When I first became vegan I had a friend who was a doctor and she told me “You must want to get and stay off all your meds if you are vegan now!”
I was puzzled, what do my medications have to do with being vegan? Of course I wanted to get off my meds, but I wasn’t sure what it had to do with being vegan still. She went on to tell me that ALL drugs that are prescribed are tested on animals, most (if not all) are tested on at least 2 species of animals. Not only that, she pointed out that 2 of my medications contained animal byproducts, and that the most prescribed heart medications and diabetes medications have animal byproducts in them. One of my diabetes drugs had lizard saliva in it.
*Just a note, that I was able to get off a lot of my medication right away, like insulin from switching from an animal protein based diet to a plant-based diet, but it took me a few months to get off of all 13 medications that I was on.
At first I dismissed it. I thought to myself – I can’t really do much about medications, after all, some of those were keeping me alive. I argued with myself, that I’m already doing a lot for animals, after all I got rid of my leather products, I stopped eating all animal products and byproducts, and I tossed every thing in my house that had gelatin (like in my vitamins) or things that were tested on animals (or didn’t say they were NOT tested on animals).
Back up. I got rid of all of the vitamins in my medicine cabinet that had animal byproducts AND I got rid of anything that I was not absolutely sure were not tested on animals.
Yet, I was willing to be on medication that was not only tested on animals, but most of which had animal byproducts in them. My values were all of a sudden not reflected in my medicine cabinet.
First I will say that I could not just get off my medications right away, that would have been dangerous and would have jeopardized my life. However, the truth was that I could get off ALL of my medications if I decided to completely clean up my diet. Not that I was eating horribly, but I still had oil in my diet, some vegan junk food, and some high salt and the occasional high sugar food.
I found out that if I completely cleaned up my diet – eliminating unnecessary fat from oils, eliminating ALL sugar and taking out salty or unhealthy vegan foods, I would more than likely be able to get off of all my medication.
At first this notion of practicing nutritional excellence seemed like that much more of a sacrifice. I already felt like I was sacrificing. But I kept asking myself, did my medicine cabinet line up with my values? And the truth was, it did not.
Even as vegans we can get disease if we are consuming a vegan S.A.D. (standard American diet). If we’re consuming foods with lots of oils, salts, sugar and processed junk we still run the risk of obesity which will lead to heart disease and diabetes. We run the risk of certain cancers, when we are not filling our cells with healthy whole plant foods. Let’s face it, just because Oreo’s and french fries are vegan, does not mean they will not add to your belly fat.
And so there is a dilemma. If we eat in an unhealthy way which leads to things like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, are we doing a disservice to animals?
The medical industry is reliant on animal testing and animal byproducts to supply our nation with the drugs it needs to cover up the multitude of eating sins we commit. Thousands of innocent animals are tortured every year on behalf of our eating habits. The top diseases which are completely avoidable, produce the most amount of medication.
The key is avoidable. I know that not EVERY single medication is 100% avoidable. There are times in which we might need a life saving drug. However, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a lot of cancers ARE avoidable and those are the disease that produce the most amount of drugs, animal testing and fatten the wallets of the drug companies.
Often, I think it is easy to make the switch to being vegan because it is so clear what is right and wrong. Of course it is horrible to consume animal flesh or wear dead animal skins. We can look at a piece of dead animal flesh and know that it is absolute 100% not right to consume it. We can look at a leather coat and know that it is never right to wear the skin of another being.
But vegan donuts? They don’t exactly scream out “This could hurt an animal!”
Here is the thing, I think every so often it’s ok to consume something like a vegan donut. However, when your diet resembles a standard American diet made vegan, I think there are some things to think about.
We can avoid and reverse obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (high cholesterol and high BP) if we are consuming not only a vegan diet, but a healthy vegan diet. Let me clarify what I mean by healthy. A diet that has low or NO oil in it, a diet with no added salt, no processed vegan junk food, and no added sugars.
The truth is, if we’re consuming a whole foods plant-based diet we are eliminating a lot of bad in our diets. Not just in potentially getting disease, but things like not using resources to ship or package the foods, not tearing down forests for palm oil (impacting 100′s of animals). The more our eating is based around whole plant foods, the better it is for everyone.
Not to mention, it does a great service to yourself. Respecting and loving your body means putting healthy nutritious foods in it.
I work with an amazing personal trainer, John Pierre who has been vegan for over 30 years. He has a compassion for animals that I am not sure I have seen in anyone else. He told me that as vegans, we owe it to animals to make sure we are healthy and well and that we are excellent examples of what respecting all lives looks like – including our own life.
Eating a vegan junk food diet does not respect the beautiful body that you have. We can make choices every day if we are going to eat in a way that can lead to more suffering, or not. And it’s a pretty simple decision, when you consume something ask yourself if what you are eating will lead to suffering.
Vegan junk food adds up in our body. It clogs up vessels, causes insulin resistance, and feeds poisons into our cells. Because it is vegan, does not mean that it is healthy or that we get some sort of free pass. We still have to think about our food choices, beyond not consuming animals.
I believe that treating our bodies well by practicing nutritional excellence, and by moving our bodies every day is a way to help put an end to an industry based on exploiting animals in the way of testing.
I just want to add, I am not out to judge or put anyone down. I would just love to see vegans practicing nutritional excellence and respecting and loving their bodies enough to fill each cell with good, life giving food.
If you are interested in learning about what a healthy vegan life looks like, I highly suggest picking up any of the following books:
- The China Study – Collin Campell
- Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease – Dr. C. Esselstyn
- The Pleasure Trap (which talks about the addiction of junk food)
- Dr. Neal Barnards program for reversing diabetes – Dr. Neal Barnard
- Eat to Live – Dr. Furhman
- Any book by Dr. McDougal or Dr.Barnard
The most important thing you can do is to base your diet on WHOLE plant foods. Consume foods from the best food groups: vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. If you stick to that you will not only feel a lot better, but you will avoid some of the diseases that go along with a vegan junk food diet.
A cruelty free medicine cabinet, is one that is empty.