16 May 2011

Reasons to make the transition to a vegan lifestyle

Let’s face it, even though change is inevitable and humans are, in their very physical nature, “fluid” as opposed to “static," most of us would rather hang onto our tried and true routines with fingernails screeching across the blackboard of life in protest rather than step outside our comfort zones voluntarily. It’s just too much work. Unless, of course, what’s truly at stake is important enough. Statistics show that most of us can and do change when we’re powerfully motivated by strong emotions such as fear, loathing or even vanity. With those three feelings in mind, you, too, can become vegan and never even look in the rearview mirror at that sloppy, dripping cheeseburger that made your tongue happy for so many years. Here’s why:

Loathing: If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen “Food, Inc.”, rent the DVD immediately but prepare yourself for scenes of tortured animals and cover up by the big food companies who willingly make it happen. It ain’t pretty. Chickens with their beaks cut off standing in their own excrement and never spending even five minutes of their lives outside in the sun are just the tip of the proverbial mass food production “iceberg.” They’re twice as big as they used to be thanks to growth hormones but they’re slaughtered in less time (49 days vs. three months). Cow hides are caked with manure, as well, so E Coli is thriving among herds and finds its way easily into the meat sold in grocery stores. It’s even in spinach and apples because of the rain run off from factory farms. The atrocities go on and yes, the movie is difficult to watch at times but the truth, in this case, really will set you free...ethically and physically.

Fear: It’s the great motivator of all time. From the days of cavemen running across the plains with a T-Rex in pursuit, nothing can change our minds like a healthy dose of panic. Flash forward to the present day and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, M.D., who spent 20 years with Cornell and Oxford Universities studying lifestyle and disease in rural China and Taiwan and found people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. The book is scientific and technical in some parts but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the great “American diet” is killing us and not very slowly anymore. Even though our society uses food for anything BUT what it is meant to be (healing and sustenance), we continue to allow it into our lives instead for entertainment, social interaction and an antidote for depression and a less than adequate sex life. Seriously...is food in control of you or the other way around?

Last, if the previous two reasons don’t light your fire, perhaps the simple concept of vanity will. Tired of trying to lose weight or merely the layer of fat around your waist? Eliminate the animal foods including dairy and watch the pounds melt away. Get rid of sugar and processed foods and you’ll never again avoid the mirror as you get out of the shower...guaranteed. Although vegan research is still relatively scanty, there are some very clear results. Vegans are significantly thinner but that also translates into lower blood pressure levels, blood cholesterol and LDL levels compared to omnivores and even other vegetarians. The lower weight means less of a chance of heart disease and a lower risk of diabetes and cancer. Vegan diets are richer in dietary fiber, higher in potassium and magnesium, folic acid, antioxidant foods and phytochemicals. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts are all protective against chronic disease.

So let’s review: By eating a vegan diet, you can avoid adding to the torture and death of animals, save yourself from chronic disease like cancer and heart failure AND look amazing? Why aren’t you in your car right this very moment driving to Whole Foods?

Kathryn Lorusso
Kathryn is a former journalist and English teacher who now counsels and mediates teenage drama on a daily basis in the Dallas, Ft. Worth metroplex. Time away from school is spent cooking up new macrobiotic/vegan specialties, writing various blogs and newsletters and taking as many bikram yoga classes as possible.

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