A few words about what all this vegan and raw food stuff is, anyway.

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What is veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle that avoids the consumption of animal products–be they foods, clothing or accessories.

What are raw foods?

Raw foods are foods that have not been heated above
115-118 degrees (different raw foodists have different ideas about which temperature is right; I tend to not be too nitpicky about that).

Why should I eat raw  and plant based foods?

Ethics

Our animal neighbors are sentient, self-aware, and capable of experiencing both pleasure and pain. They deserve our respect, and they deserve freedom. Animal agriculture is responsible for the death of over 56 billion animals worldwide each year–not counting fish, who have also been shown to possess sentience and a capacity for suffering. Even animals raised under the most “humane” circumstances–which is to say, even some of the cows that are grass fed, and chickens that are “free range”–suffer tremendously to become or provide human food.

We all have the power to opt out of a system in which animal life is devalued and exploited by choosing the vegan lifestyle. Vegan diets are healthy, flavorful, and fun; vegan clothing and accessories are increasingly accessible to consumers. With every grocery, restaurant, and clothing purchase you make, you have the power to object to animal cruelty and support a compassionate world view. And you can do it all without sacrificing taste or pleasure.

The Environment

Using crops like wheat, soy, and corn to feed animals on factory farms is grossly inefficient. It takes 16 pounds of grain and soy to produce one pound of beef and 3 pounds to produce 1 pound of chicken or egg. More than 70% of grain and cereal grown domestically is fed to farmed animals, in spite of our own human hunger crisis. Various advocates suggest that we can remedy this problem with small farming models, which is true to an extent, but of course that solution doesn’t take into account the issue of animal sentience and suffering.

It takes between 20 and 50 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables or fruit; it takes 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat and almost 1,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. An exclusively plant-based diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while an average omnivorous diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. In a world with increasingly limited supplies of clean water, this feels criminally wasteful.

Meanwhile, the UN estimates that approximately 30% of the earth’s entire land mass is devoted to animal agriculture. The cost is enormous: it takes 3.25 acres of land to feed a meat-eating person on a continuing basis, while only a sixth of an acre is needed to feed a plant-based eater. The UN has also stated that agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere yearly than do the fossil fuels from cars.

Animal agriculture is economically and environmentally ruinous. But none of us are powerless against the system: we can all choose to protest and remedy the damage of factory farming three times a day: by putting plant-based meals on our plates.

What About Health?

Nutrients

Many foods lose natural vitamin and phytonutrient content in the cooking process: water-soluble vitamins (including B vitamins and vitamin C) are especially susceptible to depletion via heating. Other nutrients are made more bioavailable through the cooking process, so it’s wise to eat a balance of both raw and cooked vegetables. That said, learning how to prepare raw food can be a fascinating lesson in eating food that’s a little bit closer to nature, and relying less on packaged ingredients.

Digestive Health

Plant based food (vegetables, fruits, juices, nuts, seeds, and grains) is rich in fiber, which helps to keep our digestive tracts healthy and regular. Though it’s important to ease into eating a vegan diet gradually, so as not to disrupt your digestion too much, you may find that eating more vegan meals helps your elimination, digestion, and energy.

Overall Health Advantages

Vegetarians may have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer, according to the American Heart Association. The American Dietetic Association has stated that, “the results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals.”

Learning More

Vegan Starter Kits / Aid

These online, free starter kits will help you take the first big step toward plant based living:

Information About Vegan Nutrition

Books on vegan and raw diet nutrition:

Brenda Davis, Becoming Vegan

Brenda Davis, Becoming Raw

Ginny Messina, Vegan For Life