Full disclosure: I am not a vegan – yet. Sometimes I’m not even a good vegetarian. I am a vegan in progress.
The Elephant ranks include meat eaters, raw foodists, vegetarians, and now for 2012 – two new vegan converts. Both Elephant Journal Founder Waylon Lewis and featured writer Kate Bartolotta have made the decision to go vegan. Their reasons are varied and include better health, environmental responsibility and mindfulness. To the best of my knowledge, sex and sexy pictures didn’t inspire either of them to make the decision to cut cheese and dairy from their already heathy vegetarian lifestyle.
Why then is this the typical picture associated with a vegan diet?
Recently on Facebook a friend and good vegan posted a pic of a bikini clad woman with the caption “go vegan and look like this.” The comments under his status then veered way off track from veganism to a conversation about sexualization of women, unrealistic media portrayal of female bodies and the rise in eating disorders. Full disclosure again: most of the off-topic comments were started and fueled by me. My friend is a long-term vegan and helps educate others on the health benefits of plant-based eating. I told him I hoped the vegan community could use facts rather than sex to get the message out there.
So, for those of us looking for a healthy lifestyle and not just a bikini body, I present:
10 Reasons To Go Vegan That Have Nothing To Do With Sex:
- Reduce and even reverse heart disease: Vegan diets have been proven effective to prevent heart attack and stroke. Dr Dean Ornish has decades of experience directing clinical studies proving a plant-based diet will reverse heart disease without the use of surgery or drugs.
- Prevent cancer: Vegan diets have proven effective to prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.
- Control and decrease the incidence of Type II Diabetes, previously called Adult Onset Diabetes but now being diagnosed in children as well: Vegans have a 60% less chance of developing diabetes than do meat eaters. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says dietary changes are the cornerstone to treating diabetes.
- Weight loss and lower body mass index (BMI): The Centers for Disease Control reports that over one-third of American adults are obese. Obese is defined as a BMI over 30. And a look at obesity rates by state over the past 20 years show the country getting fatter every year. A vegan diet reduces saturated fats and increases fiber leaving vegan eaters feeling full and satisfied.
- Reduce inflammation: Dr. Andrew Weil believes inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. Tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams are the two latest celebrities to embrace a vegan diet after Venus was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder last year.
- Speaking of stars, Hollywood celebs are increasingly turning to veganism not just to stay trim, but also to raise awareness of animal rights: Carrie Underwood, Joaquin Phoenix, Joss Stone, Ann Hathaway, and yogi’s Ellen DeGeneres and Russell Simmons. Most of the celebrities are vocal about their vegan lifestyle and even offer food tips and recipes to us non-celebrities via Twitter, Facebook and blog sites.
- It’s better for the environment: 80% of agricultural land in the United States is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed those animals. That’s right, most of the United States available land is used to feed animals not people. Animal agriculture is responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases as well as run-offs of animal waste that create dead zones and health problems for the surrounding areas.
- Factory farming creates diseased animals that wouldn’t survive in the wild: Genetic alterations, antibiotics and steroids have created chickens so large their legs won’t support them to stand up and beef cattle spend months in dirty feed lots being fed unnaturally high-fat diets to fatten them up. The men and women who work in the cattle and pig feed lots are at vastly higher risk for respiratory infections, organic dust toxic syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic bronchitis.
- More restaurants in more places are offering more vegan options: A quick search on happy cow brought up more than 20 vegan friendly restaurants here in Memphis – a city consistently ranked in the very top of most obese cities in America. Just type in your city or zip code to Happy Cow and this site dedicated to healthy food choices will list restaurant options and reviews.
- There’s an app for that: Recipe ideas, restaurant directions, meal plans, vegan cookbooks and help for transitioning to a vegan diet can all be downloaded to your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or any electronic device of your choice.
Sources: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Nursing Degree.net, American Heart Association, Science Blog, PETA, Farm Sanctuary, VeganHealth.org, DrWeil.com, Happy Cow, Forbes.com