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My Diet, My Choice. Right?

“It’s my diet, it’s my choice” is a common response I hear when encouraging people to eat a healthy, plant-based diet. Eating meat may be your choice, but it has far reaching consequences for everyone else, which raises the question, is eating meat really a personal choice?

Before we tackle this question, let’s first look at how dietary choices affect everyone through the cost and quality of healthcare, as well as the environmental destruction that results from animal-based diets.

How Your Choice Affects Everyone’s Healthcare

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke and all the other non-accidental, non-viral illnesses are mostly diet related. In fact, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, dietary choices account for nearly 81% of the deaths that occur in America every year.

Death Causes


Side Note: I’ve lumped Alzheimer’s in with dietary related deaths because it’s now believed that diet may play a larger role in Alzheimer’s than any other factor. The blood vessels in your brain get clogged just like the arteries in your heart…it’s just on a smaller scale. Restricted blood flow in your brain may kill your brain tissue, leading to Alzheimer’s.

More than 1.5 MILLION people die every year because of their “choice” to eat an unhealthy diet. That means if and when you die, you have an 81% chance of it being caused by your dietary choices (unless you eat a plant-based diet).

When you die, there's an 81% chance it was caused by your diet. #wfpb #plantbased #vegan Click To Tweet

In addition, most of these 1.5 million people must be treated for several years in doctors offices and hospitals, while undergoing expensive surgeries and taking expensive medications to keep them alive.

And this number doesn’t include the 273 MILLION Americans who are living with dietary illnesses, receiving regular treatment and/or taking expensive medications to keep them alive so they can continue eating food that’s killing them. The individual and public cost of personal dietary choices is astronomical.

According to the CSPI again, we spend close to ONE TRILLION dollars every year treating diet related illnesses, and the cost is growing rapidly. That’s roughly $9,000 per American. Every. Single. Year.

We spend close to ONE TRILLION dollars every year treating diet related illnesses. #wfpb #vegan #plantbased Click To Tweet

As a result of the rapidly increasing number of people being treated for personal dietary choices, the cost of insurance and healthcare has been growing at the same rate or faster.

That means that even though I eat a whole-food, plant-based diet, rarely go to the doctor and currently take zero medications, the cost of my insurance has gone up while the quality of my coverage has gone down (so the giant insurance and hospital corporations can continue hitting their profit projections).

The same thing has happened to you and to everyone else. We are all affected by everyone else’s dietary choices both financially and through the quality of care we receive when we do need it for non-dietary illnesses.

No, It’s NOT Genetics

People often bring up genetics or family history as the reason for health-related illnesses. “It’s not my fault! Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. runs in my family!”

It’s hard to know for sure what percentage of people truly have a genetic predisposition to these illnesses because our families have been eating so poorly for so many generations that everyone has a family history of disease. To quote Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org, “The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.”

Disease may run in families because diets run in families. #wfpb #vegan Click To Tweet

Many people think our health problems started with the 1980’s low-fat craze, but the leading causes of death have been diet related (except during wartime) since they started keeping track of the numbers.

Heart disease has been the number one killer of Americans for over a century. In 1950 alone, over 550,000 Americans died of heart disease. Again, diet related but with cigarette smoking also a large contributor back then.

It’s believed that a very small percentage of people have a genetic mutation that increases their chance of getting these diseases. But even if you do have bad genes or a bad family history, you can cut your risk in half by eating a healthy diet and getting a little exercise every day (20 to 40 minutes of walking at a brisk pace is all you need).

The bottom line is that dietary choices are killing millions of Americans while decimating our healthcare system. The cost of healthcare is skyrocketing, even for those who live a healthy lifestyle and rarely need it.

When your choice affects the cost and quality of everyone’s healthcare, is it still a personal choice?

How Your Choice Affects the Environment

The vast majority of environmental damage to air, land and water is caused by animal agriculture.

How Animal Ag Destroys the Air We Breath

Animal agriculture and specifically factory farming is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions (more than all forms of transportation combined).

It releases toxic gases into the air like nitrous oxide, ammonia, particulate matter, endotoxins, hydrogen sulfide and Monensin, an antibiotic that is commonly used in human medicine.

It produces an unbearable stench for local residents who live near factory farms. The stench causes numerous health issues and destroys their property value.

Farm workers and local residents “suffer from respiratory irritation, bronchitis, lung inflammation, dust toxic syndrome, asthma, and possibly cardiac arrest. Ammonia emissions can cause a variety of harmful health effects like dizziness, eye irritation, respiratory illness, and nausea.” [source]

When your choice affects the air everyone breathes, is it still a personal choice?

How Animal Ag Destroys Our Land

Animal agriculture is responsible for 80% of deforestation worldwide. The world’s rainforests are being clearcut to make room for farm animal grazing, as well as to grow the grain needed to feed farm animals.

Forests have been called the Earth’s lungs. They filter the CO2 out of the air and release oxygen back into the air. Cutting them down not only prevents them from filtering our air, it causes them to release all of the CO2 they have stored in them back into the atmosphere. It’s like a left-right punch to the gut.

In addition to deforestation, animal ag uses waste lagoons to store the nearly ONE BILLION tons of urine and feces produced by farm animals every year, but this is only a temporary stop. The waste is then sprayed into the air over large fields so it will more quickly disperse and evaporate. This not only destroys the air quality in surrounding areas, it also contaminates the soil on the land where it’s sprayed and the groundwater under the land.

When your choice affects the land everyone lives on and the forests we depend on for survival, is it still a personal choice?

How Animal Ag Destroys the Water We Drink

As I already mentioned, the billion tons of waste generated by farm animals is stored in large lagoons the size of a football field or multiple fields. These lagoons are prone to leaks that contaminate the groundwater, as well as surrounding streams and rivers.

Since these farms are often located in low-lying areas, they’re also prone to flooding, which sends the waste directly into nearby streams and rivers making the water so toxic that fish die by the thousands and the water becomes undrinkable.

“Unlike human waste, animal excrement from factory farms is not processed as sewage—making it about 500 times more concentrated than treated human waste while leaving pathogens (like Salmonella and E. coli) and volatile chemicals intact.” [source]

Farm animal waste is untreated and is 500 times more concentrated than treated human waste. #vegan Click To Tweet

Runoff from animal ag also makes its way to the oceans, creating over 400 massive ocean dead zones worldwide where no life can exist. According to Scientific American, “Perhaps the most infamous U.S. dead zone is an 8,500 square mile swath (about the size of New Jersey) of the Gulf of Mexico, not far from where the nutrient-laden Mississippi River, which drains farms up and down the Midwest, lets out. Besides decimating the region’s once teeming shrimp industry, low oxygen levels in the water there have led to reproductive problems for fish, leading to lack of spawning and low egg counts.”

When your choice affects the water everyone drinks and the habitat of sea life, is it still a personal choice?

How Your Choice Takes Away Another’s Choice

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the choice that’s taken away by your personal choice.

