Since my late teen’s I’ve been back and forth between being a Pescatarian (someone who eats dairy and fish) and vegetarian (someone who does not eat meat products but does eat dairy.)
Just recently I took the bold step to become a vegan (someone who eats no meat products whatsoever: although there are stricter definitions which I am slowly understanding myself). The transition from vegetarianism may seem simple to the those who have never explored either methods of eating but it actually takes a lot work, label reading, and consideration into what you eat on a daily basis.
According to some stricter definitions a vegan is not only someone who doesn’t eat any animal products, but they also don’t eat honey, wear any leather goods, or wear any wool. Although I will not be giving away my leather goods, I have been more aware of my purchases and which ones contain animal products.
Once I started considering the environmental, social, and health benefits of going vegan, I realized that the benefits far outweighed the cost.
I have always had a decent level of environmental awareness: growing up in Canada environmental awareness was pressed firmly in our elementary and high school curriculum’s. After completing residency and understanding more that we are what we eat I started exploring the world of Integrative Medicine because one thing was for certain: I wanted to do what it took to lead a healthier lifestyle and to optimize myself and my patients. Since then my focus has been on disease prevention and health optimization.
Here are some of the reasons I chose to become vegan:
1. Factory farming is dirty and inhumane: the days of ritual animal sacrifice are over
2. Factory farmed animals are exposed to hormones and antibiotics which undoubtedly is passed down to the humans who eat them: this creates problems with bacterial resistance and unnecessary hormone ingestion which has led to early puberty and increased cancer risks
3. Factory farmed animals are force fed foods they don’t usually eat such as corn. These animals are often times unable to process the corn which results in poorer quality meats that are ingested by humans
4. Studies have clearly shown that a more plant based vegetarian diet has more health benefits for both men and women than otherwise: including the prevention of disease and reversal of certain disease states
5. Veganism forces you to understand what you are eating: you read more labels and are aware of what is in each food item you ingest
6. Dairy has shown to have more health consequences than benefits overall
7. Factory farming results in increased methane levels in our environment which speeds up the global warming process
8. Red meat specifically is a carcinogen and has been linked to colon cancer