How to eat fewer animal products and live a long, healthy, happy life?
Hello there! Lots of people have been asking me for tips on how to eat less meat without necessarily becoming a vegetarian, or how to consume less animal products in general without being a strict vegan. So I decided to write a post where I can reveal what I have learned from almost three years of being a non-strict vegetarian, as well as living with dietary restrictions. It is important to note that this is my personal experience, and although there are universal scientific facts worth knowing and applying, everyone is different; our bodies react differently to the way we treat them and the only way to learn how your body works in order to be healthier and live longer is to NOT BE SCARED TO TRY different things.
A few things before we start:
I highly invite you to read my first post, which is quite short, on my first reflection on why I should think more about where my food comes from and question animal products: https://thinkmoveeat.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/no-more-bacon/
If you are wondering why it can be healthier to consume less animal products and wish to know more about it, there are multiple channels of information on the three main reasons to consider eating less meat/dairy/egg: it is better for the environment, for our own health, and for the animals. Here are a few interesting sources that can help you learn more about it:
- Many more scientific articles and ethics books that you can find on the internet as well as almost any library or bookstore!
If you think veganism is b*llshit, just let me say that I think you’re completely RIGHT to DOUBT it; it would be weird not to be skeptical about eating habits that challenge most societies’ standards, families’ customs and peoples’ traditions. You are right not to be gullible; don’t believe 100% in others’ words, take a look at the facts yourself, whether we are talking about the things that the government and related medical authorities tell us (who are highly financed by these large animal-abusing industries) or the facts revealed by other scientific and medical institutions!
Tip 1- It’s a PROCESS: take your TIME, don’t transition overnight.
The way in which you choose to transition towards eating fewer animal products is as important as the transition itself. Start by reading about different diets and cooking tofu, more vegetables, whole grains and finding vegetarian/vegan alternatives to what you are used to eat. For example, soy cream can be used instead of milk cream, coconut yogurt can replace dairy yogurt, and many ingredients can replace meat: diversified vegetables (quantity and quality are important here), legumes such as beans and lentils, tofu, tempeh and organic soy alternatives. Also, try to know where the meat you eat comes from; even if it’s organic, it doesn’t mean the animal was healthy or well treated, thus you can start buying meat from local family farms for instance. I transitioned by cutting red meat and only eating the poultry I bought from a small family farm that is one hour away from Montreal (La Ferme Bourgeois), where the animals are organically fed and live outside, having space to exercise and be happy. That way, you will have to make more effort to buy your meat, thus you will eat it less often, plus you will be eating healthier animals. You can also start researching vegetarian/vegan options at your favorite restaurants and take-outs, so you will know what alternatives you have when you go out. I also carry around with me at all times a bag of mixed nuts and a cereal bar, as well as lots of water. That can help with your cravings and will keep you from buying MacDonald’s fried chicken nuggets when you’re hungry at 2 am.
Tip 2- Get informed!! Read read read.
You should know where your food comes from, and this doesn’t go only for animal products, but even soy products (which can be dangerous when not organic), vegetables, bread, fruit, you name it. You should also read blogs from regular vegetarian/vegan people who tell their experiences, as well as medical blogs on vegetarianism and veganism, so that you won’t lack vitamins or minerals. There are very informative videos in multiple channels as well, such as Peta youtube, the documentary Forks Over Knives, and books like How Not To Die, as well as online articles. Here are a few:
Personally, I had an iron deficiency when I stopped eating red meat and poultry, because I wasn’t properly informed. Here is how you get IRON from PLANT-BASED sources: you have to eat iron-containing plant-based foods every day (spinach, lentils, beans, etc.) along with VITAMIN C-rich foods (kiwi, orange, lemon, etc.). Also, you cannot ingest caffeinated drinks or black coffee or black tea at the same time as eating those iron and vitamin C-rich foods (you have to wait at least 2 hours). For instance, you can drink coffee in the morning, then eat a large salad with spinach and kiwis for lunch and you will get the iron you need!!! Plus, usually vegetarians/vegans have to take a VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENT (which is very easy to find at every pharmacy), since it is the only vitamin that is hard to get from today’s treated plants we eat (but it isn’t impossible, so if you don’t like the idea of taking vitamins get informed on getting natural plant-based B12); meat-eaters get it from cow’s meat (since the cow herself ate non-treated plants that contained B12).
Tip 3- Learn the basics of cooking
Homemade food is always so much healthier! And once you know how to make it, you’ll shop better and look for more local, organic and quality products, which directly affects your health. And it’ll make it easier for you to know what you’re ingesting: Less salt, less refined sugar, replacing milk with almond milk and discovering the vegetarian alternatives to meat. That’s what I am attempting to share with in this blog!
Tip 4- Remember that even the smallest thing is still BETTER THAN NOTHING. You CAN make a difference.
It’s normal not to be able to become a strict vegan and then we have the tendency to say f*uckoff, I can’t completely cut meat from my diet so let’s eat hamburgers every day! Well, you’re wrong, even if you’re a vegetarian once a week it’s still better than not making an effort. You can make a difference even with the smallest gestures. Studies have shown that world hunger can be ended if everyone went vegan, and environmental degradation would reduce by a lot. According to the water footprint network, beef requires the most water, at 1,847 gal./lb., whereas vegetarian meat substitutes require soooooo much less; tofu requires 302 gal./lb., lentil requires 704 gal./lb., and chickpea requires 501 gal./lb. By not eating one pound of beef you save as much water as not showering for six months! So even if you decide to have one vegetarian day per week, you will make a significant impact. To learn more about health benefits, take a look at this post: http://www.forksoverknives.com/7-things-that-happen-when-you-stop-eating-meat/
Tip 5- Don’t forget to exercise!
When you exercise regularly, it is easier to eat healthier and live a better life. Take a look at my post on why everyone should “move it, move it” at least five days a week.