Happy World Vegetarian Day! Yup, there’s actually an international holiday to celebrate this lifestyle choice. This year you can actually win cash for trying out a vegetarian diet! Not only do you get to make a statement against the horrors of animal cruelty, factory farming, water and air pollution, you get to see what it’s like to eat a cleansing diet and potentially win money from the North American Vegetarian Society. Choosing full-time vegetarianism isn’t for everyone. That’s why here we write about veg-friendly living rather than push any one diet. Adopting a plant-based diet is a better way to broach the subject – what many people are calling flexitarian.
Labels: do they matter?
Labels get kinda tired after a while, so these days I joke I’m a mooditarian. Doesn’t mean I eat anything, but I try to listen to what my body needs and feed it accordingly. Here we applaud vegans who have their diets figured out. But it doesn’t take becoming vegan or even full-time vegetarian to help save natural resources and eat a conscious diet, though it’s a humongous step. (Agriculture is one of the largest cause for gas emissions and water waste. Vegans who stay away from leather products are standing up against animal cruelty and toxic practices.)
Smart plant-based eating. Choosing a vegetarian lifestyle requires planning and cooking. It helps if you actually fall in love with healing food and dive into the kitchen, like I have. It’s important to choose foods high in omega 3′s and protein that feel right for one’s body. Processed, high-carb foods like mac ‘n’ cheese or commercial soy products can contain GMO‘s, pesticides, or lack much in the way of nutrients. Some animal protein sources like anchovies, sardines, and grass-fed beef are not necessarily bad for you; they’re actually nutrient-rich and nowhere as bad for the environment as commercial meat. However, the methane from grass-fed beef poses a toll on the environment that kale and legumes don’t! Choosing legumes, root vegetables, nuts, sea vegetables, healthy fats like avocados and flax seed oil and super foods like cacao help form the base of a healthy plant-based diet. Support organic farming when you can, use the EWG “Dirty Dozen” guide.
Detoxing. After eating an omnivorous diet for years, starting from scratch with a vegetarian diet for a day, week, month, or year can be cleansing in both mind and body. Eating a raw vegan diet can even be spiritually transformative, as experienced by the owners of Cafe Gratitude. Most meat, unless organic, carries antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals. Meat takes long to digest, as opposed to fiber-rich food that actually cleans the intestines. Some even believe the adrenaline caused by the suffering the animals endure is still in the animal tissue.
Weight loss. You could lose weight abstaining from meat, if you make smart food choices. I’ve kept about ten pounds off shifting to a veg-friendly diet since 1993. I used to eat Wendy’s, weekly steak, and fried food until I discovered how much lighter and healthier I could feel centering my diet around vegetables. Once I learned the horrible conditions behind the Meatrix, I didn’t want to be a part of it.
- Learn more on Plant-based Diet for Beginners: How to get Started, which I wrote for Mind Body Green
- Sign up for my upcoming Green Smoothies class at 18 Reasons
- Get a free Veg-Starter Kit
- Read Mark Bittman’s “Meat Guzzler” article to learn why meat sucks up resources
- Avoid leather if you can! Check out the upcoming first Vegan Fashion show in SF and fashion finds posted here
- Sign up for the Meatless Monday Campaign and just skip meat once a week