Author: Allan Williams
Date: January 6, 2018
I’m often asked why I decided to adopt a vegan diet/lifestyle. Such a simple question, not an easy answer…
Everyone has heard the saying that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes, right? I don't believe that because there are a lot of people who never pay taxes.
I firmly believe that a more accurate statement would be: The only two things in life that are certain are (1) You are what you eat; and (2) Eventually we'll all pass on...
|Please Note: Over the last three years, I've found that the topic of diet - and specifically being a vegan - can be a very contentious topic for many people - even more so than politics in my experience. I'm simply sharing my story and my motivations and my results. I am not telling anyone what choices they should or should not make.
Let's start a few decades ago... I’m 55 years old. As a teenager, I played the usual sports Canadian boys play - specifically hockey, baseball, and football. Soccer wasn’t as popular when I was younger. I could eat whatever I wanted, and because I was so active in sports, it didn’t matter.
I was slim and fit through my teens because I was very active in sports. However, in my 20’s, after my competitive sporting days were over, I just kept on eating the foods I loved to eat - burgers, fries, pizzas… I continued to play hockey on a recreational basis but suffered a dislocated shoulder/torn rotator cuff in 1989 which required surgery. Then after getting into “reasonable” shape a few years later, I started being somewhat active again - but I blew out my right knee in 1996 - requiring two surgeries to repair the extensive damage. The doctor who performed the surgery said it was one of the worst knee injuries he had worked on - and at the time he was Winnipeg Jets team doctor. I believe he still is.
After the knee injury, I let myself go physically even more than before. It wasn't intentional - life just happened.
At the start of 2008, after years of watching my weight going up and down - but always being overweight - I decided that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. So, I started to take control of my eating and drinking habits - eating less, drinking much less (specifically beer and pop) and beginning a workout routine. I didn’t cut-out any foods at that time, but I did introduce more vegetables/fruit and generally just ate and drank less. I lost 65 lbs over the next couple of years and kept it off. It wasn't rocket science.
In 2010, my Dad had a stroke and he passed away 4 years later. At the time of his stroke, he was diagnosed with hypertension and type 2 diabetes. The last 4 years of his life were not easy for him - and I knew I wanted my story to be different.
As it turns out, I was diagnosed with hypertension in 2013 even though I was in good shape (at least as far as my weight was concerned). I started taking medication for high blood pressure and was told that I would always need to be on the medication.
At the start of 2015, shortly after my Dad passed away - and being fairly certain that his diet played a part in his health issues, I watched Forks Over Knives and Plant Pure Nation. I had heard about these documentaries and wanted to find out more about nutrition and its effect on health.
This was a turning point for me. I subsequently watched almost any and every documentary related to the benefits of a Vegan/WFPB (Whole Foods Plant Based) diet/lifestyle and gradually adopted this way of life. It wasn't an overnight process. At the time, I had a freezer full of meat - so throwing it all out wasn’t practical. So, I decided to gradually start cooking plant-based meals while gradually using up the meat and dairy inventory. That took about 6 months. And in the process, I discovered so many incredible ways to enjoy healthy food.
Since adopting a Vegan diet, I lost another 15 lbs and have gained a ton of energy. I was able to get off of the high blood pressure medication. I recovered faster from workouts. Everything was positive healthwise. I now treat food as medicine.
An interesting thing happened on this journey. The initial decision to become a Vegan was 100% based on the health benefits I studied and the science supporting these health benefits.
Then I started thinking more and more about the animals. The animals we eat from factory farms (which is well over 90% of all meat and dairy on the market) live horrible lives until they are slaughtered and packed up in the nice, neat packages you see at the supermarket. Most people have no idea of the suffering involved. Or, we know it exists, but avoid acknowledging it. It’s not our fault - it's how we were brought up.
I forced myself to learn more about this. I watched videos available on YouTube that document the animal agriculture industry in graphic detail. There were times I had to stop the videos and take a break. It was too heartbreaking.
Now, my motivation is split between the health benefits, the animal welfare aspect and the damage caused to the environment. The environmental damage caused by the animal agriculture industry is enormous - but that's a whole other topic. To learn more about that, I suggest watching Cowspiracy.
So that’s my story. Are there any guarantees that my medical prognosis will be different than my Dad's? No, of course not. But I'm doing everything I possibly can to ensure that it is.
I’ve included a few videos below and added a description for each if you’re interested in finding out more.
The first video is a presentation by Dr. Melanie Joy. The topic is "carnism" - how we're brought up to believe that eating meat is normal and necessary. It's a very good presentation that will make you understand that we all have choices when it comes to the food we eat.
The second video is an interview with Dr. Colin Campbell. He is featured in Forks over Knives and Plant Pure Nation. In scientific experiments which he describes in Forks Over Knives, he was able to turn cancer cell growth on and off based on the ingestion of animal-based protein (specifically Casein found in dairy) versus plant-based protein. In this video, he talks about that subject.
The third video is an interview with a controversial animal rights activist - Gary Yourofsky. He is being interviewed on a TV show in Israel. It's an eye-opening video. He's well-spoken and passionate - whether you agree with his views or not.