[Daily Impact #12] “No, I am not a Vegan, but…”

I get asked all the time if I am a Vegan, or why I don’t eat meat.

Yes, it is true, I embrace a Plant-Based lifestyle whenever possible, but this decision is not as simple as slapping a label on me and calling it a day.

About 2 years ago, my wife and I made the decision to experiment not eating meat for the month of January.

Unfortunately, my wife suffers from an autoimmune disease, and stemming from a belief that Food Is Medicine, we started researching ways to eat healthier.

This started simple enough, try to eat organic, look for food without high fructose corn syrup, cut back on refined sugar and sodium, and so on.

Some of these changes definitely resulted in improvements to her health, but it was never enough.

One thing she definitely noticed was that when she ate more plants and less meat and processed food, she felt much better.

About 2 years ago after a Christmas Day dinner wreaked havoc on my wife’s health for days, we made the decision ‘detox’ for the month of January and focus on eating only plant-based meals.

The catalyst for not eating meat during that month had nothing to do with animal rights, or anything like that. The reason we decided to cut out meat was because most meat is injected with additional sodium to enhance it’s flavor. Since sodium is a major cause of inflammation for my wife, it was decided that we would try not eating meat and see what happened.

Prior to this point, I had always been a ‘I like my meat wrapped with more meat’ kind of person. In fact, other than your standard ‘Midwestern’ vegetables, I did not like many vegetables at all, and I was not a big salad person either.

But, I loved my wife and I was willing to support her and do whatever it took to help her feel better.

The amazing thing was within a week of focusing on eating plant-based, I began to notice a difference in how I felt, and it was not subtle at all. It was a noticeable, slap in the face, kind of feeling.

I had never noticed before how inflamed and sore my own body was. I just thought that was what it felt like to get older.

Everyone always would talk about aches and pains they would have when they aged. Why would I think any different.

But this is what was amazing to me, my body literally felt better, and this was not happening over a period of months. This was happening in a matter of a week. What would I feel like at the end of the month? I was committed to seeing this through in order to find out.

Over the month of January, I lost weight by changing no other variable other than what I was eating, soreness in joints disappeared, and an overall ache I was not even aware of disappeared, I had more energy, felt more alert, and just generally felt ‘better’.

I knew that changing one’s diet can have a major impact on one’s health, but I was not prepared for something this dramatic.

Food IS medicine.

Since that experiment almost 2 years ago, we have made a commitment to eating plant based in our home, and I choose that word very carefully because the is a big difference between being Vegan and eating plant-based.

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Vegans eat a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey – as well as don’t use products like leather and any product that has been tested on animals.

Calling yourself a Vegan is as much a political statement, as it is a lifestyle choice.

A plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products.

The key words here are ‘few or no animal products’.

While myself and my family choose to not eat meat and dairy product in our home, I refuse to impose my dietary choices onto others. Therefore I live by a simple rule that when outside of my home, I eat what is served. To do otherwise, I think is simply rude.

If we go out to eat, I will do my best to find a plant-based restaurant or option on the menu, but sometimes that is not possible, so I do the best that I can.

Now I am not going to lie, since going primarily plant-based, most meat and dairy products taste putrid to me now. I rarely eat mammalian meat anymore, and will choose avian meat, if given a choice.

Though, Meat is not so much the ‘enemy’ to me as Dairy is. To be blunt, when I consume dairy products, it will fuck my body up for days. Inflammation, bloating, skin irritations, and GI issues are all common issues after consuming dairy.

If there is one thing I am adamant about removing from my diet, it is Dairy.

I could write a thesis about the adverse health effects of Dairy products.

So no, I am not a Vegan. I choose to eat plant-based due to the improvements to my health that a plant-based diet gives me, not because I am trying to make a political statement or live a particular lifestyle.
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