A LITTLE BACKGROUND
I’ve been interested in nutrition for a long time now, particularly within the past two years or so. One of the first things I remember that really intrigued me about health was seeing a woman named Mimi Kirk one day on the news. She had been voted PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian over 50, at age 74, I believe. She looked amazing, like in her 40’s at the most. She still had long, healthy looking blonde hair, awesome teeth, and was just so energetic, vibrant, and strong looking. As it turns out, she was actually vegan. I wanted so badly to be that way when I grow old. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of the deteriorating health of elderly family members, both personally and from a distance. Simply being in a nursing home is enough to make me want to ensure that that doesn’t happen to me. Since then, I’ve been influenced by a highly-educated and health-conscious roommate, along with the discovery of multiple health food documentaries and Youtube channels. I’ve spent the past year just absorbing as much as I could about health and wellness and what is the best diet for humans. Over this course of time, I have gradually changed more and more about the way I eat. To be completely honest, before I became vegan, my favorite food was cheese and/ or cheeseburgers, just barely beating Reese’s cheesecake. However, I found that it wasn’t that hard to give foods like that up, especially when I learned what went into their production. Also, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that I don’t feel deprived or like I’m missing out at ALL on the vegan lifestyle. There are so many delicious vegan foods, and meat and dairy aren’t even appetizing to me anymore. Maybe I’ll even post some recipes I come up with here in the future. Until then, here is a little summary of the decisions I’ve made and the reasons why.
WHY DON’T YOU EAT DAIRY?
Dairy, along with animal products in general, has been proven to cause and worsen countless diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. There are numerous resources, studies, and more which detail the detrimental effects of a diet that consists of dairy.
In short, humans require milk at a very young age, as we are in our most important stages of growth and development. Breast milk contains growth hormones that send signals to our cells to continue to grow and divide. When we reach the age when we no longer require the need for breast milk, we no longer require the need for these growth hormones. When we consume dairy, we continue to consume growth hormones that our bodies do not require, which can result in devastating effects to our health. When our bodies begin to develop cancer, these growth hormones send signals to the cancer cells as well, which causes the cancer to continue to grow. Not only that, but when we consider the true purpose of dairy milk, it is for cows. It is specifically designed for cows, for the nourishment of cows. It is a distortion of nature for humans to consume the milk of another species. Animal products also produce an acidic environment within our intestines. Plant foods, on the other hand, produce an alkaline environment. Cancer and other diseases thrive in an acidic environment, while they cannot survive in an alkaline one.
In addition, cows are abused to no end when they are used for the purpose of human consumption. They are kept in confined places, and are forced to produce far more milk than they naturally would, which often causes infections. Because of this, there are millions of pus cells found in the average gallon of milk. In fact, there is an established standard of a numeric value that is in the hundreds of millions, which the pus cell count must be under in order for the milk to be able to be sold. For example, an 8 oz. glass of milk can contain up to 180,000,000 pus, or somatic cells.
There is a lot of false advertising and long-held but false beliefs about milk and dairy in general, that they are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet, that they contain crucial nutrients, and so on. But the reality is, the dairy industry has a lot riding on how the public views these products, and they do a lot to ensure that the general public sees their products as nutritional and necessary. They are a huge and booming industry, with effective advertisement strategies that bend the truth in order to encourage the public to continue to believe in the conventional ideas that have led us to consume dairy as a staple for so long. However, the reality is that the consumption of dairy products is not healthy for us, for cows, or for the environment.
BUT WHAT ABOUT CALCIUM?
Calcium is vital, but not as vital as most people think. Contrary to popular belief, the increased consumption of more calcium does not improve calcium levels in the bones. In fact, the increased consumption of foods high in calcium for the purpose of increasing calcium levels in the body can actually be detrimental to human health, especially if that calcium source is dairy. It can even contribute to the deterioration of the bones. The dairy industry has drilled it into our heads that calcium is so much more important than it really is, and that dairy in the diet is necessary in order to fulfill our body’s need for it. Plant foods can provide as much calcium as we need each day, provided we eat enough of them and do not combine them with animal products.
WHY DON’T YOU EAT MEAT?