It’s estimated that the average meat-eater is responsible for the death of 7,000 animals during the course of their lifetime. That breaks down to “11 cows, 27 pigs, 2,400 chickens, 80 turkeys, 30 sheep and 4,500 fish” on average.

The average meat-eater is responsible for the death of 7,000 animals during their lifetime. #vegan Click To Tweet

Each of these sentient beings wanted to live. It was their choice to live, but your personal choice took that away from them.

Despite what we’ve been taught by religion, government and corporate marketing campaigns, humans are not superior to other life on this earth. We are simply more intelligent and technologically advanced, but we do not have more right to be here than any other sentient being.

I’m going to save the “but plants have feelings too” debate for a different blog post. We have to eat to live. But we don’t have to eat sentient beings, which also destroys our environment, health and healthcare.

When your choice eliminates the choice of another sentient being, is it still a personal choice?

Is Diet Really a Personal Choice?

When you drive on the highway, do you think to yourself “It’s my car and my life so it’s my choice how fast and recklessly I drive.”

Or do you obey the traffic laws that dictate how fast you can drive for both your own safety and the safety of those around you?

If you drive too fast or recklessly, you put the lives of others at risk, and if you cause an accident, you’re responsible for covering the cost of the repairs and hospital bills. You’re even required to have insurance so those costs are guaranteed to be covered. And if you’re really irresponsible, you can go to jail for the way you drive.

We all accept these laws (well most of us anyway) as necessary for the greater good, so why is our attitude so different with diet?

Everyone thinks diet and health is a personal choice, but your diet affects me and everyone else, just like my diet affects you and everyone else as described above, so why is eating a diet that increases the cost of healthcare for everyone while reducing the quality of healthcare for everyone, as well as destroys our air, land and water, still a personal choice?

How is this any different than driving as fast and as recklessly as you want to on the highway?

Yulin Dog Meat Festival

As I write this, the Yulin dog meat festival is in full swing. Their culture is different than ours and they don’t see a problem eating dogs. In America and most of the western world, this is illegal and cause for riots. “How can they do something so cruel?!” people scream.

Yes, this is cruel, and disgusting. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 60,000,000,000 (that’s 60 BILLION) land animals and over 1 TRILLION ocean fish and other sea life killed for food and as bikill EVERY YEAR.

Once you realize there’s no difference between a dog or cat, and a cow, pig, chicken, lamb, rabbit, duck, turkey, fish, octopus, etc., you’ll be just as outraged over the animal ag industry as you are about the Yulin dog meat festival.

We have lots of laws protecting animals in the United States, most stemming from the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson and amended 8 times over the years.

You can’t have dog fights. You can’t torture and kill your cat. You can’t have a bullfight or a cockfight. You can’t let a horse starve to death. In many states, you can’t leave a dog in a hot car. Lots and lots of animal protection laws specifically to prevent animal abuse.

So why is it legal to eat meat when the very act of eating meat is the result of animal abuse, especially in factory farms? You can’t eat a porkchop without killing the pig and there’s no greater abuse than death.

You can't eat a porkchop without killing the pig and there's no greater abuse than death. #vegan Click To Tweet

Why Eating Meat Is Still Legal

There are only two reasons why eating meat is still legal. First, it’s the way we’ve always done it. Humans have been eating meat, mainly for survival, for the past 2.6 million years out of our 15 to 20 million years of evolution.

We don’t need meat to survive anymore, though. In fact, we’re healthier without eating meat or at least rarely eating it. But it is a long-standing tradition and despite the knowledge we’ve gained about the harmful effects it has on our health and the environment, people don’t like to change tradition.

The second reason eating meat is still legal is because the animal ag industry is very powerful. While the Animal Welfare Act and its amendments apply to most animals, it explicitly excludes farm animals and animals used for research purposes.

The animal ag industry has also done a great job of manufacturing doubt about the harmful health effects of meat, dairy and eggs.

They sometimes claim their products are healthy or environmentally friendly based on their own pseudoscientific research. More often, though, they fund studies that call into question the prevailing scientific consensus. If they can sow doubt, enough to confuse people, that’s all people need to continue their tradition…their personal choice to eat meat.

When you say or hear someone say, “For every study you cite, I can find one to contradict it,” that’s manufactured doubt at work. We’re unwitting patsies when we succumb to their manipulations so it’s our duty to find the truth and distinguish it from propaganda.

Animal ag is also very good at keeping horrific farm animal conditions behind closed doors. To quote Paul McCartney, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” And if factory dairy farms and egg farms had glass walls, everyone would be vegan.

If factory dairy farms and egg farms had glass walls, everyone would be vegan. #vegan Click To Tweet

Should Eating Meat Be Illegal?

Yes. Absolutely.

If you accept the laws that forbid the abuse of “any live or dead cat, dog, hamster, rabbit, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, and any other warm-blooded animal” as stated in the Animal Welfare Act, then those laws should apply to all animals, including farm animals.

There is no logical or rational reason for excluding a whole class of “warm-blooded animals” from a law specifically designed to protect “warm-blooded animals.” Animals are animals. Period. We should either be able to abuse, kill and eat all of them or none of them. There is no middle ground.

If you’re against the Yulin dog meat festival but still eat meat, that is the epitome of hypocrisy. There is no substantial difference between the various species of animals you deem edible or inedible. They may look a little different, but they’re all basically the same. They all have personalities, likes, dislikes, social relationships and a desire to stay alive. Your choice is not more important than their choice.

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

Until our laws catch up to our morals and ethics, your diet is your choice and I sincerely hope that you choose to switch to a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet.

You’ll feel better physically because your body is evolutionarily designed to eat plants, and you’ll feel better mentally because you’ll be living in line with your stated values to not harm animals.

A vegan diet is not necessarily healthy, but a WFPB diet is extremely healthy. And thanks to decades of research conducted by real scientists and doctors, we know exactly what it takes to eat a healthy WFPB diet. It’s the healthiest, most satisfying diet you can eat, but making the switch can be a little challenging.

That’s why we created LottaVeg with our vegan recipes and vegan meal plans. Our goal is to make it easy to switch to a plant-based diet. Here are a few other websites with the same goal:

Each one of these plans has a different twist with different types of recipes. Most of them eliminate all oils in addition to all animal products. While our plan strives to reduce the use of oils as much as possible, we don’t remove them completely. That makes our plan a little easier to follow for new and transitioning plant-based eaters.

When a choice affects everyone else, including future generations, it’s our duty as civilized humans to consider everyone else when making that choice. Please choose wisely and with compassion.

Meatless Kristie Middleton

MeatLESS Book Review

“MEATLESS: Transform the Way You Eat and Live – One Meal at a Time” by Kristie Middleton, Senior Director of Food Policy for the Humane Society of the United States, is a fantastic book to help you get started on your meat-less journey.

Amelia and I had the great pleasure of meeting Kristie at the annual Humane League Gala here in Denver, and also the following day at her book signing at the Tattered Cover. Kristie’s passion for her own vegan lifestyle and for helping others reduce meat in their diets shines through in her public speaking and in her book.

