Boy, is there ever a lot of information out there about how to eat and be healthy-to live up to our own personal potential. Medical doctors, who once knew nothing about nutrition are weighing in on this issue which, in the short and long term, affects every one of us. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, an ever present voice in the vegan community mentioned in one of her Food for Thought Podcasts, that the desire to enjoy good health is universal- It is not exclusively vegan or non vegan.
I encounter a lot of dissent in the vegan community about whether eating and being healthy is a goal or a benefit of being and living vegan. According to the definition of veganism coined in 1944 by Donald Watson:
Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals
It is very clear that the goal of veganism is to end the exploitation of nonhuman beings. And by exploit, Watson means use in any way , the beings with whom we share this earth. The issue of our own health and personal gain does not even appear in the definition. In other words, veganism is all about the nonhumans we enslave, abuse, steal from and ultimately kill for our wants, not needs.
And I believe in this. I am not sure there is any middle ground but yet, good health is important for all of us. So, is it possible to be a vegan and live according to the principles set out by Donald Watson, while still being warriors in the area of our own health? My short answer is, most definitely, yes! Let’s all be the best we can be.
To this end, I am becoming acquainted with the leading experts out there in the area of plant based nutrition. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who worked as a surgeon at the Cleveland clinic in Ohio has this to say about heart disease.
I don’t want my patients to pour a single thimbleful of gasoline [oil, meat, dairy] on the fire. Stopping the gasoline puts out [and prevents] the fire. Reforming the way you eat will end [and prevent] the heart disease.
Now, we all know that if we don’t have a healthy heart, we don’t have a whole heck of a lot in terms of quality of life and longevity. So how can we advocate for nonhumans if we are incapacitated or dead? For vegans, the meat and dairy is a no brainer, but what about the oil? You know -all those processed oils that have been marketed as being heart healthy? There is olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil (which, BTW is 100% artery clogging, saturated fat), walnut oil, flax oil, and the list goes on……
According to Esselstyn, it doesn’t matter if they are refined or not, filtered or not. They are still 100% liquid fat and are death for the human body. We can’t process them. We store them in the tissue in our bodies and in our arteries. They are not the same as the fats that are naturally occurring in plant foods, such as quinoa and yes, even broccoli. He does however, exclude nuts, seeds and avocados from the heart healthy naturally occurring fats in plants. He says that, for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease, nuts, seeds and avoacados are too high in fat too eat at all, never mind daily.
Dr. Esselstyn is not just spouting theories about heart health. He treats his patients using this method of plant based eating and has conducted studies with heart patients for more than twenty years. He and his wife have been plant based for nearly thirty years. So he walks the talk. I don’t know if he is vegan. He doesn’t seem to get into that in any of the videos and articles that I have watched and read.
This is a very interesting video that I watched this last Friday. Dr. Esselstyn explains how the heart and body work and why, medically speaking , the average age of the onset of heart disease in North America is decreasing as we speak. The beginning of heart disease is seen sometimes in teens and regularly in people in their twenties. Holy smokes! This is frightening!!
Please watch it and then let’s talk about how to be healthy in a industry driven society that is promoting poor human health in order to bolster the health of their bottom line.
Annie’s Vegan View
Veganism and good nutrition and vitality are not mutually exclusive, even though the goal of veganism is nonhuman animal liberation.
Being the healthiest you can be is a gift you can give to yourself, to those in your inner circle and to all other beings who rely on you for your help.
Take some time to look beyond what someone is trying to sell you and do some research about the human body and what it needs to thrive.
You are worth it!
May all beings be happy and free.