. . . Or maybe I should say, “back to veganism,” as I believe I was born vegan. I never liked the taste of meat or milk or eggs as a kid. My grandmother would slather my scrambled eggs with mustard to get me to eat them. The only milk I would drink had to be flavored with chocolate, because I found the taste of white milk repulsive. And meats? I was coerced into eating them by threat of punishment.
Once I was old enough to decide for myself, I seldom ate flesh foods. Years later, in my doctoral studies, I learned a lot about the ways various foods can affect the human body. Gabriel Cousens, MD, broadened my knowledge of important concepts like pH balance, enzymes, and Ayurveda through his book Conscious Eating.
The same book motivated me to end my animal eating altogether. I wish I could tell you it was due to ethics, because I do love animals and Nature in its entirety, as you know. But my motives were selfish: I did it for health reasons. Dr. Cousens’s text presents an abundance of information that made me think more than twice about the harm flesh foods could be causing my body. Some of that info includes: Since World War II, farm animals have been inundated with a brew of pesticides, hormones, growth stimulants, insecticides, tranquilizers, radioactive isotopes, herbicides, antibiotics, and other assorted drugs. He also quotes Dr. Carl Telleen, a retired USDA veterinarian, who wrote, Chicken carcasses contaminated with feces, once routinely condemned or trimmed, are now simply rinsed with chlorinated water to remove stains. Further, Dr. Cousens asserts, Eating fish is potentially dangerous because of the widespread, ever-increasing pollution of the waters of the world. The biggest contaminants are mercury and PCBs, which are among the most toxic chemicals on the planet. And now, we can add to that the dangers of micro plastics.
For years afterwards, I ate only plant foods with occasional cheeses and boiled eggs. That is, until I enrolled in a Certification in Plant Based Nutrition course. Much of the learning in the program is based on The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell. The book shines a light on the harmful effects, often carcinogenic, of animal protein on the human body. Before the course was over, I gave up animal products completely.
During my first couple years as a vegan, I purchased a lot of prepared foods in delis and from the cold sections in markets. Some were ok, others were disgusting, and some tasted fine but made me sick. (Today’s pre-made items are much more palatable, but their ingredient lists can be far from health-promoting.) Out of exasperation, I began looking for recipes to make my own vegan foods. What a difference that has made! My homemade preparations are not only tastier, but my yearly lab work numbers improved, as well. (And as I’ve shared before, I lost quite a bit of weight.) Other than tofu, tempeh, and coconut yogurt, I seldom feel the need to purchase ready-made items anymore. I have found fantastic recipes for vegan sour cream, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta, cheddar, and nacho cheese. I’ve learned to use ground flax in water as an egg substitute for pancakes and baking, as well as chickpea flour with just the right spices for omelettes and frittatas. I struck gold when I came across a formula for vegan meatballs – they are some of the best I’ve ever tasted (even compared to real meatballs!) Same goes for “meat” loaves. The directions I’ve found for a smoky, crispy bacon substitute for BLTs is out of this world. And burgers, oh my! I have discovered so many recipes for a variety of delectable vegan burgers. Even ice cream, sorbet, pudding, and fudge can be made creamy & delicious with vegan ingredients. My point is, it’s quite possible to have healthy, varied, and flavorful vegan foods every day; they might just need a little more effort at times than non-vegan meals. (Check out my Recipe Category for some simple, yummy preparations. I post a new one every 6 – 7 weeks.)
I realize being vegan isn’t for everyone, but if you are considering eating less meat and dairy for any reason, I hope my story has provided a bit of encouragement. My journey continues to be one of experimenting and learning, and its rewards are far-reaching. In addition to being environmentally sustainable and harmless to animals, the foods I eat contribute to my body’s optimal function – all reasons that cause me to feel I’m making the best choice for myself and the planet.
Blessings on Your Food Journey,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.