Attention Carnivores! What they didn’t tell you…

20 Aug

As I walked through Hyde Park, London during the midst of the Olympics two weeks ago I was given a leaflet about Veganism. Be Vegan Make Peace spokespeople were scattered about the city handing out fresh leaflets promoting a healthier lifestyle. Little did they know I was already considering a Vegan lifestyle after conducting a little research of my own. You’ll be surprised, it’s not that easy.

Over the years a swarm of celebrities have opted for a vegan lifestyle, Bill Clinton, Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson to the ear-biting Mike Tyson and Jane Lynch. Many simply dismiss this as a trend, a poor attempt to gain coverage in celebrity news or promote a new diet through a book or fitness DVD. Whatever their reasons, converting to veganism is not an act to be laughed at. It takes much dedication. After years of polluting your body with processed foods, additives and food with addictive qualities flushing out your system leaves your body craving such polluting foods. As such a vegan lifestyle requires a lot of planning to ensure you are undertaking a balanced and healthy diet and consuming the right vitamins and minerals to ensure a healthy immune system. Compromise is key particularly when it comes to meals out, although there is a bigger market now within the fast food and restaurant sectors for vegans there is still very few in comparison to those undertaking what is deemed a ‘normal’ diet therefore eating on the go can often mean a heavy negotiation. And finally, it can also be extremely expensive, one argument for why it is celebrities who have seen a bigger rise in the initiation of such a lifestyle.

There are many reasons out there for becoming a vegan. Ask one and you will usually be greeted with the response that they are doing it for compassion, the benefit of animals and to avoid their exploitation. It is also a healthy option in the sense that it means avoiding processed foods and opting for more vitamin and antioxidant rich foods therefore decreasing the chances of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. A vegan diet is also responsible towards the environment. A herbivorous based diet helps to reduce the eco-footprint as vegan diets can produce fewer greenhouse gases than a carnivorous or omnivorous diet. The benefits are all there.

A vegan lifestyle is not just about diet however, it is important to note that it also means avoiding clothing made of leather, wool, silk or any other products make for that purpose. This may be hard for some who have worn leather shoes their entire life for example or opt for wool in winter. I know if I changed to a vegan lifestyle it would definitely involve a wardrobe transformation which could be exciting though expensive.

My research stemmed from a photograph I saw posted on facebook amongst numerous photographs I had seen littering all forms of media and social media of animal cruelty. It revealed a table much like the one below. I warn you, as you read over it, it could do one of two things: inspire or infuriate.

Clearly if humans were meant to eat meat we would not hold so many crucial ingestive and digestive similarities to herbivorous animals?

When I first heard such a statement, it was from a vegan. My argument was that ‘In the wild, animals kill other animals for food, that’s the circle of life’ – I was faithfully and rather bluntly told, ‘but WE are not in the wild.’

Humans can easily live without meat and healthily too. After some scouting over a few books you will learn that meat purifies four hours after consumption and as a result the remnants of the meat clings to the walls of our intestines for up to 21 days. Constipation can even lead to the rotting meat lying stagnant in our intestines for years. When you think of it this way, consider what this meat is doing to our insides.

In contemplation of my earlier statement, wild animals do in fact kill to eat, but they eat other animals raw. It is us humans who cook it and season it to shield us from the taste of the flesh. If a deer is burnt in a forest a carnivorous animal would never eat its flesh. Could you eat a raw and bloody chicken breast without getting ill? I think not.

Vegans obviously do not just cut-out meat. Dairy products are also a huge factor. When you consider milk as an example, almost half the calories in whole milk come from fat and most of its carbohydrates from sugar. Looking at this issue simply, it is clear why this is the case. Milk from other animals is formulated especially to fuel their infants as a result is it nutritionally too rich for us. As infants ourselves we only drink our mother’s milk and then formulated milk until about the age of 5 years old. Did you ever wonder why, by the age of 6, the school stopped bringing out bottles of milk for you to drink in the mornings? That’s because by the time most of our bodies reach 5, we stop producing the enzyme to digest milk. The ability to continue to truly digest lactose occurs in only about one third of the population.  When we consider lactose intolerance, it is often portrayed as a defect or illness but it is in fact part of our natural maturation.

A common question asked to vegans is where you get your calcium from, something I also researched and thanks to a piece I found here are some sources of calcium in common vegan-friendly foods:

Collards (1 cup) 357mg
Spinach (1cup) 291mg
Blackeyed Peas (1cup) 211mg
Calcium set tofu (3oz) 163mg
Canned Baked Beans (1cup) 154mg
Broccoli (280g – 1 stalk) 112mg
Green Peas (1cup) 94mg
Fortified Soymilk (1 cup) 93mg
Kale (1 cup) 93mg
Oranges (1 cup) 72mg
Almonds (1 oz – 24 almonds) 70mg

The RDA of calcium has been hugely debated both within the US and the UK so perhaps we should consider a bit of ambiguity on this debate. Conspiracy theories do have a lot to offer and you only have to Google them to get some perspective on this subject.

As we develop, we are led to believe many things by governments, media and society as a whole in order to develop as consumers and not people in our own right, this is something that should be considered. Although I am not a vegan myself, it is something I am considering having studied the health benefits in detail. Not only has this, but anything I feel that I can do to already help an already suffering world makes me feel more comfortable. It will definitely be slow progress and it is not something I would whole-heartedly jump into without taking it slowly as the expense is a huge factor. I hope in a few months time I can perhaps shed a few of the benefits after having experienced a vegan lifestyle myself.

I have included some links below for your information should you feel like embarking on some of your own research.

Debate is heavily encouraged!

Vegan London

 Vegan Society

Become Vegan Make Peace

Animals need help and compassion

Why am I vegan? Why ar you not?

Vegan: Why and how?

Why vegan? 

One Response to “Attention Carnivores! What they didn’t tell you…”

  1. Ruchi August 20, 2012 at 2:48 PM #

    Great post! I always shake my head when people bang on about being against animal cruelty while shoving a hamburger down there throat, even when I point it out they don’t seem to get the hypocrisy.

    Eating animals is one of the cruelest things you can do to an animal, not just because you’re killing it for the sake of 1 meal, but because of the awful conditions the animals live in before they’re killed.

    I should probably add, I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan…

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