Labels, categories… everyone wants to know where you fit into their world view. So when asked, I say that I’m vegan. It’s a term that, while a bit stigmatized, is generally understood. I eat no animal flesh, eggs or dairy. In other words, my daily diet, lifestyle and health ideal is entirely plant-based. However, strictly speaking, the term “vegan” extends beyond diet, to exclude the use of any animal products at all. This means no leather, wool, silk, pearls, honey, down or other animal byproducts. It means no personal care or beauty products that were tested on animals. Just as my transition to a plant-based or vegan diet was a gradual process, so is my application of this body of ethics to the rest of my life. I have adopted a cruelty-free lifestyle, because I understand that harming other sentient beings is simply not necessary. Like most things, I am a work in progress, as I continually try to improve my choices and evolve. I am no longer buying animal-based products, but am still using the ones that I already own. In short, I’m making the best decisions I can with each meal, with each purchase, with each passing day, and that seems like a sensible, stress-free approach to me right now.
There are many very good reasons to be vegan. It’s not sustainable to feed the planet’s population of 7+ billion people animal products several times a day. Fruit, vegetable and grain farming is a much more efficient use of land and water than livestock farming for feeding people. Animal agriculture is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming. The world’s rain forests are being irreparably destroyed to make way for cattle grazing. The oceans are being over-fished to depletion. And of course, the animals – sentient beings – are kept in horrific conditions and killed to provide the world with meat and dairy products. It’s just not something I want to contribute to, let alone put in my body.
Why a vegan diet?
I believe that eating plant-based food made with organic ingredients is the best possible way to keep my body healthy. Based on what I’ve read and, most importantly for me, on my own personal experience, I’ve found that nutrient-dense plant-based meals that do not overtax the digestive system and don’t stagnate in the intestines and colon are the clear choice for achieving vitality and health. The meat and dairy industries have spent tons of money convincing Americans that they “need” the protein contained in their products. I believe that my protein requirements are much lower than the quantities recommended in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and that all of the protein, vitamins and nutrients that are necessary to thrive are available from unrefined, unprocessed plant-based whole foods. I also believe that eating foods with a high energetic vibration (plants – as opposed to the dead flesh and secretions of animals, almost all of whom lived a life of stress and torture and were injected with antibiotics and hormones), raises an individual’s energetic vibration, thus supporting spiritual awareness rather than cultivating animal instinct in human beings.
Of course, it is possible to be vegan and eat a lot of processed foods; however, I believe that one of the keys to achieving health through veganism is to eat entirely unrefined, whole food ingredients. While it’s true that preparing your own meals from scratch takes more time, it is vastly more nutritious and can be very personally satisfying (and delicious!) once you know how to do it. If you’re new to vegetarianism or veganism, my advice is to start out slow, or else it can be overwhelming. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy a vegan meal, so add one new plant-based recipe to your repertoire per week, and as you find new recipes you love, gradually replace the other meat, egg and dairy-based ones. As your body gains health and you get used to a cleaner diet, your tastes will change and eventually you’ll crave all plant-based meals, free of processed ingredients and animal products. With this blog it is my intention to help you find vegan recipes that you look forward to eating.