MeatLess is loaded with concrete rationale for reducing or eliminating meat from your diet. And it shows you how to make the transition easier. Kristie provides substitutes for common animal ingredients as well as dozens of plant-based recipes that will tease the tastebuds of any standard American food eater.

I particularly enjoyed the stories from people who have reduced or completely removed meat and animal products from their diets. Some, like me, flipped the switch cold-tofurkey. Others transitioned slowly. One family bounced back and forth until they hit the right balance for them, eating Meatless Mondays, as well as one meat-free meal per day.

While we at LottaVeg recommend you transition completely to a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet for your own health, the health of the environment and especially for the welfare of animals, any reduction in animal product consumption is beneficial. If you’re not sure you want to go full-vegan, this book can help you find the right balance.

The second half of the book is loaded with delicious vegan recipes. We’ve already made a few, including the Vegan Summer Peach Cobbler (p. 199) and the Souper Easy Split Pea Soup (p. 147). While not all of the recipes can be considered “healthy” by WFPB standards, they are delicious, none-the-less. And if your primary goal is to eat less meat without sacrificing flavor, that may be just fine with you.

Whether you want to go full vegan or just reduce the amount of meat and other animal products in your diet, this book is a great resource to have in your kitchen.

MeatLess by Kristie Middleton

Kristie-Middleton-Meatless_cover_lo A great resource to have in every transitioning vegan kitchen!

This book is loaded with concrete rationale for reducing or eliminating meat from your diet, as well as showing you how to make the transition easier. Kristie provides substitutes for common animal ingredients and dozens of plant-based recipes that will tease the tastebuds of any standard American food eater.

You don't have to sacrifice flavor for compassion. You can have both!

What The Health Film

What the Health Documentary Review

Yesterday, Amelia and I watched “What the Health” from the creators of “Cowspiracy.” Much like Cowspiracy and the other documentaries we’ve watched, it was infuriating.

The level of corruption between the food industry, the government, hospitals, doctors, health associations and pharmaceutical companies is truly mind boggling. They’re unapologetically working together to keep us just sick enough to extract every penny we have to cover healthcare costs, but not too sick that we die before we’re completely bankrupt.

What the Health

However, thanks to people like Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the creators of What the Health, as well as doctors like Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and many others, we don’t have to remain victims of their corruption anymore.

Netflix, YouTube and social media have leveled the playing field for information dissemination. We’re no longer limited to the information (or propaganda) produced by our government and corporations. We can finally learn the truth about a variety of subjects from sources other than those that generate billions of dollars in profits by keeping us sick, ignorant and obedient.

What the Health exposes how deep the corruption goes by interviewing (or attempting to interview) leaders in several health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the USDA and others.

We have been brainwashed to believe that these types of organizations are trying to help us. Every year, they collect millions of dollars in donations from hard-working people to “race for the cure.” Meanwhile, they’re also accepting millions of dollars in donations and sponsorships from corporations that are causing our most harmful diseases in the first place.

Susan G. Komen Foundation

Did you know dairy consumption may increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer as well as dying from it?

According to several studies, whole milk is the worst culprit [source], followed by milk from cows who are pregnant at the time of milking [source]. However, in studies that compare the dairy consumption of different countries around the world, it appears there is a correlation between increased dairy consumption and both breast and prostate cancer [source]. This is most likely due to the high amount of hormones and a potentially carcinogenic protein called casein that’s in milk and it’s derivative products like cheese and yogurt [source].

Some of these studies are a couple years old, but others are over a decade old. Why, then, do we see pink ribbons on dairy products? Shouldn’t an organization committed to finding a cure, also be committed to preventing the disease? Could the millions of dollars given to the Susan G. Komen Foundation by dairy product corporations be clouding their judgement? If they prevent the disease or find a cure, wouldn’t they all be out of a job?

The American Diabetes Association

We’ve known since the 1930’s that a high complex-carb, low fat diet is the best treatment and prevention for diabetes. In fact, animal products and fat are the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes, despite what we’ve been told by countless marketing messages and ill-informed doctors for decades.

Sugar makes the condition worse, but only if the conditional is already present. Think of it like this: Animal products and fat cause the fire while eating sugar is like throwing gasoline on the fire. Without fire, gasoline doesn’t do much. Without diabetes, sugar doesn’t do much.

With a growing mountain of evidence showing the link between diabetes and animal products, why does the American Diabetes Association list meat, even processed carcinogenic meats like bacon, as part of a healthy diet for diabetics? Shouldn’t this organization be equally interested in preventing this growing epidemic instead of just treating it? Could the millions of dollars given to the association by meat product corporations be clouding their judgment? If they prevent the disease or find a cure, wouldn’t they all be out of a job?


We all know that greasy fast food like stuffed crust pizzas and hamburgers are bad for us, right? In fact, they’re more than bad for us, they’re killing us. Fried foods dripping with cheese are loaded with carcinogens and saturated fats that lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases [source].

To get a better idea of just how bad fast food is for our bodies, we recommend watching Super Size Me. Don’t try this at home, though. The guy almost died after eating it for 30 days straight.

If the harmful effect of eating fast food is common sense, why does the USDA spend millions of dollars a year promoting it through the Federal Commodity Checkoff Program using your tax dollars? Why did they fund the creation of Pizza Hut cheese stuffed pizza crusts, McDonald’s angus cheeseburgers, Starbucks smoothies, Taco Bell quesadillas and countless others? [source] [source] Could it be the revolving door between the USDA and the animal agriculture industry? Or the millions of dollars in lobbying the animal ag industry spends each year to pass public policy? If our elected officials or USDA employees go against the powerful animal ag lobby, would they be out of a job?

These stories are repeated in every interview shown in What the Health. The corruption isn’t limited to these three organizations; it’s pervasive throughout our entire food and health system.

Now, It’s Your Choice

Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s killing people. But you don’t have to accept it anymore. Educate yourself by watching documentaries like What the Health, Cowspiracy and others. Read books like How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger, The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall and others.

It’s entirely your choice to consume these unhealthy products and to support these organizations. The best, most effective and easiest way to change this corrupt, dystopian system is by how you spend your money. If you don’t buy it, they won’t make it. If you don’t donate to it, they’ll change their mission. A cure is great, but prevention is better.

Protest the corruption every…single…day by eating a healthy diet with mostly whole-food plant-based ingredients. Cook at home more. Eat at restaurants with delicious plant-based dishes, not just boring salads. Totally skip the unhealthy fast food…FOREVER!

Checkout our Vegan Recipes for inspiration or signup for our Vegan Meal Plan Service and let us do the hard work for you. We want you to live a long, healthy and happy life. It won’t make us rich, but it’ll unimaginably enrich our lives.

And remember to go watch What the Health. Then channel your anger into making positive changes in your diet and your life.

