Veganuary is almost upon us. Here’s 10 tips for anyone giving veganism a try.
- Always remember you are doing the right thing
Embracing veganism is exactly the right thing to do. Veganism benefits so many aspects of existence on earth (and certainly too many for this short article). Some are:-
a) Health. With every mouthful of food you ingest you are making a decision on whether you turn your body into an environment that either:-
- attacks serious illness; or
- fertilises serious illness to thrive
Eat vegan and you will be immensely healthier. And you’ll be improving the overall health of society. Not to mention avoiding antibiotics fed to farm animals now driving the rise of super bugs. Similarly significant accountability for deadly diseases transmitting from animals to humans lies with livestock production. Three times in the last century (1918, 1957 and 1968) and again in 2009, influenza jumped from birds or pigs to humans. Such past pandemics claimed millions of people’s lives. Bird flu could become the 21st century plague. It has been described as the greatest potential threat to the human race.
b) Human habitability on Earth. The phrase ‘Save the planet’ is a complete misnomer. Regardless of how much humanity screws up, planet Earth will still exist. There won’t though be any humans or any other life as we know it. If you want Earth to remain habitable the easiest change of greatest impact you can make is to go vegan. Animal agriculture has a devastating effect on air, land, soil, water, biodiversity and climate extreming. The planet will be a stunningly better place without animal industry greenhouse gases, sewage and other toxic animal waste products. The sixth mass extinction is rapidly gaining momentum. If/when humanity is added to the ever growing list of species in that extinction, it will be humanity’s self inflicted extinction by natural selection. The UN have said the irreversible tipping point is 2030. At current climate extreming rates, humanity will do well to still exist at the end of this century. Climate extreming generated food and water scarcity in the next 3 decades is predicted to generate socio-politicial conflict ending structured human civilisation by 2050.
c) Economics. The combined savings to healthcare and the planet by adopting veganism is multi trillion dollar. Non-veganism is the great economic con of humanity. Using animals for food is a jaw droppingly inefficient use of money, land, water, energy and food. e.g. Why waste grain or soy feeding it to cattle when it could feed people? There’s millions of poor people dying to be fed a full meal.
d) Compassion. Animal industry operates on the principle of the powerful exploiting the weak. In any situation imagine yourself in the position of the victim. Veganism is rejection of a gigantic establishment con. Marketing gimmicks and euphemisms are very different from the reality of systematic animal commoditisation, enslavement, abuse, violence, torture and slaughter. Even the word “meat” is a euphemism for animal flesh. If we take ‘humane’ to mean something we are happy to be done to ourselves, why don’t people volunteer for the violence of ‘humane slaughter’ given to animals? Nor why don’t people volunteer their sons to be ground up while alive at a day old as per what the egg industry does to male chicks? From the earliest years children are fed animal derived food products. This produces a culture where slavery, cruelty and violence against other creatures is conditioned and supported by the most routine of society’s rituals, family meal time. This ritually sanctioned cruelty then manifests itself in other parts of society, e.g. in violence against women. Is it such a surprise so many mass murderers have histories of torturing animals? Buying non-vegan products supports a culture where not just routine but systematic slavery, abuse, cruelty and violence is accepted.
Bear in mind other forms of vegetarianism are sub-optimal choices. The egg industry is the same as the chicken industry. The dairy industry is the same as the beef industry. Consume dairy or eggs and you’re still:-
- glooping your body up with stuff you’re far better without
- sponsoring destruction of the planet
- consuming earth’s resources with barely imaginable economic inefficiency
- sponsoring systematic birth-to-slaughter cruelty, abuse and violence
2. Be aware of the misinformation tsunami
Your monetary value as a consumer over your life time is immense. There is also the effect you will have on those around you. The meat / dairy / egg / fish / sea food lobbies are one and the same. They won’t give you up without a hell of a fight. Prepare for them to hit you with a tsunami of misinformation and lies. They want to demonise veganism to try to win you back.
