Opening Your Eyes to a Vegan Diet
Ty Jones Reno, Nevada
“I lost 30 pounds in two months…”
“How did I get here?” I asked myself one night after a big dinner of beef tri-tip and red potatoes. I was 30 pounds overweight, moody and had a perpetually upset stomach. It was right then that I decided to watch the DVD my friend had been pestering me about. He and his wife had become vegans after watching it and he raved daily over how much better he felt and how he had lost a bunch of weight. I had been putting off this video for quite some time… ok months. I knew that I would feel guilty for my carnivorous habits. Even so, I hardly expected to change my entire outlook on life that very night. Sure, I knew that the world could feed a lot more people on plant based diets than on carnivorous ones. This was basic environmental science… the energy pyramid and all that. So, I finally sat down to watch this mysterious video, all the while feeling fat and lazy.
My eyes had suddenly been opened! I had received the food gospel and I felt like standing up and screaming “Hallelujah!”. But with my stomach full of fat-laden beef, I quickly thought better of it. Over the next few months, I soaked up information about plant based diets like a sponge. I bought videos, books and surfed the web for articles and resources.
But why become a vegan? From the day I modified my diet, I felt better. Not just physically either. My cholesterol dropped from 230 to 140 since the only dietary source of cholesterol comes from animals. I also lost 30 pounds in two months. More than that, though, I felt fulfilled. It feels good to know that by avoiding meat, thousands of gallons of government-subsidized water are conserved each week. I was no longer contributing to the shameful abuse of animals by large companies. It was also pretty nice to be able to eat a meal without wondering if some stray prion was going to infect me with Creutzfeldt Jacobs Disease.
My first instinct as my outlook on food and life changed was to run around trying to “convert” my friends and family. I quickly learned that people take it personally when you inform them that their diet is detrimental to their health, the health of the planet and the sustainability of our food supply. Apparently, it doesn’t matter how politely you say it. Since then, I have found that simply living a vegan lifestyle is quite contagious.
What of the “benefits” of a carnivorous diet though? Are they valid? Obviously I don’t think so and here’s why. The convenience of being able to eat whatever I want is a moot point since I honestly don’t want to eat animal products any longer. I’m not claiming that they don’t taste good. I am simply saying that I can eat whatever I want. And what I want to eat consists entirely of plants. As for the social stigma of being a vegan, it is a badge of honor as far as I’m concerned. Besides, how many times have we all heard the old cliché: “If all your friends were jumping off the Empire State Building, would you do it too?” The last reason is really a big one for most people. Darn it, animal foods taste good! John Travolta said it best in Pulp Fiction: “Pork Chops are good!” While that may be true, I must emphatically say “Plant foods are good!”
I would love to see a vegan world, and I believe it’s entirely possible. In fact, I believe it is inevitable. I also believe that in the same way that a waterfall begins with a single drop of water, a vegan world starts with individuals opening their hearts and minds to doing what is right more than doing what is easy. If we want to see a world where water is not squandered on raising livestock and a world where everyone has enough to eat, we all need to make the right food choices as individuals. We need to eliminate the demand for foods that are detrimental to our world by no longer demanding those foods. A vegan world is possible, we just have to make our own small contributions and it will happen someday.
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