I’ve been spending the last couple of months absorbing a ton of information about eliminating meat and dairy from my diet. I came upon the decision to begin avoiding meat and dairy after reading the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser. Fast Food Nation explores the industrial food production system in the United States and how it is intertwined with the fast food industry. It is a fascinating read, but be prepared to read about some ugly truths about the meat and dairy industries in the United States (I’m sure that the industrial meat and dairy production systems are similar in Canada, but the book only tackles the US).
After absorbing the information in Fast Food Nation and deciding to eliminate meat and poultry from my diet, I stumbled upon the documentary Forks Over Knives. A good friend of mine had actually recommended it to me months earlier, but after we’d discussed it, I didn’t think about it again. Then, within a week of finishing reading Fast Food Nation, I came across the complete Forks Over Knives documentary movie online and watched it in one sitting. The premise behind Forks Over Knives (by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) is that consuming a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn recommends a diet free from meat, dairy, oil and sugar, and he has done a lot of research and testing on his own patients over the past 25 years to support his claims. After finishing watching Forks Over Knives, I became convinced that I wanted to continue trying to overhaul my diet and make conscious choices to eat better for my own health and well-being.
Here’s some sources from which I’ve been absorbing a ton of information about the benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle:
How It All Vegan - A fabulous vegan cookbook with some additional information on making this lifestyle change. What I liked most about this cookbook is that the recipes are very simple. Since I don’t believe in complicating things unnecessarily, I appreciated the tone of this book. How It all Vegan contains a chapter on vegan recipes that might appeal to children, which I thought was helpful. I also particularly appreciate the authors take on considering the environmental impact before “veganizing” your lifestyle – like consider using what you have and wearing it out (leather shoes, leather belts, etc.) before making additional vegan clothing or lifestyle purchases. One of the authors of How It All Vegan currently runs a website that includes a blog and an online store too (from Victoria BC) if you are interested in that sort of thing
The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone is a celebrity vegan, and she has written her own book, The Kind Diet. You can also check out Alicia’s blog, The Kind Life – she tackles lots of other subjects in addition to veganism, like environmentalism and conservationism. Be sure to read her timely Earth Day post for lots of great ideas on how to be kind to our planet!
Skinny Bitch – Ignore the sensationalistic title, and read this book! While the title might be misleading, the information contained in this book focuses on the benefits we can derive from eliminating meat and dairy from our diets. It is written in a “girlfriend-conversation” style, which I find makes it pretty light reading. There are some facts about the horrors of factory farming, but for the most part, the content of this book is a lot of common sense interspersed with dietary facts. This book is a great reference for those looking for other titles on the subject of veganism – peppered throughout the book are titles of other suggested reads on the subject.
Eco-Vegan Gal - I first discovered Whitney’s informative video posts on YouTube, and skipped over to check out her website. She has lots of great inspirational videos on her YouTube channel, with additional posts about veganism and reviews of vegan products on her website. I would recommend Eco-Vegan Gal as a good resource for anyone looking for other voices in the discussion on veganism. Whitney also writes about eliminating gluten, soy, oil and sugar from her diet, so there are posts on those subjects as well for those who are interested.
Loving Simple Living is another recent discovery for me. Blog author Lorilee Lippincott posted recently over at Rachel’s blog The Minimalist Mom about simple living with children. I enjoyed reading Lorilee’s post and skipped on over to her site… to discover that she is also a vegan! I spent some time exploring her site and she has some fabulous, kid-friendly vegan recipes. Lorilee also eloquently writes about how simple eating dovetails nicely with simple living.
Oh She Glows - I’ve been a fan of Angela’s website for years. Hers was the first vegan cooking blog I read that made vegan food look so amazingly delicious. Her recipes are awesome, and she even shares her inspirational journey to healthful eating and living. Plus, she’s a Canuck! Lots of inspiration and recipe ideas at Oh She Glows, and I think Angela may even have a vegan cookbook in the works for the future.
Hungry Hungry Hippie - I’ve just started reading Hungry Hungry Hippie, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Lot of great, simple food recipe ideas – even though Elise doesn’t describe herself as vegan, a lot of her recipes are free of meat and dairy products. I recommend her seitan recipe – I made seitan (or “wheat meat”) for the first time yesterday using her recipe and it was a hit, even with my six year old son!
I’ve also subscribed to the Facebook feeds for Fat-Free Vegan and Engine 2 Diet - they provide inspirational recipe ideas daily, and it is to know where to find a community of people striving for the same goals.
Watch Forks Over Knives here.
I feel like I’ve read and learned so much about going meat-free and dairy-free in the past weeks, and I’m coming out on the other side – I’m no longer overwhelmed by the amount of information out there on the subject, and it feels great to know there are a TON of resources on the internet just waiting to be discovered. If you’ve ever considered not eating meat or dairy, I encourage you to try one recipe at a time – there are vegan recipes for literally EVERYTHING your heart might desire. I’ve lost 10 lbs in the past month, and the only changes I have made are dietary. My goal is to lose another 20 lbs, and I am hoping that by eating healthfully in this manner my goal will be a lot easier to attain.