In the twenty-two years I've been vegan, I've come across many people who are either interested in exploring vegetarianism as a positive lifestyle change or completely reject it, being fully under the propagandist influence of heavy lobbying and false advertising. The latter group is not my concern, for they have already made up their minds for the worst outcome. In this blog, I will focus on the former and offer some helpful hints as to how to make the successful switch from omnivorism to vegetarianism or, better yet, veganism.
The curious have explained to me that they know eliminating animal foods from their diet will benefit them but they express some reservations about making the change and, henceforth, how to stick with it. They feel they will be depriving themselves of something they've loved for many years and that the change will bring about a void in their diet/lifestyle. This is the WRONG way to look at it. When the American airwaves are flooded with bad information from the likes of Applebee's, Wendy's, McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Arby's, and a host of pizza joints, it's easy to think that eliminating these so-called offerings from our diet will severely limit the choices as the change is made toward a more healthful approach to living.
When I made the choice to go vegan, it was after reading several books by Dr. John McDougall (his series of books is outstanding!) and John Robbins, whose very praiseworthy book Diet For a New America is a life changer. What these books showed me, among many other things, is that when you eliminate all animal products from your diet and set forth on a much more humane and healthful lifestyle, a whole new world of food that you never knew about before opens up before your very eyes. I was so positively charged after reading McDougall and Robbins that I thought, "Hey, this will be a challenge! This will be an adventure! This will be fun! I will be able to thumb my nose at convention, knowing I will be much healthier from this point onward than I otherwise would have been!" I assure you that at age fifty-five, I am much healthier than my peers for having embarked on this life-enhancing adventure. And when I consider the shambles our health care system is in with it's out-of-control costs, I have chosen to reduce my chances of getting into that sort of financial bind due to a bad diet-related ailment. I have imparted my vegan philosophy to many people over the past few years and it is: "No single trip to the grocery store will ever break me financially. One trip to the hospital for a diet-related illness could."
The vegetarian/vegan adventure is one of pro-activism. Being a careful reader of ingredients on food product labels is a big part of that. And, believe me, that is no big price to pay for the benefits you'll enjoy in the long run. Every time I go grocery shopping, I will inevitably end up reading the label on some product I'm curious about. If it has even one minor (way down the list) animal ingredient, I put it back on the shelf. A word of caution here. You're not being deprived of anything by doing that. As a matter of fact, it's easy to find yet another new, intriguing product that IS vegan an aisle or two over.
Go ahead and make the switch. Do the research. Make it fun. It's not deprivation, it's exhilaration. You and your tummy will be filled and fulfilled if you go about it the right way. As the years roll on, your body will thank you for it.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.