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Why Become Vegan?

I’m not sure what first sparked the interest in veganism for me, truthfully I’ve always said to myself that I could never give up my beloved cheese.

Ahh, Mexican cheese dip, how I love(d) you.

However, for me, deciding to abstain from dairy and meat was a choice that coincided with my current values and goals in my life.

Here are some of my reasons in becoming vegan(ish)… I still occasionally eat wild caught fish. 

Number 1: Using Food as Medicine

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".

I have read a ton about becoming vegan before deciding fully to embrace it and I think learning about any choice helps you incorporate it into your life monumentally better.

The science and research available is clear:  A plant based diet has a limitless amount of benefits to the body (both physically and mentally). *look at the bottom of this post for just a few with research to back it up

Even if you have no interest in veganism/vegetarianism, I would suggest reading The China Study (especially if you would like to learn more on the power of the food we ingest and the effects on the body). It’s the most comprehensive study ever completed of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.

The book describes 8,000 (yes, you read that right, EIGHT THOUSAND) statistically significant association between dietary choice and disease.

The study basically concluded beyond any doubt that eating meat and dairy promote disease – not only that, but eating a plant based diet can prevent AND REVERSE IT.[1]

That’s pretty astounding, if you ask me.

Why aren’t we looking at food as medicine? It has the potential to hold the most influence in our daily lives – it’s a very powerful tool if we choose to use it to our advantage.  

Number 2: Another Way to Embody Compassion

"The subtle energy of your food becomes your mind."

It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to claim ignorance in the part of how factory-farm animals are being treated nowadays. Even if you don’t consider yourself an animal lover, the conditions and treatment of these creatures are utterly horrific.

After learning more about farming in America, we tried buying a meat share locally from a near-by farm. We receive a small share of pork, beef, and chicken - nothing that would sustain our meat eating habits year-round though. We eventually had to rely on our local butcher who receives his meat through a large factory farm in the Midwest (I won’t name names).

If you live in the US and are buying meat from a supermarket then you are supporting the abuse and cruelty of animals.

I’m sorry, but that’s the truth.

Personally, I can’t pretend anymore that this is not happening. I’ve seen the pictures, seen the videos and read the descriptions – it’s something that a person never forgets.

Just one very small example: Did you know that pigs are by far greater advanced intellectually than dogs and cats? Even smarter then a 3 yr old child![2] These intelligent, social animals are deprived of sunlight, veterinary care, exercise….even the feeling of grass under their feet.

For me, what I eat means something – I choose not to part-take in the horrendously cruel aspects of these farming techniques that are totally unnecessary.

I love that I have the power to say no.

Number 3: Example to My Daughters and My Family

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

I was in about 7th grade when I first told my mom that I wanted to be a vegetarian. This meant that I basically would just eat pasta without sauce or I could have cereal.

There were no other options given at dinner time other then a side dish of canned green beans or corn.
Needless to say that choice didn’t last long and I went back to eating what my family ate.

My goal as a parent is to set an example and show my daughters (and husband) that there are other options out there.

My husband and oldest daughter still eat cheese and meat occasionally and I’m ok with this. Nevertheless, we do try to opt for fish as much as possible or have a meatless meal  throughout the week.
I think for my children, its not so much an absolute way of eating as it is for me. Instead, I try to work with a balance of what my husband enjoys (which is eating meat) and what I enjoy (not eating meat, dairy or eggs). If they choose to eat what I am eating, then that’s great – if not, that’s ok too.

I am happy that there is an option for them, something I never had growing up.


I am committed to choosing things in my life that coincide with who I am as a person. I am always looking for the next step that can help me to embody the values I hold in my heart and soul. It’s a never-ending process. 

Everyday more and more studies are published proving that the healthiest diets are plant based, not animal based.

I want my daughters to be healthy, so that means that I have to be. (sorry Mexican cheese dip)

For some, becoming vegan is a very far jump. Instead, try to make small steps of improvement and celebrate them. You are much more capable then you realize! 


