Can I please start this by saying that I am not vegan. On the contrary, I am usually the guy in the office who makes good-natured jokes with our vegan team members about things like their malnourished bodies and difficult childhoods leading them to a life of deprivation and starvation. It’s all good fun…
For me, my most consistent dietary choices are either Paleo diet or Bulletproof diet, both relying quite heavily on animal proteins and, in the latter case, fats.
And while it might start a heated debate, I still believe those to be extremely healthy choices as ways of eating. I truly believe that a diet based on grass-fed beef, wild caught seafood, farm fresh free-range eggs, and responsibly grown pork and poultry is the way our ancestors thrived. We are predisposed to being able to achieve maximum health on a diet of the proteins and fats listed above along with a nice mix of veggies, fruits, and nuts.
The only problem: we can’t sustain that diet. It’s impossible.
No, not because of willpower, but because it is logistically impossible for all of us to have a healthy diet consisting of grass-fed beef. There isn’t enough grass in the world to support the livestock it would require for us all to eat that way. We are literally out of space to grow. Instead the cows we eat are mostly fed poorly farmed grains and soy, a diet that cows were not built to eat, which is making them massively unhealthy. When humans eat massively unhealthy animals, humans then become massively unhealthy too. If you don’t agree, read the news on the declining health of our country. It isn’t a mystery.
Let me back up. Let me remind you that I am NOT vegan, nor am I a damn hippie. That being said, a dear friend of mine loaned me his copy of a horrible and nasty book called THRIVE Foods by Brendan Brazier. I hate this book and I’m still pretty sore with my friend who put it in my hand.
Why the anger, you ask? This book got into my head in a big way. In a few short chapters, I learned a lot about our food supply and how it works. I learned about the unbelievable environmental damage done by raising livestock for food. I learned about the tremendous natural resources required to raise a cow for slaughter. I learned how the over farming of land, in an effort to feed and fatten that livestock, is resulting in a substandard product and therefore a substandard animal for consumption. I learned how our inadequate food system leaves my body in a state of stress and desperation, which is affecting my sleep quality and alarming need for more coffee that I care to admit to needing. I learned how this way of life is just unsustainable.
Crap… I really like a nice juicy ribeye. I love butter so much I am one step short of rubbing it on my body after a morning shower. I have always been a heavy carnivore and wore the badge proudly.
But this damn book starting making some sense. I starting asking some questions. Here they are:
-What would happen if I went vegan for a full month?
-How would eating vegan for a month affect me as an athlete and my performance?
-How would my symptoms of chronic fatigue (poor sleep, always tired, weight gain despite exercise, intense sugar cravings, depression…) change if I did this stupid thing for a month?
-Would this finally be the diet that helped me lose the muffin top and man-boobs?
-If after a month, would I chase live animals down the street with teeth gnashing and mania in my eyes?
-And lastly, if after a month of going vegan, what would be the change I would have made for the environment?
Get this: Brazier give some scientific evidence to show that the most impactful and meaningful thing we can do for our planet as a people and as a country is not to switch to hybrid cars and efficient light bulbs. It’s not even to stop driving completely. You guessed it… Switching to a plant based diet would have a stronger positive impact on carbon emissions and global warming than all the recycling and good choices you have ever made.
Another side note: I am a scientist and have a degree that says I’m really good at asking questions. Imagine how annoyed I was when this irritating book cited incredibly strong evidence citing the statements above. I am great at arguing opinion and philosophy, but when there is strong evidence brought forth from the scientific community, I bow my head and listen.
I have done such with the information I have learned.
And while I don’t know that I like it, I can’t unlearn what I learned from this book. It is because of that I have decided to go vegan for the month of June 2017. Being a scientist, healthcare practitioner, and researcher myself, I have to find answers to my questions.
What will happen at the end of the month? I haven’t the foggiest. I might love it, I might hate it, I might decide to continue regardless, or I might just throw caution to the wind and sprint to the nearest NYC steakhouse. I really don’t know.
What I know is that I have to try. I have to see how I do. I have to answer these questions.
I promise to write another entry by month’s end to let you know the results. But right now I wonder, would anyone do this with me? Are you stupid enough?
I’ve ordered another one of his books that gives a 12 week food plan, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, which is something I know I’ll need to keep me out of the rut of eating weird fake meat things in the frozen aisle and a side of cardboard with a glaze of spicy mustard.
This is going to suck… Who’s with me?