My awareness of the true damages of the standard American diet (SAD) began during my nursing career. I worked in the intensive care setting of a large hospital for over 5 years, specializing in the care of cardiac surgery patients. The majority of these patients had a long history of heart disease. I was trained in the treatment of these patients through surgical intervention and medical management. To be clear, by the time these patients arrived in my care, surgery was often their only option. Sometime around year 3 of my nursing career, I started thinking more about prevention.
Avoiding animal products while consuming a whole-food, plant heavy diet has been associated with longevity and decreased risk of chronic health issues such as cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. The key here is a plant HEAVY diet. Plants = fiber. High fiber intake may be the key to what makes a vegan diet so beneficial. Many refined foods exist in vegan forms - did you know that Oreos are "accidentally vegan"? In order to reap the benefits of a vegan diet, it's imperative to keep the focus on REAL foods, as close to their natural state as possible: Fresh vegetables and fruits, herbs, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes/beans. Limit, or ideally avoid, processed foods that are high in calories, salt, and sugar, while low in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Did you know that 1.7 million deaths WORLDWIDE can be attributed to low vegetable and fruit intake? Not to mention the leading risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, is highly modifiable through diet and lifestyle choices. This does not, and will not, eliminate the need for pharmaceutical and surgical intervention, but proper prevention can dramatically decrease these needs.
A major downfall of our healthcare system is that most physicians are not trained in nutrition. In fact, many medical schools do not offer any nutrition coursework. It is often up to the physician to seek out further education and this is often limited by time and availability. A more effective approach to this model is the implementation of well-trained nutritionists and dietitians to provide support and guidance. This is my passion and this is the goal of The Variant Veggie. I want you to feel empowered to be an active participant in your health and wellbeing.
We have created a society that feels helpless to the state of their own health. Let's change that together.
The vegan journey started for me as a result of some articles surfacing around thanksgiving 2013. I had never fully allowed myself to think about the treatment of the animals I was consuming, but once I started to learn, there was no going back. This information, in combination with my interest in prevention of disease through healthy diet and lifestyle, made me switch over to a vegetarian diet pretty abruptly. After another 2 months went by, with more researching and learning, my husband and I had transitioned to a completely vegan diet at home.
I had always been an advocate for animals, but I realized I was placing pets and farm animals in two different categories. I began to realize the holes in this logic. This was just a societal way of thinking. I mean, pigs are more intelligent and emotionally connected than dogs. My view became this: if I can survive (more like thrive if you've read the health benefits section above) while not eating any sentient creatures, why would I live life any other way?
I won't get too involved here, as the main focus on my blog is nutrition and health, but if you have more questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I do my best to live both a dietary and ethically vegan lifestyle.
It may not be a surprise to you that animal agriculture is also reeking havoc on our environment. This industry accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, uses over 34 trillion gallons of water annually (most of this going toward crops to feed animals // it takes 2500 gallons to produce 1 lb. of beef), and livestock covers over 45% of the TOTAL LAND ON EARTH.
To summarize, we won't have the resources to continue feeding a growing population of meat eaters much longer. It requires 18x the land to feed a meat eater when compared to a vegan (1/6th acre).
If you haven't check out the Netflix documentary Cowspiracy, I highly recommend it.