5 Reasons to Go Vegan for 5 Days
Do you find that the Yoga Space is fraught with an abundance of judgements and criticisms around food and diet? Our credibility as yoga practitioners, let alone teachers!, and even our virtuosity as humans gets so tied to what we eat. It is hard enough being a woman in the world without me laying more unrealistic expectations on you and I def don't appreciate you laying them on me, so let's agree, before we enter into this discussion, that we are all trying our best. Which, for my family in recent years, has meant eating a mostly veggie diet at home, being grateful and welcoming of any food anyone else wants to feed us at their house, and taking short sojourns into veganism.
Reality Check: In our family, we do not eat vegan all the time. But we do take a week here and there, especially around November 1, which is #WorldVeganDay , and around early March for a #springcleanse , because small things matter and small changes can make a big difference. Here are my 5 Reasons to Go Vegan for 5 Days...
"What is a Vegan Diet?"
First, let me define what "vegan diet," means in our house. For us, it usually means eating only food directly from plants, like whole fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds; or food made with all plant-based ingredients, like vegan bread. We don't eat much honey as a rule, so we don't squabble about it on vegan weeks.
Reason #1: Me
Generally, after eating a plant-only diet for a few days, the first thing I notice is that I feel less bloated, lighter*, and leaner. NOTE: I do not generally lose weight on the weeks I eat vegan, and I am not trying to. I feel cleaner, like the feeling I have after a dental cleaning, but diffused through my whole body. Challenging yoga practices and workouts are easier to get through, I have more range of motion, and I like the way I feel.
Reason #2: You
The second change I notice, which usually comes after about a week of eating a vegan diet, is a change in my energy. I am more steady: fewer highs and lows. I go from playing the part of the Hare, sprinting wildly through my day and then crashing in the evening; to playing the part of the Tortoise, chug, chugging along. It is easier for me to handle pressures, deal skillfully with stress, be patient with my children, and to turn on vibrant, fun mom on demand.
This change in energy was the reason I first started taking vegan weeks as a young adult. In graduate school, I was having some wild mood and energy swings, and a friend suggested I change my diet. It worked! I became more steady and felt more capable, physically and mentally. Now, with small kids at home, I fall back on this tactic when I need to reboot my calm and gentle mode.
Reason 3: Us
Groceries take a huge chunk of our budget, so the more help we can get in that department, the better. Not only is plant-based food generally more affordable per calorie than meat, dairy, and processed foods, it keeps us all feeling full longer, so we don't snack as often or as much. We may spend the savings back by buying more organic or specialty items, or we might save the extra pennies for a weekend trip or a weekend workshop.
Reason #4: Them
If you follow any world news, you hear daily the dilemma our global community is facing, especially our neighbors in developing countries. Food shortages and resource limitations disproportionately affect women, children, elderly, and other vulnerable demographics. Eating a plant-based diet reduces the impact of food production on the climate, which in turn, helps our neighbors in the most affected regions.
Reason 5: Her
"The production of plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than that of animal foods....Shifting towards plant-based diets can also help prevent biodiversity loss. This shift in dietary patterns could significantly reduce global land use for agriculture, by reducing the amount of land required for grazing and growing crops." Plant-based diets and their impact on health, sustainability and the environment: A review of the evidence, from the World Health Organization See the full fact sheet here.