A few years ago, a friend forwarded me a picture of Alicia Silverstone. The subject line was simple: body by vegan.
It got my attention. Because even though I try to exercise two or three times a week, there remains that stubborn five pounds of fat that took hold right below my belly button while I was pregnant and never came off.
Now I know that I’m active and healthy, and I knock wood daily for that. But there is a vain teenager inside of every woman. And on the day that my friend sent me Alicia Silverstone’s picture, that teen spoke up. I wanted to have a body by vegan. Desperately.
The photo-sending friend happens to be a vegan, mind you. And she also happens to be very thin, which may have less to do with the fact that she doesn’t eat animal products, and more to do with the fact that when you don’t eat animal products there is really very little that you can eat. Why live like that?
My raw foodie friends say that this type of diet–which also happens to fall into the vegan category–means that you have more energy throughout the day, because your body isn’t taxed by processing high density foods like meat.
In fact, Ani Phyo, raw food chef extraordinaire and author of Ani’s Raw Food Desserts, swears that eating her chocolate ganache cake (which we made in this video for EcoStiletto) is actually good for your body. Go figure.
The meat industry now consumes 80% of all antibiotics, which produces antiobiotic-resistant bacteria like salmonella. But wait, there’s more: Dioxins in meat have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and damage to the brain and nervous systems; they accumulate in our bodies and are passed on to our children.
There’s also the environmental factor: The meat industry now consumes 80% of all antibiotics, which produces antiobiotic-resistant bacteria like salmonella.
Livestock produce methane, which is a major greenhouse gas that some experts say contributes more to global warming than cars. “You can’t be an environmentalist and eat meat” is a PETA-popular phrase.
This is what you can eat if you’re vegan: Vegetables. Fruit. Rice or soy milk. Protein-rich grains. Fake cheese made from soy. Tofu made from soy. Meat made from soy. And lots and lots of nuts.
Here’s what my family eats: Whole wheat pasta made with eggs, whole wheat pizza made with cheese, bean-and-cheese burritos, grilled fish (wild-caught), chicken and hamburgers (grass-fed and organic), scrambled eggs. Give or take a few vegetables and fruit.
Fight, much? Soy barbecue “ribs” may taste like heaven to me, but to my kids they’re just plain weird.
So my body by vegan has to wait. And while we can’t cut it out completely, I feel that it’s very important to eat less meat. We’ve cut down our consumption to only a few times a week. We’re still experimenting with tofu.
And eating lots and lots of nuts.
Alicia Silverstone’s photo is from the now-defunct 944 magazine.