Since this is a blog where my nourishing story is wrapped up with my life story I thought I would talk a bit about what I’m trying to do for our family. As much as I hate labels, I think it can be useful to define what you’re heading toward.
I don’t live the perfect vegan lifestyle, far from it. But thinking about why I am doing what I am doing helps me know when I am making choices that support my goals and when I’m not.
To some people, the idea of going without animal products is ascetic and extreme. To others, like raw foodists, it doesn’t go far enough.
To everyone seeking answers, I will say do your own research. Consult multiple sources and question the money trail behind the sources you read. You can certainly be inspired by a book, an article, or a study.
But no one person, or book can give you all the information you need to make decisions about your own body. The food you put in your body is the single most determining factor for your future physical health, so it’s worth doing a comprehensive study and making deliberate choices.
I want to share this, not to argue but to show some insight into my process–if you’re doing something different thoughtfully and intentionally then I say good for you! Really! I would love to read your thoughts about your choices either on your own blog or in the comments here.
I’m going to start with some terminology as I understand it…
A vegan is very simply, one who does not consume animal products of any kind. This means no eating meat, eggs, dairy, or honey. Many people do eat a vegan diet for health reasons, but health is only one potential motivator. The most common motivation behind a vegan lifestyle is compassion for animals, but people go vegan for environmental reasons as well.
Diet is only one part of being vegan. Vegans also eschew clothing and personal care items and other products made from animals.
A whole-foods, plant-based diet
It’s a mouthful as far as labels go, but this is the very deliberate label that T. Colin Campbell and others (such as John McDougall and Carlton Esselstyn) in the medical and scientific community use for the ideal diet to prevent disease.
The reason they do not use the word “vegan” is because it is possible to be a vegan who eats tons of processed, junk food. Also, the word vegan brings ideals and moral reasons which are not a part of the health mission they advocate.
Another reason (I believe), is because it is possible to achieve optimum health and still eat a very small amount of animal products. The term plant-based gives a little wiggle room there.
I don’t know if this is a term or not, but this is what I’m doing.
I am motivated by my health and the health of my family as a starting point. That’s what got me into this.
But I am also motivated to stop the suffering of animals (I won’t be talking about that much here, because honestly it’s too upsetting. You can do your own research on conditions in factory farms and why they are both cruel and unsustainable. I highly recommend John Robbins’ Food Revolution.)
And finally, I just generally want to live lighter on this planet.
When I eat vegan donuts, I am eating a vegan diet but it is not whole-foods because of the processed ingredients.
When I buy leather shoes, I may still be on a whole-foods diet but I’m not acting in accordance with my vegan beliefs. Same as when I cook salmon for my husband.
I still do all of the above, by the way, and I’m not sure I will stop anytime soon. But I know when I’m making choices that are on the trajectory I want to be on, and when I’m not. My evolution hasn’t happened overnight and I don’t want it to.
I thought it would be so excruciating to give up cheese, I never thought I could do it. But it hardly registered as deprivation. In fact, I have only had cheese twice in the past ten months, and both times were when I was really out of control of my eating choices (office party where I was starving, and on a road trip.)
I thought giving up sugar would be way easier than it has been. I have worked hard to find substitutes, and I have some good ones, but I still find myself hitting the hard stuff about once a week. (I’ll post more about this in the future.)
It’s a journey. I make progress in one area, then take a rest from pushing and spend some time in the new normal. Then I research something else and let it percolate, make a small change, then tweak it, and repeat.
I have time. The only thing I don’t have time for is some crazy crash detox that ends me right back where I started.
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