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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

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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