Survival of the Vegan-ist

So, like, what do you eat? 

I cannot tell you how many times a day I am asked that question, and how many times my response is: celery. You wouldn’t believe how many people actually believe it! Okay, I’m lying a little, I used to respond to people that way. It was only because I didn’t understand how people could be so unaware of the types of foods I was consuming. I’m a vegan, I don’t eat anything from an animal, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of other options available. On a large scale, meat and dairy products are a small portion of the vast variety of foods on this earth. That brought my awareness to nutrition, and what the average person considers to be nutritious.What does the average American consume on a day to day basis? What do we as a society consider healthy?

I began to think back to my days in grade school when we would receive a short lecture about nutrition through the use of a food pyramid provided for us by the USDA. You know what I’m talking about right? This thing:usda_food_pyramid

This is where it all began. The government makes sure you know at an early age what kinds of foods you need to consume on a day to day basis. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but what if they’re wrong? It turns out they were a little off, and as I got older, the pyramid changed. By the time I was a senior in high school, the pyramid looked like this:myplate_magenta

Personally, through what I’ve learned about nutrition, I most certainly prefer the newly created food pyramid or food plate. Notice how a portion of the plate is labeled “protein”, not “meat”. There are so many different foods in the world that contain protein that are better for your body than animal products. Some of these foods include beans, nuts, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan and certain protein containing vegetables. Believe it or not people, broccoli has protein in it. So why is meat so bad? Humans have been eating meat since day one, so why is it that all of a sudden meat is beginning to be viewed as bad for you? Well, for one thing, meat is high in cholesterol. Cholesterol clogs your arteries and inevitably leads to heart complications. According to Joe Leech, a nutritionist for Authority Nutrition, meat, poultry, and dairy are considered to be highly acidic (2). Basically, during digestion, your body actually implements fat cells in between your organs to protect your organs from being harmed by ample amounts of acid (1). So if you’re not putting on the extra pounds from the high amounts of saturated fat already in your meat, you’re literally causing yourself to implement fat cells into your body. Inevitably, there are better sources of protein available for your consumption. Plant based proteins contain no cholesterol, and most of them are considered alkaline, or non acidic.

The only thing non vegan on that spread is the little cup in the top right corner labeled “dairy”. I could go on an on about dairy, however, for now all I’m going to say is that dairy is also acidic and extremely high in fat, which is not healthy. But I need milk because milk has calcium and calcium builds strong bones right? Sorry friend. The honest truth is that you do not need milk for calcium consumption. In fact, I found a little myth buster for you from Save our Bones that basically states that the protein content in milk is so high compared to the calcium content in milk, that when milk is digested, the calcium acts as an agent to alkalize the acid from the animal protein. Your body needs so much calcium to carry out this task that it actually ends up taking calcium from your bones. This action is so severe, that over time it can actually cause osteoporosis, also known as the brittling of your bones (3). There you have it friends, you do not need milk for strong bones. So what do you need to consume milk, cheese or yogurt for? Nothing.

What do I eat in a day you ask? The answer is fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, grains, seeds, and many other wonderful things from this earth. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I can’t take credit for that quote, because I didn’t write it, but it’s very true. If you change your opinion on meat, dairy, fruits, veggies and everything else, chances are your life and your body will change. My question to you is: What do you eat in a day? Think about it. How does it make you feel? Do you need to make a change? There are so many ways to be creative with foods straight from this earth. Believe it or not there is more to life than hamburgers and french fries. Get out of your little food bubble and start exploring, because once you do, that will only be the veganing.

References:

1) Barnouin, K., Freedman, R., & Gockle, M. (2005). Skinny bitch. Running Press Book Publishers: Philadelphia, U.S.A

2) |, B. J. (2016). The Alkaline Diet: An Evidence-Based Review. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://authoritynutrition.com/the-alkaline-diet-myth/

3) Goldschmidt, M. V. (n.d.). Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/

 

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