It is natural to have a lot of questions when transitioning to a plant based diet. I’ve tried to answer some of them here, but if you still have questions, please get in touch.
Why should I go plant based?
A well-planned whole food plant based (WFPB) diet can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, leaky gut, and cancer. It has also been proven to improve fitness levels and athletic performance.
In addition, factory farming means that millions of animals are kept in cruel conditions and forced to breed at an unnatural rate before ultimately facing slaughter. Plus, the ecological cost of this model is both devastating and unsustainable. By adopting a plant based diet, you not only save millions of animals per year, but also reduce your carbon footprint.
Where do you get your protein?
Protein comes from plants – animals are simply the middle man. The oldest, largest, and most robust animals on the planet are herbivores. A whole foods, plant based diet provides more than adequate amounts of protein.
What is the difference between “vegan” and “plant based”?
Vegans eliminate all animal-derived products from their diet, including dairy, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and honey. They are also against all forms of animal exploitation and do not wear any clothing made from animals such as leather, fur, or feathers. It’s important to remember that just because a label says that something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Potato chips and cookies can be vegan!
Plant based, on the other hand, means consuming primarily whole (i.e unprocessed or minimally processed) foods.
Is it expensive to go vegan?
The short answer is no. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, grains, nuts, and seeds are relatively inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk and in season. It’s when you buy processed and pre-packaged foods (e.g. vegan burgers, ice cream, sauces and cheese) that things get costly. Therefore, you should only buy these when transitioning into a vegan/plant based lifestyle or as a treat. Most people on a plant based diet eat very simple food that can be easily prepared at a low cost.
Why is dairy bad if the cows don’t die?
Dairy cows are actually the most abused of all factory farm animals. They are continuously impregnated for about four years, at which point they are sent to slaughter. Their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth so that they don’t drink the milk, and they are given drugs and growth hormones to increase milk production (all of which are transferred to the humans that drink it). As a result, dairy products have been linked to sex hormone cancers like breast and prostate cancer. Dairy has also been linked to acne, asthma, gut issues, obesity, and heart disease.
How does eating eggs harm chickens?
Similar to the dairy cow, egg-laying hens in factory farms are severely abused. At birth, their beaks are cut without painkillers, which leaves them unable to drink or eat properly from pain. They are then crammed into 18×24 inch cages with ten others, where they are unable to spread their wings, which would typically spread up to 36 inches each way.
These hens live in filthy conditions full of excrement and have to be given antibiotics to prevent disease. Furthermore, drugs, feed, and light are manipulated in order to increase egg production. After about two years, they are considered “spent” as they can no longer produce the required 250-300 eggs per year. In nature, a hen will lay 10-15 eggs per year and only during the breeding season for the purpose of reproduction.
Why is honey not vegan?
This one falls under animal exploitation. Bees are kept in artificial conditions to produce honey, which is taken away from them at the time of harvest. Honey is a bee’s only food source and is an integral part of the wellbeing of their hives. As in all factory farming, bees are bred and genetically modified to produce more, which exposes them to disease and genetic issues. It takes a bee two weeks of work to produce one teaspoon of honey that was never intended for us.
What about B12?
B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, protecting the nervous systems and providing energy. Humans produce B12 in the colon, meaning it’s unable to be absorbed by the small intestine. B12 is also found in soil, as well as cows and sheep.
There is a misconception that vegans and vegetarians do not get sufficient B12 because they do not eat animals. The truth is that due to modern factory farming and sanitation practices, even farm animals need to be given B12 supplements in their feed. Approximately 1 in 5 meat-eaters is B12 deficient and needs to supplement as a result.
Therefore, everyone should be eating B12-fortified foods such as non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast, as well as supplementing with 250 micrograms per day.
Is soy safe?
Over time, soy has gotten a bad rap. Soybeans are a type of legume native to East Asia and have been consumed for thousands of years. Until recently when Asian countries began to adopt a more western diet, Asians had the lowest incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Soy is loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients and is an excellent source of plant protein. However, it’s the phytoestrogens it contains that have cause it to become demonized. Phytoestrogens are not and do not behave like estrogens. Recent studies show that phytoestrogens in soy actually attach to estrogen and help stop the adverse effects of excess estrogens in the human body. In fact, soy has proved to be protective against sex hormone cancers in both men and women, as well as reduced the reoccurrence in those that have had breast and prostate cancers. Exposure to isoflavones, a compound in soy, early in life may be particularly protective against breast cancer later in life.
Soy may also relieve menopause symptoms and cut the risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. If you are seriously concerned about estrogen, don’t consume dairy. There are more mammalian estrogen, growth hormones and chemical disrupters in dairy, which are proven to be harmful to humans. I buy non-GMO, organic sources of soy such as edamame, miso, soy milk, tofu and tempeh.
Pink Himalaya Salt vs Sea Salt – is one healthier than the other?
The difference between pink Himalayan salt and sea salt (other than colour) is in the trace minerals—84 of all essential trace minerals in pink Himalayan vs. 72 in sea salt. They also differ in how each is produced/harvested. However, both lack iodine. Iodine is important for thyroid health and is naturally present in sea plants. That said, since the differences in health benefits between the two salts are minuscule, quantity really is more important than quality.
Salt is a mineral consisting primarily of sodium chloride. Sodium makes up 40% of salt, the rest is chloride. Although an essential mineral for bodily functions such as regulating blood pressure and nerve function, we only need 1-2 grams of sodium daily, equal to approximately 5 grams (or 1 teaspoon) of salt. The problem is that today, due to processed foods that contain up to 75% of hidden sodium, the average person consumes well over this amount. Too much salt increases blood pressure and has been linked to kidney stones, heart disease, and stomach cancers to name a few. Learning to read nutrition labels is critical to determining just how much salt is in the processed foods we are consuming. Most labels will list sodium instead of salt, therefore you must multiply the amount by 2.5 to get the equivalent salt content. For example, if 100g of food contains 1g of sodium, the salt content of that food will be 2.5g. That’s 50% of the recommended daily intake, so it’s easy to see how we might overconsume on a daily basis.