As crazy as it sounds to us plant-based folks, that title seems to be a very common misconception among our omnivorous counterparts! According to them, we seem to be dropping like flies from protein deficiency, as we suffer from a disease called "Veganism!" This once rare affliction linked to plants is now becoming an epidemic! From our extremely fit to our morbidly obese non-vegan peers, the lack of protein in our vegan diet is causing them great concern for our health and well being. Many suspect that there might even be a brain tissue-eating bacteria involved since obviously we have lost our minds!!! Forget all the other diseases out there which are NOT associated with veganism, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood, anemia, cancer, Chrohn's, colitis, osteoporosis, fatty liver, etc.... Vegans must stop what they are doing and for g-d's sake eat some animal flesh so we all wont just drop dead. I'm flattered that friends and family to virtual strangers seem to care so much but at the same time, I'm annoyed by having to constantly explain myself to these non-nutritionists/dieticians/medical experts. The question, "Where do you get your protein?" is as old as time, as tired as cat deprived of her 22-hour nap! Yawn!!!!
As an accomplished long-distance runner (VeganGirlAthLete, a.k.a. VeGAL), not to mention 47 y/o mom of 3, why must I always answer to either an unfit, unhealthy person with a history of chronic illnesses or some muscle head bulked up by whey protein, the reason behind my decision to go plant based? And why must I back it up with an in depth report about where I obtain my protein sources? It's not like I go around tooting my own horn or lecturing anyone on the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. I live mainstream, surrounded by omnivores, just trying to live my life as ethically, peacefully and accepting as possible. But if the subject should come up, I feel sometimes that I am attacked, rather than praised for making a conscious decision to be kind, compassionate, or as VeGALs say, "compassionfit," healthy and environmentally friendly. I am pretty sure you feel the same way. I mean, how often do people respond with, "wow, vegan...how cool!" or "I'm so impressed!" or "you are so awesome, how can I become vegan like you?" or "you must really LOVE animals!" or "you look great" or "what an inspiration!" or "you are obviously doing something right!" or "you really care about our planet!" (I can go on and on and on lol). I will say this, which made my day a few weeks ago... I was treating a patient in their home when his very sweet spouse tried to push half of her chicken chimichanga from Taco Bell on me, when I politely declined. She persisted so I explained that I am vegan and only eat plant-based foods. She then replied, "no wonder your skin looks so good!" I was flabbergasted!!!
Meat-eaters insist that as humans, we are designed to eat animal flesh. However, much to their dismay, veganism has been around for at least four million years, according to John. A. McDougall, M.D., perhaps the most knowledgeable expert on the relationship between diet and disease. Recent anthropology research suggests that early man wasn't the inherently evil and aggressive hunter, natural killer that Judeo-Christian ideology suggests as our accepted paradigm of human evolution. But I will spare you the history lesson. In a nutshell, we have evolved from monkeys and chimps who are 99% plant based!!! How can anyone argue with that??? The key word here is "evolve" which is what veganism is all about... with modern medicine as well as an abundance of research/literature, humans have discovered that many diseases...the real culprits or "epidemics" here are linked to animal trans fats, simple sugars and processed foods, NOT a whole foods, plant-based diet!!!
While I aim to keep this blog light hearted (by now you know my sense of humor), there is a level of sadness that we as vegans experience from time to time in that while we have embraced a kind and compassionate lifestyle, not to mention an extremely healthy one, we are scrutinized and even frowned upon more often than not. We have made a conscience, life-changing decision which arguably benefits everyone, where we are so proud that we want to shout it to the world, but then leave it to someone to come along to try and burst our bubble, reminding us of our so called "disease," our dirty little secret.
Being the butt of people's jokes just isn't funny anymore. What I have learned to do lately is stop those skeptics dead in their tracks and laugh at or mock myself first, beat them to the punch, get it out of the way then move on. YOU have the ability to out-wit them since YOU are the one who has EVOLVED! If you are a newbie to the veg world, my advice would be to stay above the fray, be true to who you are, don't second guess yourself and set the best example ever!!! Inevitably, our disease will spread (ideally like wildfires), as folks become more educated...the research is undeniable!!! The good news is that more and more plant-based options are fast becoming available for us from mainstream grocery stores to restaurants, airlines, hotels, cruise ships, corporations, hospitals and learning institutions. If it's not happening in your town...MAKE it happen!
Training with a conscience, staying firmly planted...VeganGirlAthLete!!!