Dawn Dark Mountain
Q: WHAT’S A VEGAN? (pronounced vee-gn)
A: Somebody who consciously tries to live without causing harm to the Earth, animals, and people. So a vegan doesn’t eat animals or use products made from animals.
You may find it more accurate and inclusive to use the word “vegan” as an adjective rather than a noun.
Q: WHY LIVE A VEGAN LIFE?
A: Torture-free for animals. Doesn’t add to the exploitation of people oppressed by poverty caused by agribusiness. Sustainable for the whole Earth. Next natural step in human (r)evolution.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ECO-DESTRUCTION
Sea Shepherd for Compassion (5-minute video)
STRESSING OUT THE ENVIRONMENT
Food production technology, packaging, and transport use up land, water, and 60% of the total energy produced in North America. Of that 60%, more than 85% is from oil, coal, and natural gas. This increases pollution across the entire continent. Supporting your local farmers’ market and natural foods store is essential. The fewer steps between the time a plant is harvested and you eat it, the healthier it is for both you and the Earth.
ANIMALS ARE NO LONGER FOOD AND THEY DON’T EXIST TO SERVE HUMANS
From your new compassionate perspective, animals are individuals who share the Earth with us. You’re gladly ditching foods with animal origins. This includes dairy, eggs, and honey.
THE AMERICAN OMNIVORE
If the average meat-eating American lives to age 75, he or she eats about 15,000 land and marine animals over a lifetime. He or she is choosing to cause a miniature holocaust. Meat production poisons the air, water, and land. It also requires cutting down magnificent forests for grazing tracts. The combined effects of every meat eater in a world of limitless human population growth where the majority of wealthy consumers eat meat is turning the Earth into a physical and spiritual wasteland. Needless to say, to not cause harm—to not eat animals—is the bare minimum we can do. It’s one of the first most kind and logical steps to be taken in the quest for animal liberation.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHECKING PRODUCT LABELS
List by Vegan Peace
Tells you if an ingredient is vegan, of animal origin, or exists in both vegan and animal versions.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF A COMPANY TESTS ITS PRODUCTS ON ANIMALS
This comes closest to a foolproof method. Call or email the customer service department and ask if a product was tested on animals. Then ask if the item contains any animal ingredients or animal byproducts. Many items not tested on animals actually contain animal byproducts. Online vegan forums may also be helpful.
THE SOY SCARE AND OTHER MISINFORMATION TACTICS
Organizations such as the Weston A. Price Foundation are notorious for myths about soy and plant-based foods. Their goal is to preserve the financial profits of agribusiness. They attempt to discredit plant-based nutrition with falsehoods and confusion. To cause doubt and fear about the nutritional value or safety of food can be effective propaganda.
“Weston Price was a dentist who went around the world studying native diets and their effects on health. From it, he learned a lot about the benefit of eating a whole food natural diet. His book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is a classic, for its time. However, these days, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig have hijacked the name and his work and have turned it into an org that promotes high saturated fat, high fat, high cholesterol diets. Dr. Stephen Byrnes, one of their medical leaders, died of a stroke at the age of 41. I would recommend people to stay away from it. They misrepresent and twist data and information. There is no real evidence supporting their theories,” writes Jeff Novick, MS, RD.
Do your own research. Verify scientific claims. Look at who funded a particular study. Is there a conflict of interest? A study about dairy milk paid for by a corporation that sells milk and cheese is an obvious conflict of interest. Trust in your own personal experiences with food. Do you feel more energetic and strong? Do you feel more content with your daily choices? Are you an explorer on an adventure?
Adapt to challenges. Don’t let temporary discomfort deprive you of a remarkable journey. When an experience is new, it’s unfamiliar. It has ups and downs like everything in life. You’re entering an extraordinary realm of consciousness that will open your heart like a secret door you’ve long forgotten. To commit to discovery and to cross the threshold is the most difficult step.
Only by walking the path you create can you know the joy of it.
THE PROTEIN DEFICIENCY MYTH
Most Americans eat too much protein. Consumption of animal protein is linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, weakened bones, and other unhealthy conditions.
Your body makes protein from amino acids. Eating vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and lentils gives you all the essential amino acids you need daily.
See more myths.
THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR VEGAN NUTRITION
Physicians Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Hans Diehl, and David Jenkins studied patients who eliminated animal products from their meals. The patients rapidly saw the following improvements: 1) their artery blockages actually shrank, 2) their chest pain vanished, and 3) their cholesterol levels plummeted. The surprising bonus? They shed excess weight.
Dr. Jenkins studied two groups of volunteers. The control group took cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs and didn’t change the foods they normally consumed. The participants in the test group didn’t take any medication and only changed what they ate. They switched to delicious plant-based foods.
After four weeks, the medicated group lowered its LDL cholesterol by about 31%. That’s a very significant amount. But the vegan group saw a comparable 29% plunge in its LDL cholesterol—with little more than simple changes to the daily menu. Plant-based foods can offer freedom from prescription drugs. These foods also cause no adverse side effects.
[Source – The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 2003; 290:502-510.]
