Going Vegan, a Healthy Choice for Us and the Earth

Going Vegan, a Healthy Choice for Us and the Earth

Healthy Eating

Could an increase in eating vegan be a good thing? I have wondered how many people are choosing to eat vegan. Speaking purely from personal observation, that number seems to be increasing.  As a child and a slow eater, I never enjoyed the tasteless gristle remaining unliquified in my mouth after chewing meat. When I went away to college, I stopped eating meat, including chicken, fish, and even eggs. 

Travels and life experiences took me back and forth. I ate meat when it was offered with good intentions. People I loved who loved me cooking for them convinced me to prepare meat occasionally. Sometimes eating animal flesh was simply the easiest way to go along to get along when dining out. 

Lifestyle Swayed by Sensitivities

Who doesn’t love grilled cheese, pizza, Mac’ n’ cheese, milkshakes, and more. However, at my allergist’s advice, I gave up dairy (gulp!!) My health improved. I am not the only one to discover dairy does not love me. True allergy to dairy may be rare, but many people have difficulty digesting it. In my middle decades, my body developed allergic reactions to all milk, so goat and sheep alternatives were out of bounds. Fortunately, plant-based milk options are proliferating. 

Eggs were my next discovered nemesis. Then a celiac diagnosis. Eliminating gluten was tougher than being vegan, but again, my health improved. I sought alternatives and still relied on seafood to fill my protein and calcium needs.

Not to brag, but as someone on the far side of fifty, enough so to be eligible for both Medicare and Social Security, whenever anyone finds out my age, they insist I cannot be that old. Medical professionals, as well have acknowledged that my good health and lack of typical signs of aging may, at least in part, be due to my vegan diet. 

Bite by Bite, we all make choices?

The foods I eat are now entirely vegan. The only exception I make, and it’s a borderline choice, is a little bit of honey from time to time. Having kept bees and knowing how essential bees are to pollinating many food crops, I know there are humane ways to harvest honey from bees, so I make sure to choose honey from small, local producers who take good care of their hives.

Recently two Nebraskan friends decided to go vegan after viewing “Game Changer.” For decades dairy and meat industries’ lobbyists have spent millions to convince us eating meat and dairy daily is the only way to be healthy. Bit by bit and Bite by Bite, more are wising up. When friends and relatives ask me, “But how do you get enough protein and calcium?” I bite my tongue instead of asking how do they know they are not getting too much information their body can’t assimilate?

Underlying conditions of heart disease, diabetes, and lung issues are a significant influence in premature deaths. Many of these conditions are linked to overconsumption of meat and dairy. 

If Cattle Were A Country

I read recently in Jane Goodall’s Roots and shoots Earth Day Challenge, “if cows were a nation, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.” Cattle raised for meat and dairy contribute to deforestation as well as contaminating and depleting limited freshwater supplies.

For whatever reason, you choose to eat more vegan, whether for the planet, or your own, or your family’s health, embracing a vegan diet needs to be done conscientiously. Highly nutritious foods are optimal. Leafy greens improve any diet. Simply “going vegan” is not in itself healthy. There are many other choices to make. 

Healthy vs. Unhealthy

Vegan “junk foods” are proliferating. I take that as a sign that interest in eating a more vegan diet is increasing. Not all that is vegan is healthy. Foods that rely on sugar, “vegetable oils,” or an abundance of refined flours, gluten-free or not, do not contribute to good health and may undermine rather than support efforts to be healthier.

Choosing whole foods, mostly vegetables and fruit, organic when possible, are ways to make a vegan lifestyle healthier.

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