Please share this to help educate your friends and family so they live a long and healthy life with you.

Where do you get your B12?

Where do you get your B12?

When someone asks you, “Where do you get your B12?”, here’s what you can tell them.

We used to get our B12 from the microbes present in streams and other fresh water sources, as well as from dirt and feces on plant-based foods. Now that we chlorinate our drinking water and sanitize our foods, it kills and removes the microbes that carry B12.

It also kills the things that cause cholera, malaria and other diseases, so it’s a good thing, but that means we need to get our B12 from other sources, such as fortified foods like cereal, non-dairy yogurt and nutritional yeast. We can also get all we need from a cheap weekly supplement.

It’s important to note that many meat eaters are also deficient in B12. Meat isn’t a great source of B12 because we sanitize, pasteurize and cook animal products to kill harmful bacteria, which also kills the B12 microbes.

We sanitize, pasteurize & cook animals to kill bacteria. That kills B12 microbes, too. #vegan Click To Tweet

Finally, in addition to being deficient in B12, most meat eaters are also deficient in Fiber, Calcium, Iodine, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folate and Magnesium because these nutrients are only found in plant foods, of which they consume very little.

So the next time someone asks you where you get your B12, tell them you get it from the same place they already do or should: B12 fortified foods and/or supplements. Then ask them where they get their Fiber, Calcium, Iodine, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folate and Magnesium.

The Vegetarian Myth Debunked

The Vegetarian Myth Debunked

A paleo friend suggested I read “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability” for an alternative perspective to the vegan/vegetarian diet. The book was written by someone who was vegan for 20 years, but decided to start eating animal products again for a variety of reasons.

Our friend was genuinely concerned about our health, and it never hurts to hear other perspectives, but I must admit my skepticism prior to checking it out. After watching several documentaries and reading several books from reputable, qualified sources, I felt pretty confident in my decision to go vegan and eat a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet.

With that said, I did try to read the book with an open mind, while fact-checking the claims and citations. However, as I suspected, the author’s perspective is more unsubstantiated opinion based on her interpretation of personal experience, rather than factual information based on legitimate, unbiased science.

I would need to write an entire book to refute all of the misleading, misrepresented and misunderstood claims and the citations she used to support them, so I’ll just address the first chapter, which is a pretty thorough preview of the rest of the book.

Here’s the first chapter of The Vegetarian Myth debunked…

Degenerative Disc Disease Caused by Vegan Diet: False

The author attributes her Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) to being vegan for 20 years. In fact, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that DDD is caused by diet.

After eating meat for 44 years, I was diagnosed with severe DDD and congenital spinal stenosis, which required two major back surgeries. This makes me more familiar than most with this condition. Here’s a picture of my back after 44 years of a meat-heavy diet.

After speaking to my doctor and doing considerable research, I found that this condition is most often caused by injury, aging and/or bad genes. In my case, it was bad genes. In addition, DDD isn’t actually a disease. It “refers to a condition in which pain is caused from a disc that loses integrity.” [source]

Contrary to the author’s unfounded belief, a diet high in antioxidants (found only in fruits and vegetables) and low in inflammatory agents (mostly found in meat, dairy and eggs) can actually help treat the condition. “We’ve known for 14 years that a single meal of meat, dairy, and eggs triggers an inflammatory reaction inside the body within hours of consumption.” [source]

That means a vegan diet may benefit the condition, not harm it, and certainly not cause it. The author’s attribution of her DDD to her vegan diet is anecdotal with no science to support it.

A vegan diet may benefit Degenerative Disc Disease, not harm it, and certainly not cause it. #vegan Click To Tweet

Humans Can’t Eat Grass So That Makes Us Meat Eaters: False

Edible Types of Animals and PlantsThis one is hard to refute with a straight face because it’s so absurd. True, we can’t digest grass like cows and horses. We also can’t digest tree bark or other plants made predominantly of cellulose.

However, our digestive system is optimized to digest over 7,000 other plants while we eat only about 35 different types of animals. Lacking a four-chamber stomach doesn’t, by default, make us meat eaters. It simply means we can’t eat certain types of plants.

The term “herbivore” refers to an animal that survives primarily on a plant-based diet. It’s not specific about the type of plants. Some herbivores eat grass, others eat bark, others eat 7,000 different types of plants.

For me, the smoking gun that humans are biological herbivores, not carnivores or even omnivores, is that only herbivores develop heart disease.

“Atherosclerosis affects only herbivores. Dogs, cats, tigers, and lions can be saturated with fat and cholesterol, and atherosclerotic plaques do not develop (1, 2). The only way to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore is to take out the thyroid gland; then, for some reason, saturated fat and cholesterol have the same effect as in herbivores.” [source]

Our bodies are not designed to eat meat. That’s a provable, biological fact.

Some herbivores eat grass, others eat bark, others eat 7,000 different types of plants. #vegan Click To Tweet

Our inability to eat grass does not make us meat eaters. This is a logical fallacy.

The Human Digestive System is the Same as a Lion’s: False

The author states, “Lions and hyenas and humans don’t have a ruminant’s digestive system. Literally from our teeth to our rectums, we are designed for meat.”

This statement is false for a number of reasons. Here’s a short list of how our digestive systems are different from true carnivores and omnivores: [source]

  • Jaw Structure – Carnivores have a much wider mouth opening than humans allowing them to seize prey and bite through thick skin and muscle with enormous force.
  • Teeth – Carnivores have razor sharp, serrated molars for slicing through flesh. Humans have flat molars for grinding plants.
  • Saliva – Human saliva contains carbohydrate-digesting enzymes which begin breaking down food molecules while the food is still in the mouth. Carnivores lack these enzymes and typically swallow their food in large chunks.
  • Throat – Carnivores have large throats, allowing them to swallow large chunks of food without choking.
  • Stomach – Carnivores have a large stomach with high acidity. The high acidity kills bacteria an organisms like salmonella and listeria, which make humans sick. Humans have a much smaller stomach with less acidity than carnivores, and process food quickly into the small intestine where bacteria gets processed into the bloodstream and can kill us.
  • Small Intestine – Carnivores have short small intestines, roughly 3 to 5 times their body length. Human small intestines are roughly 10 times body length. A shorter intestine allows carnivores to process the putrefying meat out of their systems quickly.
  • Large Intestine – Carnivores also have a short and narrow large intestine whose only purpose is to absorb salt and water. The large intestine in humans is very long and wider than the small intestine. It also absorbs important vitamins, electrolytes and water, as well as helps with the digestion of fibrous plant materials.
  • Cholesterol – Carnivores have a very efficient system for processing the cholesterol they consume from meat. Cholesterol doesn’t form plaque in their arteries like it does in humans.

Unlike humans, true omnivores like bears and raccoons have retained most of the carnivorous traits listed here, and have not developed herbivorous traits characteristic of humans.

The biggest difference between carnivores, omnivores and humans is how we process cholesterol. You can feed a lion or a bear 4 pounds of butter a day for the rest of their lives and they will never form plaque in their arteries. Humans only need to consume small amounts of cholesterol to form plaque in our arteries.

