Miami Living Magazine

Michelle Rodriguez

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Page 80 of 115

FOOD Can you forgo meat and animal products for the sake of animal rights? Becoming Vegan Learn about why more people are adopting this lifestyle Words by Claudia Paredes How about for the great health benefits? From a non-vegan perspective, I could not imagine living without my dairy products, chicken and beef. However, after examining all the benefits that come from becoming vegan, it started to sound more and more appealing. Being vegan is more than giving up certain foods. It is a lifestyle, a belief, a moral conviction, and a vow that one takes in the name of animal rights. If more people actually start to think about what animals go through for us to enjoy a juicy steak or grilled sausages, I am sure there will be more vegetarians/vegans in this world. If more people knew that commercially raised egg laying chickens and dairy cows are slaughtered when their productivity declines with age, then there would be more vegans. So, let's get the word out there! WHAT IS A VEGAN? Vegans are known as the "non-dairy vegetarian." In addition to not eating meat, vegans do not consume any products that are produced by animals like eggs, cheese, and milk. Vegans say that veganism is a lifestyle with a philosophy that animals are not ours to use (Vegan Action). They believe in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference. THE DOWNSIDE The consumption of animals and animal-products is taking a toll on society and the environment, which is why it's important to educate others so they can make the right choices. Livestock farms accelerate topsoil erosion, lowering productivity of crops, while animal waste from these farms is producing pollution that ends up in our groundwater and rivers. Doesn't sound good, does it? Here is some more food for thought. Producing food through animal farming is inefficient, vegans believe, since animal feed production takes up a lot of resources that could potentially be used towards feeding humans. GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH There are many health benefits to coming vegan. Firstly, consuming animal fats and proteins has been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and various other illnesses. Why are we subjecting our body to this? By changing your diet and becoming vegan you can prevent a number of diseases and possibly stop or even reverse the progression of early prostate cancer. Looking to lower your cholesterol? Vegan is the way to go. As a vegan, you are only consuming whole grains, vegetables, fruits and vegetables – everything that is great for your cholesterol. Everything that vegans eat is low in fat and high in fiber and other beneficial nutrients, as a vegan you can expect to have more energy and experience weight loss. GOING VEGAN But still, how could a person like me, who eats meats and dairy products everyday, switch to a diet that consists of none of that? I could not imagine my life without my milk and eggs and bacon on Sunday morning, so I decided to take a little challenge, and go vegan for 10 days. This was no easy challenge. However, I learned that just because you are vegan does not mean your food has to be boring or bland. Every night, I would put a vegan twist on my dinner. With a little help from the internet and some imagination, I found my way to delicious meals that avoided meat and dairy products. I have to admit, in the end, my stomach and taste buds did not sacrifice that much. There are several vegan substitutes out there for those who still want their milk (soy milk), eggs (tofu scrambles), and bacon (veggie bacon) every Sunday morning. I was still able to eat delicious desserts, international cuisine, and great salads that I didn't even know I could make. Becoming vegan taught me that I can be pretty crafty in the kitchen, and don't have to resort to a steak burrito on a late night. My favorite was the Southwestern stew, and the vegan enchiladas were also great for lunch. For those 10 days, I ate healthier than I ever have and still got to eat my glazed chocolate cupcakes and chocolate vegan truffles! Becoming vegan is not as tough as it seems. There are definitely tasty vegan recipes out there. Surf the web or pick up a vegan cookbook and learn to create a variety of dishes that your friends will not realize were prepared vegan. By going vegan, you are helping a great cause and most importantly you are helping your health. Give it a shot! What do you have to lose? ML MIAMI LIVING 79

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