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Archive for the ‘vegetarian for health reasons’ Category

I’m a thirtysomething from Japan living in Vancouver, Canada. I started listening to “Food For Thought” about a month ago when I seriously began considering going vegan, and you got me hooked! I just can’t stop listening to your podcast. I also visited your website, checked out some of the pictures, and was fascinated by how beautiful you are… a radiant, self-confident true beauty!

I was once a vegetarian for several months when I was a college student in America in 1994. After graduation, though, I moved to Tokyo and became a meat eater again. To be honest, back then I was not really sure why I chose to be a vegetarian or what I was doing to be a vegetarian. Years passed. I got sick from stress and left Tokyo for Vancouver, one of the most health-conscious cities in the world, where
I have met lots of vegetarians & vegans.

So I’ve always been interested in being a vegetarian; however, I never took any action for a long time… until I visited Salt Spring Island, BC in May, where I spent a cellphone-free, ipod-less, no-TV, organic weekend on this peaceful island. I don’t know exactly why, but when I got back from the vacation, I completely stopped “craving” meat. It was bizarre. I started doing more yoga, eating less meat and more veggies, and then came across your Podcast. I started eliminating right away one non-vegan item from my diet every week. This is my 4th week and I’ve been doing pretty good! I am already feeling healthier, lighter and happier. My boyfriend, family, friends and coworkers are surprisingly understanding, asking me intellectual questions about veganism, cooking vegan dinners for me, etc. I feel very blessed and grateful.

Since I moved from Tokyo to Vancouver 6 years ago, my health has improved dramatically. But I always felt something was missing. Now that I am changing to a vegan lifestyle, I know what was missing. It is the sense of deeper happiness that I have now, knowing I am contributing to the world peace in my own way. I promise I’ll spread the information I have learned from you. Thank you, Colleen, for your hard work, passion and commitment.

~ Miwa, Vancouver, British Columbia

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I want you to know that your podcast has helped transform my life.

I have always been a health nut, and in January of 2008, I was directed to John Robbins’ Healthy at 100, which documents how cultures subsisting on plant-based diets tend to live longer. Robbins’ book, along with Skinny Bitch, convinced me to try veganism. I experienced health benefits almost immediately. Until then, I was an asthmatic who used a steroid inhaler and a rescue inhaler to control attacks. Soon after I went vegan, I gave up both inhalers for good and haven’t experienced any shortness of breath since.

However, although I was vegan, I didn’t want to become one of those “animal rights freaks.” I told all my friends that I was giving up animal products for my health, because I was afraid I would lose friends if I changed my life for the animals. But I soon discovered your podcast on Itunes. At first, I only listened to the episodes on nutrition and avoided the ones that discussed animals. I thought it would be just too painful to listen. But even when you discuss nutrition or your favorite foods, your love for animals shines through. I eventually became brave enough to try other episodes and was shocked by the episode on “what’s wrong with eating eggs.” Finally, one of your podcasts led me to Gail Eisnitz’s Slaughterhouse. And then I opened my eyes. I have never been what I consider a big “animal lover,” because I don’t have pets. But I certainly don’t believe that animals should suffer the abuse of factory farms, and I certainly don’t believe animals should have to die for me to eat.

Now, I speak plainly and openly about animal rights and I tell people we do not need to eat animals to survive. To my surprise, even though I speak up for the animals, I haven’t lost any friends. Your podcasts have helped me find my voice and engage in open and honest dialogues. Before your podcast, I was hesitant to even call myself vegan. I would instead say “I don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs.” Now, I proudly say I’m vegan and even have a bumper sticker on my car that proclaims it. I’m in the process of starting a vegetarian student organization at the university where I work, and I hope that we will soon pass out literature on animal rights.

Of course, I experience difficulties with being vegan. My sister for instance, doesn’t want to give up the “tradition” of cooking a turkey when she hosts Thanksgiving this year. But without your podcast, I never would have had the wisdom or courage to ask her to leave turkey off the table. And I’m confident that my family will enjoy the stuffed acorn squashes I make (from your recipe!) much more than the turkey. Maybe next year we can have a truly peaceful Thanksgiving.

In short, your work has helped me find a diet that fully reflects all of my values – good health, environmental sustainability, and compassion for animals. I hope you are tremendously proud of your efforts, because you give people like me so much sustenance and hope.

~Megan in Mississippi

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I’ve been vegetarian for 3 whole years now. From the time I was in high school & saw my first PETA film in 1990 until 2004 I rarely ate red meat, pork or chicken. My yoga instructor encouraged me to cut meat all together – not just for the physical benefits it would bring to my yoga practice, but the spiritual awakening I would experience. She was right on all counts and I soon discovered we had a new closeness in our relationship.

