This year sure has been full of changes for me. First, I started a new job as a wine buyer for a large retail store. Going back to having to be at a place 8 hours a day 5 days a week has taken adjustment, since I’ve worked for myself pretty much for close to a decade now and had freedom to fit in gym, friends and social activities whenever I wanted. Not so much anymore. Secondly, my husband and I moved to a new town. That change I absolutely love, we have a big backyard now that is fenced in for our children (two boxers) to roam around in and I am now only an 8 minute drive from the gym – no excuses!!
Lastly, the biggest change in my life has been that I’ve decided to finally go meat and dairy free. I have been pondering this decision for months, if not years. My love for animals and passion for animal rights is the only thing that gets me really riled up, and when I see clips of the absolute horrific practices of the meat and dairy industry, I am depressed for days and can’t get the images out of my head. I also am the mother of two boxer puppies who I love above everything- so why do I then go and eat a pig, a cow or a chicken who has the same feelings and emotions and the right to a quality life as my dogs? I could no longer live with myself or watch myself in the mirror in the morning, and finally decided it was time. I can’t explain what a relief it is, and how light and free I feel. I am no longer contributing to another living being’s pain and suffering.
I was never a big meat eater to begin with (I ate mostly chicken if anything) and have always loved vegetables and had limited my intake of dairy anyway since I was prepping for shows the past three years. Today there are so many wonderful alternatives to meat, cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese and butter that I honestly could see no valid reason for continuing to support the macabre actions of people who think the only purpose of animals is to feed them and serve them somehow.
The first question I think every person who is not eating animal products get is “How do you get your protein?” Protein can be found in many sources, such as nuts and nut butters, legumes, non dairy milk, quinoa, tofu, even vegetables. I recently switched to a pea and bamboo shoot protein powder that provides just the same macro nutrients of protein, carbohydrates and fat as my old whey protein. I also make sure to supplement with BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) before/during/after my workouts as well as a multi vitamin twice daily. Often, people exaggerate their intake of protein – we don’t really need to be overloading on it, in fact when I was eating chicken and eggs I only had about 4 oz or so of chicken and 3 egg whites at a time (and I’m tall/a big girl). I fill up on vegetables which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and.. yes, some protein too! By balancing my macro nutrients I am consuming exactly the same amount of calories as I was before. I already feel so much lighter knowing I’m not stuffing my body with meat and dairy that has been poisoned with hormones and antibiotics and.. let’s face it, fear, torture and death.
It took a while before it dawned on me why it would be useless to give up meat if I didn’t simultaneously give up dairy. The dairy industry, is in fact – even worse than the meat industry in how they pain and torture the cows. A cow has to remain pregnant and give birth her whole life in order to produce the milk that we humans OH SO DESPERATELY NEED (not), and so she is repeatedly inseminated with semen (i.e. raped) and her off springs are ripped away from her right away, causing her immense grief for days. Male calves are deemed useless, and kept in cages where they are not allowed to move so the meat gets “tender”, and given minimal food to cause that anemic look to the skin that people love to see when ordering veal in restaurants. The female calves suffer the same fate as their mothers. The apparatus that gets suctioned on to their (abnormally LARGE) uterus cause infections (the cows scream in pain when the machines are placed on them) and puss enters into the milk and guess what … YOU. And the cycle continues. Want milk still?
There are plenty of muscular, healthy vegan body builders out there… To continue eating meat and dairy just because we are afraid we are going to lose our muscles is just sheer, utter BS, to put it mildly. A question I have gotten in just the past couple of weeks since I announced my new lifestyle is “You don’t eat meat or dairy? What’s left?” thinking that the vegan diet is limited and boring. Nothing could be further from the truth! While I am not 100% vegan yet as I am transitioning slowly (I still eat some select seafood), I have no problem finding a great variety of foods that will satisfy me and give me nutrients. Imagine all the legumes out there; black beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, red beans, white beans, pinto, etc. Then there is quinoa, all kinds of rice, and.. .my secret weapon: Fresh herbs and a huge variety of spices! I have gotten better at using exotic spices to brighten up my food and bring it to life. Today I made a bean soup stuffed with different vegetables, and I added fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and oregano, as well as a Persian Spice Mix I got at my local spice shop as well as toasted cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. I also toasted in some garlic and sauteed onion, added vegetable broth and… magic was born!
I will be blogging more about my experience switching over to plant based foods and dealing with people’s reactions… they have not to date been very positive, as most people just can’t seem to understand, basically because they don’t have the information or believe in “bro-science” if you will. People also don’t want to feel uncomfortable with their own choices (i.e. of eating meat) so they feel they have to defend themselves, which I understand to a degree – I did it myself most of my life. Regardless, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, because I am no longer turning a blind eye to the injustice that goes on to defenseless, loving animals around the globe. I want to make a difference, just like I want to make a difference in my own life of building a strong and healthy body. I hope you will join me !!