Saturday, April 26, 2008

Flesh Eating Zombie

There have been a lot of great comments lately on various blog entries herein. Just wanted you to know that although I rarely leave a message in the comments sections, I read them all.

My comments about the environment as it relates to vegetarianism mentioned a few things I want to clear up. I'm actually vegan (vegetarians eat no animal flesh, vegans eat/buy no animal products of any kind, including dairy, eggs, leather, wool, etc.), and my sole reason for becoming so was an epiphany I had six years ago, while visiting a farm animal sanctuary. I found the animals there to be much smarter, more emotional, individual and affectionate than I had previously imagined cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats, etc. to be. I realized that their level of sentience was no different than dogs, cats, or human toddlers, and immediately lost my sense of entitlement over them. I wouldn't torture and kill my family dog or my neice because they tasted good, why do I pay someone to do that to animals I haven't met? I quit that day and have not regretted it for an instant since.

Up until that moment, I was an inveterate meat-eater who thought that animal-rights people had too much free time. I ate meat all three meals each day and didn't even like vegetables much. It was scary to give it up so abruptly and I worried it would be very painful, like quitting smoking. As it turned out, however, the learning curve at first was quite steep, but in the long run, changing my diet was much easier and less painful than I feared it would be. I don't miss any of my old favorites now as I've replaced them with similar if not identical vegan foodstuffs.

Later, I began to read about the health, environmental, and geopolitical aspects of veganism and became an advocate of those as well. These are all excellent reasons in their own right, but my main concern was and still is, compassion toward other beings.

That being said, there have been many medical studies (which appear in medical journals but don't make it to CNN Headline News) which show strong connections between almost all cancers and heart disease, and the consumption of animal products. True, Linda McCartney was vegetarian and died of breast cancer, but she ate dairy products, which are among the most unhealthy substances in the modern diet. Many modern internists treat a variety of chronic illnesses with veganism, with amazing results. Studies have also consistently shown than vegans have an enormously reduced chance of suffering from a litany of chronic illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

As I said, I'm vegan purely for compassionate reasons, but I have come to believe through my own experiences and reading that it is far and away the healthiest diet for humans and the planet. Some folks argue that vegans don't get enough "this" or "that," but you'd be hard pressed to find a legitimate medical study that backs those claims up. B12 is the only thing missing from a vegan diet, and you can get that with one tiny vitamin pill a week.

For more info on the medical benefits of a plant-based diet, see these two websites, both run by big-brained doctors of all sorts:


Eric said...

I too was swayed by Farm Sanctuary and working in an animal rescue. I came to veganism because I was repulsed by the way animals were treated in factory farms, but everything I have learned since then about the environmental and health aspects have just reinforced my decision. Nutritional yeast is a delicious way to get your B12 too!

Janta said...

You don't even need a vitamin pill. I just drink soy milk fortified with B12 and, if you live downunder like me or in the UK, you can eat Marmite. I know Marmite takes some getting used to if you didn't grow up with it (I didn't) and think it's chocolate spread (haha), but it's very tasty with toast or baked potatos. My favourite is Marmite, avocado and tomato toast. Can't beat that. Oh, and it makes sense to take flax seed oil for those omega 3s. None of that is difficult, and certainly no more "unnatural" than the rubbish people force into themselves on a standard Western diet.

Garrett Williams said...

I didn't realize you were such a new vegan! I know what you mean about that learning curve, my DEFINITION of a meal features meat, and veggies are just side items. I'd like to make my diet mostly vegetarian(mostly for health reasons), but pretty much the only vegetarian dishes I know are baked potatoes, corn, beans, green beans, and anything else that comes in a can. I should find a vegetarian cookbook, if only to try some new tastes. I probably eat more veggies than I realize, though. I just remembered spaghetti, which I top with garden vegetable Ragu.
Oh, and eggs, taste blah. I might as well try tofu again.

Rebecca C. Brown said...

Your transition into veganism sounds much like mine, except instead of going to an animal sanctuary, I knew a cute boy in 8th grade who was a vegan. (So I guess our stories aren't even remotely similar. Never mind.) But critter well-being has always topped the list of my motivations, followed closely by environmental concerns. Personal health is a nice side-effect (and unfortunately the most marketable aspect of veganism), but that doesn't stop me from stocking my freezer with Tofutti Cuties.