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Have you ever considered going vegan? Or, are you veg curious? Maybe you’d like to add more plant foods to your diet. There are many reasons to move in a vegan direction. The three most common seem to be ethics, health, and concern for the environment. My own vegan journey began in 2012, when I saw author and activist Kathy Freston on the Oprah Winfrey show. I had been vegetarian for almost 20 years at that point, and she inspired me to “lean into” a vegan diet, as she puts it. Her book Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change The World was the first one I read on the subject. Within a few months I was vegan and loving it. My only regret is that I didn’t start soomer!

 

I have found that there is a great psychological benefit to eating with compassion. I feel peaceful knowing there is consistency between my values and behavior. For those who practice yoga, there is the concept of ahimsa that is talked about. Ahimsa means non-harmfulness, and eating vegan is a great way to practice this principle. In our culture, it seems like some animals, i.e. companion animals are deserving of kindness, but  others, i.e. farm animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens are not. These animals are subject to horrible treatment and abuses on their way to our plates. Many people say they don’t want to know about these practices, but nonetheless they exist and contribute to the needless suffering of sentient beings. For an in depth look into this subject, I recommend Dr. Melanie Joy’s book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.

 

Many people are starting to realize that animal agriculture uses up an inordinate amount of natural resources, such as fossil fuels, land, and water. Additionally, large amounts of toxic gases are emitted into the air, contributing to climate change.. I recommend the documentary Cowspiracy for detailed information about this topic. These practices are not sustainable long term. More and more land is being cleared just to grow grain to be fed to livestock. Unchecked climate change will have disastrous effects on the earth and its people. Our land and oceans are being polluted at an alarming rate. We must act soon to curtail this, and eating less animals is a way that you can act.

 

Many people opt to eat more plant foods to improve their health and prevent the chronic diseases that plague our country. You may have heard the term “plant based” to refer to this way of eating. Whole plant foods are full of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.that promote good health. Some people have been able to reverse medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes using a no added oil whole plant food diet. Of course, not all vegan foods are healthy, but for those who are interested, eating more whole plant foods is a great idea. A good documentary to watch on this subject is Forks Over Knives.  You could also read How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger in which he discusses the main causes or premature death and how they can be prevented by simple changes in diet and lifestyle.

 

Whatever your reason for adding more plant foods to your diet, there are many benefits. Today there are many resources to help you on your way. A couple of books I would suggest are Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need To Know To Eat Healthfully And Live Compassionately In The Real World by Victoria and Adair Moran and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide To Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, And Living Compassionately. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods, because now there is a vegan version of everything. I personally love ice cream and there are so many vegan ice creams that are amazing! With the demand for vegan foods growing, more companies are getting into it. If you would like to check it out for yourself, please join us for our 14th Annual  Veg Fest on June 2nd from 11-3 at the East End Community School, 195 North Street in Portland. There will be awesome vendors, amazing speakers, and best of all, delicious vegan food!

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