(Systematic motherhood exploitation by the dairy industry is totally different from what Tesco want to mislead you with this advert)
Don’t be conned by big business and their fake citizens groups and their payrolled academics trying to present the perception of unbiased opinion. Consider getting a health check to give you a baseline against which to measure veganism. Even relatively simple stuff like weight, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, urine test, blood test; such results can give you hard and fast metrics. Then get another test some time in future (six months? Twelve months?). The improvements should be inarguable regardless of what any lobby group says. Don’t use waiting for the health check as a reason to delay trying vegan. The sooner you’re vegan the better for everyone. If the health check is after you start trying vegan then no issue.
3. As 450 000 others have, try the free online 21 day vegan kickstart
4. Don’t expect to get everything right especially at the beginning
Everybody learns new things everyday. Animal products crop up in all sorts of things. Give it your best shot. When it turns out something has sneaked past your defences, don’t beat yourself up. Stay positive, learn from experience and move forward. See point 5.
5. Use technology
- Is it vegan is a mobile tool for anyone interested in eliminating animal products from their diet. Scan a food / beverage bar code with your phone and the app answers the question, Is it vegan?
- Vegan Passport – languages open doors. Simple is genius. This app is a great for people who travel
- HappyCow – an international listing directory of venues that include vegan products in their stock. Disclaimer though, there are categorisation and other errors on there for many, many listings. There’s never any harm asking questions yourself when visiting a place
- Barnivore – There’s plenty stuff out there on the harmful effects of booze. Like it or not though booze is a massive industry with billions of people in the customer base. Fish, cow or pig extract and other non-vegan ingredients are widely used as manufacturing aids for alcoholic drinks. This sounds odd at first but remember this; we live in a world where most people consider eating animal corpses is normal. Barnivore is a booze directory website to help vegan boozers avoid pitfalls. It also has links to apps that run on top of it
There’s also other apps such Animal Free, Cruelty-Free, Choose Cruelty Free etc.
6. Seek out others
Strength comes from togetherness. It’s easy to find nearby people embracing veganism in the internet age. There’s ever increasing material being produced about toxic effects of social media increasingly making people e.g. less empathetic and more tribal. (update: In hindsight there is regrettably an element of speaking from experience in that before seeing the light and checking out of social media). Meeting people in person is a much more personable idea.
7. Learn how to recognise someone talking to you is clueless about nutrition
As surely as Batman drives a batmobile they will ask you the following words:-
“Where do you get your protein?”
Getting protein is easy from plants. It’s non-vegans that should be concerned about their protein since animal foods:-
a) are too high in their protein levels for optimal human health
b) have protein that have negative effects on the human body (animal and plant proteins have different molecular chemistry)
c) come packaged with a whole bunch of other nasties the human body is better off without
As the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine state, “To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much, protein, simply replace animal products with grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight, the body gets plenty of protein.”
(Vegan ultra athlete, Rich Roll)
There’s a variety of great vegan athletes out there. They perform at the upper limit of physical human capability. They get sufficient protein so why can’t anyone who has adequate access to food?
8. Eat the rainbow
That there’s different nutrients in different plant derived foods is visible from the different colours. A diet consisting of this vast array of nutrients working in concerto is what packs a healthy punch. Thus eat as wide a variety of different coloured plant foods as you can to enjoy that synergy.
(Pic: Bart Everson)
9. Make long term B12 deficiency a no no
It’s simple enough with the info at this B12 factsheet.
10. Movie time
- Health – Eating You Alive (website with trailer)
- Health / athletic performance – The Game Changers (website with trailer)
- Environment – Cowspiracy (trailer)
- Animal cruelty and abuse – Lucent (trailer)
- Animal cruelty and abuse –Earthlings (full movie with Chinese subtitles)
- This updated speech by Gary Yourofsky is brilliant if you want a shorter intro to the areas mentioned above. Or if you prefer with a choice of language subtitles here is the original version.
- Non Human Animals: Crash Course Philosophy 9+ mins excellent presentation on animal ethics
- Industry lobbying – Merchants of Doubt (trailer). This isn’t vegan specific but nicely shows how techniques perfected by the tobacco lobby have been deployed by other industries to mislead the public. Expect the same techniques from the likes of the animal agriculture lobby
So that’s the 10 tips. The choice is yours.