Yes, what we eat affects our physical health but it also affects our mental and spiritual health. This maybe confusing to some people so let’s elaborate. The WHO has classified processed meat as a Group One Carcinogen which is the same category as that of tobacco smoking, asbestos and plutonium. Chicken is a Group Two Carcinogen. Moreover, meat is associated with causing diabetes, not sugar. Shocking, right? but then the truth always is. Many researches support that animal protein plays a huge role in the causation of cardiovascular disease. So, if eating animals is so detrimental to your physical health, imagine how harmful it is for your mental health. Continuous consumption of meat and animal by products contributes to anxiety and depression as proven by recent studies. It may cause an early onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s and constant fatigue.
All our lives, we have been led to believe that milk makes our bones stronger. There is no grain of truth in this statement. In layman terms, you don’t need cow’s milk to become stronger because you are not a cow. Fish is not any better either. Fish are like mercury sponges and too much mercury in your bloodstream can kill you. Fish are eaten by bigger fish which are eaten by us and pesticides or herbicides bioaccumulate in the fish flesh. The amount of these in the flesh of the fish is shocking and there are estrogenic and cancer promoting properties in them. Farmed fish have to be fed antibiotics and antifungals which accumulate in the fish shell as well so it goes without saying that animal meat and their by-products interfere with our hormones, blood steam and central nervous system.
We are also no strangers to the fact that environmental pollutants affect our food. 93% of dioxin exposure comes from eating meat and dairy products. Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. It is a leading cause of rainforest destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones and freshwater consumption which we already don’t have much of.
Whereas eating a vegan diet helps you lose weight, opens up clogged arteries, cleanses your liver, chops off visceral fat, improves skin condition, energy levels and PMS. When you talk to vegans, they will tell you how they feel lighter and are in a more positive state of mind than they were before. A vegan diet is also high in probiotics. Gut health is essential for digestion as well as important brain functions. The balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut impacts the functioning of neurotransmitter circuits in our brain which control mood regulation, emotions and stress tolerance therefore it is important to provide your body with as my many probiotics as possible. The impact of plant-based diet on the environment is also ten folds. Mass extinction of precious species will reduce greatly and the exponentially increasing rate of global warming can be brought under control.
The facts stated above are hidden from the masses because powerful companies and individuals with vested interested in the meat and dairy sector control our digital and print media. Many of these entities will try to lure you away from becoming vegan by telling you how difficult and expensive it is. Whereas the truth is contrary to this. Veganism can fit in your budget and current lifestyle if you know what, how and where to shop. Seeds, beans and grains are all staples and affordable. Broth or creamy soups, vegetable curries served with rice or tofu, vegetable stir fries with beans, vegetable sandwiches and salads, bean chili pastas are just of the examples of delicious yet affordable vegan delights.
Now that we have highlighted how a meat based vs. vegan diet affects you and the environment, let’s move on to how you can make your transition to being a vegan easy. It is very helpful to know that when you start shopping for a vegan diet, at times you will find that the apparently cheaper option is actually more expensive by weight comparison. If you find fresh produce at a lower price, you can stock up and freeze it. Frozen products do not lose their nutrients just because they are frozen. This can reduce your trips to the grocery store and you can save money if prices go up.
It is often smart to buy some items in bulk in order to save money. This will include nuts, spices, flour, dried food, grains and herbs. The largest packets are usually the cheapest. Also make sure to check the organic section of your supermarket because it may be cheaper than non-organic produce when on sale. Furthermore, you can consider shopping during sales or getting a wholesale membership.
You can replace meat and chicken in your vegan diet with tofu, seitan, tempeh, jackfruit, textured vegetable protein, beans, pulses, mushrooms. You can have cashew cheese and vegan feta if you are a cheese lover but vegan at heart. As for eggs, you can use crumbled tofu which is rich in protein and similar in texture. For baking, you can substitute eggs with mashed bananas to work as a binder and use flax seeds mixed with water to get the consistency of egg whites. Many plants are rich in omega-3 including but not limited to walnuts, canola oil and chia seeds.