Saturday, February 2, 2013

Natural Foods and Veganism

photo by Janice Brandt
Last night I watched a documentary on Netflix called "Hungry For Change". This film intrigued me because I've been trying to eat healthier lately and I thought maybe a helpful documentary would be inspiring. You know, a little kick-in-the-butt to remind me to stay strong in my efforts to eat well.

It affected me so much more than I expected. The film is about the food industry and all the CRAP we put into food. Additives, sugars, chemicals.... I mean, it was astonishing, even though I already knew most of the information presented. But the way it was presented and the actual statistics had a pretty profound impact on me. After the movie I didn't feel like eating anything other than raw carrot juice ever again. I planned out my meals for the next day with a new, healthier outlook.

As I'm already a pretty healthy eater, it wasn't too hard to figure out what to eat to be as good to my body as possible. This morning, for example, I had a smoothie with spinach, coconut water, pineapple, mango, banana and kiwi.

I try to stay away from super processed foods and chemically enhanced foods, and I attempt to add fruits and veggies to all of my meals. I'm not perfect- as I've mentioned before, I am an absolute chocoholic and I have a giant sweet tooth. I just try to turn my sweet cravings into good-for-you treats, like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate instead of ice cream, when I can. Especially now that I've seen this documentary, I'm going to try to be more consistently healthy.

Of course once I decided to really make an effort to be healthier I decided it would be beneficial to watch yet another documentary, this one called "Vegucated".

This is possibly the most shocking documentary I've ever seen. Not that I've seen thousands of documentaries, but still. I get super easily freaked out by gore, and there's more than I expected in this film. All of it comes from footage of slaughterhouses. I knew that animals were poorly treated on farms where they are raised to be eaten, but I had no idea how bad it was. Did you know that little baby chicks are tossed onto conveyor belt right after they're born to get sorted? The ones that get used get chucked into certain bins and the ones that don't just keep on rolling along the conveyor belt until they get to the skinny choppy thing where they ARE FREAKING SHREDDED ALIVE.

So basically this documentary was eye opening and made me want to puke every five minutes. I don't regret watching it, though. It was more based on the moral reasons to be vegan than the healthful way to be vegan though, which was it's one downside. There was one scene when they were looking at things like Oreos and pointing out that they're vegan. See, people associated the word 'vegan' with 'good for you'- but just because it's vegan does NOT mean it's healthy.

I want to point out that, as my mom mentioned, this is all propaganda. That's not bad if you agree with the cause as I do, but there is a bias here to be aware of. My mom reminded me that "awareness creates change", though, so even if this is a documentary is a little over exaggerated, people will still respond.

Now I have to think about what I'm going to do in my personal food life. I don't want to ever classify myself as purely vegan or raw or vegetarianism because it makes things difficult. For example, next spring I'm going to China and I know I will be expected to eat Peking duck. It's disrespectful not to- I'm not going to say hey, thanks for inviting me to your country but your food is nasty! Also, I'm too obsessed with fashion to stop buying/wearing leather and stuff. So maybe I should give up, right? Can't be all the way vegan so why bother?

No! If this is your attitude that turn it around! You don't have to be a hard core all-around vegan to make an impact. Just cut out animal products when you can and pick your food and clothes wisely! Here's my plan:

1. Avoid meat. I already don't eat much meat because I think it just looks gross, but I'll eat chicken or sausage if it's cooked into a pasta dish my parents make or something. I'm going to try harder to find meat substitutes more often. My parents are pretty understanding about this stuff so hopefully they will embrace my ideas.

2. Avoid dairy. This one is pretty easy since I am actually allergic to it and can't eat it anyways,

3. Be vegan when possible but if not.... don't stress it! When I travel, whether it be locally or internationally, I don't want to cause my hosts to be confused about what to serve me. I already have several food allergies to work around, so being a die hard vegan wouldn't help my life very much. Also, I'm not giving up eggs. I don't usually get enough protein and eggs are really helpful for me in not passing out. So, yeah.

Basically, take the principles of veganism and natural eating and all that and kinda make 'em your own, Do whatever works for you. My goal right now is mainly just to be more aware- of the industry, of what I'm putting into my body, of how it affects my  health... All that. So think about that tonight, and go watch those documentaries! They will change the way you think about food, I swear.

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