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My Vegan Journey: Why I Adopted a Plant-based, Vegan Lifestyle

I grew up eating the standard diet you’d expect in a traditional Italian household.  No surprise, this included lots of meat, dairy and eggs.

In my early twenties, I was inspired to make some changes that would potentially give me more energy, reduce my stress levels, and increase my overall health and life expectancy. This meant a healthier diet, altering my eating habits and becoming more active. 

I was still eating animal products at the time, but I was exercising and incorporating healthier foods into my diet. It was a beginning.

Over time, I became aware of the concept of a ‘plant-based’ diet. After doing a bit of research from reading books and watching documentaries, I started to feel that eating fewer animal products would be a healthy decision. It was then that I was motivated to consume more whole foods. Not long after, my interest in this restrictive diet waned. I missed having the option to eat whatever and wherever I pleased. After about four years of ‘vegetarianism’, I gradually added animal foods back into my diet.

Flash forward to two years ago, when I had another change of heart, but this time it was different. My reasons for committing to a vegan lifestyle were not just for my health and wellbeing, but because I felt that it was the compassionate and ethical choice for the environment and our animal friends.

As a result of the relatively recent, increased popularity of veganism, I found that it’s a much easier lifestyle to adopt. Here are a few reasons why I think everyone should at least give it try. I feel so much better and you might as well!

More Energy: Many people believe that the only sources of iron and other nutrients are meat and other animal products, but plants have all the nutrients you need to keep you healthy, energized and active throughout the day.

Better Skin and Digestion: Lowering the amount of animal products you’re consuming can improve your complexion and ease your stomach woes. Do you have acne or frequent breakouts? Your doctor may prescribe medications filled with chemicals but why not start with a diet that promotes healthy skin? Your acne could be caused by consumption of dairy which can cause inflammation or worse, trigger some kind of allergy. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, have a higher percentage of moisture and provide hydration, along with substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. Also, the fiber in plant-based foods helps with digestion as it works to eliminate toxins, which then helps to heal your complexion. What you put on your inside is revealed on your outside.

Environmentally Friendly: Eating plant-based foods is not just great for your body – you’re also reducing your intake of pesticides, poisons and antibiotic residue, and you’re also helping the planet. Raising livestock depletes and negatively impacts land and water resources, and it creates pollution. The meat and dairy industries and factory-farming practices require infinitely more fossil-fuel energy to make one calorie of meat than what’s required to generate similar amounts of plant protein.

Protein: Speaking of protein, plants have tons of it! It’s actually very easy to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. Beans, vegetables, soy, whole grains, nuts and seeds are all great sources of protein. Not to mention the protein wallop of an avocado!

Creativity with Food: There are so many edible plants in the world! You have the opportunity to try out different foods and dishes that you’d never thought of, or even heard of. The best part? There are no compromises on variety, taste, selection and flavor!

Save Money: Plant-based diets can be much less expensive than your current way of eating. If you focus your diet on beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and seasonal fruits and vegetables, it’s possible to cut your food expenses by half. Many of these types of foods can be purchased in bulk and will last a long time.

Lower Cholesterol: Let’s live longer! Eliminating or reducing animal-based foods from your diet will lower your LDL cholesterol, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease and a shortened lifespan. People who eat fewer or no animal foods have lower LDL cholesterol levels and lower rates of diet-related diseases, like diabetes and arteriosclerosis. Whole, plant-based foods, including whole grains, actually help clear out bad cholesterol from the blood. Eat your oatmeal!

Switching to a vegan lifestyle was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel lighter and healthier overall, a natural outcome of veganism. Whole plant foods provide many important nutrients that help fuel my body and make me feel good! It’s also opened my mind to new information and has allowed me to experiment with cooking, which I love.    

There’s no harm in giving the plant-based lifestyle a try, even just for a day or two. Although it may seem like hard work at first, there are tons of resources available – aligned restaurant menus, availability of fresh produce, community support – and the benefits are infinite!