Being vegetarian is no problem for me. But a few months ago, my husband discovered he was lactose intolerant. I’ve been saying for a while now that I would love to be Vegan but had no idea how to do it mindfully without destroying my health & nutrition. I figured his lactose intolerance would be the little push I needed to go all the way to Vegan. As it turns out this was only part of the reason I became vegan. One day I actually read the ingredients in cheese & discovered the wonderfully horrible ingredient: rennet. I literally spit out the piece of cheese in my mouth & have never looked back. It’s been about 2 months now without milk or cheese and there doesn’t seem to be a real issue when out to eat or at other people’s homes.

I have found that my mind is clearer, my emotions steadier, my temper more even, my actions more compassionate when dealing with other people, and, yes, my yoga practice has deepened. Without yoga & the community involved in that lifestyle, I’m not sure I could do this alone. Often, after class, we share stories of our struggles, but swap recipes or names of restaurants that cater to vegans. We can confess our shortcomings, our fears and our failures. And I’ve discovered that my husband is even more supportive of my vegan choices than I ever dreamed.

My eyes have been opened & I don’t expect they’ll ever be closed again. I had my nose pierced 10 months ago as a reminder of my commitment to yoga & the life choices that go with it. When I feel frustrated or lost, I look in the mirror & remember that commitment. I have a horse tattooed on my shoulder & he reminds me who I am doing this all for.

~Lisa in Nevada

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I first became vegetarian in 1995 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (stage 4), and I began to read about ways to cure her.  I learned about people who had cured themselves from cancer through their diets, particularly macrobiotic, and the growing research documenting the terrible effects of meat and dairy products on the body.  When I became vegetarian at that time, I still ate eggs, but I hadn’t eaten milk products for years due to allergy.  My mother passed away a short time later, and I continued my vegetarian lifestyle determined not to die as she did.  I explained my choice to people as a health concern, stating that the animals were raised in such horrible and unsanitary conditions that it could not be healthy to eat such products.  At that point, I understood on some level the horrors that the animals suffered to feed us, but think I only allowed it into my heart and mind at a fleeting and superficial level. 
 
At some point, years later, I began to eat meat again, though I rarely if ever ate beef, still seeing it as an unhealthy thing to eat.  I am not quite sure how it happened.  To be honest, I missed the taste of certain barbecued and spiced meats.   I think I worried that I wasn’t getting enough protein.  I was surrounded by people who ate meat, and my husband at the time, who had gone vegetarian with me, went back to eating meat.   I felt alone in my vegetarianism and like an inconvenience to friends and family.   I imagine it was a combination of those factors that lured me back to being an omnivore.
 
Then in February 2004, I had the opportunity to attend the World Premiere of Peaceable Kingdom at Lincoln Center in New York City.  From the moment I saw the seemingly endless number of male chicks sliding down chutes and conveyor belts on the way to the dumpster – useless by-products of the egg industry – there was no turning back.  The suffering I saw in that film touched a part of me that had been locked away for a long, long time.  Then, after the film, when one of the panelists stated, I don’t eat animals because I love and respect them, it was truly one of those life-changing moments.  I remember thinking – I love animals too, and if this person can be proud of those feelings and act on those feelings by not eating animals, well, then I can too.  And there it began.  I stopped eating animals at that moment.  I ate eggs from time to time, but I felt terribly guilty when I did so, and eventually gave them up, too. 
 
Being vegan for ethical reasons is very different than giving up meat for health reasons.  I definitely feel healthier, which is an added bonus, so to speak, but now I cannot look at meat without seeing needless suffering and sorrow and the flesh of an animal that I would have liked to have known under different, much happier circumstances.  I do sometimes miss the taste of certain things – bacon, pulled pork, buffalo wings – but I don’t miss them so much that I would want an animal to die so that I could taste it again. 
 
As a vegan, I’ve experienced rewards I never would have imagined.  I feel a sense of peace within me, which I imagine comes partially from the act of living true to what is in my heart.  I’ve always been concerned about animals and the environment, so being vegan enables me to act on those feelings each and every day.   It’s empowering to be able to choose to not cause pain and suffering several times a day, especially living in a world what seems to be filled with so much of those two things.  Also, being vegan is a very conscious and active way of living, and as a result, I feel much more alive and in tune with life around me.  It is difficult at times to live being fully aware of the tremendous suffering that animals are experiencing at each and every moment, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  For in opening myself up to feel the suffering, I have opened myself up to love as well. 
 
I feel like I have learned to love again in the truest sense – a love that knows no boundaries – which is why I like to say that I’ve rediscovered “true love.”   My heart feels free to love at levels and in ways that I do not ever recall, but I imagine that I was born with and experienced as a child when I looked at the world with wonder and fascination and naturally loved animals.  I think that perhaps when we are forced to suppress or hide that love we inherently have for other species so that we can eat them, exterminate them, and use them in the numerous ways our society deems acceptable, we turn off a part of our hearts and a part of us dies.  For most of my life, I felt disconnected from the world I claimed to love so much, as if there was some hole in my being, something holding me back.  Becoming vegan, I feel whole again.  I feel as if a weight has been lifted, and my heart is free.   

 ~Janice in Lincoln Park, NJ

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