January 2, 2014

Plant Based Power for 2014. ~ Kate St. John

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” ~ Michael Pollan

A new year is upon us! This is one of my favorite times of the year, because it is a time for reflection and also a time to set goals for the year ahead.

Along with the celebrations come the famous New Year’s resolutions. The best part of these resolutions is that they are an opportunity to change for the better—they give us a time frame to kick-start our goals and aspirations and bring us hope and empowerment to change ourselves and our world.

However, we all know that resolutions are hard to keep because, after all, we are human.

We have great plans and ideas about who we want to be, but it often takes a lot of work and forces us to shift the normal patterns of our lifestyle. Goals and resolutions are hard to keep, because we often jump into them with an “all or nothing” approach: we already have so much already going on in our lives that sometimes we don’t allow enough room for change, even if we really want it or need it.

We humans are impatient creatures and when we want to change something about ourselves we want it right away—we want the “quick fix” and we want it now. Obviously a lot of resolutions can fail or fade away.

What is an attainable resolution that can help not only us, but our world? Is there a way to make a positive resolution that we can carry out through not only the whole year but our whole lives?

I believe there is and it has to do with my favorite subject: food.

Our lives revolve so much around food. In fact, if you are like me, you are daydreaming about your next meal as soon as you finish the one you are eating. Food is our life force and is what gives us energy. However, our current food systems have many of us sick, under-nourished and prone to disease and illness.

How do we move into a healthier relationship with food? We need more than a diet or a temporary fix, we need a lifestyle change. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this lifestyle change also was able to reduce suffering in the world and help the environment?Yes.

My proposal for an attainable and healthy New Year’s resolution involves eating more plant based foods and less animal products.  It is a simple idea with huge benefits to you, the earth and animals.

So how does eating less meat and eating more plants do so much good?

For your health it does wonders.

Less animal products means a healthier heart: animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs are the only food sources with cholesterol so cutting back can greatly lower your cholesterol and lower your risk for clogged arteries and heart disease. The medical evidence of how beneficial a plant-based lifestyle can be is on the rise.

We are even seeing people like Bill Clinton choosing a vegetarian (mostly vegan) lifestyle to reverse his heart disease and to become healthier. There is also a national organization called “The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” pushing the evidence of plant-based food power.

In his top selling book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, heart health expert Dr. Esselstyn says; “A move towards a plant-based diet can not only prevent and stop the progression of heart disease, but also reverse its effects”.

Of course along with all of the health benefits also comes that fact that eating less animals means less animals suffering in factory farms. Today’s animal agriculture industry is not only unsustainable but also inhumane. 10 billion land animals on average are killed each year in the United States alone due to consumer demand. The amount of energy that goes into turning animals into food takes a lot of energy and does a lot of harm for the environment.

There are a few awesome campaigns that are really popular now to help you cut back on animal products.  These are campaigns designed without an “all or nothing” approach. They are designed to help people get healthy, eat more sustainably, and help animals. They provide ways to cut back, without having to jump into a full lifestyle commitment.  They also allow for lots of fun, creativity and support—even Beyoncé and Jay Z recently tried a 22 day vegan challenge for “health and spiritual reasons”.

Here is a great list of campaigns that can lead you into a more compassionate, much healthier year and also help you keep your resolution:

~ Meatless Mondays

~ The Vegucated Challenge

~Oprah’s Vegan Starter kit

~ The 21 day Vegan kick start

~ The 30 Day Vegan Challenge

~ The Flexitarian Diet

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Editor: Bronwyn Petry

Photos: Abigail Wick, Elephant Archives

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Kate St. John