To be a healthy vegan, focus on…wait for it…health!  »

Laura has already registered her disappointment (OK, rage) at the new ad campaign from PCRM, which employs fat-shaming as a means to scare people off cheese. This campaign ignores all the good reasons why we should skip cheese—its production involves animal cruelty, eating it is not particularly good for us—and instead goes for a cheap shot at chubby thighs.

The awesome Ginny Messina already addressed why going vegan only to get skinny is likely to lead to disappointment, but she’s followed up with an article that I think is also worth mentioning here. Messina’s post for One Green Planet, The 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans, does a great job of focusing on vegan health regardless of size. Her suggestions apply to everyone—we could all be a bit healthier by eating legumes more often, choosing whole grains, and loading up on veggies. 

I actually did lose weight when I became vegetarian, and I also lost weight when I had to give up gluten. I didn’t lose any extra when I went vegan, but I had already changed my diet pretty drastically by then. Everyone is different. And I have no problem acknowledging that fitting into smaller pants felt great, but I could have gotten there a variety of ways; knowing that I was living my life according to my values and ethics has always felt better than skinny jeans. If you initially go vegan to lose weight and end up loving the lifestyle and learning more about how awesome it is, fabulous. But if your end goal is just a number on a scale, and you’re ignoring everything else that helps to keep us healthy and happy—mental health is part of that, too—then you’re not going to do well, no matter what your diet looks like.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

[photo by slightlypale via Flickr]


Guest post: A book to actually help you stay a Vegan for Life  »

A recent Psychology Today article stated that most vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat (I’d like to point out that this was based on a pretty small survey). I think one big reason why people give up the veg life is nutrition—not that it’s hard to have a nutritious plant-based diet, because it’s not, but because they don’t know how to. OK, and because they are sick of explaining how to nosy meat-eaters.

I’m sure fine Vegansaurus readers know that you don’t have to eat beef to get iron or drink milk to get calcium, and that there are plenty of awesome plant-based sources of protein. But do you know the why behind all of that? Not a lot of people do; after all, how many of the omnivores you know can rattle off a bunch of facts about the nutritional content of eggs, or tell you exactly how many grams of protein are in a serving of chicken breast? Not many. That is why you should pick up Vegan for Life, an awesome new book by dieticians Jack Norris and Ginny Messina. Your own health will improve, thanks to the excellent knowledge the book imparts to you, and you’ll be able to get your know-it-all on when someone dismisses your chickpea masala as void of protein.

The best thing about Vegan for Life is how even-handed the book is. Norris and Messina don’t make a bunch of nutty healthy claims, and they don’t pull facts out of their asses; they present the science and let it speak for itself. The nutritional breakdown of foods like tofu, black beans, and spinach are well known and can be proven; there’s no need to make that stuff up. This isn’t a book for hippies who think they can be sustained on sunlight and happy thoughts; it’s a common-sense guide to eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet. That approach makes it lot harder for naysayers to be dismissive.

Vegan for Life offers an easy way to eat to a healthy daily vegan diet, like a food pyramid for the cruelty-free. They talk about healthy vegan eating for all stages of life, from childhood to old age, and give a great guide to eating vegan while pregnant and breastfeeding. They also look at vegan diets for people with conditions like diabetes and heart disease. There’s something for everyone in here, and it all underlines the fact that vegan eating is healthy and feasible for everyone. The ethical reasons for eating vegan are outlined at the back of the book; if you already know, you already know, but readers who aren’t familiar with them will read about all the cruelty that a vegan diet avoids after already getting the facts on how awesome it is for their own bodies. Smart.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you should get—and read!—Vegan for Life. I’m a health reporter, and there are still things in here that I didn’t know before I picked it up. If someone in your life has talked about reducing the amount of meat they eat, or trying to be vegetarian or vegan, this book is a great way to show them that it’s easier than they may think, and definitely really healthy. Go get it!

You can buy Vegan for Life at Herbivore Clothing Company, Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, or your preferred local or online bookstore.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.

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