Vegucation: Mindful and Healthy Eating for Your Body, the Welfare of the Planet and Our Future

So, let’s talk about research and education about food, health, nutrition, animal welfare and environmental impact.

For my Dutch friends: click here for the Dutch version.

Intro
Before transitioning into veganish, I used to loooove our steak, sashimi, steak tartare, carpaccio, eggs, lattes, etc. I grew up in The Netherlands, where the standard dinner is fairly simple: boiled or mashed potatoes, with vegetables, and a piece of meat; usually in the form of meatballs, sausages, or other processed meats. Breakfast includes (white) bread with cheese and a glass of milk. Lunches aren’t any different, but this time around the bread will be topped with butter & chocolate sprinkles, roast beef, chicken, tuna or eggs. I have to admit I never really enjoyed eating this diet, and when I grew older my mum experimented more with our dinners. She cooked various dishes like pastas and Asian meals, which are great, but always included some form of animal product.

When I moved out of my parental house and went through life as a student, I still continued to eat meat, but maybe a bit less because of my budget. Some of my friends were vegetarian, but I never took any interest in eating less meat. We loved tapas and BBQ nights with the girls, which always included lots of salads but also meat.

Veganish: A person who is beginning to be conscious of how much animal product (s)he consumes and is taking the first steps on a long path to veganism

My transition
When social media became popular I got introduced to healthy foods that are nourishing to your body. Here is where I started my journey to eating healthier, experimenting with new ingredients, making green smoothies and juices, and overall researching about what I was putting into my body.

When I moved to Australia in 2014, I was amazed by two things: the health and fit culture that is taking over the nation vs fast food restaurants and obese people everywhere I look. Lattes-to-go are a big thing in Melbourne, so I started consuming more dairy. My meat intake increased too, because Australians are the biggest meat eaters in the world; eating a whopping 111.2 kg pp per year (the USA is the biggest meat consumer eating 120kg pp/py vs Bangladesh eating only 4kg pp/py. Dutchies are eating 85.5 kg pp/py). It was easy to buy good quality steaks, fish, lamb and chicken because we’re led to think that we live in a country that has lots of room to raise livestock. Unfortunately, we foolishly believe in the grassy areas with free-roaming animals as portrayed in all the ads.

“I always thought: ‘Oh they’ll do it [slaughter] in a nice way.’

Which is ironic, because there is no nice way to kill someone who doesn’t want to be killed.”

When I gained weight, I started conduct more research into what I was putting into my body. I went back to green smoothies and juices, but I also gradually made the choice to eat less meat. Because I am the one cooking most meals in our household, I introduced meatless nights. There are tons of recipes you can find on the internet to substitute meat and make flavoursome dishes with whole foods. Our first changes included eating more fish, less meat, and vegetarian/vegan at least twice a week.

I called myself a flexitarian/reducitarian: eating a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat

When I received positive feedback from friends, family and colleagues about my veganish dishes, I started looking into meatless options and recipes even more. I watched heaps of documentaries, and sometimes forced my boyfriend to watch them too. I now am a firm believer to educate yourself about what we are putting in our body, and then make rational decisions about what is best and the most sustainable for YOU and YOUR body/lifestyle.

After watching some documentaries that I will list below, I started to make gradual changes:

  • I switched my full cream milk latte to an almond milk latte – to now drinking long blacks or espressos.
  • Eating even more veganish meals on a day-to-day basis
  • I started ordering the vegetarian or vegan options in restaurants
  • I found out all my regular lunch spots had veganish options, and now there’s even a vegan cafe across the road from where I work
  • When we consume eggs, we really try to buy the most free-range eggs possible. CluckAR is a great app to detect free-range eggs. I started buying either Family Homestead Free-Range Eggs (Stocking density per hectare = 750) or buying them from the local farm. In the future we really would love to keep our own chooks.

My body and mind started to transition; I felt more energised and positive

Because of these changes, I now even felt like going to the gym, walking to work, doing some stretches at night – just to MOVE! I used to pass out in bed by 9.30/10pm, but now I am often still awake at 11pm or later because I am not tired yet. After introducing dietary changes I started feeling more positive, energised, and overall better. My skin cleared up, the acne I had been struggling since my teenage years has almost magically disappeared, the inflammation in my neck and shoulders is gone, and I even lost some weight!

“I wish people cared as much about the Earth as they did about who they think created it.”