In reality, our digestive systems are most similar to apes and chimpanzees who eat a mostly vegan diet. Apes sometimes eat termites and chimpanzees sometimes eat insects and smaller monkeys, but overall they eat predominantly plants. They certainly don’t eat animal products at every meal. So if the author wants to compare us to other animals, the animals should be those with similar digestive systems, not radically different systems.

It’s also important to note that heart disease is the leading cause of death in western societies that consume large amounts of animal products (meat, dairy and eggs). And we’ve known for over a hundred years that one of the leading causes of heart disease is consuming too much cholesterol (only found in meat, dairy and eggs). The recent studies funded by the egg industry that suggest cholesterol is not the cause of arterial plaque had seriously flawed methodologies.

From a purely biological perspective, the human digestive system is designed to eat plants, not animals. The fact that early hominids figured out how to eat meat is most likely a sign of environmental or cultural adaptation and the need for short-term survival, not long-term survival or biological evolution.

Monocrops of Annual Grains to Feed Humans are Destroying the Environment: False

Monocrop Consumption by LivestockWhile it’s true that monocrops are contributing to environmental destruction, the majority of these crops aren’t being fed to humans.

In fact, “The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.” [source]

That means for every acre of grain that’s grown for human consumption, 5 acres are grown for animal feed. If we stopped eating animal products, we would reduce the need for monocrops considerably while making polyculture on the large scale more viable and feasible.

For every acre of grain that's grown for human consumption, 5 acres are grown for animal feed. #vegan Click To Tweet

Again, the author draws false conclusions from available evidence to justify her dietary choices.

Vegans Want to Build a Fence Down the Middle of the Serengeti: False

The author shares an experience she had on a vegan forum where a small group of misguided and uneducated vegans proposed building a wall down the middle of the Serengeti to prevent the carnivores from eating the herbivores.

It’s important to note that this exchange can’t be verified, and those involved may not have been serious. This may have been sarcasm that escaped the author.

Although some vegans do believe we should protect all life at any cost, the true vegan philosophy is to “do the least amount of harm.” If we prevent carnivores from eating in their natural habitat, that goes against the true vegan values. It’s doing more harm than good. It would cause the carnivores to starve by depriving them of their food source. And by removing the natural predators from the environment, the herbivore population would explode, leading to disease and starvation.

The real issue here is that rational vegans believe humans were never meant to be part of the carnivorous food cycle. Our ancestors took us out of our place in the middle of the food chain and put us on top of it, which has thrown the whole system out of balance.

Returning to our rightful place in the food chain will restore a little balance to our ecosystem. Click To Tweet

I don’t think many vegans would advocate going back to our old spot in the food chain and allow carnivores to eat a few of us on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we need to continue eating animals on a daily basis, either. By returning to our rightful place in the food chain, we’ll be restoring at least a little balance to our ecosystem.

A Vegan Diet Is Not Sufficient Nutrition for the Human Body: False

The author writes, “A Vegetarian diet – especially a low-fat version, and most especially a vegan one – is not sufficient nutrition for long-term maintenance and repair of the human body.”

She supports this claim with anecdotal evidence from her own health issues, which she has misattributed to her past vegan diet. In fact, decades of science support a whole-foods plant-based diet (WFPB), which is another name for a healthy vegan diet.

In countries that consume a high animal, low unrefined plant diet, the rates of heart disease and cancer increase predictably and consistently. Regions of the world that have yet to adopt the western diet of affluence don’t experience the same levels of these preventable diseases. [source]

If you consume the junk food vegan diet of highly processed foods with lots of added sugars, you won’t get enough nutrition to maintain your body. But if you eat a healthy, balanced, WFPB vegan diet, you’ll not only get enough nutrients, your body will thrive and your chance of dying early from a number of diseases including heart disease and cancer goes down dramatically.

Veganism Causes Depression Due to a Lack of Tryptophan: False

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that we must get from the food we eat; our bodies can’t produce it. It’s linked to the production of serotonin in the brain, and many people believe that low serotonin levels may lead to depression. However, “This is a myth because countless scientific studies have specifically examined this theory and have come back universally rejecting it.” [source] Low serotonin levels have not been proven to cause depression.

Furthermore, the author states, “there are no good plant sources of tryptophan.” This is patently untrue. Here is a short list of just some plants that contain tryptophan: spirulina, soybeans (tofu), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, chickpeas, wheat flower, chocolate, rice, quinoa, potatoes, tamarind and banana. [source]

While egg whites sit atop this list and meat does contain it, by no means can you say there are “no good plant sources of tryptophan.” This statement is completely false.

The cause of depression in some vegans is the mental issues they bring to their diet. #vegan Click To Tweet

Finally, some research suggests that it’s not a vegan or vegetarian diet that causes depression. According to a German study, “The researchers concluded that being vegetarian did not cause people to be depressed. Rather depressed people—for whatever reason—were more likely to choose a vegetarian diet.” [source]

In other words, the cause of depression in some vegetarians and vegans isn’t the food they eat, it’s the mental issues they bring to their diet. It’s not surprising that some compassionate people develop mental health issues while living in a largely uncompassionate society.

The Vegetarian Myth Debunked Conclusion

I honestly feel sorry for the author. She most likely didn’t eat a healthy vegan diet and suffered the consequences with diminished health. However, I don’t accept that all of her physical ailments were caused by her vegan diet. Instead, they were more likely due to her heredity, environmental conditions, upbringing, depression and addictive personality.

As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “Keith is just oh so sure of it all. Utter certainty of her earlier food-religion. Utter certainty of her new food-religion. From one fanatical spiritual obsession with food to another.”

I’m sure the author believes she’s doing the right thing, but she is actually doing more harm than good. She believes she’s helping “save lives” when in reality, she’s helping people justify their poor dietary choices by ignoring decades of legitimate science and assisting them in a slow death by food.

She feels like she’s had an epiphany and discovered what she calls “adult knowledge,” but her condescension is just a cover allowing her to blame something other than herself for her poor food choices and the mental issues that afflict her. Rather than writing a book on this topic, she would be better served by working with a qualified psychotherapist.

You can continue to believe these comfortable lies told by the author and the animal ag industry while knowing full well the uncomfortable truths that make them necessary, but that doesn’t change reality.

Your choice to eat an animal-based diet is destroying your long-term health, it’s destroying the environment, it’s destroying the health of the people who work in and live near farms and meat processing plants, and it’s destroying the lives of thousands of innocent animals throughout the course of your life.

Make the healthy, environmentally friendly and compassionate choice. Go vegan and eat a healthy, WFPB diet.

How to Cut Acorn Squash

How to Cut Acorn Squash

Baked Acorn Squash Breakfast PinThis is How to Cut Acorn Squash the easiest way so they stand up for preparing, cooking and eating without falling over. All you’ll need is a sharp knife and a cutting board.

