Vegan is a lifestyle that requires discipline
firstname.lastname@example.org | 5/3/2012, 11 p.m.
| Dr. Timothy Moore
I was overweight and refused to accept myself for who I was and where I wanted to go in life.
I was unhappy with the person I saw in the mirror and wished somehow that I could change the rotund image. Then, out of nowhere, a light flashed in my brain. I could see the future – and it looked bright – but only if I were going to transform myself without delay. My health depended on it.
I had to brace myself for the journey, though. I knew it would be an arduous trip, but one that I’d welcomed since I was looking for good health and longevity. I had to love myself, first. Then I had to refocus and execute the plan that would save my life.
It wasn’t long before I took charge of my life. If I wanted to be healthy and get my weight under control, I had to stop eating red meat and switch to a plant-based diet. In essence, I had to become a vegan, which is essentially a total lifestyle change.
So what is a vegan?
A vegan (pronounced vee-gun) is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat any foods (eggs, dairy products, meats, etc.) that come from animals. It is a reversal from eating meat – a complete 180 degrees, if you will. Not many people, however, have the discipline to change their eating habits.
I had to go vegan; my life depended on it. I’d topped the scale at 300 lbs. and my health was waning. I didn’t know each awakening day whether I could survive carrying around the extra weight. I was miserable and death was waiting if I’d continued on the darkened path that I was on.
So, no more beef, pork, turkey, chicken, fish and dairy products for me. I avoid meat and diary products like the plague. Now I’m focused on eating only fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve switched from being a carnivore to an herbivore and not once thought about returning to eating meat.
Some people choose to eat meat and would never consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan. However, those who are inquisitive about a vegan diet often are mainly interested in the way the food is prepared and where to purchase vegetarian and vegan food.
I’ve been bombarded with questions about my plant-based diet and whether there’s nutritional value: Where do you get your protein if you’re not eating meat? How can you not eat meat and cheese? Will I lose too much weight and look rail-thin?
I explain to the inquisitors that there are health benefits to changing your diet.
If you decide to become a vegetarian or vegan, there will be lifestyle challenges and health risks. For example, you’ll need to be careful not to consume foods that are loaded with fats and oils. You may have just as many health problems as a meat eater if you rely too much on food substitutes or foods with very little nutritional value.
If you’re serious, however, consider eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables along with fresh leafy greens, beans, whole drains, nuts, seeds and other legumes. Though most people might choose to eat meat, adding more fresh food items in their diet will do the body good.
Becoming a vegan is not a cure-all for what ails you. If you’re suffering from a catastrophic disease, a good diet of fruits and vegetables just might extend your life, but I would see a medical doctor first and follow the expert advice. Taking medication is not the end of the world, unless you abuse it.
Veganism is gaining widespread popularity. There have been studies pointing to the health benefits of switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Both diets have been known to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol and known to keep heart disease and diabetes at bay.
Again, if you’re serious about becoming a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll have to adopt the lifestyle. But use common sense and understand your basic nutritional needs. Let me warn you, though, a diet of soft drinks and fried potatoes don’t constitute being a vegan.
Want the key to a healthy vegan diet? Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day including whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Eat the nuts and seeds in moderation, though.
Still worried about getting more protein into your diet? You won’t have to if you eat all your fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, send me an email detailing your journey.
(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)