By Sumer Dene
When I was 10 years old, my mom let me make a fundamental life decision. I was a vegetarian from birth and was given the choice to eat meat. Around the same time, my step dad offered me $100 to eat a piece of steak. I didn’t take his offer. My taste buds never acquired the need for meat at a young age, which made it easy for me to turn it down and find other nutrient-dense foods to nourish my body. A child doesn’t make the connection where meat and dairy comes from, they simply correlate savory tastes and flavors to perfectly packaged and marketed animal products. As adults they are programmed to disconnect from the food on their plate. After not eating animals for the last 24 years of my life, the most difficult part is finding options in a meat-centered society. Fortunately, the market is changing due to high demand, especially among millennials.
Favorably, people are becoming inspired to eat plant-based foods. They are learning it’s a lot easier than they thought and that plant-based foods can have a similar delectable taste that sends the same signals to the brain as would a ribeye steak. Plant-based foods are becoming more popular and convenient. For most of us, eating meat is a choice and not a necessity. Because of issues such as world hunger, global warming, and animal suffering, eating animals has become an ethical issue. According to Psychology Today, environmentalists encourage us to cut down on meat consumption in favor of vegetable foods that are better for the environment. The Food and Agriculture organization states that raising livestock takes about 80% of all agricultural land and produces just 18% of the world’s calories.
Since prehistoric times, humans have been hunters and gatherers. However, it is different in modern society. Many systems put in place are outdated, and need to be reassessed as a whole. Animals are treated as commodities in a society dominated by large-scale animal agriculture corporations. People pay industries to mass produce and slaughter animals for them. This is unnatural in many ways compared to how our ancestors derived food. Agriculture has become an industry concerned with profit, and not about sustaining life. Meat was a necessity for our ancestors who hunted to survive; now it has become something you order off the dollar menu. Corporations genetically modify, chemically alter, and artificially inseminate animals confined in small cages at concentrated animal feeding operations. These animals aren’t here by God’s choice, they were bred into existence unnaturally to be slaughtered at a young age. Plants also are genetically altered and doused in harmful chemicals. The message society is sending to consumers is in order to be healthy; you must be wealthy. Is this the message that will continue?
The word “meat” became indirectly marketed with masculinity. However, many top athletes, including Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Serena Williams, and Lewis Hamilton, are adding plant-based protein to their diet, and winning as a result. Kendrick Farris is the only U.S. weightlifter qualified for the Olympics. Aside from breaking records, a plant based diet has helped him decrease recovery time, and improve mood, sleep and energy levels. Meat is a dense tissue and takes massive amounts of energy to break down. The same energy resources could be spent for regeneration, detoxification, and recovery after exercise. “We shouldn’t get so caught up with ‘protein’ because you can get an excess of protein, and most of it just gets passed through the body.” States Farris. All plants have varied amounts of protein that add up throughout the day. Foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, and algae match the protein density found in animal products.
The point of a whole-foods plant-based diet is to be conscious of what you put in your body. Cultures that enjoy health and longevity consume the least amount of animal products. Okinawa, Japan has the highest life expectancy. They believe in mindful eating; they take the time to think about what and how they’re consuming food. Okinawans eat less seafood than most Japanese, and instead of rice, sweet potatoes are the staple food in the traditional cuisine. Their diet is abundant in green and yellow vegetables, fruit, and various soy products. According to BBC, Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other aging populations. A plant-based lifestyle is for anyone who wants to look and feel their best. It is not a fad or a trend, it’s a way of life and it is here to stay.
The Economist declares 2019 will be the “Year of the Vegan,” while Forbes predicts more people will “embrace a plant-based lifestyle.” According to The Economist, a quarter of millenial Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian. Forget fad diets, short term goals, and depriving yourself of foods. A lifestyle and mindset change is all you need to maintain health and wellness. A whole-foods plant-based lifestyle is about adding nutritious, delicious plant-based foods to your life for a lifetime. Instead of trying to follow a strict regimen, add plant-based diversity to your diet and find a balanced lifestyle suitable to your unique nutritional needs.
More people are developing a vegetable friendly palate. Social media is helping people learn new recipes, join support groups, and swap animal for plant-based protein. There are many reasons to choose nutritious food that loves you back. This movement is expanding every day. It could be for health and athletic endurance, the animals, your taste buds, ethics, or for the environment. Animals are good to us. They give us companionship, unconditional love, and forgiveness. Yet they become slaves to us for food, clothing, experiments, and entertainment which causes them great suffering. We separate each other by class, race, sex, and species. Rather than observing each other as a part of a greater whole, we build imaginary boundaries. As long as humans see other living beings as subservient to them, we will never achieve world peace.
Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin
- 1 pasture-raised egg
- 3 bananas
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup almond butter
- ½ cup walnuts or almonds (or a mix of both)
- ½ cup enjoy life semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 ½ cup almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp distilled white vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup pure cane sugar
Grease muffin pan or use silicone muffin tray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bananas in thin slices, add vanilla extract and mash. Mix almond butter, nuts, egg, and sugar together then stir. Add flour, baking soda, distilled white vinegar, chocolate chips, and salt. Stir thoroughly. Bake for 20 minutes.
Blueberry Açaí smoothie
- 1 Sambazon açaí superfruit pack
- 1 cup Blueberries
- 1 Banana
- ½ cup Goodbelly Blueberry Acai Probiotic juice or Organic Greek yogurt
- ½ cup Almond milk
Thousand Island salad
- Your choice of leafy greens
- 2 tsp flaxseed meal
- 4 Cherry Tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber
- Sunflower seeds
- ½ cup Vegenaise
- 1 tbsp Sweet Pickle Relish
- 1 tsp Ketchup
- A dash of salt