March 11, 2012

33 Tips for Vegans from a 33 Year Vegan


*Realize that every sentient animal (human and other) has the birth-right not to be harmed, assaulted, enslaved, objectified and oppressed by humans. It is humans that don’t honor the inherent rights of other animals.
*Be self-assured when discussing veganism with pre-vegans; you are on the side of Truth.
*When educating about veganism, instill the true meaning and foundation of veganism; a way of life where one chooses non-participation in animal exploitation, as far as possible. You can also discuss the many planetary and human benefits of vegan living, but the speciesism that prevails in our society is an issue that must be addressed. Even if you think people “don’t want to hear it”, they need to hear it. Advocate for non-speciesism; use the word – and plant seeds for a vegan future.
*In studies of vegans, 6 nutrients have been identified that vegans need to ensure they are getting (don’t worry; there were more concerns for nutrient deficiencies in omnivores). They are easy enough to get, but you DO need to ensure you are getting them: iron, calcium, iodine, B12, Vitamin D, and Omega 3.
*Vegan ways of ensuring you are getting your necessary B12 requirement are: fortified nutritional yeast, a supplement such as B12 dots or sublingual liquid B12, fortified cereals, soy milks, and plant “meats”, and for those totally opposed to supplements or processed foods, chlorella has been found to have real B12; not analogue. (Pub Med Link below). Some sea vegetables may have B12, but they also may have more B12 analogues; that actually interfere with real B12 absorption. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18247530   Link to my essay on B12 and vegans 
*Vitamin D2 is plant-derived, whereas generally Vitamin D3 is animal-derived, with the exception of a few vegan versions that have recently been marketed. (See the link below for verified vegan D3) Vitamin D2 is said to be less beneficial, but according to this medical study, that is not true:  However, the most recommended way to source this essential vitamin is not from a bottle, but naturally from sun exposure on the skin. We make our own Vitamin D. Those who don't get moderate sun exposure MUST supplement this essential nutrient. Vitamin D (the Sunshine vitamin) is basically not found in plant foods. Catch those sun rays, not only for Vitamin D, but for helping with sleep and other bodily processes, as well as helping with depression. It’s healthy to get morning and evening sun exposure! Just condition your skin and don’t burn. Vegan Vitamin D3 link (there is another brand with a similar name that is not vegan approved, don’t confuse them!) Also:  www.vitashine-d3.com  -- and a 3rd choice. ~ More info here and here. 

