5 Benefits of Becoming a Vegan
I became a vegan two years ago after I developed rheumatoid arthritis.  Just to be clear, I do own a leather jacket and I sometimes "cheat" with chocolate.  So on the spectrum of how vegan am I, I would say that I fall into the range of pretty vegan but not totally.

Strangely, while I did not start my vegan diet for any spiritual reasons, it became a spiritual journey for me as I left meat and dairy out of my diet.  I believe that not eating animals products made me realize that I was healthier without them and that I felt good about not taking another animal's life for the purpose of satisfying my tastebuds.  Even though I do crave a juicy steak every now and then, I assuage the longing by thinking about the good I'm doing in the world.

I'm not going to go into my viewpoints on how we treat animals that are meant for slaughter.  I tend to notice that these diatribes accomplish nothing other than annoying the person I "lecture".  I can't blame them.  I used to be the same way, rolling my eyes when vegetarians and vegans would drone on and on about animal cruelty.  We are so separate from our food now––selecting our chicken breasts and sirloin steaks out of plastic containers in grocery stores rather than raising our own livestock on farms––that it is even difficult for me to visualize the animal as an animal rather than a nicely packaged food product.  I will say, though, that there are plenty of documentaries that take an interesting and in-depth view on how animals are treated during their lifetimes before they are slaughtered, and if you are at all inclined to look into it, I'd recommend watching Food, Inc., Earthlings, and Vegucated (all found on Netflix).

What I will say is that from my personal experience, being a vegan completely changed me, both mentally and physically.

1)  WHILE THE ARTHRITIS IS STILL THERE, IT IS MUCH LESS THERE.  I have fewer flare-ups, and when I do have any, they are less extreme than they used to be.

2)  I HAVE LOST WEIGHT!  It's nearly impossible for me to gain weight no matter what I eat.  I used to be at 145-150Ibs for most of my adult life.  Now I linger around 135Ibs (I'm 5'9" tall).

3)  AFTER EVERY MEAL, I FEEL MORE ALIVE!  I get to select foods that are derived from the earth because my options are more limited.  I used to feel weighed down and lathargic after a large meal.  Now I feel light and satisfied.  The foods I eat are mostly plant-based––from the soil––and so I feel more connected to the earth.  I know how hokey pokey that sounds, but it's the truth.

4)  I AM MUCH MORE CONSCIOUS OF ANIMALS.  This may not seem like a benefit at first, but trust me, it is.  To feel more connected to anything on earth is a benefit, and when you know that you are perhaps saving a few lives over the course of your lifetime, there is something fulfilling in knowing that.

5)  I AM EXTREMELY HEALTHY.  In fact, even though I do take medicine for my arthritis that practically wipes away my immune system, I never get sick.  Never.  Never.  Never.  That is not to say that you will never get a cold or the flu, but for me anyway, I have never been healthier or looked healthier since becoming vegan.  I take blood tests regularly, and according to my blood levels, everything appears great  I will note, however, that I do take a B-12 supplement in order to get that in my diet (usually found in meats) and I load up on flaxseed and walnuts for Omega-3s.

I am not claiming to be an expert on the matter of being vegan, but I have experienced enough improvements in my health to know that something significant has happened wtihin my body.  I will admit to being slow to change my eating habits over the years, feeling deprived if I did not get my bacon and eggs in the mornings or my burgers at lunchtime.  If you are like me and need more scientific evidence to see if becoming a vegan is right for you, check out the move "Forks over Knives."

Good luck, and happy eating!


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