WHY? In short: For the animals, the environment and my health
I thought for many years that the vegan nutrition is too restrictive and unhealthy. I didn’t think it is possible to get enough calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals through a vegan nutrition. I ate vegetarian most of my life because of my love for animals. I am very grateful that my parents respected my decision as a child to stop eating meat. After watching the documentary “Cowspiracy” on YouTube beginning of 2016 I realised how bad animal farming is for the environment. I am aware that some facts in this documentary are wrong. But the main conclusion stays the same: Our nutrition is a major contributor to global warming! An elderly gentleman, a former cattle rancher, said: „You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products”. Since sustainability is very important to me, this statement motivated me to change my nutrition. I joined a 30-Day Vegan Challenge and kept going this path afterwards. In this month and especially the time after I read a lot of scientific studies, books and articles about a balanced nutrition. I wanted to know exactly how much of each Macro- and Micronutrient we need and how they support each other. There is so much information available today that it is sometimes really difficult to know which results are right and which aren’t. There are studies for and against almost everything. I am grateful that learning how to read scientific studies was part of my master’s degree. Always check who financed the study. The meat and dairy industry has quite a lot of power.
Everyone has a right to their own opinion and nutrition is no exception to that. I don’t mind if somebody is eating meat in front of me. I can’t change anyone and getting upset about that would not do any good to my wellbeing. Most people don’t like when somebody says what they should eat, because our food choices are usually very personal. For those who are interested, I like to share my thoughts and knowledge of why I am eating vegan.
For the animals
It is nice to say that I am against cruelty. Most of us are. But how many of us actually convert these abstract values into concrete action? I know that many do not want to stop eating animal products. But what about eating less but “high-quality” animal products? Animals that were allowed to live outside, treated well and lived longer than just five years or even less. That would already have a big impact! If you want to learn more about the cruelty animals have to face every day, please watch “Dominion 2018” or “Earthlings 2005” on YouTube.
For the environment
Animal products (meat, dairy products and eggs) account for 48% of nutrition-related greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland (Jungbluth, N. 2011). One single cow releases 200 liters of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere every day. Thus it damages the climate just as much as a small car covers a distance of 18’000 km. Raising animals for food uses enormous resources (space, water, food, and energy). For every kilo of meat or dairy products, many times more of grains and other plants are used for the feed than if we feed ourselves on these plants. About half of the grain produced in Switzerland is fed to the animals. One kilogram of beef consumes 15,500 liters of water (water footprint), not to mention the energy consumption during preparation, storage, and transportation. Animal products contribute hugely to deforestation (species extinction) and are the leading cause of all fresh water pollution (ocean dead zones).
Food as medicine
If comparing omnivores with people who eat vegan scientifically, it is very important to take other information into account: How much sugar one eats, how balanced the nutrition is, placebo effects, dealing with stress, representativity of the sample, design of the study, how much one sleeps and exercises, and other influencing factors. In summary: It is possible to eat vegan and stay healthy if you eat balanced and supplement vitamin B12 (every other day). Plus vitamin D when the synthesis is reduced (e.g. weak sunlight, age and darker skin). As a positive side effect, through a vegan nutrition you consume less hormones (e.g. growth hormone, stress hormone), less antibiotics (75% of all antibiotics prescribed in Germany are fed to animals. No wonder more and more people develop resistance resistance to antibiotics), less carcinogens, less LDL cholesterol and less saturated fats. This lowers the risk and reduces symptoms of heart problems, cancer, type 2 diabetes, overweight, and results in better cholesterol levels. Casein, which makes up 87% of the protein contained in cow’s milk, promotes all stages of cancer growth (Campbell & Campbell, 2005).
WHAT we eat is very important to our health (Campbell & Campbell, 2005; Esselstyn, 2008). There are two great documentaries that show how switching to a vegan nutrition influenced the lives of different people who had either cancer, overweight, diabetes, or other problems. Both of them (“Forks Over Knives” and “What The Health”) are available on Netflix.
I am positively convinced that a balanced vegan nutrition can have a positive impact on cancer or heart problems. What about trying? What can you lose? There are no side effects like most modern medicine and it can be low on the budget. Educating yourself on the health benefits of eating vegan can make it easier to stick to this nutrition. One of the reasons I started my website was to share the healing power of food. There are impressive evidences that prove that advanced heart diseases, certain relatively advanced cancers, diabetes, and some other degenerative diseases can be reversed through a wholesome plant-based nutrition (Campbell & Campbell, 2005; Esselstyn, 2008). Everybody is free to decide what seems right for oneself. I want to reduce suffering in general. I try to buy local, seasonal and fresh products from farmers that do not use any artificial fertilizer and no monoculture. However, I also eat exotic products. I try my best, but I don’t want to suffer myself. One thing I had to learn is not to feel guilty.
“Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding crippling, painful and lengthy battles with disease.” – T. Colin Campbell, The China Study
I am aware of being privileged by having a choice. I don’t live in Antarctica or on a small island without space for agriculture. As I travel, I see a growing awareness of the enormous impact our consumer behaviour has, not only for ourselves, but also for the animals and the world in which we live.
“Smoking, being overweight and having a genetic predisposition CANNOT trigger coronary heart disease if you keep your cholesterol level below 150 mg / dl AND eat vegan. Lowering the cholesterol level below the critical limit of 150 mg / dl only through medication (without a vegan nutrition) CANNOT prevent new heart attacks and deaths. With a wholesome plant-based diet, patients can reach normal HSCRP blood levels within 3 to 4 weeks. ” – Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn
- Campbell, T. C. & Campbell, T. M. (2005). The China Study.
- Jungbluth, N. et al. 2011: Environmental Impacts of Swiss Consumption and Production: A Combination of Input-output Analysis with Life Cycle Assessment. ESU-services Ltd. u. a. Bern.
- Landwirtschaft. https://www.landwirtschaft.ch/wissen/pflanzen/getreidebau/allgemeines/.
- Jungbluth, N. 2011: ESU-services GmbH, Uster. Berechnungen für den WWF Schweiz.
- Water Footprint: http://www.project-platforms.com/files/productgallery-new.php.
- Öko-Institut: https://www.oeko.de/oekodoc/328/2007-011-de.pdf.
- PETA: https://www.peta.de/tiereesseninfografik.
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger and Gene Stone (2016).
- Radical Healing: Integrating the World’s Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New Transformative Medicine by Rudolph M. Ballentine
- Diet and Nutrition: A Holistic Approach by Rudolph M. Ballentine
- Esselstyn Jr, M.D., C. B. (2008). Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-based Cure.
- Dominion (Compassion for Animals)
- Earthlings (Compassion for Animals)
- The Game Changers (Vegan athletes. physical health)
- Forks Over Knives (Health, nutrition)
- What the Health (Nutrition)
- Cowspiracy (Environment)