I am vegan.
I did not make the decision to become vegan overnight, although to a lot of people I am sure it seemed that way. I started reading books on health and nutrition for a variety of reasons. My health, my children's health, weight loss, lack of energy, you name it. Along the way I discovered things that I found highlighted concerns in my own life, and decided there was no harm in trying something different. You can't follow the same path, and expect it to lead somewhere else. One of the topics that caught my attention was dairy. My daughter often suffered frequent illnesses. Not always the same, not always related. She was sick so frequently they felt it could be her immune system. Blood work was necessary to identify whether or not she was deficient in anything that could be causing her frequent illnesses and overall poor immune system. They found nothing. She was fine. .... I guess. Then I started reading a book, Skinny Bitch, in which it addresses the same issues my daughter was suffering from.
"Dairy products have been linked to a host of other problems, too, including acne, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fibromyalgia, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, osteoporosis, poor immune function, allergies, ear infections, colic, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, autism, Crohn's disease, breast and prostate cancers, and ovarian cancer."
My daughter previously drank milk around the clock. Literally. She would not sleep through the night because she would wake up crying for it. I do not allow her to sleep with a cup due to health reasons regarding her teeth, so this was not out of habit. She frequently had ear infections, allergies, poor immune function and was anemic. After reading several other books I began to see a relationship. Too much calcium can actually affect your body's ability to absorb iron.
"Mammals need the enzyme lactase to digest lactose (the sugar found in dairy). However, between the ages of 18 months and 4 years, we lose 90 to 95 percent of this enzyme. The undigested lactose and the acidic nature of pasteurized milk encourage the growth of bacteria in our intestines. All this contributes to a greater risk of cancer because cancer cells thrive in acidic conditions. "
I switched my daughter over to soy, almond, rice and coconut milks and she no longer wakes up in the middle of the night crying for her milk. I wondered why, and then I read the following:
"Cow's milk actually has traces of morphine in it! And for once, we can't blame factory farming. Morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are naturally produced in cows' livers and end up in their milk. But that's not all. All milk, whether from a cow or a human, contains casein, a protein that breaks apart during digestion and releases a whole slew of opiates. All these "feel good" chemicals exist so that newborns will nurse and thrive, and to ensure a bond between mothers and their young."
My daughter was in fact addicted to milk. She is no longer on dairy products, and she is doing very well. And if you're concerned about her calcium, please remember there are plenty of places to get calcium. How do you think the cows get enough calcium for their strong bones? They're definitely not sitting around drinking milk... Do a little research. It's good for your mind. And in this case... your body.
I also read many nutrition books and they all voiced the same thought. Human bodies are not designed to digest animal flesh, and you should plan your diet accordingly. Vegan books obviously say to omit it completely, which I have taken to heart. Before I reached that point, however, I read several books that suggested to only have 1-2 animal protein dinners a week, a couple nights of fish, and the remaining nights vegetarian. The more I learned about meat, and the way our body works - the more I wondered why we ever ate meat. Our alkaline saliva is not meant to break down animal flesh; carnivores have acid saliva, perfectly designed for the task. The hydrochloric acid necessary for digesting flesh, is secreted in very small amounts in our stomachs. However, the stomachs of carnivores have ten times more hydrochloric acid than ours! Our kidneys, colon and liver are not equipped to process animal flesh. Our intestines are very long, so food that does not get adequately processed becomes clogged in our intestines. Animals quickly pass food through their digestive systems. Not true of humans. It takes 72 hours to digest meat, our bodies are 98.6... that's a lot of time to have decomposing flesh inside of you.
I could ramble for days about everything I have learned so far. Because I have this blog, I probably will. But not today. Today I have places to be, and not enough time to sit and ramble. I will leave with this though.
I leaned towards being vegan for health reasons, and have since realized the ethical side of it all and how it affects the planet. (I will definitely explain that statement in the future, because I'm sure a lot of people are not aware of what that means. I wasn't. I am now...) My son however completely supports our switch to vegan lifestyle because of his love for animals and the planet. I could not be more proud of my children. They are beautiful from the inside out, and my goal is to preserve that as they grow.