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4 Reasons To Start Following a Plant-Based Diet

4 Reasons To Start Following a Plant-Based Diet

We live in a world that is in constant threat of extinction – whether it be war, terrorism, everyday violence, or the one we all fear but chose to blissfully ignore: Global Warming.

Yes, that big looming threat that is literally and figuratively hanging over our heads and holding a gun to our and our children’s futures. You might wonder what this has to do with following a plant-based diet — all you wanted was a healthy new lifestyle and perhaps a hot, new-and-improved bod. However, bear with me. We will get to all the benefits of this lifestyle soon, but in order for us to truly commit (let’s be honest, most of us abandon diets as quickly as a child abandons his or her parent when a new toy is presented), we must understand the lifestyle and why we choose it — it’s not just for that lean body.

Yes, we all want to look and be healthy, but one thing that a plant-based lifestyle can guarantee you, that I know the other diets cannot, is the fact that you will literally be contributing to the wellbeing of the world, as well as its inhabitants. How many of us can truly say that with satisfaction and a peace at heart?

This article will allow you to see why following a plant-based and cruelty-free lifestyle is not only the best for you as an individual, but also for humanity, its furry and non-furry friends, our ecosystem, and the future of our planet. If you are one of the few who have made the decision to ignore this enemy, or perhaps some of the few who have just thought the increase in extreme temperatures, famine, natural disasters, and the global sea-level rise is “just, you know, a part of the ‘circle of life’,” then this article will serve to enlighten you on this “little” matter — or even prompt you to delve deeper into this highly controversial subject.

What is a Plant-Based Diet and What Does it Exactly Entail?

A plant-based or vegan diet is a lifestyle where you deliberately choose not to consume any animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as purchase or use products derived from animals, like leather, fur, and wool. You also try to avoid using any products that are tested on animals.

The Vegan Society defines it as such: “veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Now, does that not sound like a cause worth fighting for?

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Do not allow your comfort zone to pull you back into passivity, this is easier than it sounds and we have substitutes for all the products you might hate to part with. There are substitutes that are exceedingly tastier and healthier than the real deal, and you know what that means? No more guilt and calorie counting!

If that does not get you on the animal-friendly train, perhaps the following will.

4 Reasons Why a Plant-Based Diet is The Way to Go:

1. Ideal Body Weight:

You have tried every diet and pill out there but you still cannot seem to lose that extra weight or stick to those strict guidelines of what to eat and how much to eat of it. Well, when following a plant-based diet, get ready to lose all those extra pounds without pausing a conversation mid-sentence to quickly count how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left to consume (if you’re like me, my calorie consumption usually ended by lunch).

Now, don’t go thinking the pounds will just magically disappear overnight. As with any diet, it does take balance and patience, but the results are amazing, permanent, and most of all, they are healthy. You will not be overweight, nor will you be underweight — you will be your ideal self!

What if you want to tone or build muscle? Not a problem, in fact protein in this lifestyle can be found in abundance without having to take a life for it. Here are some examples of protein-packed foods: Lentils, Hemp Seeds, Chia seeds, Quinoa, Spirulina, Nutritional Yeast, Nuts, Beans, Tofu, Edamame, and many more. There are some great examples of vegan bodybuilders out there, all you have to do is look and you will get some great sources of inspiration and advice. Rumanè Grey is a great example of someone to follow on Instagram. She is a bikini competitor and has previously competed as a non-vegan, but has since decided to become a vegan and is now in training for her first competition as one.

With regards to protein shakes, simply opt for a plant-based protein powder. There are some great plant-based protein shakes out there, Vega One being one of those examples. Did you know that whey protein powders haven’t even been regulated by the FDA yet and that some have contained heavy metals, like cadmium and lead? Go look at the great infographic on Art of Wellbeing to find out more about why plant-based protein shakes is the whey (get it?) to go.

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2. Healthy Body, Mind, and Soul:

Yes, I will be using the cliché that having a healthy body leads to having a healthy mind and soul — especially when it comes to choosing the vegan lifestyle. By not consuming the fully hormonal and drug-packed animal products out there, you stand the chance to prevent and even reverse some of the devastating diseases out there, for example: Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart disease, High cholesterol, High blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and many more. Don’t believe me? Go read Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram’s story on how eating a fully raw vegan diet led to the demise of her hyperglycemia, or look at the list Nutrionfacts provided. Many more examples can also be found in the film Forks Over Knives.

How about your mind? According to studies, gut inflammation — which is caused by “bad” microbes (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) — can cause depression and many other mental health diseases. Studies are also being conducted with regards to microbes playing a role in autism and a person’s tendency to become violent and aggressive.

