My wife was a vegetarian for over 13 years. She started eating meat again when she was pregnant with our first child based on our Dr saying she should. That was about 2 years ago. Nearing the end of the second pregnancy, we decide we were going to stop eating meat and begin living as vegetarians and working towards being vegan.
I’ve been a meat eater almost all of my life. Red meat, pork, chicken, fish; I’ve tried all kinds of other animal based foods and for the most part, I liked the taste of most of them and never really thought twice about what I was eating.
Everyone eats meat right? So what’s the big deal?
Having kids makes you think differently. It’s almost instantaneous once they are born. You ask yourself all kinds of questions about yourself and your life with this new parental lens on the subject. The question is usually along the lines of “Is this good for my kids?”
In regards to eating animal based products, we simply couldn’t answer that question with a “Yes”.
Over the past 6 months or so, my wife and I have watched several documentaries like Food Inc., Food Matters, Hungry for Change and read several articles about the food we eat. Where it comes from, what it’s made of, what’s in it and is it even good for us. What we’ve learned has changed us and our complete perspective on food and life.
There are three main reasons why we are going vegan.
1) It’s a healthy choice – A properly balanced vegan diet is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. It’s also easier to maintain a healthy weight on a vegan diet.
As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat” can be quite a scary thought when you really learn about the food you put into your body.
2) Animals are beautiful creatures – Killing animals is still killing. Honestly, if we can thrive on plant based diets, why do we need to raise animals to kill them. The way some farmed animals are treated is disgusting, sad and simply just unnecessary.
3) Environmental – Global warming is real. The population is growing and our need for sustainable food practices is imperative. Switching to a plant-based diet is an effective way for an individual to reduce their eco-footprint. Vegan diets produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than meat-based diets.
“A University of Chicago study found that the ‘typical’ US diet generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet. The livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transport sector (which produces 13.5%), including aviation.”
Plant-based diets require less than one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical animal based Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable for us humans to just eat the plant based foods directly than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals.
So, when our daughter was born 3 months ago, my wife and I decided we would work towards being vegan. Since then it’s been a great change and I would say that we are 90% vegan and 100% vegetarian and have reduced our gluten intake as well. We don’t eat any meat, fish, chicken, cheese and very little dairy and eggs. The only place we get dairy and eggs is when we are out and end up buying a snack like banana bread or something.
We are not perfect and we’re not trying to be. Every little change counts and makes a difference. The change is going well and frankly it hasn’t been that hard.
We’ve eliminated processed foods cause we simply don’t consider them foods anymore. In our mind, these processed foods are products, not food. Their primary goal was and is to make money, not provide the most nutrients to the body regardless of what their marketing message says.
The foods that provide the most nutrients to the body are called fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, nuts and seeds and the human body can thrive on these and these alone. It’s all about going back to basics. Eat what people would have eaten before the industrial agriculture revolution and you will notice your health change in a matter of weeks. Garbage in, garbage out.
So What do we eat?
Here is a diagram of the primary plant based foods we eat. When you add the many spices out there, the flavor combinations are limitless.
The results so far
I’ve lost 15 pounds in the 3 months and my wife over 50 including her pregnancy weight. We feel amazing, don’t have the cravings we used. We have also pretty much eliminated the sugar spikes and crashes that come from crappy foods which feels amazing. As for exercise, we try and get out and go for a 30 to 60 min walk 5 times a week in addition to chasing around our toddler.
One thing to note is that our food choice options have been dramatically reduced which in our opinion is a good thing. Less options makes choosing much easier, less stressful and like the saying goes, less is more.
Going Vegan is a journey of self discovery and one that both my wife and I are excited about.