Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Going Vegan is the Best Diet

My whole life I've been around people who were jumping on the bandwagon for various dieting fads... Atkins, South Beach, protein-packing, low-carb, low-fat... and so on.  To me, these are all just different forms of deprivation that don't work in the long run.  How is anyone supposed to maintain this kind of lifestyle?  Is it really healthy to eat lots of one kind of food and none of another?  If I could never eat carbs, I would be very sad indeed, besides the fact that I wouldn't have energy to run every day.  I have come to believe that going vegan is the best diet anyone can adopt in order to live a healthy lifestyle, whether or not that involves losing weight.

When I first went vegan, I was doing it because meat disturbed me, dairy made me feel sick, and I didn't want to be a participant in harming animals.  The health benefits were not at the forefront of this decision.  I have always been thin, and I didn't need to lose weight.  However, after about two months, I found that I had lost ten pounds.  Cutting all trans fats out of your diet will do that.  People were commenting on how great I looked, and I really did feel great.  I was running and working out more than ever before.  "Maybe there is something to this vegan thing," I began to think.

Was going vegan hard at first?  I had already been a vegetarian, but of course.  I had to change my eating habits quite a bit, since dairy was a huge part of my diet.  I was basically addicted to ice cream.  I had major cravings for the first month.  After that, the cravings went away and I started to enjoy the adventure of trying new recipes and visiting vegan-friendly restaurants.  Oprah only took on the vegan challenge for one week; that's not enough time to let your body adjust.  I realized that for a long time my diet had been quite boring, and that I had really been missing out.  My diet became so much more varied, which I think is the first part of a healthy lifestyle; incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein into your diet in lots of different ways.  Contrary to popular belief, vegans don't eat just salad.  If that were true, believe me, I wouldn't be a vegan.

Unless you spend all of your time eating processed vegan junk food, you will lose weight if you go vegan.  More importantly, this lifestyle is sustainable.  I eat lots of food, and I never feel like I have a "food baby" at the end of a meal.  I have been doing this for almost two years, and there is nothing that makes me want to revert back to my old ways.  Sure, sometimes I would like to eat a regular slice of pizza, but then I think about how gross it would make me feel.  Nah.  Unlike all of those fad diets, you're not depriving yourself or constantly hungry.  You're eating a variety of delicious foods and always feeling satisfied.  You're making informed decisions about what you eat.  That sounds a lot better to me than eating lots and lots of meat or banishing carbs from your life.  Oh yeah, and there's no calorie counting involved.

Speaking of calories, let's talk about meat and dairy for a second.  Put aside all of the hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and pesticides in the bodies of these animals, and the way they are mistreated.  Did you know that consumption of meat and dairy accelerates the growth of cancerous cells in the body?  Just putting that out there.

If you are truly committed to changing your lifestyle in order to improve your health, I would recommend picking up a book and reading more about the wonders of becoming vegan.  There are so many to choose from: The Kind Diet, Skinny Bitch, and Becoming Vegan are a few.  There are also some super documentaries out there, including Food Matters and Forks Over Knives.  Maybe you don't want to become a hippie, join PETA, or be ridiculed by your family and friends because you know what seitan and quinoa are.  If you put aside all of those preconceived notions, you just might be surprised.

Happy.  Healthy.  Vegan. 

Blogger's Soundtrack:  John Mayer: "Why Georgia"

One of my favorites.

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