These studies weren’t conducted by vegan activists, but by scientists trying to find solutions to the mental difficulties individuals face in society. These are good examples to consider when adopting a healthier lifestyle. By going vegan and organic, you stand the chance to reverse and remove these challenges from your life. Being someone who would often find herself in a state of depression, to such an extent that I was on medication, I found deliverance in my faith. However, many times that darkness would still try to swing by unannounced, ready to attack and consume me, and I would have to put on my armour and defend myself (which was often too much trouble). Today, with all honesty, I can say that ever since I adopted a vegan diet, the enemy has evaporated. No medication – just my plant-based diet and my childlike faith.

This leads me to why a plant-based diet leads to a healthy soul: how can it not? By not consuming and using animals products, I am not buying into a market that chooses to exploit, abuse, rape, and murder innocent creatures. I am choosing not to rip young ones from their mothers in order to make special delicacies that will only be processed in ways that are immensely unhealthy and decrease my lifespan.

Did you know that cows form relationships with other cows, that they get excited when they solve problems? Did you know that pigs are smarter than three-year-old children, that they have over 20 different vocalizations, and that given the proper amount of space they are the some of the cleanest animals? How about the hens we choose to strip of their eggs? These hens are very caring and affectionate mothers. They can recognize over 100 individuals. Their chicks we choose to serve up scrambled can live up to 20 years. The list goes on.

These fellow earth inhabitants are smart, they feel and they understand. Not contributing to their deaths makes me feel like a better human being, it makes me sleep better at night knowing my dinner didn’t die screaming in agonizing pain. It is simply illogical to want to try and protect some animals and then turn around to eat others. That is why my soul is at ease, I am living in peace with all of creation — making me feel closer to God (or whatever you choose to believe) and nature.

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3. Veganism-1, Global Warming-0

Remember that ugly and monstrous threat I was talking about earlier? Well, there is a way to ensure it does not get any worse than it already is. Ready for it? Veganism. That’s it folks. It’s as simple as choosing not to endorse the unnatural reproduction — in other words the rape, torture, slavery, murder, and mutilation of innocent beings for food, clothing, and cosmetics that we do not need.

You are probable thinking that I completely fell off the wagon somewhere to be able to link veganism to global warming. These are two separate entities — how can they possibly relate?

The following facts from Cowspiracy’s website will explain how.

Greenhouse Gases:

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions, this is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
  • Livestock and their byproducts are responsible for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. In other words, 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Livestock are also accountable for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide — this has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for as long as 150 years.

Water:

  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons per year.
  • 2,500 gallons of water is needed to produce 1 pound of beef and according to the NPR, a person consumes 270.7 pounds of meat per year (take note this is in the United States).

Land:

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  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of the extinction of species, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • We are currently in the largest mass extinction in 65 million years.
  • Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year: Vegan = 1/6th acre; Vegetarian = 3x as much as a vegan; Meat Eater = 18x as much as a vegan

Waste:

  • The production of animal waste in the United States is 130 times more than human waste — 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually.

Ocean:

  • Fish-less oceans are predicted by 2048.
  • It is estimated that fishing vessels cause the death of as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals per year.

Rainforest:

  • 91% of the Amazon destruction is due to animal agriculture. In other words, livestock and feed crops.
  • Up to 137 plant, animal, and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
  • A total of 1,100 land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.

4. Demolition of World Hunger

Did you know that if every person followed a plant-based diet, world hunger could be combatted? According to The Huffington Post, we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people, which is the estimated number for 2050. However, the water and food that are needed is being allocated to overpopulated and unnaturally reproduced animals. For example: Cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day. This is food that could be used to feed the hungry. Instead, we choose a piece of steak over the hunger of a malnourished person in not only Africa (let’s get that stereotype out of our heads) but across the globe.

Cowspiracy also informs us that each day, a person who follows a vegan lifestyle saves “1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.” How amazing are those facts? You literally get to make a positive impact on the world with your lifestyle choices. We’ve all had those superhero fantasies of saving the world — now you can!

As ABC says on its cookie labels: “No single food choice has a farther-reaching and more profoundly positive impact on our health, the environment, and all of life on Earth than choosing vegan.”

More reading can be found on Sisters of Notre Dame as well as Cowpiracy’s website. I would also recommend watching the Cowspiracy documentary.

In Conclusion:

This article is not meant to “convert” or judge you, it is merely meant to show you the benefits of following a plant-based diet. It serves to bring to light the facts of a topic that has been disregarded as illogical, irrelevant, and something only for peace-loving “hippies.” In the words of the writer, poet, and animal rights activist Ashley Capps: “To be presented with the option to cause drastically less harm and suffering in the world: Isn’t this a gift? How could we not greet it with anything but gratitude?”

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Bianca Gouws

Freelance Writer, Director and Actress

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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