I believe that our diet is a learned behavior. I also believe we didn´t choose it – it comes down to culture. I was raised in a culture where we eat and drink pretty much everything. From butter to eggs, to milk, obviously not forgetting all the meat (cow, pig, chicken, turkey…) and seafood, everything is okay to eat – the fresher, the better! And this was fine for me, as it was what I grew up knowing. And as this was the culture I grew up in, I never gave it much thought. I lived in my own bubble, and all I knew was what I was taught. That milk was needed for strong bones (so I had to drink a ton of it, otherwise ´oh my God, osteoporoses!´); I had to eat meat, because it was the only and best source of protein, and protein is the most important thing in your diet! I had to eat fish because where else would I get my omega 3´s?
Over a year ago, a documentary called ´Cowspiracy´ caught my eye on Netflix and this was a serious eye opener for me and made me question everything about food choices, what's healthy and unhealthy food, what is animal agriculture and it's impact on our planet. After watching this documentary, I found myself questioning everything that´s behind environmental organizations and truly wondering about animal agriculture as a leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, as well as habitat loss, species extinction, etc. It was really scary to hear about some facts, such as finding out that cattle produces more greenhouse gases that the entire transportation sector. Or finding out that just a single quarter pound hamburger requires over 660 gallons of water to produce – this is the equivalent to showering for two entire months. So there I was trying to save water by showering quickly, and turns out I only use about 5% of water for domestic use, versus a crazy 55% used by animal agriculture.
The numbers were terrifying! I found myself wondering if this was true, and doing my own research on the subject. The more I got into it, the deeper I looked for information and facts, the more scared I got. How could I have never been taught these things?
From this moment on, everything just spiraled, and I felt so confused to the point where I wanted to find out more and more about this. I felt like this information had been hidden or taken away from me in a way, for too long! I felt cheated and I couldn't even explain why! I found myself asking ´so where does the meat truly come from? What happens when these animals are killed?´ more often, and I really wanted to get to the bottom of it and understand these industries better.
Cowspiracy was just the beginning. After this one, many other documentaries followed: ´forks over knives´, ´vegucated´, ´food inc.´, ´in defense of food´, ´fat sick and nearly dead´, ´fed up´, ´hungry for change´, ´food choices´, you name it! I´ve watched every single piece of information about food and the planet, about animal agriculture, obesity, diseases like cancer which are directly linked to meat consumption. I read books like ´animal liberation´ and ´Eating animals´. I searched all about veganism and vegan diets and why these were the best diet for humans. Before having access to all this information, I thought vegan diets meant you would seriously lack on protein, omega 3, and other essential nutrients. I basically thought that after a few months on a vegan diet, your organs would shut down and you'd feel too weak to be able to live, and you'd get a bunch of diseases. How crazy does this sound?? I sometimes wonder if it was these same dairy industries that brainwashed me into thinking this way!
I was finally educating myself properly, and I was so overwhelmed by the truth behind these industries! All those documentaries made me want to give up meat and fish and pretty much any animal product right away! I realized how uneducated I was about the subject, and how many people are probably in that same situation. We let ourselves be brainwashed by these industries, and we need to stop and pay attention to what´s happening to the environment and the planet.
All of this actually made me think about ´what does my brain really think when I buy meat or fish?´ Because we are so used to seeing it all on the shelves at the supermarket…do we even realize where it comes from? Do we even realize that innocent animals were killed for our lust and pleasure? Do we think about the environmental changes? Or do we continue to ignore that global warming is real, coral reefs are dying due to the increase of temperature in our oceans, species are disappearing and going extinct?... And let me go even further: It´s all a matter of culture, once again, because we are told that dogs are okay to have as pets but pigs are okay to kill and eat. Why are these two animals different? Don't they both deserve to live?
In one of the documentaries I heard something rather interesting: an experiment! if you place a baby in a crib and on his left side you place an apple, and on his right side you place a chick, which one will the baby play with, and which one will he try to eat? The answer is quite obvious! But what would you think if he tried to eat the chick? Phsyco baby, right? So why does this perception change as we get older? When does it become acceptable to eat the chick? And why? Our diet is a learned behavior! We were not born meat eaters. If we look at gorillas (who share 99% of our DNA), they eat a plant based diet. And they are one of the strongest animals on earth! Or maybe not, but then look at an elephant, for example!
