If you are overweight and would like to lose some of it (potentially quite a lot of weight) without exercise, resolve digestive issues (you probably don't know how many digestive problems you have right now), lower your cholesterol, better manage diabetes, decrease arthritis pain, or just look hotter, go vegan. If you still eat cheese, eggs, yogurt, butter or other dairy or animal products, though you just won't see results in these areas, so if you want the best health benefits, you must go vegan (or mostly vegan). You can start with one day a week or just GO FOR IT whole hog, cold tofurky ;-). You will also drastically improve your carbon footprint, save hundreds, maybe even thousands of animals from suffering a painful and disgusting life and death, and save yourself from at least some of the increasing number of e. coli infested animal products out there (and be careful of the e.coli infested plant products, too ;-) Use a CSA or your farmer's market for produce, guys. You needn't eat animal products at all to be perfectly healthy, though many myths abound about this. If you are 100% vegan, make sure you take a B-12 supplement (or eat B-12 enriched foods, many many vegan foods are B-12 enriched, anyway). For more nutritional information on eating a vegan diet, check Jack Norris's blog or Ginny Messina's blog, they are great resources. If you are concerned about "getting enough protein" then do your research on delicious plant-based proteins. However, many many studies have shown that getting "enough" protein is not a problem in a plant-based diet. We have certainly not had any problems.
My family went vegan cold tufurky style. Since it is a New Year and some of you probably have weight loss resolutions, or actually want to try to go vegan or vegetarian for the New Year, I wanted to share some of the resources I used to go vegan that really helped me. They cover all the areas I wanted to educate myself in: health & nutrition, ethics, animal welfare, and, of course, amazing recipes!! Here are some of the best ones, categorized per the bold headings:
Health Related information (supporting a vegan diet as the #1 healthiest diet to eat):
1. Dr. Neil Barnard's books. He is the president and founder of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. He advocates a vegan diet as the best possible diet for health. A good one is Breaking the Food Seduction.
2. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell. Again, supports a vegan diet, health benefits even noticed if you go from eating only 10% of your diet as animal products to zero percentage animal products. No eggs, milk, yogurt, butter, common' folks, you can do it!
3. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Revised and Expanded Edition. By: Marion Nestle. She is a nationally recognized expert in nutrition, worked for the government/FDA for many years and has written many other interesting books about food.
Ethical & Environmental Issues:
1. The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. By: Peter Singer, Jim Mason. These guys have been discussing animal welfare for decades, there is a great chapter at the end with all kinds of other web resources and suggestions for reading (many books I have already mentioned, but many more, too).
2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book is great for so many reasons, including the fact that it came out recently, in 2010, so he has all of the most updated statistical information to support his text. In addition to ethics and animal welfare he also discusses the environmental impacts of factory farming extensively, the public health nightmare that factory farming contributes to, etc. Great read.
3. In a Perfect Ocean: The State of Fisheries and Ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean. By: Daniel Pauly, Jay Maclean. This one is mainly about environmental impact of fishing. For each and every pound of shrimp caught, there are 25 pounds of other sea creatures caught and killed (commonly referred to as "by-catch" in the industry). Um, that's just one statistic. Ugh.
4. Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money. By: Erik Marcus. A logical and concise overview of the problems with animal agriculture. Check out Erik's blog for daily updates on all things vegan.
Okay, now for the fun part:
Cookbooks, a VERY Short List!! I just love cookbooks:
I just started with two cookbooks, Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero which was the most recent and largest cookbook that they had published at the time, all their books are great. I also got Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello. Very different styles, different pantries, but worked for me. Then I just added reading blogs and tons of websites devoted to vegan stuff. I really got into the blog reading during VeganMoFo (the Vegan Month of Food, which is November, where vegan bloggers try to blog every day about their delicious fare). I now have more books, but am so much more comfortable in the vegan kitchen, that I don't really need them anymore. I just like them. I buy everything possible from Amazon, which I find to be the best way to shop with an almost 3yo at home. I'd say try your library, and you can, but you will probably end up either buying or borrowing these great books. My library actually had Vegan with a Vengence (Isa's first book) which I promptly checked-out and then renewed for 3 cycles :-). But they had NO other vegan cookbooks, many vegetarian ones, though.
There are so many, many resources for eating vegan out there, so don't let me stop you from exploring those as well. Check out some of the blogs I follow in the right hand column of this blog. They are a fun, free way to get awesome recipes and get social support in your quest for a healthier self and a healthier world.
Let me know what you find!!! You may also be interested in my post, Dawn's Unsolicited Advice for many more resources, including LOTS more cookbooks, blog reccs, websites, etc. Enjoy.