I've noticed over the last year that vegans are getting a bad rep in the press and all over the internet. Recently, this LA Times article touts how vegans eat junk and are not healthy. Then Angelina Jolie spews this non-sense of how a vegan diet nearly killed her. My goodness! Unfortunately, many vegans don't eat all that healthy. Even more of them don't cook or don't even know how to cook. Many of them are overweight, have skin and healthy conditions, don't exercise, eat processed foods, are sick all the time, and have no energy. This is partly the cause of all the bad press. Just because something or someone is vegan does not make it or them "healthy".
This concerns me. First, as activists and advocates we need to take care of ourselves so we have the good health to continue fighting the good fight. Second, if we aren't healthy then we aren't setting a good example to the world on how awesome a vegan plant-based diet is for them. We have to walk the talk, we have to realize that first and foremost the most important animal in your life is YOU. Nobody is perfect and I eat junk food, but only on occasion. Most of my diet consists of whole plant foods, a balance of whole grains, legumes, veggies with lots of dark leafy greens, fruit, nuts and seeds. Eating this way with the occasional treat has sent my health to a whole new level.
So what does true health look like? After studying macrobiotics, health, and nutrition for many years there are some key things I've experienced over the years that make me feel "healthy".
1. Good sleep – within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow I'm out like a light. I wake up at the same time every morning without an alarm clock (6:30am-ish) and I'm full of energy. I do not need caffeine to get me going.
2. Strong immunity – If you eat junk, sugar, and drink alcohol you create an acid condition in your body. This lowers immunity and causes us to get sick, like cold systems, flu, migraines, etc. If you eat an alkaline plant-based diet your immunity is high and you don't get sick. I haven't been sick in I don't remember how long. Even while I'm surrounded by sick people I don't catch what they have because my immunity is strong.
3. Abundant Energy – As long as I don't have sugar or junk food, I have steady energy throughout the day, with no lulls around 3pm like most people. I'm like the Energizer Bunny.
4. Aging gracefully – It's weird, but I feel like I've stopped aging. I go home to Texas once a year and they tell me I look younger every year. People think I look 25. My body feels better than it did 5 years ago too. I feel comfortable at my current body weight and feel very strong. I don't need to exercise all the time to stay fit. It's crazy!
Vegans need to take better care of themselves and set shining examples to the rest of the world. We can lead by example or continue to scare people away from this lifestyle.
With all this being said, I'm really glad the vegan diet is getting any press at all. If it's good press then all the die hard meat-eaters come out and bash it. If it's bad press then all the vegans come to the rescue to dispel myths and hopefully change peoples' minds. Any press starts the conversation, and as Jonathan Safran Foer says, we need to start the conversation now.
What do you think true health looks like? What can you do today to improve your health?