FOR THE BODY
Meat has also been found to be directly linked with the growth of cancer. In addition, a diet high in meat and dairy will more than likely lead to a lifestyle of disease later in life, whether that disease is cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, or countless others.
The consumption of meat results in the consumption of more fat than we need to consume. This excess of fat results in the clogging of vital arteries, which can result in heart attacks, and even death by heart disease, which is often the first and only symptom. Not only that, but simply looking at the way we are designed is a case for vegetarianism. Our intestinal tract is far longer than that of a carnivorous animal. This is for the breakdown of plant foods that are easy on our digestion. Carnivorous animals, in contrast, are designed with very short intestinal tracts, providing a quick digestive process for raw meat. In our long digestive tract, meat can sit and rot for days before being fully digested. This can hold up the digestion of other much faster digesting foods, such as fruits, which will ferment as it sits on top of the meat and will not able to be absorbed as it should be. This unnatural combination can result in indigestion, stomach pain, and countless other issues, which will often get blamed on the fruit, for example, because it was the most immediate thing that was eaten.
FOR THE ANIMALS
There is also an immense amount of animal abuse that occurs during the production of meat. A lot of people shut down at this point in the conversation, viewing ignorance as bliss and simply preferring to not know. However, I am a firm believer that the consumer should know where his or her products are coming from. Meat eaters should be fully aware of the industries, companies, and practices that they are supporting when they purchase meat. I’m fully aware of the people out there who may say, “they’re just animals,” or “you’re being too _______,” fill in the blank: emotional, sentimental, sensitive, etc. Or, perhaps, the ever-popular response among Christians, “God gave us the animals and the earth to subdue it,” or “God gave us the animals as a resource,” or “but God ordered the killing (and even eating) of animals a bunch of times,” et cetera, et cetera. However you want to phrase it, I’ve heard it all. Trust me, I even used to be of the same opinion. I’ve never been a super emotional person, I’ve always thought PETA was ridiculous, and I’ve never been a tree hugger or an animal fanatic. However, when my eyes began to be opened about the meat industry and animal-related industries, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know the truth. Because as a Christian, I want to live as pure a life as I can. I pursue the light, which reveals all truth and eliminates darkness. Until the animal industry is fully exposed, it will remain a dark, deceptive part of our culture. I don’t want to partake in something that’s evil just because the world doesn’t see it that way. I want to see it for what it is. I have a passion for truth and justice. If something isn’t right, I want to know about it, so that I no longer unknowingly encourage it. I’m not perfect by any means, and there are still a lot of things that I don’t know. However, one thing I do know is that THIS, the way that animals are treated for the sake of our consumption, fashion, medicinal purposes, scientific experimentation, and entertainment is NOT how God intended it. Animals are tortured, abused, starved, driven mad, treated and killed mercilessly on a daily basis. I strongly encourage you to watch the documentary Earthlings. I’ve seen a lot of videos and watched a lot of documentaries throughout this journey, but if I had to just choose one for you to see in order for you to fully get it, it would be this film. It shocked me and scarred me and made me weep, but it changed my life and it was more than worth it for the awareness I gained. There are few things that have made me more aware of the evil of mankind than this film. If for no other reason, watch it to gain knowledge about the cleanliness of the conditions in which your animal products are prepared. After watching this film, that factor alone would cause me to consider stopping my consumption of animals due to the terrible conditions in which they are “produced,” even in kosher slaughterhouses.
FOR THE PLANET
The demand for animal products in America alone is immense. The sheer amount of grains that are used to feed the animals in order to provide for this demand is enough to solve world hunger a couple times over. In addition, the amount of methane gas produced by livestock for the meat and dairy industry is by far the main contributor to global warming.
BUT WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN?
Protein, like calcium, is just another nutrient that we don’t need as much of as people think we do, and that can be found in a variety of plant foods. The stressing of the body’s need for protein originated from advertising ploys from the meat industry. In fact, the over-consumption of protein is actually harmful to health, and as long as enough calories are eaten from the right sources, protein isn’t even a concern.
WHAT ABOUT B12?