I think the most important question, though, as I explored these industries and watched more documentaries about climate change, veganism and global warming was this one: don´t all animals have feelings? Because I am 100% sure my two cats, at least, do! I love them to pieces, so I wonder how I would feel if someone roasted them in the oven and ate them. Because this is pretty much what we're doing to other species. Yes, of course it would be a chicken or a cow, or a pig...not a cat. But in some cultures eating a cat is okay. In my culture, we´ve been brainwashed to believe that it is wrong to eat a cat but right to eat a cow, pig or chicken. But if you ask me...suffering is suffering. For example, if a new restaurant opened across the street, and they only sold cat and dog meat, how many of us would be on the streets protesting the very next day? So why is cow, pig and chicken´s meat any different? Why is fish any different? Do you think fish have no feelings? I know they don´t speak, but my cats don´t speak either and I can tell if they´re in pain! Just like I can tell a fish is in pain if I pull him out of the water and see it struggling for air. Does that not count as suffering? Just because we don´t see it, does it mean it´s not there!
I've watched many documentaries during this journey of mine while I was discovering who I wanted to become. But the final straw for me was ´Earthlings´. This documentary has a strong content, and literally shows all these animals getting killed, and the process they go through, the way they are kicked, stabbed, treated like trash, beaten up, etc. It shows them walking towards their death, literally. And then you see them being chopped up in pieces. Blood, painful screams from the animal, you get to see it all. I can't remember the last time I cried so much! I finished watching this and I was a real mess! I wondered why I was crying so much, and why it had such an impact in me...and that's when I realised all my life had been a lie! Why had nobody shown me these images before? What had nobody told me it was so morally wrong to do this? Watching this documentary was the final straw and biggest wake up call, alongside a youtube video called (I highly recommend watching this!!)
I could not do this anymore. Every time I bought a fish, a yoghurt, meat, butter, or eggs, I was supporting these industries. And then I started thinking of my own values... How HYPOCRITE!
This was not just about cow´s milk. I've started wondering what would happen if we walked into a supermarket and saw chimpanzee milk on the shelves. Would we not think it's disgusting? Or actually, why would we not grab that one instead? After all we share 99% of the chimpanzees DNA, wouldn´t that make more sense then? Why isn't cow’s milk equally disgusting? Cows only produce milk when they’re pregnant, it’s supposed to be for their babies, not for our own greedy luxury! Plus, cow’s milk is actually full of hormones to make a baby cow grow up to 2000 pounds. Why do we feed it to 7 pound babies from the moment they are born?? I´ve also learned that 70% of the antibiotics produced in the USA are actually fed to farm animals. And, indirectly, they are ending up in our system as well. The idea that ´cow’s milk is good for your bones' is a fabrication from the dairy industries. We don’t need cow’s milk, we have plenty of plant based options like almond milk, coconut milk, soya milk, cashew milk, oat milk…why do we have to steal milk from a cow? It´s not produced for us! It's for their calves!
Furthermore, studies show that 75% of the world´s population is actually lactose intolerant. Have you ever wondered what the most sold item in schools in the USA is? It’s milk. And guess what the number one cause of allergies among children and infants is? Bingo! Have you ever researched which countries have the highest rates of milk consumption? USA, England, Finland and Sweden. Now guess which countries have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Ding, ding, ding! Coincidence?
The whole game changed for me. There is so much information out there – all we have to do is search! I´ve been doing my research for over a year now. I´ve even tried vegan diets in the past, but ended up listening to the industries and people who didn´t know much about what´s going on with our planet. For me, it all comes down to moral, and I don´t want to finance these industries anymore. I truly love animals, and I´ve always felt a special connection with them. I am not going to be fooled by these industries anymore, and I am old enough to make my own decisions. A vegan diet can provide all the nutrients I need to survive. There are so many personal trainers, body builders, surfers, and other athletes who are vegan. Do they look ill or weak to you? Do they look like they need more protein? Studies show that vegans live longer than non-vegans, and have less high risk diseases such as cancer. I myself have done a vegan diet before but I did it wrong because I had very little information. I was so ashamed of all these images on the documentaries that I wanted a radical change! From day to night I gave up everything I was used to eating frequently. I gave it all up at once and I was basically living off vegetable stir fries and fruit. I was worried about where to get my protein, my omega 3´s, my calcium, and ended up giving up after a while because I wasn´t informed correctly about how to eat a vegan diet. It´s amazing how after studying a lot, reading books, watching documentaries, following vegan people on social media, watching recipes on Instagram, youtube and other platforms I build up my confidence and educated myself about everything ther eis to know about veganism. I could confidently go back to being vegan (this time for good!), knowing that I was well aware of where to get my nutrients from a plant based diet.