If you’ve ever cooked an acorn squash like our Baked Acorn Squash Breakfast, you’re familiar with the challenge of preparing and eating it. They’re hard to cut and they fall over, spilling your stuffing all over your plate.

Thanks to Amelia’s guidance, I figured out the easiest way to cut an acorn squash with the least amount of effort.

Save the seeds and use our Roasted Squash Seeds recipe to make a delicious snack or salad topping.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Cooking Video

Step 1: Get Prepared

Get a sharp knife and place your acorn squash on a cutting board.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 1

Step 2: Cut Off the Stem of the Acorn Squash

The first step is to cut off the stem to form a flat base so the squash stands up for the remaining cuts.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 2

Step 3: Cut Off One Side of the Acorn Squash

Stand the acorn squash up on the flat base you created in Step 2. Then cut a small section off of one side.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 3

Step 4: Cut Off the Other Side of the Acorn Squash

Now cut off a small section from the opposite side from your previous cut.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 4

Step 5: Cut the Acorn Squash in Half

The final step is to cut the acorn squash in half down the middle between your previous two slices.

How to Cut Acorn Squash

And that’s all it takes to perfectly cut your acorn squash so it stands up during preparation, cooking and eating.

P.S. You still need to scoop out the innards 😉

How To Go Vegan

How to Go Vegan

Learning how to go vegan is the first step into a whole new world of flavorful food and compassionate living. Going vegan has the single largest impact on your health, the environment and the well-being of animals of any life choice you can make. And it’s super easy to do!

This article is a primer. It’ll expose you to the nuts and bolts about how to go vegan, including the main reasons people decide to go vegan so you stay motivated, what things are and aren’t vegan, how to eat a healthy vegan diet, where to get protein, helpful resources and much more.

We want to make your journey as a new vegan so simple and easy that you have no reason to question your decision to be healthier, reduce your environmental impact and lead a more compassionate life.

What is Veganism?

VEGANISM IS: a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. (1979 revised definition)

Why You Should Go Vegan

The three main benefits of going vegan are for your health, the environment and the animals. Each person places these in a different order of importance so don’t feel bad if animal welfare isn’t at the top of your list.

Health Benefits of Going Vegan

The health benefits of going vegan are profound. In fact, they’re so profound that vegans qualify for reduced rates on life insurance. When the insurance companies start handing out discounts for life choices, you know you’re doing something right.

No one understands risk better than insurance companies so when they give vegans a discount, that means the data supports what vegans have been saying for years: a plant-based diet is healthier and less likely to lead to your death.

Vegans have a 15% lower risk of all-cause mortality, 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer, and 34% lower risk of female-specific cancer.[1] But the benefits don’t stop there. Switching to a plant-based diet also helps prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity.[2]

The list goes on and on. The truth is, our bodies are optimized to eat plants, not animals. Despite what we’ve been taught our entire lives, we are not omnivores. True omnivores like bears and raccoons have retained the carnivorous traits that allow them to eat meat without the negative health consequences.

When insurance companies hand out discounts for life choices, you’re doing something right. #govegan Click To Tweet

Our ancestors were never carnivores and biologically speaking, we haven’t evolved the necessary traits to make us healthy omnivores.[3] Just because our ancestors used their intelligence to figure out how to eat meat, doesn’t mean our bodies are designed to eat meat.


The most common misconception about eating a vegan diet relates to protein. “Where do you get your protein?” is the most common question you’ll hear from non-vegans. This question is a sign of just how effective the animal agriculture marketing campaign has been.

All plants contain protein and you don’t need to eat animals to get enough protein for a healthy, balanced diet. Where do you think cows, horses, gorillas and other plant eating animals get the protein for their enormous muscles? Protein is a building block of life and all life has it. Even plants.

Our fixation on protein is one of the major causes of health problems in western society. Too much protein can cause cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis and other diseases.[4]

Too much protein can cause cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones and osteoporosis. #govegan Click To Tweet

According to the World Health Organization recommendations, only 5% of an adult’s calories should come from protein compared to the 16% consumed in the average western diet. This means you should only be eating 30 to 50 grams of protein per day compared to the 100 to 400 grams consumed by the average American.[5] Athletes need more protein, but the average American isn’t an athlete.

Eating a healthy, balanced, plant-based diet is part of learning how to go vegan, but it’s far easier than you’ve been led to believe. With one exception, your body is designed to get all the nutrients it needs from plants and the sun, making a vegan diet highly beneficial to your health.

Vitamin B12 (the one exception)

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin to your health, but one that your body doesn’t create on its own and one that isn’t readily available in plants.

B12 comes from bacteria that is most easily obtained from eating meat products, but meat isn’t the only source. Many vegan foods are fortified with B12, such as non-dairy yogurts and nutritional yeast. You can also take a weekly B12 supplement.

However, you don’t need to worry too much about getting enough B12 because our bodies have evolved to extract it and store it very efficiently. In fact, you have enough B12 stored in your body right now to last 3 years assuming you stop consuming it today. If you eat B12 fortified foods on a semi-regular basis, you’ll probably be fine.[6]

As you can see, the health benefits of going vegan are numerous and supported by science, at least the science not funded by the animal ag industry. Your body is optimized for a plant-based diet and it will thank you for making the switch to one as you learn how to go vegan.

Environmental Impact of Going Vegan

If you’re concerned about the environment, deforestation, clean air, clean water, species endangerment, etc., then learning how to go vegan is the best thing you can do to make a positive impact.

The animal agriculture industry generates more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than the entire transportation industry, including cars, planes, trains and boats. Conservative estimates place it at 18% of GHGs, but a study conducted by WorldWatch Institute places it at 51% of total human generated GHGs.[7]

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. It’s estimated that 91% of deforestation is done to either raise farm animals or to grow the food that’s fed to farm animals.[8]

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.[9]

Since animal agriculture is the worst culprit in everything that’s wrong with our treatment of the environment, that means making even a small change to your eating habits can have an enormous impact.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water.[9] That means in one year of eating a vegan diet, you will save over 400,000 gallons of water.

To put this in perspective, a typical leaky faucet loses about 34 gallons of water per year.[10] That means one year of being vegan is like fixing nearly 12,000 leaky faucets!

Why do vegans save so much water? Because it takes a lot of water to raise animals and the crops they eat. The most widely accepted estimate of the water required to produce one pound of beef is 2,500 gallons.[11] The animal ag industry came out with their own number of 441 gallons, but anyone not associated with raising animals for food agrees this number is ridiculously low. Some scientists calculate the number to be closer to 8,000 gallons for one pound of beef.

The negative environmental impact of our meat-heavy diets is indisputable. We are quite simply destroying our planet with the food we have chosen to eat. Learning how to go vegan and switching to a plant-based diet is the only viable solution if we want to leave a place for our grandchildren to live.

