What if I told you that you could improve your health and greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases, all while making a huge dent in world hunger, increasing the amount of fresh water, and dramatically decreasing exploitation of animals?
I’m going to talk about what I eat. It might inspire you to do something similar. That would be awesome! That would also be a change from what you do now. Whenever you change what you typically eat, you need to talk to your doctor, but you knew that, right? Fantastic!
Now let’s jump in.
A Major Change
A few years ago I was in really bad shape. I was approaching 240 pounds and was not happy or healthy. Sadly, because it happened slowly, over time I didn’t realize it. I was damaging myself and didn’t even notice.
It actually wasn’t health that made me change. It was disgust. I saw a few reports of some fast food chains doing inhumane things to the animals they used for food. In my opinion, it wasn’t the act of finding food from animals that bothered me, but the barbarism and cruelty they used to obtain it.
So I decided to give up beef and pork. Whenever I went out to eat I would end up getting a chicken sandwich or some other alternative. To my surprise, by eating less fatty meat my weight started to go down. Here I was simply trying to be a little more conscious of the impacts my actions were having on the world and it was helping me in the process. I started to realize I had the willpower to change the way I ate. So I did.
At the same time I took it slowly. This was a process that occurred over years. After giving up beef and pork, I gave up soda. That took forever! It was probably two years of on and off soda drinking before I quit. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health. (Soda can comprise over 20% of our calories a day, and just two Cokes a day means over 100 pounds of sugar a year! Yikes!)
I took small steps to improve what I ate and find delicious foods that were better for me. Eventually I created a five serving rule: make sure I get five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with at least 3 of those being vegetables. Then I made my eating plan completely plant-based.
Yep, I eat what you would grow in a garden, sometimes processed (for special treats), but grown. So why did I do that? For several reasons.
- Health: Although I’m not convinced you have to give up all meat and dairy to be healthy, it seems everything I see and everything I read – especially for those of us with desk jobs that aren’t active all day – shows that the more plant-based goodness we get in what we eat, the better. Every diet seems to have a different view of what we need to eat, often contradicting each other, but have you ever seen one that said vegetables are bad for you? Ever?
- Help Starving People: Did you know that it takes a huge amount of food and land to feed animals raised for food? Apparently over a third of total land use is for raising animals for food. Wow!
- Increase Water Supply: Remember the droughts in California and elsewhere? Water can be in short supply and it’s so important. When we eat plants, we save a ton of water that can be used for other things. After all, over two thirds of fresh water consumed is for growing animals for food! Yikes!
- Improve Others’ World (and Ours!): Raising so many animals for food has a large impact on the world. It requires a huge amount of energy and resources to grow food, transport it to livestock, raise and care for livestock, butcher them, package the meat, transport it, and store it. The less meat we eat, the less energy and resources we use to provide food to hungry people.
- More Humane Treatment of Animals: Lastly, and still importantly, there is less chance of mistreatment of animals when they aren’t used for food.
Doing Our Part
So that is why I eat plant-based foods. I am healthy, at a good weight, and feel great. I am also doing quite a bit to help feed hungry people and make more water and other resources available for our fellow humankind simply by how I eat.
So what about you? No, I’m not asking you to give up meat and milk, but I am asking you – what can you do? What if you had one day a week that is entirely plant-based? What if you made sure that you ate five servings of fruits and vegetables a day? You can take small steps to move toward a positive, healthy future or simply make a one time change to make a small impact on your world.
After all, making a small or big change in this area can have a huge, positive impact in your health. In the end, it’s just like most things: the more we do for others, the more we do for ourselves.