*Eat broccoli; a super-food with abundant nutrients, including plenty of vitamin C which aids the absorption of the iron also found in broccoli. It has anti-carcinogenic properties, as well. It’s a source of calcium and magnesium; they support each other to work efficiently. Broccoli has potassium, folic acid, anti-oxidant beta-carotene, and trace minerals. Its Vitamin K content helps healthy bones. It’s a powerhouse of nutrients to support vegan health. Steam broccoli on high heat to retain its green color and nutrients.
*When educating others about veganism, you are doing them a favor; they may not know this, but after 33 years of being vegan – I certainly know it. If they listened to you, their life would vastly improve and therefore don’t be silent about turning them on to this “Great Truth”; that benefits animals, humans and the planet we all share.
*Know that telling a non-vegan that you are vegan “pushes their buttons”. People fear having to change. They are products of societal conditioning. Help them break free of their misguided indoctrination.
*Vegans don’t harm animals and humans are sentient animals too. We must get other people to change their perceptions and ways, without resorting to violence; even though we are angry and disturbed about humans funding the “terrorism” that is inflicted on other animals, on a daily basis. When animal activists resort to violence, they see us as terrorists and that won’t likely inspire humanity's needed change. By being vegan, violence is the very thing we are protesting. As Gandhi said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Indeed, we freed the Jews in the Holocaust using violence, but we are too outnumbered to use violence as a viable means to animal liberation. From my perspective, it does not make sense on a logistical level nor does it feel right in my soul to harm any other sentient being; both humans and other animals. 
*To be a non-hypocritical, non-speciesist animal rights activist, is to be vegan. To be an environmentalist is to be vegan; so as not to support animal agriculture; the number one culprit in environmental devastation. To be a feminist; one could never participate in the exploitation of the female reproductive system of any animal species; therefore animal products are out. To want ‘Peace on Earth’ that is not just lip-service, is to live the non-violence inherent in the vegan ideal. To be an abolitionist opposed to slavery (whether it is the enslavement of human or nonhuman animals) is to be vegan.
*Get to know other species of animals. At the top of my list of things I’m most grateful to Gentle World for, is the privilege and gift of befriending animals of various species; including Kisses; my devoted canine companion. Gentle World (http://gentleworld.org) has rescued and helped all kinds of animals through the years, and those relationships were highlights of my life. Rescue animals, befriend and help free-living animals, and volunteer at animal sanctuaries to know that other animals (especially the herbivores that humans eat) are friends, not a commodity for human exploitation.
*Take time to recharge your batteries and be uplifted by tuning into the natural world. For example, plant some Milkweed and watch caterpillars become butterflies; who benefit the environment by being beautiful pollinators. Take the time to watch a caterpillar attach to a plant, then curl up and wrap herself in a cocoon; mystically sealed with a 14 karat gold dotted line. 10 to 14 days later, the cocoon becomes transparent and sheds away, and a Monarch butterfly emerges. Miraculously, the wings lengthen, while the butterfly stays in this position for 2 hours drip-drying her wings in order to fly; something she could not dream of doing when she was a caterpillar. Lift your spirits so you can lift others.
*Read labels, check ingredients. Sometimes, products that were once vegan have changed an ingredient and are no longer vegan; such as adding honey. Periodic checking is necessary. I've been known to “preach” that label reading is not that daunting compared to the horror animals go through. I have to confess that, last year, I accidentally grabbed a Whole Foods box of ice cream bars that were similar packaging and right next to the So Delicious vegan ice cream bars, when I went to the U.S. To my great horror, I not only bought them, I also consumed an animal ingredient for the first time in 3 decades. I will NEVER make that mistake again! Vegans read labels and verify ingredients simply because they don’t want to be a part of the demand for animal exploitation.
*Vegan-owned restaurants can be trusted more, that all ingredients will, in fact, be vegan. Support vegan businesses that are trying to make vegan living easier for everyone. And here is a post with over 125 vegan-owned vegan businesses - worldwide. 
*Try to continuously upgrade your diet by lessening the amount of salt, sweeteners, gluten, oil, (especially cooking with oil), and processed foods. (Add cold-pressed oil on to grains, veggies, potatoes, pasta - after the cooking process.) Try to increase your intake of raw foods, whole foods, dark leafy greens, and super-foods (goji berries, blueberries, green drinks, hemp and chia seed). If you can make a raised bed of veganically-home-grown leafy dark greens – do it!
*In order to steer clear of pharmaceuticals that are tested on animals, I have employed ‘fasting’ as a preventative health measure. The first time I fasted was when I went vegan; I wanted to rid my colon of putrefied animal matter. I have undertaken many fasts since then; including 30 days on water! When we free our bodies from the effort of digestion, it will instead go into self-cleaning. Requirements for a successful fast are: plenty of good water, a calm and relaxing environment, warm sunny weather, and the right mindset (that doesn't see it as starving). The beginning is the hardest time to get through. After day 4, we convert over to a ‘self-eating-self-cleaning’ process known as autolysis. We are no longer hungry. We know when to end the fast when hunger returns (or if you’re like me, you start to crave avocados!) Fasts can rejuvenate, can be spiritually enlightening, our senses become heightened, we might get very creative, we shed unwanted extra pounds, and sometimes have an enhanced mental clarity. Watermelon fasts are cleansing and easy and you can eat as much as you want. If you are not confident, there are clinics for supervised fasting. Fasting may not be for everybody; however studies have shown that it extends life expectancy.
*Veganism is not a diet, but an ethical stance. Generally vegans are healthier than their omnivorous counterparts; however one can be vegan and eat processed food, too much peanut butter, vegan junk food, never eat salad, live in a polluted city, be consumed with resentment, be overweight, etc. But they are still vegan. One can be either a health conscious vegan or not a health conscious vegan. Vegans are at a much lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, many types of cancer, obesity, multiple sclerosis, asthma, arthritis, etc. – but there are no guarantees. If someone eats a plant diet for their own health, they are an herbivore or pure vegetarian - or they eat a plant-powered diet or a plant-based diet, not a vegan. Vegans avoid the products and practices, as far as possible, of animal exploitation for food, clothing, experimentation, entertainment, breeding, etc. Veganism is a way of life. 