The last time I attempted a vegan diet, not only was I unprepared, I also let people around me brainwash me and convince me that this was a stupid idea. That I would never get enough nutrients. That I would feel ill all the time. That I would be weak and unable to run a single mile without feeling fainty. I felt so much discouragement and even a nutritionist actually told me it was a bad idea to go for a vegan diet. How convenient! If people aren't sick anymore and don't need nutritionists in the future because they cure all their diseases with a plant based diet, a nutricionist profession would cease to exist. So as they see this as a threat to their industry, they WILL ALSO BRAINWASH YOU! Luckily, I had enough knowledge at the time to stick with it and want to still be vegan. Be careful with this, people! Do you own research and decide what's best for yourself. Don't let people brainwash you and stay true to your thoughts and feelings. To me, it was about ethics and morals. I am never letting people do this to me again. I stand for what I believe in, and I don´t want to be a part of a flesh massacre anymore. You can judge me as much as you want, it won´t change my mind about this. Not this time! It won´t make the tears I cried watching all those very, very graphic images on those documentaries go away. Why did I watch it then, you may ask? Because if I hadn´t, I would still be blind from all the brainwashing the media industries get paid to do. I had to do it in order to wake up!
Don't be afraid to look for answers if you need to! If you feel cheated by these industries, or if doctors tell you things you disagree with because you've read enough and educated yourself enough to know better, speak to other people about this! Surround yourself with other vegan people, ask many questions, learn about what foods have the nutrients you need to be able to thrive on a vegan diet. I am not trying to make anyone go vegan with this post. But if you've thought about it before, and a doctor told you no, or that it's a really bad idea, do some research...because just like the dairy industries hide the truth about everything, so do doctors. Be careful if one ever tries to change your mind, and stay true to your beliefs! It IS POSSIBLE to thrive on a vegan diet!
To me, killing animals is wrong. So I've decided to cross that bridge and I am never going back. I've decided to write this post to possibly help other people who are struggling with this as well. Please follow your heart and instincts. I will now share with you all the recipe books I've bought, all the documentaries I've watched, and even where you can get protein on a vegan diet!
Where to get protein: (there are so many other sources of protein, you can look up online or buy recipe books)
- Veggies (spinach -7g protein, beans - 13g, kale- 5g per two cups, peas - 9g per cup)
- Hemp (30g = 11g of protein)
- Almond milk (11g protein)
- Peanut butter (8g protein for a couple tablespoons)
- Lentils (18g protein per cup)
- Beans (13/15g protein per cup)
- Bread (10g in one slice)
- Green peas (8g per cup)
- Artichokes (8g per cup)
- Oatmeal (16.9g per 100g)
- Pumpkin seeds (8g per 1/4 cup)
- Chia seeds (5g per 2 tablespoons)
- Edamame (8.5g in 1/2 cup)
- Spinach (5g per cup)
- Broccoli (4g per cup)
- Asparagus (4g per 4/5 stalks)
- Green beans (4g per 1 cup)
- Almonds (7g per cup)
- Tahini (8g per 2 tablespoons)
- Chickpeas (6/8g per 1/2 cup)
- Mushrooms (3.1g per 100g)
- Tofu (8g per 100g)
- Tahini (17g per 100g)
- Quinoa (8.14g per cup)
You can also buy protein powders to blend in smoothies or add to cereal bowls, etc. I've bought a vegan protein powder from a brand called The Protein Works, which has 26.3 grams of protein per scoop. Here's the link if you want to buy it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PROTEIN-WORKS-Vegan-Protein-Chocolate/dp/B01MSTSMN9/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1516452656&sr=8-1&keywords=the+protein+works+vegan+protein
Where to get fat:
- Seeds (flaxseed, flax oil, chia seeds, tahini)
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil / olive oil
- Brazil nuts
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
Where to get iron:
- Dried fruits
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Where to get calcium:
- Soy beans
- Dark green veggies
- Tahini sesame
Where to get zync:
- Soy products
- Where to get omega 3:
- Canola oil
Where to get vitamin D:
- Fortified Soy and Almond Milk
There are many other foods that contain these nutrients and are not on this list. Do some research online and you will find additional ones for sure!
