Evidenced Based Advocacy
Veganism is about compassion toward all life, what is most sustainable, and what is ultimately healthier. A Whole-Food, Plant Based (WFPB) vegan diet is not only the healthiest diet for humans. It is the healthiest lifestyle for our environment. And it is of course the most compassionate diet toward all life. And it’s not just the animals you save where the compassion shines but the human lives you save when you advocate the healthiest diet for humans!
People are so successful at seeing amazing results from a whole-food, plant based diet (check out the some Success Stories!). This is why it is important to teach people “what to eat“. When they are successful they will sustain this diet for life. And that is the goal, to get people eating what is best for them. This in turn results inÂ them no longer contributing to the meat and dairy industry. So we advocate for optimum success.
Emphasizing a whole-food, plant based vegan diet is important because there is significantly less than 10 percent of the population claiming to be vegan. Estimates are as low as .5 percent. And promoting a whole-food, plant based vegan diet gives direction. Relapse rates are reportedly high presumably because people don’t know enough about what to eat and they lack support in a world dominated by animal agriculture.
I became vegan in 2010 after my doctor said my cholesterol was a little high. I lost visceral fat and felt better after becoming vegan. But for the first 7 years I really didn’t know if I was eating right at all. This is because veganism is more about what “not” to eat rather than what “to” eat.
It wasn’t until 7 years after becoming vegan that I finally had time to study nutrition. I knew meat and dairy was bad for me but I wasn’t sure about what was best for me in the most balanced way. The science was there, I just had to find it. And now I know what to eat and feel better than ever. And my total cholesterol as of October 2017 is down from 168 to 121!
I owe a lot to Dr. Greger (read a bit on his story) because his genuine dedication along with his team at NutritionFacts.org professionally showcase the best, most comprehensive nutrition information out there in the most digestible way. And their Daily Dozen app really has been the greatest tool coupled with their videos for taking control of my diet.
The Road to Veganism and Need for Advocacy
Despite veganism being the fastest growing lifestyle movement in at least modern human history, advocacy is still gravely needed. There are so many great advocates already out there that at times I feel there’s already enough people getting the word out. But, people aren’t realizing the health and environmental impact fast enough. And I’m mostly likely seeing the advocates because I am vegan, whereas non-vegans may not notice them at all or just think it’s a fad. The more people advocating a whole-food, plant based diet the faster we can help people realize how critical this movement is based on evidence!
Unfortunately there is just not enough doctors on the bandwagon yet. However, this is changing FAST! In 2010 I needed the doctor to tell me my cholesterol was high and to do something about it. Unfortunately, this is what it takes for most people to make a change. And, even worse, he didn’t even suggest a whole-food, plant based diet. I had to discover this on my own.
Compassion and The Gruesome Approach
In 2010 Gary Yourofsky really enlightened my family and I with his radical and accurate perspective on just how gruesome the animal agricultural industry is. We really needed this approach at that time. There wasn’t enough “organized” evidence to really make it clear on how a whole-food, plant based vegan diet is the best for humans. There has always been plenty of evidence, it’s just not been as readily available like it is today. So this radical approach really helped get us going, esp. after the doctor’s feedback.
Knowing the gruesome details behind the industry really helps galvanize the compassionate component of being vegan. This enables us to really see how we are living with integrity on a whole-food, plant based vegan diet.
Friends, Support, Events
Over the years I have made a few friends that were already vegan. We may invite eachother to volunteer for sanctuaries and attend vegan events. This is a lot of fun.
These friends and activities are important. It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone as a vegan if you’re somewhere where there are none. Hopefully you’re on a healthy whole-food diet because evidence shows it helps against depress and overall mood :).
It’s also worth noting that, just because these are “vegan events” doesn’t mean we can’t bring an omnivore to tag along. This is a great way to expose them to the beautiful people, the delicious foods, and thought provoking dialog!
Over the years, especially way back when it was such a rare thing to be vegan, I would find myself really getting disgusted by the indifference of so many; their apathy to their own health, the environment, and the needless torture and killing they partake in. A healthy diet can do wonder to your mental health. But, it’s still a tough lifestyle without adequate support.
The more I’ve thought about this, talked patiently with others, had the most open mind possible, studied, and researched the better I respond to these feelings. I’ve learned that people are just extremely desensitized.
I understand where we’ve come from. I was a meat, eggs, and dairy guy once. This was “normal” and I can’t be blammed for that. It wasn’t until I was educated enough that I even thought about nutrition. But that alone wasn’t enough for me. I had to have a doctor tell me my cholesterol was high before I really acted on it.
So really, it’s great to learn and educate.
Isolating and Alienating
Sometimes it’s easy to give up on people. In the heat of understanding the importance of a vegan lifestyle it’s easy to be disgusted by how benighted and indifferent most people are. Sometimes we may feel compelled to act on this by isolating ourselves from others.
It’s important to keep all your relationships intake the best you can. Don’t break up with a loved one, friend, stop seeing family, or even cut off your social network and start unfriending people. It’s important that we learn as much from people as possible, talk to them when we can, and help them see how this lifestyle is the best.