B12 is the only nutrient which vegans get none of directly from their diet. However, most everyone, including the average meat-eater, is B12 deficient. This is because the primary source of B12 is from the bacteria found on the skin of unwashed produce, which none one receives, as we must always wash our fruits and vegetables due to the pesticides they are sprayed with. Therefore, the only way to ensure proper B12 levels for vegans and non-vegans alike is to supplement it. It is often thought that vegans risk being low in many nutrients that are typically thought to be found in dairy and meat. However, I know of at least a handful of vegans on Youtube who have all taken blood tests and posted the results on their channels, to prove that they get enough nutrients on this diet. As it turns out, their levels are perfect. Everything is within the suggested ranges, unlike the blood levels of those who consume animal products, which are often too low or too high in many areas.
WHAT ABOUT EGGS?
When you think about it, eggs are really just chicken periods. It’s gross, but true. There is also a study that found that eggs are ridiculously high in cholesterol to an unhealthy level, and have been compared to cigarettes for their health detriments. You can find the link to the study below in the resources section under, “5 reasons to stop eating eggs.”
SO WHAT DO YOU EAT?
Although I’ve avoided dairy ever since January, I became officially 100% vegan only about a half a month ago. However, I’ve made this choice as a long-term lifestyle. Within the vegan movement, I would be classified as a High Carb Low Fat vegan. This means I eat primarily carbs, which make up about 80-95% of the calories in my diet, and includes raw fruits and vegetables and cooked carbs and vegetables, all from whole, preferably unprocessed sources. The remaining percentages go to protein and fat, about 3-10% each. I totally avoid all oils, and mostly avoid nuts and seeds. The fats that I primarily eat are avocados, coconut, and olives. Since the summer, I’ve been loosely following a lifestyle called Raw till 4, created by a Youtuber named Freelee the Banana Girl. In this diet, you eat raw fruits and vegetables (primarily fruits), all day until around 4. Then for dinner, you eat a high carb, low fat cooked vegan meal. The best part is, there is absolutely no calorie restriction involved. As I was delighted to learn, calorie restriction is actually UNHEALTHY. Eating 1,2000 calories a day, as I was doing previously, will send your body into starvation mode and will mess with your metabolism. This will cause your body to retain weight when you first come to this lifestyle, since it has been in starvation mode for some period of time. Despite having to pay for past mistakes in this way, I love this lifestyle. I have so much more energy than I used to, I rarely ever get stomachaches or headaches, unlike before, and when I do I know why, because I’m so much more in tune with my body. The whole premise behind this lifestyle is that your body and your cells thrive on the sugars and glucose provided by carbs. Fruit is the perfect food and best food for you because it provides all the natural sugar your body needs for energy, along with the fiber it needs for proper digestion. Eating plenty of raw fruit ensures that you are receiving all the nutrients you need to function well, digest smoothly, and have plenty of consistent energy. I personally can attest to this, as I used to be verging on lethargic with my constant lack of energy, and now I don’t even feel the need to drink coffee, whereas before I wasn’t fully awake until I had some.
Just before coming to this lifestyle, I completed one of those Beach Body programs, called the 21 Day Fix. This program was all about portion control, using color-coded containers to determine how much to eat of each food group. According to my weight at the time, I was assigned the lowest number of calorie range, which was around 1,200, which I was accustomed to, as I had calorie-restricted often in the past. I found it a little strange that this program required that I have 4 servings of protein each day, while only having 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables, but I completed the full 21 days anyway. Throughout the entire program, I felt exhausted, and in general just not good. I assumed this was just because of the workouts, which were a little more demanding than my usual exercise, and I continued with the program. However, at the end of the 21 days, there is a “3 day fix,” like a little boost for the end of your go with the program, to enhance your results. During these three days, the program had me eating 6 servings of protein a day, no fruit, and 4 servings of vegetables. I was only able to complete one day of these three days because I felt so awful. I was completely lethargic and had no desire to do anything except lay on the couch. I completed the last two days of the 21 day fix according to the normal guidelines, but I couldn’t wait to be done with it. Once I was, I almost immediately began Raw till 4. I didn’t do it 100% correctly, and still am not, as it is pretty difficult to do in Italy. Nonetheless, I immediately noticed a change in how I felt. I had so much more energy, so much better digestion, literally everything was so much better. Although at that point I hadn’t officially given up meat, I could tell a complete difference between when I had eaten quite a bit of it, and much less. I knew I was onto something, and this is what sparked my further research.