*Veganism beckons everyone to join this significant social justice movement….anyone is welcome aboard; black or white, rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, atheist or theist, young or old – it’s for all of humanity.
*Veganism is not some great feat for the fortunate few; it is basic decency in our behavior towards other animals. It’s the first step, not the last step.
*Rest assured that you can raise infants on a vegan diet. I can always tell when a toddler is being given cow’s milk because of their horrific cough and snotty noses; that I have not noticed in vegan children. These poor toddlers that are given cow’s milk are consuming a sustenance that was meant to grow a calf into a cow; and is unsuited to our species. Even the American Pediatric Association does not recommend giving cow’s milk to infants under one year of age. Human breast milk is the natural and ultimate food for human babies. This is so obvious that it is mind-blowing that most people don’t see it. They have been duped by those profiting off the exploitation of bovines and spending millions on commercials with happy, laughing cows - which is an obscene lie. Link for raising healthy vegan kids 
*Nuts have a thick shell; often hard to remove. This is telling us that nature does not intend for us to eat too many at a time. They are a power-packed food and highly recommended, especially in their raw state, but not too many at a time! Walnuts (as well as flax seeds) are a vegan source of omega 3 fats. Brazil nuts have the highest concentration of selenium of any food; so much so, that just 2 nuts a day meets selenium requirements.
*Vegans convert omega 3 (sourced from flax or chia seeds or walnuts) into a long chain fatty acid (EPA). Because some studies showed vegans having low levels of DHA (long chain fatty acid), many vegans; especially long-time vegans, pregnant and nursing mothers and their vegan toddlers, and vegans suffering from depression or bipolar disorder - are advised to supplement with algae-derived vegan DHA. It can be found in some health food stores or ordered online. Read more
*Become a mentor for those interested to become vegan. Focus on the many people who already show a desire to become vegan rather than those who are argumentative. Host events where interested people or vegan-want-to-be’s can sample delicious vegan food and receive information and inspiration.
*Have a vegan educational pamphlet ready to hand out to people: Here is my pamphlet that you can download and print. http://www.veganpoet.com/Becoming-Vegan-pamphlet.pdf
*Being vegan is not a sacrifice; but a pleasure. Vegans are not deprived. It’s not that we “can’t have” this or that, we choose not to demand the violence inflicted on other animals, since we have no requirement for products or practices derived from animal exploitation.
*Dogs are metabolically omnivore and can live healthfully on a properly balanced vegan diet. I've cared for a number of dogs over the last 3 decades that were fed totally vegan and lived 15-17 years, and they did so without being part of the demand for enslaving and killing other animals. Of interesting note: vet sites inform that certain foods have a substance in them that is toxic to dogs: chocolate, onions and garlic, raisins and grapes, macadamia nuts, avocados, nutmeg, etc. To learn more about feeding dogs vegan: good Nutrition or healthy vegan dogs ~ Dogs Can Eat Vegan ~ Dogs Can Eat Vegan Too!
Join Vegan Dog Nutrition Group on Facebook
*Lift your own self up to a higher standard of veganism, and you lift humanity; as we are all entwined. We are heading for that tipping point in human consciousness and we're using evolution as our form of revolution.
*Wine and beer are often clarified or “fined” with non vegan products such as isinglass (fish bladders), gelatin, milk, casein, egg albumin, etc. Sometimes they may contain honey. To verify that the wine or beer you drink is not supporting animal exploitation, contact the company or use online vegan wine/beer guides:  http://www.barnivore.com/# - (Vegan wine, beer, liquor - however this guide does not count sugar that is not vegan)  -  http://vegans.frommars.org/wine/ - (Vegan Wine Guide)  -  http://www.peta.org/about/faq/Which-beers-are-suitable-for-vegans.aspx - (Vegan Beers) Link: Is your alcohol vegan? http://gentleworld.org/is-your-alcohol-vegan/ - Check the vegan businesses link above for online shops that sell only vegan wine. 
*Whether you have an allergic problem with soybeans or an environmentally ethical one, you can be a vegan without consuming soy. Look into how the soy is sourced from the brands you use. (This is a good idea for all products you buy. Write the company and show them that you are concerned, for example, if the palm oil is stealing the habitat of orangutans and other animals and causing them to go extinct, or if the non-organic canola oil is harming the earth, or whether the chocolate is fair-trade and not supporting child slavery, or if the soy you are purchasing is causing rainforsts to be cut down.) Soy is a great protein source, but it is not necessary in a vegan diet. Alternatives to soy protein include, Indian lentil Dahl, Mexican black bean Chile, Chick-pea Hummus, Seitan (wheat-meat), Quinoa, nuts and nut butters, peanuts, Chia seeds (complete protein; all essential amino acids), hemp seeds, lentil sprouts, etc. Avocados, nuts, vegetables, fruit, grains, and especially beans, lentils and split peas; all have some protein. It’s really not an issue getting enough protein when eating a plant-powered diet. Non-vegans tend to get too much protein which leaches calcium from the bones; causing osteoporosis. If you're like me, and don’t have a problem with purchasing organic soy products, tempeh is the highest in protein, a whole food rather than a processed food, and the healthiest choice. Some people will need to hide the (fermented) unique flavor a bit. Cut the tempeh into cubes, marinate in seasoning (sauces, spices, nutritional yeast) - and then sauté (with onions, garlic, tomato) or bake the cubes on a tray in the oven. More info on protein packed plants
*Vegans who have made a stand not to have sexual relationships with nonvegans are known as vegansexuals. They choose not to be intimate with someone who thinks harming other animals is okay and they believe that a meaningful relationship would have veganism as its foundation.
*A human guru or guide might let you down. Let the light of the Sun, the Truth, and the Vegan Ideal be your guide - and you won’t be let down.
*If possible, try to grow some of your own veganic food; marrying the principles of organic and vegan. It is a healthier and more ethical option, as well as helping your environmental footprint. For over a decade, Gentle World has been gardening, veganically. Here are some useful links to get you started: http://gentleworld.org/beginners-guide-to-veganic-gardening/ -  http://gentleworld.org/12-vegan-garden-tips/  -  http://gentleworld.org/easy-guide-to-vegan-organic-fertilizers/  -  http://gentleworld.org/organic-growing-supporting-animal-farms/  

