Omnivoure to Vegan – Part 1

Vegan? Common Matt Really?

We are a product of our environment and collectively, we Americans are overweight, sick, and struggling. So in order to avoid growing accustom to our standard diet, we must question what’s right, what’s wrong and ultimately discover for yourself what’s truly healthy.

Being a meat-loving omnivore my entire life, I never thought to question how meat actually affects my life. I just figured it’s part of a balanced diet.

I’d get sick without meat … right? Could a vegan diet even be healthy in the long haul? Or could it be healthier? Is meat even necessary? These were all questions for which there is ‘science-backed’ evidence for either case. Yet these are all questions I wanted to know. So what better way to find out than becoming a vegan myself. So for (at least) 30 days, I decided to commit to a vegan lifestyle. Along the way, I interview friends and experts both vegan and meat-eaters alike to discover what the deal with veganism.

To be clear, I love meat.

It’s delicious, fun to cook with, and satisfying in so many ways. Yet as I embarking on this journey of being a vegan, I’ll do my best to remain open and unbiased. My goal is to educate myself and others why an omnivore (like myself) might consider the transition to veganism.

Never have I seen the statements, “best decisions I’ve ever made” and “it almost killed me” so intertwined than when discussing a particular topic.

So what is a vegan?

It’s not just diet, it’s a way of life.

Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. The Vegan Society

When we get to core reasons why people become vegan. From what I’ve experienced, people become vegan for one of three reasons, though usually combination of:

1. Health

My biggest fear of a vegan diet is that by eliminating all animal products there would be a risk of nutritional deficiency. So far from what I’ve found, here are a sufficient amount of quality proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals in plant-based foods to eat a healthy balanced diet.

Safe to say, meat is a luxury, not a necessity.

The Physicians Community for Responsible Medicine claims, “a vegan diet (aka. plant-based diet) has been proven to prevent cancer, beat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reverse diabetes, clear skin, boost energy, and a variety of other healthy benefits” (source).

From the dawn of granola, or probably even before that, vegans have existed and thrived. In fact, many of our ancestors were mostly vegan. It’s often vegan that remove meat for these next two reasons and don’t take a balanced diet into account who have adverse health effects.

2. Environmental

A single pound of beef requires 2,464 gallons of water. That’s the same as taking a 21-hour shower. A pound of lettuce, tomatoes, wheat, and potatoes all require less than 25 gallons.

Animal agriculture contributes to more climate change through CO2 emission than the entire transportation department (including cars, airplanes, boats, trains, etc).

We use vast amounts of land, water, and other resources to grow plants to feed animals who are then used for food, instead of more efficiently feeding humans directly with plants. Animals raised for food have to eat up to 10 pounds of food to produce just 1 pound of meat. Not the best return on investment with our natural resources.

“Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”– Albert Einstein

3. Ethical

Vegans avoid exploiting animals for any purpose, with compassion being a key reason many choose a vegan lifestyle.They do not intentionally participate in any actions that take advantage of animals as resources. Those who become vegan for ethical reason likely stumbled across the frightening practices behind the scenes (not suitable for weak stomachs) of our animal agriculture industry.

“Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable.”— Gary L. Francione

chickens
98% of meat comes from a factory farm photo.

Should you go vegan?

When you add up the damage that the meat industry does to our health, the environment, and animals, my question evolved from “Why should I go vegan?”—into “Why wouldn’t I go vegan?”

Your individual journey to a healthier, more natural way of life should be structured by your own morals, values, and budget. Honor your mind and body, experiment a little bit and fuel yourself with what makes you feel good.

Becoming vegan is an opportunity to discover a whole new world of food and culture. When you dwell on how you’re depriving yourself, you tend to loose focus on how you’re empowering yourself to be the healthiest and happiest “you” to date. And that, my curious friend, is what this experience is all about.

Whether you’re pro-meat or no meat, I’d be happy to answer any questions in the comments below. Or if you have anything to share on the topic, I’d love to hear it!

  • You know, since you creeps spew your ideology all over other people’s site, videos and podcasts, figured I’d return the favor… You DO know that without intense and careful monitoring and supplementation (B12, K1 etc) that a vegan diet will and does literally damage your brain, right?

    And the damage is permanent.

  • Steffi

    Wow! Brilliant piece… i was just googling whether veganism is classed as a religion when I stumbled upon this…

    So, in your opinion… would you consider it a religion?

    I have described myself as an atheist for years but now embracing the vegan lifestyle more and more. Personally, I think of it as a religion- a set of shared beliefs, traditions, ideals…

    It is so much more than being an attentoin seeking fussy eater!!!

    • Hi Steffi, I believe the answer to this question lies in one’s personal beliefs, relationship/reasoning for going vegan, and definition of religion. Based on the standard definition of ‘religion’ as a “system of faith and worship”, I would not personally say I am of the ‘Vegan Religion’ however many of the actions and traditions, as you pointed out, are very similar to that of a structured spiritual religion. To each is their own :) Thanks for the thoughts and continuing the conversation.

  • Sapient Change

    That’s the point, neatly and succinctly wrapped up. Why wouldnt I? It’s an individual moral choice, you decide what’s right and wrong (there is the wonderful freedom) – but you had to think about it. Not hurting the other sentient beings so you can be alive, is a very empowering and humbling experience. Some would say, many do, that it is an experience that is intensely spiritual, hence veganism sometimes takes on religious undertones. Veganism presently is not a religion. That may change.

    • Empowering and humbling indeed Sapient. After some thought and increased awareness around the matter, it becomes an honor to live in such a way.

      Thanks for your constructive input.