02 February 2011

Becoming a vegan is not only compassionate but it also leads to healthy weight loss

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and over one-third are obese. With statistics like this it is no wonder everywhere we look these days we are confronted by the consequences of an insatiable society. Shows like The Biggest Loser, and Heavy have spiked in ratings, yet remain accompanied by commercials featuring McDonald’s, Applebee’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. For all our efforts, (The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper is vegan!) the vast majority of people have yet to make the connection with an undeniable, unhealthy relationship with food; and the meat industry couldn’t be happier about it.

For me, the choice to “LIVE VEGAN,” as my license plate frame so adamantly proclaims, begins and ends with the irrefutable fact of widespread, global animal suffering. The icing on the cake (dairy free of course) just so happens to be my increased health, vitality, and you guessed it, weight loss. Shortly after my transition from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet I lost ten pounds without even trying. My husband, who made the switch at forty years old, lost twenty. And as if that wasn’t proof enough, the allergies that I had suffered with all my life, so much so that I had to get weekly allergy shots as a child, disappeared. With the clarity of mind that a vegan diet brings, I quickly realized that I, like so many others, had been fed (no pun intended) a lifetime of propaganda and let’s face it, bacteria.

For the skeptics who still wonder about protein intake and calcium for strong bones and teeth I recommend reading some of the now easily attainable research on the countless health benefits of adopting a vegan diet. Just ask Bill Clinton. He too shed unwanted pounds after reading, The China Study, as well as lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol.

A wonderful place to begin and an invaluable resource for preventive medicine and holistic medical care is PCRM.org. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine founded in 1985 is a non-profit organization supported by physicians and laypersons working to promote the countless health benefits of adopting a vegan diet. Combining the efforts of medical experts and grassroots individuals, President Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. and a board of directors comprised solely of medical doctors, works to endorse preventative medicine through innovative programs. Amongst them, PCRM has led the way for reforms of federal nutrition policies, and groundbreaking clinical research programs in diabetes, cancer, and other serious conditions.

Their informative website offers research, statistics, and articles explaining how to best transition to a vegan diet and reap the many benefits that await. One such article states, “Of the many ways to lose weight, one stands out as by far the most healthful. When you build your meals from a generous array of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans—that is, healthy vegetarian choices—weight loss is remarkably easy. And along with it come major improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and many other aspects of health. The message is simple: Cut out the foods that are high in fat and devoid of fiber, and increase the foods that are low in fat and full of fiber. This low fat, vegan diet approach is safe and easy—once you get the hang of it.

Participants in PCRM’s recent weight loss study who switched to a vegan diet reported additional improvements in digestion and regularity and many also said they just felt better overall.”

The evidence has become overwhelming. Not only does adhering to a plant-based, vegan diet promote active weight loss, but also it builds the foundation of optimal health and well-being. So what are you waiting for?

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/foshydog