22 Feb

Why switch to a plant-based diet? It’s not all about us.

Going plant-based. Why I made the switch after 28 years of eating animals.

So why did a Chicago born and bred gal decide to forgo turkey at Thanksgiving, cool gelato in the summer and the occasional roast beef sandwich?  Below is why. When reading, keep in mind these are my opinions based on the facts that I have found and personal experiences along the way. If you have a different opinion, that is absolutely okay. This is my dedicated space to educate you and create some awareness on a topic that I am extremely passionate about.

I was motivated to make the change to a plant-based diet after 28 years of eating meat & dairy after learning the truth, first hand, about factory farming and the implications it has not only for the billions of innocent animals slaughtered each year, but also the negative impact it has on our planet and health. There were too many factual arguments against eating meat and dairy that I couldn’t turn my head and ignore what was going on.

It is a serious problem and it affects not only us.

Health Benefits

Did you know that eating a plant-based or vegan diet can reverse the affects of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and prevent certain cancers? Heart disease is the #1 killer in America taking down over 12 million of us each year. Guess what the number one form of heart disease is? Coronary artery disease. This is due to LDL cholesterol build up in your arteries that turns to plaque. Your body gains extra cholesterol from the foods you eat, especially meat, eggs and dairy products since all animal products contain cholesterol. I do not want to be a statistic.

By making the switch to a plant-based diet I have more energy, I feel less discomfort after eating and I have dropped a pant size (though I wasn’t trying to lose weight).  My cholesterol levels have dipped to healthy levels and my triglycerides and blood pressure levels are back at a normal range. I no longer feel winded after strenuous exercise and on top of all of that, I finally feel freedom when I eat. I eat fruits of all shapes and sizes, wholesome grains, legumes and beautiful pastas from around the world. I was a very boring eater before going plant-based.

The way I think about food has changed. For the better. I feel more alive. Don’t just take my word for it though. One of my close friends, Josh Kaplan, dropped over 60 lbs. by switching to a plant-based diet. He also ran his first marathon in 2013. It truly does wonders for your health. Check out Josh’s inspirational story here.

What’s really in our meat and dairy anyways?

Do you like antibiotics in your food? I sure as hell don’t. This doesn’t sound very natural or healthy. The practice of cramming animals together on factory farms while pumping them full of antibiotics creates a veritable breeding ground for dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but they still pump them full of antibiotics anyways, just in case. Studies have proven a link to antibiotics in our food to antibiotic resistance in humans. We have become immune to antibiotics since there are so many found in the meat and dairy we consumer each day.

Got pus? Did you know that your glass of milk contains millions of pus cells? It’s true. You can read this article on dairy for more information. The best way to ensure the meat industry’s recipe for disaster doesn’t lead to a national health crisis is to switch to a delicious plant-based diet.

Environmental Impact

The production of meat is among the top contributors to environmental problems. The food industry, especially the meat industry, is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gases, according to some recent studies. (Note: it seems very likely that at least 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are from the livestock sector.) Drinking milk also adds to greenhouse gases, since cows emit significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon. One of the best ways to cut your greenhouse gas emissions is by going plant-based.

It takes an astounding 2,500 gallons of water and 13 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of Beef. This is equivalent to showering every day, for 7 minutes per day, for one year. Think you’re being green by never letting the water run? Think again. We do not have an infinite source of water and energy. We are consuming it in rapid quantities and we will eventually run out if we do not make some critical changes in our lifestyle.

Our planet cannot keep up with the current demands of our conventional diets and a growing population.

The food we eat is a great place to start making a difference. Think about this. We have to feed the livestock in order to raise them which burns up a lot of our natural resources and foods that we can be eating ourselves and also giving to the hungry. Put two and two together and it starts to make some sense, doesn’t it?

Animal Welfare

I don’t know about you, but I love our family pet, Maya. Maya is a tuxedo cat and I would never want to see her suffer. What makes the animals we eat any different? Did you know that most of the animals being raised for food are denied their basic needs, raised in filth (often their own feces), some suffer abuse and many have psychological disorders and disease at the time of slaughter? Most livestock never see the light of day. It’s a sad reality and many of us would rather turn our cheek the other way, then learn the truth.

Dr. Jonathan Balcombe said about pigs “These intelligent animals endure awful physical and psychological suffering. No animal should ever be treated like this.” Pigs are incredibly intelligent (compared to the levels of a chimpanzee) and social animals with considerable learning and problem-solving abilities. They know what is going on and often go insane. Then we eat them. That’s just sad.

Summary

I feel good about the food I eat because it isn’t just affecting me. It’s affecting all of us. Eventually, I got over my fears and being self-conscious and slowly adapted a plant-based, well-balanced diet. It just makes sense.

Try looking deep into yourself to see if you can take steps to reduce your animal product consumption. They say it takes about 3 weeks to break or begin a new habit or make a lifestyle change. There are many resources available to you for guidance. Give it a try! You may like the way you feel and I am here to help you.

Click here for a one week meal plan or sign up for a custom meal plan tailored to your needs.  I would love to hear your thoughts & experiences, please leave a comment below.

*To learn more about how factory farming impacts our entire being, including the planet we live in, I recommend “Food Revolution” by John Robbins (son of Mr. Robbins of Baskin- Robbins). It is an easy, all encompassing read that can be purchased online or at your local Whole Foods.

Sources:

1. Food Revolution by John Robbins

2. Planetsave

3. Compassionate Living Magazine- Mercy for Animals

4. The MFA (mercy for Animals) blog 2/13/13

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