October Challenge: Going Vegan

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Yes, I’m going vegan! I thought I knew quite a lot about health and global issues. I’ve been immersing myself in the subject of nutrition for the last 4 years, I’ve worked for several NGOs, and in Uni teachers bombarded us with facts and videos about health, development, inequality, animal and human right violations, and climate change.

Yet, until yesterday, I was still eating chicken (not often), and animal products like goat cheese and eggs. And fish (very often)! I absolutely love fish. In the ocean, and on my plate. Red snapper, king prawns, crab, lobster, mackerel, herring…you name it, I eat it.

Last night though, I was watching the documentary “Food Choices”. And what I saw really opened my eyes. Finally.

Food Choices

People (including me) prefer to think that fish don’t feel. Fish can’t feel pain, they don’t suffer. We don’t want to see their pain because seeing that kills our appetite (what is worse though, killing our appetite or killing marine life). It makes us feel guilty. Why would we want to do that to ourselves?!

But they do suffer. When I saw how fish are skinned alive, I literally started crying. I’ve seen it before, but yesterday I suddenly felt so incredibly guilty and sad for what we put all those living beings through…not only fish but all animals! I just can’t understand that it took me 34 years to really feel that.

Actually, I already felt like that when I was a little girl. I remember asking my mother why she didn’t feel guilty eating a fish she bought from the market. I remember being disgusted by the red blood coming from the steak on my plate. It made it look like part of an animal…

Then I grew up. People around you that you love, tell you not to make a fuss and just eat what is being served. Although I respect that too (who am I not to eat something while other people in the world starve to death), I think that our initial feelings we have as children, not wanting to hurt sentient beings, are legitimate.

Maybe it’s because I meditate so much more lately, that I’ve somehow developed more empathy for all living creatures. ;-p But it’s not just that. It makes sense to go on a plant-based diet. Not only because of the animals and the environment but also because of the health benefits.

“Food Choices” interviews experts, doctors, and biochemists. Most of them are working in the field of nutrition and food science. They all promote a plant-based diet. So I have to admit, the documentary is quite one-sided. It’s basically one big promo video for a vegan lifestyle.

Plus, aside from this documentary, there are so many contrasting opinions in the field of food science on what foods are best for our health, that it’s hard to know what to believe.

Happiness comes from inside… your gut!

What I do believe in, is eating what feels right for your body and mind. Not in the short term, but in the longer term.

Everybody knows that fruit and veggies are good for your health. Animal products, on the other hand, contain high levels of saturated fat, which raises your cholesterol levels.

Did you know that 80-90% of your happiness comes from your intestines?! Serotonin, aka the “happiness hormone”, is one of the biggest influencers of your mood. And it’s mostly created in your gut. So, a healthy belly leads to a happy mind!

I’ve experienced that myself over the last year as I already started to cut some products (red meat, cow’s milk products, gluten) out of my diet. I almost never eat processed foods and I don’t use sugar. I do feel lighter and happier, and I haven’t been sick since last January (when I caught Bali Belly – a worthy sacrifice for living in Bali).

It’s also funny how your taste buds change. You start eating what you think is right for you on the longer term, and after a while, you even develop a taste for it.

Going vegan in October

But as of today (yes it’s still September, but I can’t wait anymore), I am going vegan. For at least the entire month of October. I will keep a ‘diary’ on social media. When I feel like I have something worth sharing, I will post it online.

After this month, I will see how I feel, and if I’ve missed eating fish and eggs (I miss them already!).

If you’d like to join me, feel free. It would be fun to keep each other motivated and maybe even share recipes. Tag your posts with #veganinoctober.

Don’t forget to get a vitamin B12 supplement, or load up on B12 fortified foods. That’s the only vitamin missing in a vegan diet (in these times). A B12 deficiency can lead to some serious health issues. According to The Vegan Society though, “Vegans using adequate amounts of fortified foods or B12 supplements are much less likely to suffer from B12 deficiency than the typical meat eater”.

What are your thoughts about going on a plant-based diet?



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