We can’t advocate in isolation. So we don’t want to scare people off either. Even when they’re being mean, ugly, defensive, ignorant, ridiculous, insane, disgusting, and hurtful we still need to listen, learn, focus and find ways to peacefully advocate on their level.
It’s easy to get frustrated. But it can be easier and more rewarding to continue learning as much as we can and sharing with those that need to know. Unfriending them isolates us from them and prevents us from being able to have a positive influence on their life.
I’ll probably never forget the video where the vegan activist approaches a fisherman and ends up throwing his fish back in the water. This video prompted a ton of heated debate. And I was in the front line of the debate. I did my best listening to other people’s perspectives no matter how ridiculous they may have seemed. It’s real important to maintain being the nicest, most level headed person and to try and learn from what people are saying. So, when they said “But fish don’t have feelings” or “plants have feelings!” and so on I would just do my best to research and respond intelligently.
While some may argue that “these people aren’t going to change, you’re wasting your time!” I found to the contrary that I not only learned when I least expected to, I also made new friends! Whenever this sort of debate ensues I invariably end up making a new friend or few when they contact me privately to learn more. So I know this approach can work very well for several reasons.
As we get older we often see family less. So the little time you do spend ideally would be quality time. Sometimes our lifestyle can get in the way. It’s important that we stay strong, advocate consistently, and maintain rapport with balancing advocacy with other activities.
We can advocate in subtle ways by role modeling who we are passively. As healthy vegans on a whole-food, plant based diet we most likely look healthier, have more energy and clarity, and most likely have significantly less health issues.
Invariably family will start talking about their health issues and diet. These can be great opportunities to share what you know without embarrassing them. Invariably they’ll get defensive but you can kill that with kindness.
Sensitivity, Defensiveness, Denial
Some family members just wont listen. Some get down right mean! It’s so important to understand that they do not mean to hurt you. They really do not know any better. Be patient, in time they may.
Comfort food is so powerful. We grow up eating what is considered normal by our culture. We trust that this is what is best for us. We see advertisements pushing animal products. We see friends eating these products. And virtually everywhere you turn there’s meat, eggs, and dairy right there in front of you or hiding in the ingredients.
If that family member ever gets sick their doctor may suggest changing their diet. They may prescribe eating leaner foods like venison or even starting a low carb diet. Like your family, friends, TV, school, and society in general, you trust your doctor. You believe if animal products were bad they would suggest eating outside of the animal kingdom.
If they’re sick they may try to do their own research. They may try some new fad diet that offers temporary results like losing weight fast. This may help solve some issues but it doesn’t treat the core problem and it’s gravely dangerous. Nonetheless, they see results and assume it must be working.
For generations now we’ve all been lied to. Everyone has been spreading these lies to each other so much that it’s hard to see the truth. So it’s easy to be sensitive, defensive, and in denial.
There’s so many things working against the truth. The closest thing we have to the truth is science. And now more than ever we have unprecedented research and access to organized, thorough meta-analysis. We need to learn as much as we can from the most trustworthy sources possible. Educating yourself is the most powerful thing we can to help others learn what is best for them.
What is beautiful is the more we look the more we see congruence between eminent doctors and scientist. Eventually the truth shall prevail, everything falls in place, and integrity pervades. Until then we need to learn and advocate as much as possible and maintain faith in our collective potential to achieve what is best.
“If everyone did their part and converted 10, 100, 1000, or more, a vegan world would be in reach. “
It’s very easy and common to become so inspired by this lifestyle change that you just can’t help but want to see others join in with you! This is great! Tap into that! Don’t get too worried about throwing your old leather coat away, buying a new car because it has leather interior, leaving your significant other because they’re not vegan, etc… No, no, no, no, no! Just keep learning how to make it the healthiest life for you and live a life inspiring others to do the same with all that energy!
I used to think I was getting in the game late. I have been vegan since 2010, I could have been advocating hard all this time! Now there’s SO MANY people doing such an awesome job. So before I started Vegan Walk I just didn’t think the world needed me to do this. Then I heard a doctor (I think it was Dr. Barnard) say for every 1 person going vegan there’s a 100 going the other way I thought maybe I do need to do something then.
But I would look around and again see so many amazing advocates throughout social media. I would feel like I would just never be seen or heard so what’s the point? The more I looked though the more I realized I can take a unique approach. And more importantly none of these vegan activists and advocates are even seen by those not looking. I come in contact with so many people that would never just stumble on Vegan Mic, Dr. Greger, or any of the other countless, awesome vegans out there.
So, until veganism is the new norm it’s going to take all the advocates, activists, and approaches possible. We’re all unique in many ways, so can our approach and so are the needs of those we need to approach.
The time is now to advocate this. All the science we need is there. Check out NutritionFacts.org. Even Kaiser Permanente (the nations largest and most influential not-for-profit health plans) is now advocating this diet! Look inside Kaiser Permanente at this awesome story where they also reference NutritionFact.org. Kaiser also has created a very thorough booklet packed full of excellent tips, resources, an action plan and more for getting on and maintaining a Plant Based Diet, check it out here.
“if you wanted something done right then you actually had to DO IT, and DO IT YOURSELF!”
Be sure to check out all our other awesome References and the rest of the VeganWalk.com website for more information.