The two most important things I've learned from this journey were: MY BODY WON'T BE A TOMB FOR OTHER CREATURES (very powerful message there), and BE THE CHANGE YOU WAN'T TO SEE IN THE WORLD.
Below is a list of most of the documentaries I´ve watched during this journey. I´ve linked everything below. There´s nothing wrong with wanting to learn the truth about what you put in your body. It is your right!
Documentaries / videos:
- Cowspiracy - http://documentary-movie.com/cowspiracy-the-sustainability-secret/
- Why vegan - Gary Yourofsky (highly recommend) https://youtu.be/UROxRLbVils
- Forkes over knives - https://youtu.be/Ly9VhUiPmco
- Vegucated - https://youtu.be/kjmIJHZRW
- Food inc. - https://youtu.be/smk2xq2l3Ig
- In defense of food - https://youtu.be/W7z6-xnqa
- Fed up - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y647tNm8nTI
- Food matters - http://putlockers.fm/watch/ox0nz4de-food-matters.html
- Food choices - https://fmovies.is/film/food-choices.xr1yv/59k529
- Fat, sick and nearly dead - http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/watch-fat-sick-and-nearly-dead/
- Hungry for change - http://documentarylovers.com/film/hungry-for-change/
- 101 reasons to go vegan - james wildman (highly recommend) -https://youtu.be/PlX-tKVshEU
- Earthlings (highly recommended as a wake up call - strong content / reality check) - https://fmovies.is/film/earthlings.9o668/qvp8kn
- Chasing Ice - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4zovl2
- Chasing Coral - http://putlockers.fm/watch/bxq17yxJ-chasing-coral.html
https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx - This is a NHS link containing important information about how and where to get vitamins such as B12, Omega 3, Iron and Vitamin D into your diet.
Why go vegan:
Books and recipes:
Vegan in 7 - Rita Serano
Eat Smart - Niomi Smart
Vegan On The Go - Jérôme Eckmeier & Daniela Lais
But I Could Never Go Vegan - Kristy Turner
Feed Me Vegan - Lucy Watson
The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook - Toni Okamoto
Vegan Soul Kitchen - Bryant Terry
The Complete Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook - Shon Brooks
High Protein Vegan Cookbook - Karen Renolds
Transitioning to vegan was essential to me. I've learned a few things after my failed first attempt: Firstly, you have to do your research. Books, documentaries, movies, youtube videos, following vegan people on social media, or vegan recipes. Secondly, you can't rush your transition, or you will struggle. Your body is used to meat, fish, eggs, milk...and cutting everything from day to night was WAY TOO EXTREME for me when I first tried going vegan. The transition should be slow, and you should replace one food at a time and be patient! And finally, you can't replace meat and fish for stir fries, soups and vegetables ONLY. There's a whole range of foods, nuts, seeds, protein sourced foods you should eat, otherwise you will feel bad all the time. Educate yourself on how to do this, and how to transition smoothly. Don't just cut everything at once, or you won't have any energy whatsoever!
I am now a much happier person. Believe it or not, I actually have more energy. I've started working out again and I was surprised with my endurance levels which I can't be sure happened because of me being on a vegan diet. But after spending months and months without exercising, going back to the gym was an incredibly smooth and surprising transition for me. I expected to be in terrible shape, but I've actually performed much better than I thought I would. Could it be due to the vegan diet or not, I don't know. I won't say it is, but I'll say it's possible. I feel happy, full of energy all the time, I don't get sick so often (I used to get colds very, very frequently, at least once a month, and I can't remember the last time I was seriously ill). I've also been drinking a lot of water (as this was my new years resolution) and I'm sure this is all a combination of several changes that I'm going through and that prevent me from getting ill so often. But I feel better than ever!
At the end of the month I will share a post with my first month of getting back to the gym review, where I'll talk about my progress. But for today, that's all I wanted to share with you. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Excuse the long post, but I had to share this with you.