Go ahead, call that an aggressive title… but I did get your attention right?
But then ask yourself, would you eat an animal?
In a world where we have become increasingly unhealthy when it comes to disease, body image, physical and mental fitness, etc., perhaps we should all reconsider our answer.
Yes, I am proudly vegan and I have been for a long time—but I am not here to preach. I have always believed that everyone is free to live their life how they please. But, in order to make the best choices to live the best life, everyone must be educated!
Some of us are but most of us aren’t. Not sure which category you fall into? If you refuse to check ingredients or read nutritional info or watch movies such as Earthlings, Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, etc., then guess what? You probably should suck it up and do so. To be honest, I don’t care if you choose to stuff your belly with processed chemical filled foods afterward; I just want you to know what you are putting in your body. Because guess what? What you put in your body matters!
If you can suck it up and try eating a whole foods, plant-based diet for one month (apparently 30 days is how long it takes to form habits… amazing TedTalk on that by the way), I guarantee you will feel better. You will notice your energy, body, mind and overall health all improving.
You might, however, feel the opposite effects at first while you adjust to your new ways.
I will admit that this lifestyle is not for everyone. Some of you will experience low iron, low B12 or low protein, and sometimes you have to revert to some old ways to fix it. But most of the time, you can still find solutions in plant-based whole foods. Just be smart about it—monitor your health and transition slowly.
And for those of you who are still calling me crazy and are sick of listening to me, guess what? You can eat meat or dairy if you want to— it’s your life. But I do ask that you take a closer look at those things and avoid the processed, chemical filled items. And in order to do that, you must know where your food is coming from.
This brings me to another thing I love, buying local! Support your community and know exactly where your food is coming from and therefore what you are putting in your body. And now some of you will groan about convenience or cost. My answer: you can save yourself the hassle by stocking up every week or two and making use of that thing in your home called a freezer. And can you really put a price on your health? Believe it or not, you can eat a healthy vegan diet for pretty cheap. My parents (who eat meat) can even back me up by saying that they spent more money on the meat they bought than the veggies when I was growing up.
So what the heck do I eat?
I eat a lot and I love every bite. Our world is evolving and the options for vegans are endless. I don’t even find it hard to be vegan, soy free and gluten free if I try. And these options actually taste good and make you feel good! And shockingly, you can actually get completely sufficient protein and calcium from plant based sources if you educate yourself about what to eat.
Now I hope you don’t think that I live some sheltered life, and you have to as well if you choose this lifestyle. Because I will gladly share some beers and French fries with you at some point and believe it or not I can go to any bar or restaurant and find many things that work for me.
Moderation is key to everything in life.
We have to spoil ourselves at times by giving into temptation. If you allow yourself to do this, you will notice the urges may become less frequent. This is also an important lesson to consider when you begin to make life changes. I do not recommend going cold turkey (I just realized I have no idea where that saying came from) and cutting it all out, because you may have intense cravings. Think of it as a slowly but surely kind of process and see what happens.
I was born into not liking seafood (most people grow into an acquired taste for that stuff anyway, so I just missed the boat… literally) and then cut out meat as a youngster once I realized that I was contributing to the suffering of so many lovely animals (I actually would get sick thinking about it and then couldn’t eat). As I aged, and educated myself further, I saw how so many other foods were connected to animal suffering and decided to cut them out one by one in hopes of helping my health, the animals and the environment.
And let me also inform you, I was an incredibly active, athletic, high achiever kind of kid and my diet choices never once affected any of this! But you have to be smart about it! I was trained from a young age (thank you supporting parents) to check labels for protein, iron, B12, calcium, etc., to ensure I was still getting all of my nutrients… (no wonder I’m usually left to go grocery shopping alone now).
So please understand there is no need to ask yourself: what does she eat, why isn’t she thinner, where does she get her protein, does she eat too much soy, can she go to restaurants, are her groceries super expensive, and so on. Because I am just living an ordinary life and I am just fine.
Doubtful? I am always up for answering questions, cooking you a meal, writing you a grocery list, etc. So don’t worry!
And yes, I am a realist and I know there are even more than two sides to every story… but hopefully you enjoyed my portion.
And I will remind you again, you can live your life however you like. But please make sure your choices support you living your best life (most of the time)… if in fact you do want to live your best life. Which I hope you do!
I am not here to preach. I am here to inform. I am here to help. I am here to spread love.
Kyla MacKinnon resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where she teaches yoga for a living. Her love for living a happy and healthy life, enjoying food, getting sweaty, traveling the world, connecting with new people and improving the lives of others have all contributed to her urge to share the above article with you. Please contact [email protected] for further info.
Asst. Ed. Caroline Scherer