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We’re ending 2015 with a chat about the positive aspects and thought provoking data on health and being plant-based that came out this year. Hot topics that rounded out the year were COP21, emerging nutrition science, plant-based athletes, and how to handle sticky situations from friends and family.
In this episode, we covered a few tips on creating a healthier lifestyle, integrating a plant-based diet, or going vegan in 2016. This lively talk offers support and information to those who are making a positive change in the upcoming year. We answer questions from those currently living a more ethical lifestyle and we welcome you to ask about anything you would like answered in our podcast.
Hope came across an article, When is Being Vegan No Longer About Ethical Living?, that examines what we called the “dark side” of the vegan world. Primarily, we mentioned Durian Rider, Freelee the Banana Girl, Gary Yourofsky, and PETA.
Durian Rider recently made a statement blaming domestic abuse on the victim. Though his statement doesn’t directly relate to a plant-based diet but rather provides a strong example of his personality. Freelee and Gary are also known for making over-the-top and shocking statements that shame and put down people. PETA is also known for their gross overstatements, misinformation, and imagery that tend to either turn people away from the core message or open themselves up for high level of criticism from those within the vegan community. One prime example of this is euthanizing animals and stating that animals such as domesticated cats and dogs shouldn’t be pets.
It’s those types of people and groups who tend to play the “you’re not vegan enough” game. The game typically is played by someone saying you’re not doing right unless you do it this way, for the animals not just health, or you still have these products in your house.
We encourage people who are plant-based and those who have started their journey to not let people such Durian, Freelee, Gary, and others to provide a negative view or impression. Secondly, whether you’re vegan for your health, the animals, environment, or any other personal reason, you’re still making an impact and diminishing to the suffering of other living beings as well as helping your health and the health of the planet. The point is distancing yourself from extremism and evaluating where you are. If you do still consume animal products, such as honey (not vegan), don’t beat yourself up over it. Recognize that’s an area that needs work and strive to improve.
As Hope puts it, “not everyone has to be the card carrying vegan”. To that point, many new vegans and vegetarians feel the need to be defensive and put up a wall, ready to attack any incoming criticism. Many also feel the need to do this in attempt to convince others. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work and can have an adverse affect on the movement as well as your personal and social life. The point, overall, is to “take care of yourself” and not having the need to defend your diet and lifestyle.
Of course, we’re not saying you shouldn’t be proud. By all means wear your compassion shirts (even Dave has a few) and represent the lifestyle you (and we) know to be the best for your health, the health of the planet and the well-being of other sentient beings.
We try to live by the idea of leading through positivity and example. To us, this means sharing your food, knowledge, and demonstrating compassion to others – human and animal alike. When met with aggression from others it’s best to remain calm and address their comments with facts instead of returning the aggression back to them.
If you would like to research to help you Hope suggests these books:
It’s important to not feel the need to label yourself, especially when you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle. Growth and understanding flourishes by not defining yourself. Shedding preset ideas and expectations allows you to explore what works for you, who speaks to you, and opens up the space for support in lieu of criticism.
Dave came across such an example while watching a video by HumerusFitness, a new vegan YouTuber, where he made dinner using a sauce with honey in it. Some comments attempted to attack and shame him on this mistake. However, Dave made sure to use positive wording to guide him to a better option rather than attacking.
We encourage replacing non-vegan products left around the house, such as clothing, with more ethical, vegan options. However, for some, that may not be a realistic goal at first. One example Hope gives is a young lady who was required to take medication for her depression. Unfortunately, she didn’t have access to a non-vegan option that would work for her to be healthy and was highly criticized by other vegans for her decision to continue with her medication. This doesn’t make her any less a compassionate vegan person because she needed to take care of her health. Remember, you cannot help others without taking care of yourself first.
No one should be shamed or faulted if you have medication or products that are needed to be healthy and you can’t afford to replace or you can’t obtain an alternative. Please, always consult your physician before stopping any prescribed medication, using an alternative remedy, or adding any supplements to your regimen.
What should you do with nonessential products that can easily be replaced? We suggest donating (shoes, jackets, and clothing) to a shelter or consigning it for those in need. Disposable products, such as makeup, bath, and body cosmetics, can be thrown away or given away. Don’t feel guilty for cleaning out your products – you will be healthier for it!
“Coming out of the pantry” to your family can be scary, especially if you’re from a family where your culture is more meat based like Hope and Dave. Most likely you’ll run into some criticism from those you love. These criticisms stem from those that don’t understand your decision and are trying to find ways to justify something they hold firm to be true. They hold to these beliefs because people don’t like to be told they’re wrong or what/how they were taught was wrong. In many cases, we’ve found, those that are the most critical do so out of a concern for your overall health.
In our opinion, it’s best to let these things roll of your back. Allowing someone to have voice is what they want, and when they see that you’re able to have a healthy and happy life they are more accepting of the decision. You may even inspire them to make changes in their own life if you are not confrontational about the subject.
If someone does have a valid question, it is important to be able to answer those questions or send them information on the subject. The most common questions encountered posed by non-vegans are: where you get your protein? Do you get enough omega acids? Don’t you need milk for calcium? Will you become anemic if you don’t eat meat?
Having a non-aggressive answer ready for those types of valid questions benefits your choices and relationships. Remember, in most cases, you were in their shoes – you were once on the other side of the discussion.
A common question new vegans have is how do they cook without the animal products. It’s an understandable concern as most of us were taught we need eggs, butter, and milk for baking or ground meat is needed for spaghetti.
The amazing thing is… you don’t need any of those things! Replacing animal products in baking is actually easy. Post Punk Kitchen has a handy guide to baking without cruelty. In addition to her list you can also use coconut oil to replace butter (1:1) if you’re comfortable using oil in your diet. There are also cookbooks such as “Isa Does It” if you want some great starter vegan recipes.
If your looking to replace meat products such as beef you can use seitan, lentils, or black beans to get a similar texture. Hope and Dave have a few dishes they like if you’re looking for some ideas.
Makes two servings.
We suggestion finding a mentor or a group (tribe) that can help you make better decisions and lift you up for your choices. Anyone is free to reach out to Hope and Dave via our contact form, Facebook, or Twitter. We’re both happy to answer questions or guide you to and through your plant-based journey.
If you have a friend or family member that’s plant-based we urge you to reach out, we’re sure they would be happy to welcome you to the fold and guide you.
Making better decisions. That’s the mantra for 2016. So, find your tribe and start making positive changes for your health, the planet, and the animals!
Happy, Healthy New Year!
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