Ethical Benefits of Going Vegan

At the core of being vegan is the ethical and compassionate treatment of animals. The animal agriculture industry has circulated a term that has been widely adopted by those who like to eat meat: humane slaughter. This is the quintessential example of an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or clean coal. There is no way to humanely slaughter a sentient animal that doesn’t want to be killed.

Thousands of studies have been conducted on animal sentience and the overwhelming conclusion is that animals are sentient.[12] That means they can feel pain and fear, and they demonstrate compassion, love and sorrow.

Animals do not have the same level of intelligence as humans so they struggle with rational thought, logic and understanding, but so do 3-year-old human children (and many adults). We have misattributed animals’ lack of intelligence with lack of sentience, and that’s terribly wrong.

95% of our meat comes from animals raised on factory farms, the worst culprits of animal abuse. Animals are treated like non-living things in factory farms. From birth to death, they’re subjected to the worst possible living conditions, pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics, treated like a cog in a machine, and then slaughtered in horrific ways. The slaughter occurs in sight of other animals who know the one being killed and who also know what’s about to happen to them. Imagine how terrified they must be.

Dairy Cows Aren’t Killed…Why Isn’t Dairy Vegan?

This is a common argument made in defense of dairy. People think that because dairy cows aren’t killed, there’s no harm done. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Dairy cows may have a worse life than cows raised for meat.

To produce milk, cows must have babies. This means they must be constantly impregnated, give birth and then have their babies taken away from them so the milk can be fed to humans, instead. The mom and baby cry and scream for each other for days after they’re ripped apart.

If you love animals, you won’t eat them or drink their fluids. It’s that simple. #govegan Click To Tweet

The babies are kept in small cages and are often sold for veal, while the moms are perpetually milked. This puts an enormous strain on the moms’ bodies leading to early death, infections and other health issues. Once they stop producing milk, they’re slaughtered just like any cow.

If you truly love animals, you won’t eat them or drink the fluids they excrete. It’s that simple.

How to Go Vegan: Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

Once you’ve made the decision to learn how to go vegan, the biggest challenge is swapping out the meat on your plate with plant-based alternatives. It takes a little time to figure things out, but it’s easier than you think.

We’ve created a handy Vegan Substitutes Guide to help you with the basics, like milk, eggs, cheese and meatless meats. We’ve also assembled a long list of vegan recipes, including soy free vegan recipes and gluten free vegan recipes.

Going vegan is not a sacrifice. In fact, after a couple weeks of eating only plant-based foods, you’ll start to notice an increase in your taste bud sensitivity. You’ll be able to detect more flavors in foods and things will just taste better.

Cooking vegan meals is no different than cooking non-vegan meals. Just follow the recipe. #govegan Click To Tweet

You’ll also start to eat a larger variety of foods. Most people make the same three to five dishes every week before going vegan. They eat some form of chicken, fish, pork or beef. How boring! Once you go vegan, you’ll start to eat many different types of veggies and cuisines. It’s an amazing experience and your taste buds will thank you.

The easiest way to get started is to buy a vegan cookbook or bookmark some vegan recipe websites (see recommendations below). Cooking vegan meals is no different than cooking non-vegan meals. Just follow the recipe.

Vegan Gluten Free LasagnaAs you learn how to go vegan, you may find it easier to cook veganized versions of your favorite comfort foods during the transition period so it’s not such a large shock to your system. To get you started, here’s an easy Vegan Lasagna recipe. Several family members told us this is the best lasagna they’ve ever eaten. And they made fun of it right up until they tasted it.

Cold Turkey or Gradual Transition

A lot of people ask if they should go cold turkey or gradually transition to a vegan diet. Some people opt to make a stopover in vegetarian-ville by cutting out meat but continuing to eat dairy and eggs.

How you make the transition is up to you, but the more quickly you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet, the sooner you’ll see the health, environmental and ethical benefits of going vegan.

Most experts argue that going cold turkey is the best approach. By removing the temptation completely, you’ll more easily and quickly make the transition. Plus, it fast tracks the changes your body and taste buds will experience, which will make you want to stick with it. Once you start seeing the health benefits, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

There’s no wrong way to make the transition unless you have a preexisting health condition like diabetes. If that’s the case, you should consult a doctor or registered dietician who is supportive of switching to a plant-based diet. Most doctors have zero training in nutrition and still believe the animal ag propaganda that we must eat meat to survive. If your doctor isn’t supportive, find one who is.

Meal Plans and Grocery Shopping

The best way to make a successful and easy switch to a vegan diet is by planning your meals for the week before you go to the grocery store. Then make a list of all the ingredients you need so you don’t forget anything and need to make another trip or settle for something that’s not as healthy or delicious.

We provide a Free Vegan Meal Plan and a low calorie Weight Loss Vegan Meal Plan using the recipes we’ve made and improved, as well as a Weekly Vegan Meal Plan service. This is designed to make your life easier as you learn how to go vegan and save you hours of time each month planning your meals. You can even customize your meal plan to match your needs and automatically create a grocery list from your recipes.

Here are a few other free meal plans to choose from, depending on your dietary preferences:

The important thing is to make your transition as easy as possible so you won’t be tempted to return to your old, harmful ways. Planning ahead is the best way to do that.

Eating Vegan on a Budget

When you first learn how to go vegan, you may see an increase in your food budget over the short-term. This is especially true if you buy the processed meat substitutes found in the frozen food section, or if you decide to go organic at the same time. Meat substitutes and organic veggies are more expensive than non-vegan, conventional alternatives so that can increase your budget.

In addition, you may find that your kitchen is lacking some common vegan ingredients like nutritional yeast, spices, agave, maple syrup and vegan mayo. These all tend to be more expensive, but you won’t need to buy them very often. This does make your startup costs higher, though.

You could decrease your food costs by $750 or more per year over a lean meat-based diet. #govegan Click To Tweet

However, after you’ve gone full vegan and start eating less of the processed foods and more fresh veggies prepared in a delicious recipe, your costs will decrease. In fact, you could decrease your food costs by $750 or more per year over a lean meat-based diet.[13] You can reduce your costs even further by purchasing frozen fruits and veggies, going to farmers markets or buying in bulk.

You can find lots of affordable recipes on websites like PlantBasedOnABudget.com, Pinterest and this 10-day budget friendly plan from Forks Over Knives.

The Vegan Junk Food Diet

It’s possible to go full vegan eating only potato chips and Diet Coke, but that’s not a very healthy diet. A vegan diet that’s high in processed foods is what we call the Vegan Junk Food Diet and it’s the quickest route to being either an overweight, unhealthy vegan or an underweight, unhealthy vegan.

There are a lot of veganized comfort food recipes that are much healthier than the heavily processed foods characteristic of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Don’t just cut out the animal products. Make your vegan journey fun and exciting by trying new and interesting foods as you learn how to go vegan.

Dining Out

Perhaps the hardest part of sticking to a 100% vegan diet is the challenge of eating out. Restaurants like to sneak meat and animal products into just about everything, especially butter and eggs. They do this because they’re flavor enhancers and they want you to eat more and keep coming back.

