So I’m sitting at dinner the other night with three boys: My two sons, Max, who is twelve and Felix who is ten, and their friend Tolly, also twelve. We’re chowing down on a huge serving of oil-free wedges, sweet chilli sauce and salad, and I’m waiting for the questions to come, which they inevitably do from young Tol.
Tolly is a tall, burly gorgeous kid who loves ‘going bush’, building forts out of tree branches, leaves and rocks and can light a fire with nothing but a flint and steel. I’m really impressed by his abilities in this area.
Like most boys he’s also fascinated by guns, knives and full camo outfits. My boys both own very serious-looking Bear Grylls survival knives because of their friendship with Tol.
In the past he’s cocked his head and asked, with a look of complete dismay in his eyes, “But don’t you miss meat?”
Tonight, as per usual, he pipes up in a certain tone, which warns me about what’s coming… “So Anthea… what about roadkill, would you eat that? Or what about rabbits? They’re a pest and there are too many of them anyway?”
I love questions like this because they allow me to really think about my values. In the moment I have to re-evaluate everything.
Before starting a low-fat vegan diet I probably would have said yes. After all if an animal’s been hit by a car then I haven’t actually killed it, right?
And provided it’s still warm and fresh then it’s free organic meat right?
Same thing with rabbits. Wouldn’t I be doing a service to Australian farmers by eating rabbits? Quite probably.
There are a range of reasons I choose not to eat meat of any kind, even so-called humane-meat.
Some of them are physical. Some are spiritual. And some are environmental. And I’ll discuss each in detail here…
REASON #1 – Fruits n’ vegies for health
There’s plenty of research to show just how bad animal products of all kinds are for your health. For starters they’re extremely acid-forming to the body and the more you eat the more uric acid you will have building up in your body temple.
The more acidic your pH, the more your body will leach essential alkaline nutrients like calcium from your bones and muscle tissue, which will then lead to conditions like osteoporosis.
When I first began eating this way, nearly 4 years ago, I was concerned that I wouldn’t get enough protein on a vegan diet, especially one that was even relatively low in plant-based proteins.
But what I discovered along the way is that every fruit, vegetable, nut and seed has protein in it, and that by eating a variety of plant foods you’ll ensure that you more than meet your needs for protein.
I cannot tell you how much better I feel for not consuming animal products. My energy levels, immune system, skin, hair, eyes, clarity of mind, positivity, blood markers are all a million percent improved upon what they were pre dietary change.
I always keep an open mind and am willing to make changes if I’m not 100% thriving, but I honestly have never felt the need to return to eating animals. I just feel so good.
So yes, I could eat that road kill, or help to cull the rabbit population, but for the health of my body and mind I choose not to.
Here’s what Dr Michael Greger has to say about animal protein (all links are to his truly excellent videos on scientific studies about its consumption:
“Plant sources of protein are preferable, as animal protein sources have been linked to negative health effects from acne (see also here) to cancer, female infertility, infant sleep apnea, autism, crib death, and premature puberty. Meat has even been linked with a shorter life span. The presence of industrial carcinogens, xenoestrogens, arsenic, steroids and external hormones in animal fat and protein may be partially to blame. Plant protein consumption has been associated with a slimmer waistline and consuming a plant-based diet and may help rheumatoid arthritis, prevent cancer, and normalize puberty age in young women. Food is a package deal. You can’t get the protein in meat without the cholesterol, for example. Similarly, the best source of vitamin B12 is from supplements rather from animal sources.”
Dr Greger has done all the work here for you. He is a scientific-research gathering ninja so that you can knock yourself out on all the studies you need to back your lifestyle change.
If you haven’t seen it already then Forks Over Knives is a critical film for you to watch. This film is based on The China Study, the biggest nutritional research study ever commissioned, with astounding findings.
Educate yourself and enjoy!
REASON #2 – An ever-deepening connection with the divine
Vegans and raw vegans alike talk about this thing called Biophilia that comes about once you let go of eating animals and their bi-products. And I can really concur.
I’m so much more in tune with furry, feathery and scaly friends since I choose to not eat anyone with a face or a mother.
My heart feels so much more open to all animals, so much more compassionate for their suffering, and sometimes my heart feels like it’s breaking wide open at the completely needless suffering they experience.
A film I recommend to everyone new to this lifestyle is Earthlings. You can watch it free on the internet but make sure you have a box of tissues with you. Your heart will be wrenched out of your chest. Warning: a common side-effect of watching this film is people never going back to eating meat or dairy ever again.
If I were to put my shovel in the boot of my car and begin scraping dead animals off the road for my family’s consumption I know it would drive a wedge between me and animals.
I know my sense of compassion for their needs would diminish.
And I don’t want to ever go back to feeling numb about the world and it’s sentient beings. I want to be fully alive and an advocate for their needs.
When I’m fully alive to all living beings, I am also fully alive to myself, and I get all sorts of intuitive cues about life. To me it feels like I’m living my life hand-in-hand with the divine.
Reason #3 – Our planet, our future
Eating plant-based began as an answer to my burgeoning health problems, but shortly after embarking on this lifestyle I discovered all the positive environmental reasons about choosing to eat plants over animals.
I learned how much water it takes to grow a beef burger patty. (450 gallons for 1/4 pound burger, or about 1,845 liters per kilogram!)
I learned how many forests were being cleared to make way for grazing land.
I learned about the amount of methane which is trapped beneath the polar ice caps but which will soon be leaching into the atmosphere as they melt.
I wrote about all these environmental factors in this article: How to heal yourself and the planet at the same time.
A film I highly recommend for newbies to plant-based eating is Cowspiracy, which shines a light on the elephant in the room that is meat-production. It is a HUGE eye-opener and I recommend everyone watch it.
I feel hugely responsible for keeping our earth alive for future generations, and I don’t believe you can be an environmentalist and still eat meat and dairy. The two are completely incompatible.
Even ‘humanely’ raised meat is completely unsustainable for our world. To give you an example, illustrated in Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret – The consumption of meat in the USA alone would require the growing of meat on every inch of North America (including the land that all capital cities occupy) and well into South America as well.
Imagine what will happen as countries like China and India further develop their taste for western foods, and primarily meat?
Food for thought, huh? Have you found it hard to find reasons to let go of meat? Please share in the comments section below…
It can be tricky navigating all the information and conflicting opinions out there. That’s where raw health coaching can really help get you on your feet, feeling confident about the changes you’re making.
If you’d like support in this area I love working with people to tailor make a raw health program just for you. Come visit me HERE to find out all about it.
Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series. Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!