based on reading, research, anecdotal evidence in my own body and the bodies of others, but I am in no way a dietician online trying to prescribe a certain way of eating to you.
Finally: I hesitate to call myself a “vegan”, and I simply use this label for the simplicity of explaining my food choices. Within veganism there can be a lot of variety in how people eat. For example a very strict vegan will consume NO animal products (honey, or any ingredients found in packaged food that may have stemmed from an animal), they also don’t wear or use any animal products. And don’t forget- a vegetarian still consumes dairy. Within vegetarianism there can still be differences amongst people (some eat eggs, some eat fish etc.).
Here is how I describe my style of Veganism, which I prefer to call Plant Based eating. I don’t buy animal or dairy products, but I am not ready to walk around proclaiming that I don’t put meat or dairy products in my mouth. On Christmas I had some turkey, if Starbucks is out of coconut milk I will take a swig of cream, If I order a salad and they don’t take the goat cheese off I will eat it. I have no interest in creating labels or restrictions on my diet, I just phased out 95 % of the meat and dairy products I was eating in Oct/Nov and since then have noticed tremendous health and well being benefits! I firmly believe that no matter how we choose to eat it should never be so black and white that we cause ourselves to feel restricted and miserable. For some eating totally vegan will feel right for them. For me I need the freedom to choose once in awhile to have a lamb butter chicken and not feel like my health is going to fail, or global warming is going to escalate from this choice.
** Disclaimer: I am in no way advocating that by eating how I do you will experience the results I have. Instead, I am advocating that you need to eat the way that is right for your body. If you aren’t functioning and performing optimally then perhaps there are some dietary changes you should make to support yourself.
So In the end, I think however we plan to eat we should be educated as to how our choices are affected ourselves, others, and our globe. On that note here is a little education about how eating meat vs. plant based can affect our environment:
So with that, let’s start exploring some of the environmental reasons I initially chose to start eating this way.
Eating animal and dairy products (compared to limiting or eliminating their consumption) has been associated with:
- Increased greenhouse gases
- Increased use of fresh water
- Increased use of land
- Increased production of waste
- Drastic decrease in wildlife in the oceans
- Decrease in natural wildlife.
- Less food and focus on the eradication of human hunger
Considering most of the nations of the world just met in Paris to consider ‘major changes’ towards decreasing global climate change, I find it imperative that animal agriculture be included in this discussion for some of the reasons listed below:
Globally, the (livestock) sector contributes 18 percent (7.1 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent) of global greenhouse gas emissions. Although it accounts for only nine percent of global CO2, it generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide (N2O) and 35 percent of methane (CH4), which have 296 times and 23 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2 respectively.
Carbon dioxide emissions from the livestock sector are related to fossil fuel burning during production of fertilizer for feed production, the livestock production process, processing and transportation of refrigerated products. Furthermore, livestock are a major driver of the global trends in land-use and land-use change including deforestation (conversion of forest to pasture and cropland), desertification, as well as the release of carbon from cultivated soils. The overall contribution of CO2emissions from the livestock sector are estimated at 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2.
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than Co2 in a 20 year time frame.
Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 in a 20 year time frame.
- These facts were taken from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as on sciencemag.org.
- Yes they were originally found in the resource section for the documentary film Cowspiracy. Cowspiracy’s intention with the movie is to highlight the negative effect that eating meat and dairy have on our environment. In my few blog posts on the topic I plan on taking a well rounded approach, exploring the other side of the argument, as well as ideas such as whether or not meat can be raised, grown and consumed ethically and sustainably within a full circle ecosystem.
So in the end, stay tuned. Explore with me over the next few weeks and months as we expand our awareness as to how animal agriculture relates to global warming and what other solutions are there? Also- how can you eat a plant based diet in a health way.