Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I'm Vegan and Choose to Stay Vegan

First I wanted to clarify how vegan I am. It's hard to say what category I fall into because I'm not quite vegetarian either. Some will call me a pescatarian (yes that word doesn't exist so maybe when it's put in the dictionary I'll get some credit), and some will say I'm none of the above. I don't eat land animals or their products such as dairy, eggs, broth, etc. but I do eat fish.

And this is why.

I read the book The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, which I would recommend to anyone who is or isn't vegan. This book changed my life. Her arguments aren't only for the animals but for your health and the environment. I wouldn't even call it an argumentative book. Not once does she say "you should become vegan because..." Silverstone neatly presents the facts for you to interpret on your own. It's not just another celebrity book. She put a lot of effort, thought and care into it because it is a cause/topic she is passionate about.

The book unveils the misconceptions about meat and meat products. It is hard to have to turn around and try to believe that everything you learned in school, about the damned food groups, and everything your parents taught you was not quite true. The scary truth about meat and meat products is overwhelming. I've even had arguments with my husband about it because he believed milk and meat is good for you. Why? Because it just is. Meaning it's just what we were conditioned to know. Every time some one asks me "Why?" and I start off with, "Well do you know what milk does to you?" I get shut down. I'm told they don't want to hear about it or what ever I learned is not true. No one wants to hear the truth or to challenge what they thought was true their whole lives.

So back to why I still eat fish? Well that's because there really isn't anything bad about it. The only downside to eating seafood in general is the high cholesterol found in some species and the high amounts of mercury (our fault, not the fish) they contain. If you include farmed fish then the high amounts of antibiotics is something to think about as well.

By choosing to still eat fish, I've mostly eliminated canned and farmed fish. I don't eat it often, maybe once a week or every two weeks. Sometimes I'll go much longer than that. There are times when I'll eat it more often because of the holidays but it's something that's been reduced in my diet along with the elimination of all other living things and their products.

Why do this?

I like animals, but I don't love them enough to not eat them. I love chicken and I miss it everyday. I do this for my health. I'm asthmatic and suffer from mild depression. Through the book, and testimonials, I learned that a lot of health problems decrease or are eliminated by taking on a vegan diet. Here's my testimonial.

I became vegan-ish (took that term, which she uses for her husband, from Kathy Freston who wrote the Veganist) on January 1st 2010. It was my New Year's resolution. About two months into it, I saw a dramatic improvement with my asthma. I took absolutely no medication and my asthma was controlled. By the end of February, I had enough energy and motivation to start exercising on top of my new diet. By the end of May, I had gone from 190 lbs to 145 lbs. I was a lot happier, felt lighter, and most of all healthier all around.

When spring time hit, I had to start taking my asthma medication again as it was triggered by my allergies. By August, I got discouraged and went back to a regular diet. That was the biggest mistake of my life. I felt heavy and sluggish. I didn't realize it until then, that even though my asthma had come back, it was no where near as bad as it could have been. Not even two weeks after returning to my previous diet, I went from using just my controller medication to using my quick relief medication at least one to three times a day as well. Once I returned to my "Vegan-ish" diet, my asthma was back to being under control. When snow fell and and allergy season was over, I didn't have to take any medication at all again.

Why I choose to stay Vegan....ish?

For two reasons. 

One: After only a half a year being on the diet, going back was harsh on my body. It hit me hard. I was sick, my digestive system was thrown off, and my health went from great to terrible. It put my body through a terrible shock even though I eased myself back into a regular diet slowly.

Two: I'd rather put extra work into getting calcium, iron, and protein than to do it the easy way and have to take loads of asthma medication. By being vegan-ish, I'm decreasing the amount of medication going into my body hence, lowering the amount my baby is being exposed to. What's worse, medication or my diet? You tell me.

So for everyone who continues to question or doubt me, think twice before being closed minded. I do what I feel is best and I'm doing it with the guidance of health care professionals. Meat and dairy isn't everything. They may have some good in them but they have a lot more bad.

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