*In medical applications, vegan nutrition has been shown to be of value in reducing the inflammation of acute rheumatoid arthritis[1], in aiding the regression of atherosclerotic heart disease[2], in correcting intestinal dysbiosis[3], and in control of asthma[4].

1.Kjeldsen-Kragh, J. Controlled trial of fasting and one-year vegetarian diet in rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet, 991; 338: 899-902.

2. (a) Fisher, M., et al. The Effect of Vegetarian Diets of Plasma Lipid and Platelet Levels. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1988; 146:1193-1197.
(b) McDougall, J., et al. Rapid Reduction of Serum Cholesterol and Blood Pressure by a Twelve-Day, Very Low Fat, Strictly Vegetarian Diet. Journal of the
American College of Nutrition, Vol. 14, No. 5, 491-496 (1995).
(c) Resnicow, K., et al. Diet and Serum Lipids in Vegan Vegetarians: A Model for Risk Reduction. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1991; 91:447-453.

3. (a) Ling, W. Shifting from a Conventional Diet to an Uncooked Vegan Diet Reversibly Alters Fecal Hydrolytic Activities in Humans. Journal of Nutrition, 122: 924-930,1992.
(b) Peltonen, R., et al. Changes of Faecal Flora in Rheumatoid Arthritis During Fasting and One-Year Vegetarian Diet. British Journal of Rheumatology 1994; 33:638-643.

4. Lindahl, O., et al. Vegan Regimen with Reduced Medication in the Treatment of Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Asthma, 22(1) 45-55 (1985).
Michael Klaper is founding director of the non-profit
Institute of Nutrition Education and Research and serves on the Nutrition Task Force of the American Medical Student Association.

[1]The China Study by Dr.  T. Colin Campbell

Rheumatological Conditions

"Divergent changes in serum sterols during a strict uncooked vegan diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis."
Agren JJ, Tvrzicka E, Nenonen MT, Helve T, Hanninen O.
British Journal of Nutrition, 2001 Feb; vol. 85, pp. 137-9.

"Fibromyalgia syndrome improved using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: An observational study."
Donaldson MS, Speight N, Loomis S.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2001; vol. 1, p. 7.

"Antioxidants in vegan diet and rheumatic disorders."
Hanninen O, Kaartinen K, Rauma A, Nenonen M, Torronen R, Hakkinen S, Adlercreutz H, Laakso J.
Toxicology, 2000 Nov 30; vol. 155, pp. 45-53.

"Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms."
Kaartinen K, Lammi K, Hypen M, Nenonen M, Hanninen O, Rauma AL.
Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 2000; vol. 29, pp. 308-13.

"Uncooked, lactobacilli-rich, vegan food and rheumatoid arthritis."
Nenonen MT, Helve TA, Rauma AL, Hanninen OO.
British Journal of Rheumatology, 1998 Mar; vol. 37, pp. 274-81.

"Faecal microbial flora and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis during a vegan diet."
Peltonen R, Nenonen M, Helve T, Hanninen O, Toivanen P, Eerola E.
British Journal of Rheumatology. 1997 Jan; vol. 36, pp. 64-8.

"Effect of a strict vegan diet on energy and nutrient intakes by Finnish rheumatoid patients."
Rauma AL, Nenonen M, Helve T, Hanninen O.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1993 Oct; vol. 47, pp. 747-9.

Dental Effects

"Dental erosions in subjects living on a raw food diet."
Ganss C, Schlechtriemen M, Klimek J.
Caries Research, 1999; vol. 33, pp. 74-80.

Fecal Microbial Flora and Related Topics

"Faecal microbial flora and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis during a vegan diet."
Peltonen R, Nenonen M, Helve T, Hanninen O, Toivanen P, Eerola E.
British Journal of Rheumatology. 1997 Jan; vol. 36, pp. 64-8.

"An uncooked vegan diet shifts the profile of human fecal microflora: computerized analysis of direct stool sample gas-liquid chromatography profiles of bacterial cellular fatty acids."
Peltonen R, Ling WH, Hanninen O, Eerola E.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1992 Nov; vol. 58, pp. 3660-6. Also see comment in: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1993 Aug; vol. 59, pp. 2763-4.

