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Kickstart to Veganism

December 24, 2009 1 comment

I’m not usually in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve found that I don’t often keep them and I hate disappointing myself. Plus, I’ve never liked feeling pressured to do it. I try to make resolutions when I feel the need, not just once a year.

I’ve decided to take a different approach this year. My partner is responsible for this. Last year, Jim decided to try being vegan for one month. He wanted to lose weight, of course, but he was more interested in eating better and healthier foods. So, he cut out dairy products and eggs. He had already been a vegetarian for most of the year so this was next most logical step for him. Jim’s not much of an exercise freak and after much research was convinced that the best way for him to shed pounds was through changing his diet. His “green” sensibilities were also appeased as going vegan substantially reduces one’s carbon footprint.

January 1, 2009 arrived and he started his vegan experiment.

I was thoroughly impressed with his resolve from the beginning. It took some getting used to for me and I slipped up pretty often in the beginning when I suggested things for dinner or for dining out. But, I wanted to support him and I shaped up. One month came and went and he decided it wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be. He figured he’d keep it up for as long as he could.

Twelve months later, Jim’s vegan experiment has turned into a complete lifestyle change and he has lost almost 25 lbs in the process! I’m convinced that he’ll keep this up as long as he wants to, which I hope is for a long time because I’ve decided to try it out myself this coming year.

The first step for me was to admit that I need to lose some weight. This was not easy to do as I have some crazy notion that admitting to myself that I need to lose weight is admitting failure and weakness. I’ve worked through that, though, and I’m alright with the idea now.

The next step was to figure out how to do that. I’ve done exercise before and this year, Jim plans to incorporate more exercise into his routine so I’ll have that support. I need something more and Jim has inspired me to try out his method. It is at least a proven method and I’ve become more involved with cooking vegan so I know I won’t be eating bad food. On the contrary, some of the best food I’ve ever had has been vegan and I’m consistently amazed at just how good vegan food is. You’d be surprised at just how much is vegan and that being vegan doesn’t necessarily equate healthy. We’ve also been observing “meatless Mondays” for the past few months so it may be not too much of a stretch for me. Hopefully.

I suspect that maybe it’s been Jim’s goal to get me on board. He’s always sending me articles about veganism and it’s often the topic of discussion at our house. He’s even succeeded at getting his mom to experiment with it. She makes peanut butter fudge every year and sends it to him now that he doesn’t live in Missouri anymore. This year she was intent on keeping up the tradition and had Jim help her find a way to make it vegan. This from a woman who grew up in a household where a pound of bacon is cooked every morning! (Btw, if you want some really cool vegan recipes, check out vegweb.com.)

What finally convinced me that this was what I wanted to do was an article Jim emailed to me this week. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, gives tips on how to stick to the most common New Year’s resolution out there: losing weight. First on his list is going vegan.

1. Use the V-word. Abundant research has shown that the more vegetarian meals people eat, the easier time they have maintaining a healthy weight. And the most powerful meals are vegan. In May, researchers at Loma Linda University published results of a study of nearly 61,000 Americans. Vegans were the thinnest, meat-eaters were the heaviest, and fish-eaters and ovo-lacto-vegetarians were between the two. People who switch to a vegan diet typically lose about a pound a week–and this prescription for weight loss doesn’t require portion control or calorie-counting. A meatless diet also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, and some cancers.

This isn’t the first time Jim has sent me an article like this, but it was the last tip that really got me interested. Barnard’s group is starting a campaign to promote healthier eating and is urging folks to try veganism for just three weeks. The campaign, dubbed 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, “provides recipes, nutrition advice, and an interactive support network to help participants transition to a sustainable, healthful diet in 2010.”

I just signed up today. It seems easy enough and if I find that it’s just not for me, at least I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned to make sure I eat as healthy as possible. Plus, I also signed up to receive a phone call from celebrities. I have no idea what that means. Alicia Silverstone is the spokesperson, so maybe she’ll phone me during the three-week period to give me some encouragement. Who knows, but I figure it can’t hurt.

And, in case anyone reading this is on the fence, especially after reading a NYTimes piece this week blasting vegans for killing living things, know this: Of course plants are alive, but our bodies are naturally programmed and evolutionarily designed to eat plants and vegetables, not meat, especially the meat of other mammals. Beyond that, the argument that we shouldn’t eat plants because they’re living things is on its face a patently ridiculous argument. Who knew that’s all it took to get published in the Times?!

I’ll be writing about it in the coming new year, of course, and I’ll be providing recipes, too. Wish me luck!

What are your resolutions for the new year?

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