Thursday, 10 January 2013

Hungry For Change & The Vegan Misconception

It's been 10 days since I started this path to embrace Veganism as my new nutritional lifestyle. I've been gorging on an abundance of the freshest vegetable produce I could find at a price I can afford; starting with some basics like tomatoes, kale, spinach, mushrooms, squash, and carrots. On a week where I'd normally dive into store-bought, prepared food, take-out, pastas, sandwiches, and carb-rich breads; I've instead replaced with home-made salads, roasted vegetables, fruits, and grains. And I can say this, perhaps expectantly so; though the transition is never a simple one, the rewards are immense.

I recently watched a great documentary on Netflix called Hungry For Change; a passionate film about the significance of healthy produce. Hungry For Change puts together individuals from very different walks of life to share their stories about how vegetables changed their lives. Although the film doesn't quite dive into specific diet-lifestyles, like Veganism or Vegetarianism, it points out that the best possible thing you could do for your body is eating the best food possible; and claims that many of our modern ailments are because of a lack of proper nutrition as a result of our hectic, consumerist lives. It's a great watch for anyone who simply wants to be more educated and made more aware of the positive effects a great eating regimen can have on their lives. I'm afraid to use the word "diet" here, because I don't want people to get the wrong idea. It's not a diet in the sense of reducing the amount of food you take in, or depraving yourself of things that you love so that you can reach a certain size; it's simply about making more aware choices of what you consume, and realizing the incredible value of being a conscious eater. When you actively choose to live a healthy lifestyle that involves the right food, the notion of a diet becomes obsolete, because it isn't required anymore. If everything you put in your body is beneficial, you don't have to worry about extra fat, because there simply won't be any. If that means being a Vegan for you, then that's fantastic. If it means being only mostly Vegan, or being a Pescetarian, or even a selective-Vegetarian, then that's great too! What matters is how much you care.

That being said, I feel like there's much misconception about becoming a Vegan, or rather just diving into a lifestyle devoid of animal products. A lot of Vegans tend to embrace their subculture and can sometimes use it to provoke separatism; criminalizing those who choose to eat or use animal-based products. On the other hand, many meat-eaters by nature, based on their cultural and social upbringings, can sometimes view Vegans or Vegetarians as anti-culture abnormalities; as unnatural or the odd minority. None of these are actually true to what the lifestyle represents; they are only true to the few extremists that exploit it. Veganism is also about your spirit and your body; it's about nourishment. When you nourish your body properly, you also nourish your mind. Becoming a Vegan, for me, is like telling your body "I'm ready for you to be the best you can be". It very quickly for me became an act of self-respect, whether with permanence in mind or not. It is about understanding that our natural food sources are the best available to us.

I just wanted to say that, as an add-on to what Veganism is consistently associated with. I do not in any way denounce the importance of the ethical messages that are also behind it. I just want people to be aware that being a Vegan doesn't just mean one thing; everyone has their own reasons for leading the lives that they do. Animal treatment and the deplorable condition of North America's food industry is undoubtedly the birth-mother of the Vegan movement; but I wanted to outline the actual nutritional and physical benefits of such a change, just in case the ethical movement isn't your cup of tea. Veganism can be so much more than just that; from what I've seen, it can change your life as well.

Anyways, sorry for writing so much about food and vegetables! I don't mean for this blog to be Vegan-centric, but I do mean for it to be a little bit of an anthology of my journey. Being a new Vegan, I am consistently faced with social situations that question what I've chosen to do; and I have the pleasure of learning a lot about people who both understand and don't understand my choices. As I progress down this road, whether I stumble or not, or whether I choose to break away or not; I hope this blog will act as a guidepost and a reflection of where I've been and where I've come to. My new embrace of Veganism is just a small part of my journey, and I'm excited to see where it'll take me.

Stay healthy!

★ Dylan.

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