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?

Health – A well-planned whole food plant based diet reduces the risk of various 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.

Animal and environmental welfare – Millions of animals are bred into existence and kept in cruel conditions before facing slaughter. The ecological cost of this model is devastating and unsustainable. By going plant based, you not only save millions of animals per year, but also reduce your carbon footprint. Climate change is real!

Where do you get your protein?

Protein comes from plants in varying amounts; animals are simply the middle man. The oldest, largest, and most robust animals on the planet eat only plants. A whole foods plant based diet has more than adequate amounts of protein for everyone at every stage of life.

What is the difference between “vegan” and “plant based”?

Vegans eliminate all animal products, including dairy, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and honey. They are also against all animal exploitation (e.g. at a zoo) and do not wear any clothing made from animals such as leather, fur, feathers etc. 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 more expensive to eat 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 load up on processed and pre-packaged foods (e.g. vegan burgers, ice creams, sauces and cheeses) that things get costly. Therefore, you should only use 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 approximately four years, at which time 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 the pain. They are crammed into 18×24 inch cages with ten others where they are unable to spread their wings (which would typically be up to 36 inches each). They live in filthy conditions full of excrement and have to be given antibiotics to prevent disease. Furthermore, drugs, feed and light are manipulated 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. The bees are kept in artificial conditions to produce the honey and it’s 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?

Let me start by saying that B12 is not made by animals; its made by micro-organisms found in soil and from bacteria already in the ruminants of cows and sheep. Humans also produce B12, but in our colon and it’s therefore unable to be absorbed by the small intestine. B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, protecting the nervous systems and providing energy. Due to factory farming and today’s sanitation practices, even farm animals are given B12 in their feed. That said, 1 in 5 meat-eaters are also B12 deficient and need to supplement as a result. Vegans should eat B12 fortified foods such as non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast, as well as supplement with 250 micrograms per day for most people.

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.

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