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Why we chose a plant based diet

We’re plant based, not “vegan”. By definition there is not much of a difference between plant based and vegan. But it seems to me that being vegan comes with a strict set of dos and don’ts. Plant based can blur the lines a little bit. Maybe it’s because we associate the word “vegan” with a lot of rules and their limitations sound very challenging to the average american. Living plant based seems less threatening. Saying something is water ‘based’ or oil “based” doesn’t always mean that water or oil is the only thing in it. Just that the product is comprised mostly of that ingredient. In a nutshell, that’s how we view our plant based diet.

We decided to go plant based about a year ago after my sister in law made the switch in her family. I thought she was crazy. As a child I had been raised in a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of family. I even have close relatives that are in the cattle business. Superman has been an avid bodybuilder for our whole marriage so animal products were a huge part of our diet. However, after doing some research and some convincing, Superman and i decided to try it for a month to see if it was something we could do on a regular basis.

I had two main reasons to give veganism a try. Since Superman was eating a lot of animal products as a protein source i was very concerned for his health and longevity, as well as mine. Secondly, exposing our kids to so many toxins was a huge concern. I feel a large amount of responsibility to make good choices for them since they cant make those choices for themselves yet. I want to give them the best start in life as possible.

After watching some documentaries and then doing a lot of research (please, do your own research!) i began to believe that some of the core health benefits and concerns claimed by these documentaries were supported by science.

Inflammation

Did you know, plant food sources are easier on your body and create less inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a big problem and scientists are discovering that most illnesses are rooted in some kind of inflammation, including several dangerous ones. A Harvard study from 2006 sites that chronic inflammation plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.

According to the CDC 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease and it’s the leading cause of death in US men and women. Can you imagine that something this deadly can be avoided by cleaning up your diet? That blows my mind. Why wouldn’t i do that? And knowing this information, why would i ever set my kids on that path. No! I need to be giving them tools to have a long and healthy life.

Diabetes is another health issue that stems from inflammation. On this, the CDC reports that 30.3 million americans have diabetes.  The health complications from diabetes are far reaching, not to mention the numerous medications you’ll most likely be using for the rest of your life to manage it. Think about the holidays and birthday treats and traditions you can no longer take part in? I would be so sad to look back and think that i could have avoided those consequences.

Another idea i had about lowering the frequency we ate meat was based on the paleo theory of all things. In the hunter/gatherer societies they could always gather, or save. And nearly always had plant based foods available. Meat was only available if the hunt was successful, which was not all of the time. That being said, our bodies grew to operate most efficiently on a diet high in plants and lower in meats/ animal products. That just makes sense to me.

Undernourishment

We all know that most americans are not eating very nutritious diets. Most of us are lucky if we eat a salad most days. By choosing to eat plant based we have greatly increased our consumption of fruits and veggies, which are essential for vitamins, minerals and fiber. It can be a challenge to get in enough nutrition but i have been surprised how much we have begun to enjoy vegetables that we didn’t like before. My kids now eat more varieties that they would usually have run away from.

According to the CDC only 9% of americans are getting enough vegetables and only 12% are getting enough fruits. That’s only if the people are telling the truth about the amount they are eating. Those numbers aren’t pretty. The CDC also says that “Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help protect against a number of serious and costly chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity”. Here is just another way to avoid these serious diseases with something as simple as making a good choice.

Availability and Reliability of Organic Food Sources

I’m not going to go into the nutrition of choosing organic over conventional. By now everyone knows that animals raised on conventional ‘farms’ are given antibiotics and drugs for various medical conditions. They are fed foods laced with pesticides, heavy meals and a plethora of chemicals. The best way to avoid these toxins is by buying organic.

Supplying a family of five with the amount of meat, dairy and eggs usually consumed by a traditional american family would cost a small fortune. We are just not in the place to pay that much in grocery bills every month. We can put more of our money into purchasing organic produce and grains if we abstain from meat and animal products. Therefore, I believe this is a healthier way to cast our monetary vote.

Also, another reason to stick with plant based options is that it’s becoming harder and harder for organic ranchers to prevent their ‘clean’ livestock from becoming contaminated by neighboring farms and ranches. The grass these animals are eating has been inadvertently exposed to Roundup and similar herbicides/pesticides due to runoff from adjacent ranches. So the animals are eating the grass and they are drinking from the ponds. The wind blows and the same chemicals take to the air. It’s nearly impossible to be 100% confident that these substances are not in our food supply. Taking the animal products out or our diet simply limits our exposure to those toxins.

Over all choosing to eat vegan has been a better experience than i would have  ever thought. It did take me awhile to find some staple recipes that we all enjoyed. I’m confident that our decision has made our family healthier. My husband report more energy and i have lost some weight. We all enjoy feeling full without the overstuffed bloated feeling that usually comes with it. We have been very happy and consider it a lifelong lifestyle change

Interested in finding out why we still have a non-vegan splurge meal every week? Read my article in My Vegan Journey Part 2: Why we aren’t vegan all of the time.

You can catch the rest of the series here:

My Vegan Journey Part 3: What the Bible says about being vegan.

My Vegan Journey Part 4: How our family lives plant based.