…pretty much exclusively now. Yesterday marked the end of my fourth week following a plant-based diet. To some of you, this is fresh news. To you, I say “SURPRISE!”
To be fair, there have been a couple of exceptions:
- I have been using a Japanese dressing that I bought earlier in the year that has some hydrolyzed animal proteins in it. To my credit, I bought it before I made the decision to move to this diet and I’m using it because I really don’t like to waste things if I don’t have to. The animals that died to make it are not going to miraculously be alive if I do not consume the product and my money has already gone to into the support chain for the product. I feel that the best that I can do at this point is to not support the product again in the future.
- There were a few random rounds of fishcake in the dried “vegetable” packet of my Korean ramen last night. I’m a bit horrified that this particular ingredient wasn’t listed in the ingredients on the back of the package; it makes me wonder. I ate one of them just to confirm that it was actually a fishcake and not just some weird vegetable and then got rid of the other two once it was confirmed…
Anyway, because the four week mark seems like a kind of milestone in this journey, I thought I would share a bit about what has led me to this point. The driving force that has led me to this path was a commitment that I made to myself to spend 2014, or even longer, more intensely exploring my personal approach to life. In general terms, I mean to explore my spiritual beliefs and philosophical views and how I put those beliefs and views into practice. It is this exploration that led me to make the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. More specifically, contemplations on compassion, manifest in principally three facets, have been the primary motivator in this particular decision.
First, compassion for myself. Health concerns are a big part of my decision to consume a plant-based diet. My family medical history is riddled with issues, such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, for which diet has been shown to – at the very least – increase risk. In addition, for most of my life, I have dealt with migraines, severe headaches, and skin problems – all issues that could have a root cause in or be greatly affected by diet. Much of what I have read and heard about the connection between diet and these various health issues has led me to believe that I can set myself up for better health by eliminating animal products and highly processed foods from my diet as much as possible.
For the past four weeks, I have been (let’s say 98%) successful in elimination of animal products from my diet and I’m working on only eating highly processed foods in moderation. So far, the most obvious benefits I have experience have been an increased energy level without the need for any caffeine, loss of an almost constant feeling of sluggishness, and no severe headaches. I actually had only a single, mild headache over the past four weeks, a time period that would normally be highlighted by at least 4 severe headaches and a migraine. Most striking to me though is that I have completely broken my dependence on coffee, and caffeine generally, with no noticeable withdrawal symptoms. In sharp contrast to my last cold-turkey caffeine abstinence that was highlighted by excruciating headaches, this go around was super pleasant and refreshing.
The second manifestation of compassion that has led me down this path is compassion for other humans. I think that the evidence is clear that the industrial production of animal goods takes a massive toll on the environment, which affects all of humanity. Perhaps more importantly, industrial production of these animal goods has an adverse impact on the health of those individuals that are involved in the process of creating such products. I do not want to continue to support efforts that will cause suffering for other humans, either directly or indirectly.
The third, and perhaps more obvious, facet of compassion that motivates my transition is compassion for non-human animals. At it’s simplest expression, I hold that exploiting animals for non-essential human needs is wrong; this exploitation causes suffering, which is not compassionate. I decided to act on this belief.
Currently, I hesitate to label myself as vegan; I’m not there yet. It will take me a while to get to a point where other aspects of my life – outside the realm of food – can reflect a commitment to veganism in a meaningful way. In the meantime, I do find using the label of vegan is a handy way to convey my eating preferences and general outlook to others without a lot of explanation.
It is not my intention to be preachy about my decision to move to a plant-based diet; however, I will strive to act as an advocate and resource for change whenever possible. For those of you who are interested, I would like to share – over the coming weeks – here on the blog some of the resources that have led me to this decision. Please feel free to read or view them if you desire, but don’t feel that I will love you less if you choose not to.