8 comments:

Wanakee Hill said...

Sunshine synthesizes into vitamin D3 on the skin, so getting daily sun between 10am and 3pm help your body to manufacture its own vitamin D3. Kee, ND

Anonymous said...

Great post-thanks for all of the info and for reminding everyone that being a vegan is a choice and not a chore! There are so many wonderful, animal-friendly, ways to get what our bodies need. I've been searching for more ways to get Omega-3s in my diet and found supplements at NuTru http://www.nutru.com/ and I'm so happy I did the research to find them!

Vegan Poet said...

Hi Anonymous. Yes, I don't do flax and therefore I am now supplementing, after 3 decades, with Vegan DHA and EPA. We apparently make EPA from the omega 3 (flax or walnuts) (however dogs may not do this action as well as us, I just learned). I feel better, especially mentally, after my 4 months of DHA (another long-chain fatty acid; that vegans have shown to be low in, in studies.) I will be doing a blog on a product like this for vegans, soon. We are better activists and better people if we feel better. I have tried NuTru in the past. Do you like this product, specifically? Have you tried other vegan EPA/DHA product?

Vegan Poet said...

Kee, I am a sun-lover, but do you think vegan D3 is better than vegan D2 for vegans, and if so why? Do you have any studies to verify what you say? Please add links. Thanks.

The Irish Halfblood said...

Dear Poet,

if given orally D2 and D3 act the same in the body.

Sunshine to produce D3 is safer than pills but the sunshine also is needed for the body to produce more hormones like Serotonin, Melatonin and others.

So just taking vitamin D without getting sunshine is not optimal.

---

About long chain, complex omega3 fatty acids...tests have been made with indigenos people who had no access to such fatty acids, only omega3 from plant sources.

But their ammount of long chain omega3 was just as high was with people who got those fatty acids from fish or other sea dwelling creatures.

Some studies suggest that the body needs time to readjust and produce stuff that he got from animal products, like taurin and carnitin but also long chain omega 3 fatty acids, now again by itself.

So it would be interesting to see how the blood levels change over time.

Normally it is said that the body converts 10% of the plant based omega3 fatty acids into long chain fatty acids.

Same like with beta carotin to vitamin a..but we know that the body uses beta carotin for other things except turning them into vitamin a, so it may be the same thing with plant based omega3.

We do not know if the body may need the short omega3 fatty acids for other purposes.

Some people may have probles converting fatty acids to more complex ones, just like there are people who can not produce enough cholesterol in their body and need it in their diet, but those are rare

LiveVegan said...

Thanks. I enjoyed this post. :)

I would like to suggest to people to get their Vitamin D blood levels checked yearly (consider getting Vitamin B12, DHA levels as well). It's a good idea to have a comprehensive blood screen each year. Request these tests from your medical practitioner.

Just as an added note, if you find that your blood iron levels are on the high side or always on the upper side of normal, consider having a simple test for hemochromatosis http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_overload. It could save your life.

It's a good idea that people take an interest in their own health and do their own health research and research the health of nonhumans they live with. It's a good idea to keep records of blood results and review them yourself. Many doctors are not even looking for Vitamin D or B12 deficiency or iron overload.

A friend who gets plenty of sunlight exposure discovered she had dangerously low Vitamin D blood levels. Vitamin D deficiency has become a widespread problem globally, particularly with people with a high percentage of melanin in their skin. If one searches "Vitamin D deficiency" one will find many many articles including medical journal articles which indicate that there is widespread D deficiency occurring and that this deficiency appears to be a major contributor to many very serious illnesses including breast cancer, colon cancer, depression, diabetes type 2 and so on. So I would urge everyone to get their blood Vitamin D levels taken each year. Apparently there are many people who do not synthesize Vitamin D successfully from sunlight.

I found to my surprise, that I also had very low blood levels 3 years ago and so I started taking a supplement "Source of Life Garden Vitamin D3" which is vegan. This product was thoroughly researched by a vegan friend a couple of years ago, and the production process as well as the ingredients are vegan.

Jessica said...

Wonderful post! I've been vegan for a year and this had some helpful info I didn't know, as well as advice that is very encouraging.

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