I should explain why I decided to really tackle the healthy vegan thing. In the past few months I have had an alarming amount of e-mails from vegans, some vegan for a LONG time who were telling me that they have gained a lot of weight, they are pre-diabetic or T2 diabetic, now have heart problems, high blood pressure and other health issues. Most of these people have been completely devastated, and a few went back to eating animals, because they were convinced it was the vegan diet that did them in.
This is not a good scenario. Like it or not, our society in large part thinks of being vegan in one or two ways.
- They think it will make you sick.
- They think it will make you a health nut.
We have also in the past couple of years seen a lot of people giving up their vegan diet because they say they became ill.
This is another problem.
The thing for most people, is that despite their desire to not cause the abuse and needless death of animals, they themselves do not want to become sick. For many years I thought that participating in the slaughter of animals was sad, but there was no other answer, if I wanted to be healthy I needed to eat animals.
And for most, people will not sacrifice their own health or the health of their family if they thought that eliminating animals would do them more harm.
The trouble is that the people getting sick from a vegan diet, are not getting sick because they are vegan, it is because they are unhealthy. As I’ve said before EVERY study that we vegans like to refer to (China Study, Dr.Barnard, Dr.Esselstyn) do NOT simply say go on a vegan diet, they say go on a low fat, unprocessed diet that is completely plant-based.
If you ask Dr. Campbell, Dr.Esselstyn, Dr.Furhman, Dr.Popper and the other plant-based scientific Doctors what we should be eating? They will tell you a low fat, unprocessed plant-based diet. You will not find dayia or tofurkey in their suggestion list, not even in moderation.
Why is this? Because all of the data that they have and all of the studies they have conducted do not take into account junk food. And as much as we want to believe that consuming the vegan version of our old favorite junk foods is healthier, it is really not that much healthier. (except of course, it is healthier for the animals).
But what message does it send to our friends, family and close circle if we as vegans start to get the very diseases that we keep saying that vegans don’t get? And what if our doctors see this in us and tell us it is the vegan diet that is making us sick?
And many of you will say that at the end of the day it is all about the animals. And I agree, I just think that unhealthy vegans do not help animals. First and foremost, just from an animal rights perspective, if we (as vegans) are getting the standard American diseases that are completely preventable like type 2 diabetes, MOST heart issues, obesity, a lot of cancers and we have to go on preventable drugs for those preventable diseases, we cause a LOT of animal abuse, suffering and torture in the way of animal testing. Every single drug on the market is tested on 2 species of animals. While there might be ways for animal testing to end, it is not happening anytime soon, and we can make a difference NOW in not getting the diseases that cause animal testing.
Even as vegans, I think we have been brainwashed into thinking that we can eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and if we get a preventable disease it must be genes or we can just pop a pill. What we don’t think is that by getting a preventable disease we unnecessarily contribute to the business of prescription drugs and the business of animal testing.
We would never buy a product that said “tested on animals”. And if you are in the situation where you are needing to take preventable drugs for a preventable problem, you have a choice in weather you want to participate in such a cruel industry. The choice is making sure that your vegan diet is a healthy vegan diet (no processed foods, no extracted oils, no extracted sugar)
Don’t get me wrong. I love food, I love vegan junk food just like I loved non vegan junk food. But it does not mean that I should be eating it, and it doesn’t mean that just because it has the word “Vegan” on it, that it is healthy.
I know, more than probably most how hard it is to give up foods. I have battled food addictions nearly my entire life. And my addiction to food did not go away when I became vegan, my addictions were slightly more ethical, but they were still addictions.
I think as vegans, often we think that we have already given up SO much just by going vegan. And it is true, we have given up a lot. But at the same time, I don’t think we should see being vegan as a sacrifice, but more as something that set us free from a horrible industry. Giving up junk food should be seen in the same light. It is not a sacrifice, it is not a punishment, rather, something that sets us free from some pretty awful industries.
We simply do not NEED junk food. And no matter if it is vegan or not, junk food will make you sick. Foods that are extracted (like oil, sugar and high salt foods) cause issues in our body, that make us sick. They do not have any of the good stuff – like vitamins, phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants and the other good stuff that whole unprocessed foods have. The reason why all of those studies proved that being ‘vegan’ was healthy was because all of the foods the participants were consuming were whole unprocessed foods that have all of those great things (vitamins, phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants) in them. The power of a vegan diet is not found in processed junk food, it is found in unprocessed whole plant foods that are not compromised with salt, oil or sugar.
I’m not saying all of this to be a crazy health nut, or to make your adventures in vegan eating end. I’m saying this because I think that we owe it to ourselves, to animals and to our families to focus on being healthy vegans.
We are in a position right now to change a lot about how the world thinks about vegans. We are seeing more and more vegan books, movies and celebrities coming out and speaking about veganism. It is not a crazy word anymore, it is not a word that people have as much fear around. And the more people ask us, the more our co-workers start to pay attention, or our family and friends – the more we need to move away from some of the vegan junk food explosion that has happened in the past few years.
So give up the junk food. Trust that your body will adjust and your hunger drive will be restored to where it should be. Trust that you will start to love whole unprocessed vegan food. Get back to the basics, make your life more simple. We don’t need specialty vegan products, in fact I’d say we flat out shouldn’t use them. Being a healthy vegan is the easiest and most simple way we can go about eating. We don’t need a specialty market, or a special place to eat out. We just need the basics: vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, intact whole grains. Just that message will do wonders for helping others become vegan. If they simply know how incredibly easy it all really is.
Try to not complicate the food aspect of veganism. Try it for a few weeks – a whole, unprocessed vegan way of eating that is the void of cruelty to animals and to yourself.