CREATE A BIOLOGICALLY YOUNGER BODY AND BOOST YOUR MENTAL CLARITY
Vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts provide maximum nutrition because they’re most easily digested to fuel our body. Foods that cause the least nutritional stress (in other words, require the least amount of our energy to absorb the nutrients) are more likely to build a strong body free from disease and premature aging. Most foods in the Standard American Diet (SAD)—such as meat, cheese, eggs, doughnuts, soda—cause enormous nutritional stress and often put the eater in the minus: the body uses more energy to absorb nutrients than the nutrients absorbed can provide energy.
Top-performing professional bodybuilders, Olympic champions, and marathon runners are among the growing ranks of vegan athletes. The Badwater Ultramarathon is considered the toughest extreme-sport marathon on Earth: 115-degree heat, 135 nonstop miles from Death Valley to Mount Whitney. That’s like running about five regular marathons in a row! Scott Jurek won this race…twice. Thanks to the power of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In 1999 Scott won a 100-mile race called the Western States Endurance Run. Just a fluke? Well, he kept winning for seven consecutive years. Check out Scott’s book Eat & Run.
SIMPLE WHOLE BODY CARE
Don’t fret about toxins and chemicals you can’t even pronounce or wonder if that shampoo is truly organic. Nab the real-deal organic stuff. Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One! products are available in supermarkets and natural foods stores. Note that the lip balms contain beeswax. For excellent lip balm without beeswax, try Soothing Touch or Merry Hempsters or the bee-free option of Eco Lips.
THERE ARE ENDLESS REPLACEMENTS FOR ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Sensuous fabric soft as silk can be woven from pineapple fibers. Vive le silkworms!
Some other vegan fibers include hemp, bamboo, calico (or muslin), organic cotton, jute, nettle, soy silk (made from soybeans), Ecospun (made from recycled plastic; brand name Fortrel), ramie, organic linen, wood pulp cellulose (brand name Tencel), and recycled polyester. The creativity of the human mind can be very resourceful.
WHY REFINED WHITE SUGAR ISN’T VEGAN
White sugar is often filtered through cow bone char during processing. You usually can’t tell from the label. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Probably is. Easiest solution: get organic white sugar. Organic white sugar, organic brown sugar, and organic confectioner’s (powdered) sugar are vegan. Regular brown sugar is just refined white sugar colored with molasses.
4 grams of refined white sugar equals 1 teaspoon. A can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Many kids drink three to five sodas each day.
HEALTHIER LESS-PROCESSED VEGAN SUGARS
Sucanat™ is short for sugar cane natural.
Florida Crystals® demerara is a golden sugar with a hint of molasses.
Sugar in the Raw® is also known as turbinado.
Billington’s® muscovado is a brown sugar available in light and dark.
NOPE, HONEY AIN’T VEGAN
Why? In a nutshell, honey is food that bees work very hard to make for themselves. Nabbing honey from bees is stealing.
MARINE LIFE IS NOT A SEAFOOD PLATTER
Fish, shrimp, turtles, squid, jellyfish, and other ocean dwellers don’t want to be eaten. They feel pain just as much as any other sentient being. Industrial fishing and mega aqua farms also damage the biosphere.
Try vegan “calamari” and other similar compassionate edibles from Sophie’s Kitchen.
VEGAN GOODS GALORE
You might rarely or never shop here. It’s very cool to cut down on consumption. A minimalist lifestyle is an antidote to becoming a zombie vegan consumerist.
GENERATE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF GARBAGE POSSIBLE
Trash in dumpsters ends up in landfills. The Earth is finite. And landfills are pollution for the Earth, animals, and people, especially those unlucky enough to live next door to one.
Buy less. Donate unwanted items. Swap things on Freecycle to keep more than 600 million pounds of disposed goods out of landfills each day.
Recycle. Want to get rid of “dirty” containers, used motor oil, glass, styrofoam peanuts, metal, and more? Use Earth911 to locate one of the 100,000+ recycling centers near you.
KEEP ON LEARNING
Ants, Mice, Deer, & Havahart
Green Homes for Every Budget
BE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
Do you wonder what difference your actions alone will make when many other folks are doing just the opposite? Each one of us who chooses to live with the natural world helps the land, the sea, and the air. Suppose everyone was mucking up the planet. Would that justify surrender? Or would it become an even greater necessity to walk true with yourself and create your own path?
The way of the natural warrior often means traveling a rough road through so-called civilization, but to live a life more ordinary—and be less than all you are—is hell. Because then you never existed. There will never be anyone just like you ever again in the history of humankind.
To live with honor is a daily choice. Improve your corner of the world. Help remake civilization.
ANIMALS NOT ONLY LOVE BUT HAVE DESIRE TO BE LOVED
Who dared to declare this? Mother Teresa, Crazy Horse, Mozart, Harriet Tubman, Van Gogh, or Buddha? Actually…Charles Darwin, in one of his more lucid moments. [Source: The Descent of Man.]
FORGE YOUR OWN PATH
Do what makes you feel comfortable and challenge yourself to do more. Give yourself the opportunity to experience everything deeply. Try to not pile on too many changes all at once. But forge ahead with determination and a loving heart. Each of us must think and act radically different to reach real answers for the grave ecological problems made by humankind.
Remember this is a lifelong journey: you’re an explorer discovering your own personal path for living in maximum harmony with the Earth. Be flexible, nurture a sense of humor, and dare to enjoy new things, including entirely new ways of looking at the natural world.
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