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Have you ever thought about considering a vegan lifestyle? Believe it or not it’s not as scary as you might think!

A Vegan Lifestyle is one where you would avoid consuming animal products by choice. 

There are many reasons to consider a KINDer lifestyle in the new year. Let’s explore some of the more important ones:

Animals 

I love the way Peta puts it: ‘Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way.’  

I believe it is our responsibility to stand up for those who can’t defend themselves and living a vegan lifestyle is a great way to do that. Lead by example!

More so, it is absolutely not necessary for animals to suffer for us. There are better, smarter, and safer alternatives. 

Your Health

American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics considers a vegan diet healthful, nutritionally adequate and appropriate for all ages in all stages of life cycle. 

Research has linked vegan diets with lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, lower rates of heart disease, weight loss and lower rates of some types of cancer and premature death.

Planet

A vegan diet requires far less land, crops and water than a meat and dairy diet. Factory Farming is a major contributor to deforestation, water and air pollution. Factory farming is a system of raising livestock using intensive methods, by which the animals are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions. Factory farms are the main sources of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to climate change. 

Even though a vegan diet is beneficial to our health and our planet’s health, it is only a part of the lifestyle. There are many other ways that animal products creep into our lives including the clothes that we wear, medications and supplements that we take, cosmetic products that we use, wine that we drink, and much more. 

Although it’s extremely difficult to avoid animal derived products completely, there are many ways to minimize their use and thus minimize the impact on your health, the animals and our planet. 

What’s important here is progress not perfection! And let me tell you something you may not know: nobody is a 100% vegan! We are all ‘vegan-ish’. 

Going vegan-ish is a process and for most people it doesn’t happen overnight and that’s ok. I recommend taking it slow and having fun with it. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get started:

  • Start by cutting meat out one or two days a week and then gradually increase the number of days where you don’t eat meat, chicken, or fish. Tempeh, tofu, seitan, jackfruit are great substitutions for meat. Avoid processed faux meats. My favorite is tempeh. A super food made with fermented soy beans that can replace meat in most recipes.
  • Consider replacing dairy with non-dairy products. There are so many great options such as rice milk, hemp milk, oat milk, coconut milk and of course nut milk and cheeses. Some of the vegan cheeses on the market are highly processed. Look for nut cheeses with fewer ingredients and preferably made from Almonds. Miyoko’s and Kite Hill brands have a variety of healthy nut-based cheeses. Also avoid soy milk and cheeses as they are highly processed.
  • Consider replacing butter and processed oils with unrefined extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. There are also a number of healthy plant-based butters such as Miyoko’s and Earth Balance. 
  • All you workout enthusiasts, read the labels on your sports’ drinks and/or protein shakes. They are generally full of fillers and whey protein. Consider healthier plant-based options. 
  • Next time you want to buy shoes, belts or purses, consider faux (synthetic) leather or fabric. There are a number of high quality brands that make non-leather shoes and accessories. 
  • When you are looking to add to your wardrobe, pay attention to the material that it’s made from. Avoid silk, wool and cashmere. There are many other options such as organic cotton.
  • Look for cosmetic brands that only use plant-based ingredients. They are generally cleaner (contain fewer toxic chemicals). Look for the Peta and Leaping Bunny logos on the packaging. This means that they don’t do any animal testing. 

There are lots of amazing vegan cookbooks, recipes, restaurants, food fairs, cosmetics, shoes and clothing brands with thousands of products readily available on the market (in retail and online) and you no longer need to live in a large metropolis to have access to them. 

Some of my favorite cookbooks are Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris CarrThug Kitchenwhich has several great cook books by Matt Holloway & Michelle Davis and Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

Thanks to the ever-growing demand, you can now find vegan options at any restaurant and supermarket.  And don’t forget to look for vegan restaurants. They are popping up everywhere and they are really fun! Once you start going vegan-ish, a whole word is going to open up to you – and for you – that you may have had no idea existed! It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s vibrant and healthy, and more importantly, it’s KIND. 

And don’t forget to be KINDer to yourself. It’s ok if you fall off the wagon. It’s ok if you cheat sometimes. Remember it’s about progress not perfection! 

The best part is that once you start incorporating these ideas into your lifestyle, a shift starts to happen. You will feel healthier with more energy, you’ll start to lose weight, you will save money (meat is expensive!), and much more. 

The most valuable shift, however, is the one that happens inside of you. Once you start living a more conscious lifestyle -one that is KIND to you, to animals and to the planet – you will ignite a light inside of you that will illuminate everyone and everything that crosses your path. So go ahead, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. 

We’d love to hear about your journey and we invite you to leave comments and share best tips, recipes, best practices, challenges and questions about going vegan.

Enjoy your journey towards a KINDer lifestyle!

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