As I mentioned, I am still on Raw till 4, but I haven’t been able to follow it 100% here in Italy. I have been completely vegan since I’ve arrived in Italy, with the exception of fall break, when I had seafood a couple of times. Since then and from now on, however, I have not and will not consume meat again. I’m excited to get back to America where the fruit is cheap and I have a blender, but until then, I’m doing the best I can and loving it anyway.
IT JUST MAKES SENSE
One of the things that first got me interested in the plant-based lifestyle was the simple logic behind it. First of all, when you think about it, it makes sense that processed, mass-produced, man-made foods would make you sick, where as all-natural, God-made foods would bring you optimal health and provide the proper amount of nutrients to your body. It makes sense that food can be your medicine. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves, and given the proper nutrients, they are able to do so. As I mentioned before, our biological design suggests veganism. Our intestines are extremely long, just like that of herbivores, and our teeth have much more in common with that of herbivores than that of carnivores or even omnivores. The simplest way to identify what we were naturally meant to eat is to imagine ourselves in nature. What would we naturally gravitate toward? The easiest, most obvious answer is fruit. It fits easily in your hand, it’s attractive and sweet, it smells good, and is easy to access. In contrast, animals do not look like food, and raw meat is certainly not something we find appetizing, unlike a carnivore, who eats meat raw in its natural state. See the diagram below for a side-by-side comparison of our biological design and that of other animals. There are many other reasons and research behind why it makes sense for humans to eat a plant based diet, many of which can be found in the book 80/10/10, by Dr. Douglas Graham. Although I don’t agree with everything he states in his book, since he does not believe in eating cooked food at all, he does provide a plethora of interesting and convincing information as to why humans should be eating plants and only plants.
From bananagirldiet.com – Click to enlarge
Biblically, it makes sense as well. For example, in the beginning, God created us as vegans! That’s right, before the fall, we were meat and dairy free. Genesis 1: 29 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” So, in the beginning, before sin, we were supposed to eat only fruit. And animals were supposed to eat only plants as well. I realize that now, post-sin, death is part of the natural process of life, even part of feeding many of earth’s creatures. However, I would challenge that if we can prevent it, shouldn’t we? If we know how God intended us to eat, shouldn’t we strive to eat that way still? He must have intended it for good reason, and if it’s what he intended, it must be what we are designed to eat. If we are designed to eat that way, it must be what is best for our bodies, and what would provide us with optimum health, even now that sin is in the world and death a part of everyday life. We in America have access to fresh fruit and vegetables every day in our grocery stores. Even when we don’t, we have rice, pasta, bread, beans, and countless other plant foods off which we can easily thrive. So, if we can avoid the consumption of animals and the contribution to murder and torture as an industry, shouldn’t we?
There may always be controversy about scientific experiments, but the most effective and accurate experiments are those performed on the human body itself. There are many testimonials, on documentaries, Youtube, and websites that describe the complete healing and reversing of countless diseases with dietary changes alone. If you doubt the studies, just look at some of the stories from people who have changed their lives. If you still aren’t sure, try it yourself!
Freelee The Banana Girl’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Freelea
*just a warning to my more conservative friends and family: Freelee sometimes uses crude language in her videos and sometimes dresses less than modestly, but I encourage you to look past these things and listen to her message! She has loads of awesome information presented in an easy-to-understand way.
5 Reasons to stop drinking milk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS9hh-Npc50
5 Reasons to stop eating eggs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTfvdypnAgg
What the cancer industry doesn’t want you to know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YFS5qlAzgc
Testicular Cancer/ Meat as a carcinogen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqJxtlngZxk
*some of the imagery in Earthlings is so graphic that you may have to prove you are over the age of 18 in order to watch it. If you are unable to do so, here is the link to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/v/ce4DJh-L7Ys
Mimi Kirk’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ub52209
Michael Greger, M.D. with lots of nutritional information on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg/featured
A Diabetic doing Raw till 4, healing his diabetes, documenting it on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BestTransformation/featured
OTHER DOCUMENTARIES (Most of these, if not all of them, can be found on Netflix)
Forks Over Knives