"Shifting from a conventional diet to an uncooked vegan diet reversibly alters fecal hydrolytic activities in humans."
Ling WH, Hanninen O.
Journal of Nutrition, 1992 Apr; vol. 122, pp. 924-30.

"Vegan diet in physiological health promotion."
Hanninen O, Rauma AL, Kaartinen K, Nenonen M.
Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 1999; vol. 86, pp.171-80.

"Effect of a vegan diet on biomarkers of chemoprevention in females."
Verhagen H, Rauma AL, Torronen R, de Vogel N, Bruijntjes-Rozier GC, Drevo MA, Bogaards JJ, Mykkanen H.

Human & Experimental Toxicology, 1996 Oct; vol. 15, pp. 821-5.

"Coumarin 7-hydroxylation in long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet."
Rauma AL, Rautio A, Pasanen M, Pelkonen O, Torronen R, Mykkanen H.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1996; vol. 50, pp. 133-7.

"Effects of eating an uncooked vegetable diet for 1 week."
Hanninen O, Nenonen M, Ling WH, Li DS, Sihvonen L.
Appetite. 1992 Dec; vol. 19, pp. 243-54.

"Raw food and immunity."
Gaisbauer M, Langosch A. 
 Fortschritte der Medizin, 1990 Jun 10;108(17):338-40 


  1. I've been wanting to comment on this for a few days but hadn't been able to sit down at the computer long enough.

    Anyway, here it is. I like your posts a lot, in general. I think that you're really missing the boat here, though. Have you read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration? If you have, you will remember that many cultures survived without any of the degenerative diseases that plague modern man, and none of them ate anything remotely close to a vegan diet. Most of the people studied by Dr. Price had "sacred foods" that were of special importance and fed to women and children especially, and these were nearly all animal products (raw spring butter, fish eggs, cod liver oil, etc). These foods promoted fertility, healthy pregnancies, and well-developed children. These foods were often obtained over long distances and with much effort.
    It is clear that it is our modern farming methods that make eating these animals damaging to our health instead of health-promoting. How many studies have been done that compare the health of those that choose to eat pastured, healthy animals vs. CAFO meat? Not many, and studies that look at meat consumption from healthy animals shows that this food totally different from that eaten by the majority of the modern world today.
    My point is that meat and organs from healthy animals is good medicine. To deny this fact is to ignore history, which shows us that there were NO cultures that ate a vegan diet. I for one think that there MUST be a reason for that.

    Also, your post might have made more sense if it was called "why be vegetarian?" instead of "vegan". Why eschew diary and eggs? These are very potentially healthy foods when obtained from healthy, happy animals and minimally processed. They also don't harm the animals by their production, and have been used in the human diet from as long as we have record of.

    And let's face it. Animals die, and they are NOT human. Growing an animal in a happy environment, letting it be out in the open air, doing whatever that animal does, and then humanely slaughtering it for meat is no less harmful than the natural process of death itself to which the animal would have surrendered to eventually. I fully agree with not supporting a system that mistreats animals, but that's why I get meat and eggs and dairy from local farmers who treat their animals well. We eat less meat now, because it's more expensive, but it's healthier because it's coming from well-treated, healthy animals.

    I think that a vegan diet is a knee-jerk reaction to a diseased modern system of farming animals, but it is a reaction that puts ones health and that of children at risk. A vegan diet may have a place as a cleansing diet for the body, but I cannot believe, based on history and the research of Dr. Price and others, that it is healthy or sustainable. And for children especially, who need fat and fat-soluble vitamins that are found liberally in raw milk, butter, fish, liver, etc...I think it's downright dangerous.

  2. A vegan diet is something that I chose for myself after much reflection - for many reasons. I appreciate your comment, but this is a personal choice.

    It is not a reaction I made lightly.

  3. "modern" farming methods are not a must for increased production - that's a common misconception -ever see Food Inc?


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