And while learning about and adapting to these lifestyle changes, I decided that I simply cannot justify the fact to eat something that comes from an animal that I love. An animal that has suffered… Meat that is filled with fear, adrenaline, hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Just… WHY? Because we like the way it tastes? By finding recipes for veggie burgers, pastas, tacos, etc. I found out I like the way the VEGANISH options taste way better than the actual taste of meat. Plus there’s this big bonus: it’s all cruelty free.

In the docos below you’ll see that there is a reason why these slaughterhouses are based in rural areas, and why animal transportation is done mostly at night. Can you imagine being confronted by the actual suffering and killing of animals on a day to day basis? I’m sure you’ve all heard the famous saying “If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian.” Well, when you think about it, that quote is true.

One example portrayed in one of these docos is the scenario when you put a bunny rabbit and an apple in a room with a 2-year old child. Ask yourself: when will the child decide to play with the apple, and eat the bunny rabbit? There are also tons of videos out there about the moment kids find out the stuff on their plate actually comes from the animals they play with on the farm – and this hurts and confuses them. If you seriously take a moment to realise what is actually on your plate, the way these children in the videos do, would you still want to eat this piece of meat? Could you take that moment the next time you’ll have meat on your plate? Just think about what are you exactly eating, and why? Where did it come from? What nutrition is in it? And more importantly, what other stuff is in it?

Some quick facts about the animals we eat:

  • Cows have “best friends” and get stressed when separated. They can solve puzzles and get excited (and jump) when they solve something. They can recognise faces.
  • Pigs outsmart dogs and chimpanzees. Some believe they are even smarter than 3-year old human children.
  • Chickens have some sense of numbers and they possess the characteristics of self-control and self-awareness.
  • Sheep are actually so smart they make ‘executive decisions’ and have long memories, remembering friends for two years. They can remember faces, be they other sheep or human.

The products we eat, like meat, eggs and milk, are coming from real animals, not just a package in the supermarket. Because animal products in today’s society is so mainstream, you just never really stop to think about what you are actually putting into your body.

“Remember he shouted and cried before he died. You don’t see that on the packaging.”

When I made my changes and starting to think more about what is on my plate, I came to the realisation that:

  • I make this choice for me; to make me feel good about my decisions and to nourish my body and mind in a positive and ethical way.
  • I do this to get motivated by something that’s important to me and to find purpose into motivating others by getting them to make small changes with big impact.
  • I do it for the animal welfare. I cannot support an industry that abuses, tortures and kills beings that don’t want to be killed.
  • I do it for the environmental impact. Living a whole food plant based diet is far more sustainable for the future and can help us save the planet we share (did you know the oceans could be depleted by 2048, animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of all Amazon rainforest deforestation, and that we kill over 56 billion farmed animals every year?)
  • We can end world hunger. The more meat we eat, the fewer people we can feed.
  • That I love the way these “new” food options taste, and I seriously now dislike the taste, smell and thought of eating animal products.

You are the only one that can make the change. Start slowly. See, feel and experience the results, and make even better choices along the way.

Tips

Hopefully my post and these documentaries, books and videos below have motivated you to make better choices for yourself, the animals and the planet. Here are my final tips that could help and motivate you:

  • Start slowly, don’t make radical changes overnight. It’s a transition and process, that will be easier if you ease yourself into it. Your body will adapt and your mind will change – I personally now don’t like the taste, texture and smell of meat anymore, and I get excited about vegies!
  • Nobody is perfect. Don’t expect to be the most perfect vegetarian/flexitarian/vegan person out there. If you still have some leather shoes, goose down coats and silk tops in your closet, or some creamer in your coffee, or you notice the restaurant cooked your meal in butter… don’t freak out. Again – nobody is perfect and trying to do your best is better than trying not at all. 
  • Find a group of people / friends that motivates each other. Find yourself a buddy to share recipes with. An online community to read more about what is going on in the world. And along the way, you’ll probably find out there so many people close to you that are actually making the same changes as you.
  • Stop putting a label on yourself and everything. Just do YOU. The image below will show you what exactly you’ll save per day by going vegan. So if you feel like that some meat every once in a while, but 99% of the time you’ll avoid animal products, then you know that you are making the right choices for yourself, your body, the animals and the environment in a sustainable way.
  • Ignore critics, haters, doubters and people who don’t believe in your beliefs.

Now I really want to share these documentaries with you. I don’t want to turn into this annoying, pushy holistic hippie; but simply watch some of these docos and YouTube videos by clicking on the link – and then decide for yourself.

Click here for 9 MUST SEE docos

If you have any recommendations, feel free to comment!


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