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It seems like everywhere you look a new article or documentary pops up arguing about whether going vegan is beneficial for our health in an attempt to uncover if we are meant to eat meat by using obscure facts that employ fossils or historical evidence from Rome. Let’s be honest, it’s confusing. How are you supposed to make an informed decision?

 

Plant-Based/Vegan Diet means that you don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. I’ve been on a plant-based diet for 9 months and I will try and clear up some of that confusion for you.

 

I want to begin by stating that I will never try to pressure someone into switching their diet. It has to be your choice and if you’re one of the people who consider themselves a hard-core “Carnivore” like some of my family like to call themselves, all the power to you! I love a good steak. I just made the choice to not eat it anymore for a couple of reasons:

 

1. Health

There is significant research that can positively link the consumption of meat and animal bi-products with various diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It has even been shown that these diseases can be reversed when a sick individual switched to a plant-based diet. 

 

2. Athletic Performance

All throughout college, I dealt with nagging pains in my ankles, feet, and knees. It got to the point that I had to wear compression sleeves during and after games, I could barely walk because I was so swollen and sore. No matter what I did, it would not get better. Eventually, I came across a scientific article online that was outlining the findings of an experiment that was evaluating the effects of meat consumption on swelling and recovery in the body. It found that the person that was being fueled by plants instead of meat had a significant decrease in swelling and was able to do more work for longer without getting tired. Trying this for me seemed like a no brainer! I was tired of relying on painkillers and anti-inflammatories to make it through practice and games.

 

3. Overall well-being

After being on the diet I started to see an amazing response in my body. I was able to lose the extra weight that I had been struggling to get rid of and was able to maintain that physique without any extra work. I no longer got tired in the middle of the day, and as a college student-athlete that is a miracle. No more naps and as a result, I began to sleep better at night. I was better hydrated because plants carry a lot more water, my skin cleared up, and I had way more energy.

 

4. Global Impact

I know there are a lot of people who go vegan because they don’t want to harm animals, or they want to protest the treatment of livestock and that is an admirable reason. I wish my moral conviction was that strong. Of course, I think the way society mass-produces meat is unethical and wasteful but the thing that really pushed me over the edge was how the meat industry impacts the globe. 

See link: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/meat-and-environment/

 

Those are the reasons I decided to switch to a plant-based diet but believe me, I am not perfect. I’m getting better at curbing my cravings and if I am in my own home with my vegan groceries, I have no issues sticking to my diet. However, during this quarantine, I’ve been living with my family and it has been a struggle. We love breakfast! Resisting the urge to eat eggs can be difficult. When I do slip up, I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect. I shouldn’t be too critical of myself for giving in, making a lifestyle change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s called lifestyle, it’s the result of a lifetime of choices. So, if you’re thinking about going vegan try and remember to not be discouraged if you aren’t perfect. I had to be a pescatarian (only seafood) for 9 months before transitioning to a completely plant-based diet.

 

Now comes the obvious questions that inevitably follow me telling people that I am vegan.

 

“How do you get enough protein?”

The protein you get from meat actually originated in plants. Think about a cow, do they eat meat? Do chickens, or pigs, or turkeys? There are plenty of vegetable protein sources, like peas, for example, 1 cup of peas has 8 grams of protein.

 

“Humans are supposed to eat meat because of our canine teeth”

We also have grinding teeth in the back of our mouth that carnivores don’t have. These teeth are used by herbivores to break down fibrous foods and are super ineffective for ripping meat. Also, our stomachs aren’t acidic enough to handle raw meat and we have extra long intestines that allow us to digest plants more easily. Biologically, we are better at eating plants than meat.

 

“So, all you eat is salad?”

This one always makes me laugh. Of course not! We live in such a great time to switch to a plant-based diet. There are meat substitutes that are made to taste similar to actual meat, avocado/almond butter and margarine, nut milk, and tofu. Shoot, even fast-food places are starting to launch vegan burger options (My fav is the Impossible Whopper from Burger King) but even then, why do you have to eat meat for every meal? You can take the meat out of almost any meal and it would still taste great. Pasta with vegetable sauce instead of meat sauce and pizza without meat or cheese can be just as good if you know how to do it right.

 

Going vegan isn’t for everyone. Whether because of cultural, financial, health, or personal reasons you might not be able to do it. I’m not going to lie, at first it’s a lot of work but if you want to try I have linked some really awesome articles and Instagram accounts for you to explore below and you can always drop your questions in the comment section.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6399/eaam5324

https://www.instagram.com/iamtabithabrown/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/cashewsandcauliflower/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/vegspirationfeed/?hl=en

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636#nutrients-to-consider

 

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