Over the past few years, I have concentrated on a healthier diet for my family based on real, unprocessed ingredients.  Because our definition of a balanced meal was a meat and two sides (often something processed from a box), it was a gradual change for us.  Surprisingly, we started to really enjoy clean eating – not only how our food tasted but how it made us feel.  Real, unprocessed food gave us more energy and helped get us to a healthy weight.  But the more I learned about our food – specifically how it’s processed and made – the more I realized there were additional improvements we needed to make in our diet.  That lead me to veganism.  Although I do support animal rights and oppose cruelty to animals and the way food manufacturers raise meat, it was not the deciding factor for me going vegan.  To be completely honest, I thought eating a vegan diet was going to be a challenge.  It has been just the opposite for me.  I haven’t missed eating meat or cheese at all and I am feeling great and losing the stubborn layer of fat that’s been lingering over my belly for years.

Here are 7 of the reasons I decided to eat a vegan diet:

1.  It’s good for your health and your waistline.  Consuming more fruits and vegetables regularly can lower your risk of certain cancers as well as result in lower rates of obesity.  Vegans tend to weigh, on average, about 5 to 20% less than meat-eaters.  Reducing obesity and body mass has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as type II diabetes, along with other obesity-related illnesses.

2.  Vegan meals are very budget-friendly.  If you’ve seen the price of beef lately, you’ll definitely appreciate the cost-effectiveness of a vegan diet.  Buying fruits and vegetables locally grown and in season saves money and gives you the freshest produce available.  Beans, grains, legumes and nuts can be purchased in bulk at a huge cost savings and prepared quickly into delicious, tasty meals that your family and your budget will love.

3.  Plants provide plenty of protein.  One of the main arguments against veganism is the concern over adequate protein.  However, foods like quinoa, lentils, beans, tofu and spinach are loaded with protein so it’s easy to get enough protein in your diet.

4.  Protecting the environment.  Beef and dairy products are expensive to produce, leads to pollution, uses lots of land and water and energy.  Eating a vegan diet has far less impact on the environment and the food produced can be used to feed far more people than animal products can.  This is especially important in countries where poverty is an issue; the foods fed to cattle can be used to feed starving populations at minimal cost.

5.  Avoiding antibiotics and toxins.  The demand for meat has reached levels that require manufacturers to speed up growth time.  This is done is injecting animals with antibiotics, toxins and hormones to accelerate growth and plump up meat unnaturally.  These hormones and toxins are not healthy or natural for our bodies to consume.

6.  Creativity in your food.  Many of us grew up eating meat with every meal and that became a habit that carried with us into adulthood.  Not only could meat be found on every dinner plate, it was often the main food source.  Replacing meat can help you come up with creative replacements.  There are many options that can be substituted for meat in your regular dishes and you’ll never miss the meat.  Tofu, for example, can be crumbled and cooked like ground beef crumbles without all the fat.  Seasoned with taco seasoning and you’ll never know the difference between a beef taco and a tofu taco.  Veggie burgers can be made out of almost any ingredients so you’re sure to find a recipe that you love.

7.  Adds more color to your diet.  Removing meat from your plate allows room for other foods, perhaps some that you’ve never tried.  Not only is eating a variety of fruits and vegetables good for your body with the different vitamins and nutrients, you’ll get to experience a variety of different tastes and textures that your taste buds will thank you for!

Even if you don’t want to commit 100% to a vegan diet, eliminating meat and dairy from your diet even once or twice a week can give you many of these benefits.

What are your thoughts about a vegan diet?  Share them with me in the comments below!

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