Some restaurants will prepare a vegan meal for you that will make your friends envious. #govegan Click To Tweet

When you eat out, don’t be afraid to tell your server that you’re vegan and ask them to leave off the butter that they use to coat everything. You’ll find that a lot of servers are vegetarian or vegan and will be eager to help you. If you call ahead, some restaurants will prepare a special vegan meal for you that will make your non-vegan friends envious. That has happened to us more than once.

Eating out as a vegan is getting easier because more and more restaurants are adding vegan or vegan friendly options to their menus. And there are a lot more vegan restaurants opening, too.

Common Foods that Aren’t Vegan

In addition to meat, dairy and eggs, there are a few other foods that aren’t vegan, such as honey, palm oil, gelatin, crackers, sugar, chocolate, beer and wine.

Honey isn’t vegan because of how the bees are treated. The queen’s wings are often removed to prevent her from leaving the hive. That’s not very compassionate, which is at the core of veganism. In addition, the honey created by the bees is meant to feed their babies. If you take the honey for your food, that means the bees must work twice as hard to produce enough honey to feed both you and their offspring. You’re essentially forcing them into slave labor to keep their children from starving to death.

Palm oil, unless it’s sustainably harvested, is at the heart of Indonesian deforestation and species extinction. Orangutans live in the Indonesian jungles that are being burned and chopped to grow palm oil trees. In the process, they’re burned alive, shot or captured and sold into captivity. Countless other species are suffering the same fate at the hands of the palm oil industry.

Agar PowderGelatin is an animal by-product made from boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves. Sorry to break it to you like that, but we’ve been eating this gross stuff our entire lives. Agar powder is a plant-based substitute so there’s no need to eat animal goo.

Most crackers have egg and/or milk in them, but there are several that don’t. Read the labels to see which ones are vegan.

You might think sugar is vegan by default since it comes from a plant, but only organic sugar is vegan. That’s because most white granulate sugar is processed with animal bone char. Organic sugar is a little more expensive, but it tastes better and doesn’t contain animal ingredients.

Milk chocolate is obviously not vegan, but neither is non-organic chocolate because it’s made with non-organic sugar that contains bone char. Vegan chocolate chips and chocolate bars are easy to find in higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.

It’s true. Some beer and most wines aren’t vegan. Many vegans aren’t sticklers for this one because…well, it’s beer and wine. But just so you’re informed, some beers such as Guinness are filtered through isinglass, which is made from fish bladder. Guinness says they’re going to stop using isinglass in 2017. Also, most cream stouts or cream beers have dairy derivatives. Most wine is filtered through egg whites to remove sediments. You can use Barnivore.com to check your beer and wine for vegan friendliness.

Gelatin is an animal by-product made from boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves. #govegan Click To Tweet

As you learn how to go vegan, you’ll have this list memorized and you’ll get super speedy at reading the ingredients on labels.

Life as a Vegan

There’s more to being vegan than your dietary choices. Here are a few other things to consider as you learn how to go vegan.

What About My Non-Vegan Stuff?

You may be wondering what to do with your non-vegan items, such as leather clothes and car seats, wool coats, cashmere sweaters, etc. And you probably have health and beauty products that were tested on animals. Once you go vegan, you realize we use animals like toilet paper! It’s shameful!

Part of being vegan is environmental so throwing perfectly good non-vegan things out and replacing them with vegan things not only creates trash, but also requires more resources to create the replacements.

Once you go vegan, you realize we use animals like toilet paper. #govegan Click To Tweet

Another part of being vegan is to do the least amount of harm possible. The damage has already been done for the things you already own so it’s better to take care of them so they last as long as possible to honor the animals who gave their lives for them and minimize your environmental impact.

Most sensible vegans recommend using what you already have, but don’t buy any more of it. That seems like reasonable, environmentally friendly and financially sound advice.

Family, Friends and Holidays

Your non-vegan family and friends will not be supportive. They’ll be judgmental. They’ll worry about your protein intake. They’ll tell you we’re meant to eat meat. They’ll try to get you to eat animal products “for your own good.”

What they’re really doing is trying to convince themselves that they’re right to continue eating a diet that’s killing them, the planet and countless animals. It’s a subconscious defense mechanism that was triggered by you doing the right thing when they’re too scared or selfish to do it themselves.

Don’t take their criticisms personally. Take their criticisms as justification for your own health conscious, environmental and ethical life choices.

Holidays are the hardest time to be around your non-vegan family. You can bring your own dishes to meals so you have something to eat, but that won’t prevent you from derogatory comments.

Some family members derive joy from sneaking meat to their vegan relatives and then gloating about it. They don’t understand that your decision to learn how to go vegan isn’t about how animal products taste. It’s not like trying to trick a child into eating carrots or broccoli. Veganism is an ideology; not a food preference. Plus, once you internalize where meat comes from, it makes you physically ill to think about eating it.

You might find it easier to skip the holiday meals and enjoy your own delicious vegan holiday recipes. Then hang out with the fam after everyone has eaten.

The Unsupportive Spouse/Partner

If you want to learn how to go vegan but your spouse refuses, you in for an uphill battle. It’s much like a smoker or drinker who decides to give up the bad habit, but their spouse refuses. Having the vice in the house all the time makes it difficult to stick to the new way of life.

With food, it’s more challenging because women are typically the first to go vegan while their macho husbands think they can’t survive without meat, or at least won’t be as much of a man without it.

In many cases, that means the wife must cook two separate meals and continue handling a food product that makes them sick to touch and smell. Not a good situation.

You have a few options for handling this. First, you can gradually expose him to the materials that made you want to learn how to go vegan. Show him the documentaries you watched. Share the health and environmental statistics with him. Sometimes you need to plant the seed and let it germinate for a while before people are ready to open their minds.

Second, you can gradually reduce the amount of animal products in the meals you prepare. Start by making veganized versions of his favorite foods, but don’t tell him they’re vegan. Many of the recipes we share are veganized versions of popular comfort foods and no one can tell they’re vegan. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Third, you can make delicious vegan meals and cook some sort of animal product for him separately. Once you master the art of vegan cooking, he may start to prefer your vegan recipes over his bland animal products.

To take it one step further, skip the plant-based seasonings on his meats so he starts to realize the only reason animal products taste good is because of the plants we put on them. It’s a little passive aggressive, but the ends justify the means, at least in this case.

Finally, you can tell him that you just won’t cook animal products anymore and if he wants them, he can cook them himself. It’s a bit of tough love, but once you explain to him that it makes you physically ill to handle it, he should be understanding if he loves you.

Veganism is an ideology of awakening. Once you wake up and realize the harm an animal-based diet does to your health and the environment, and how horrific animals are treated, it can be difficult to continue a relationship with someone who is still asleep and refuses to wake up. That’s a tough way for both of you to live and it will strain your relationship. Keep the lines of communication open and hope for the best.

Vegan Pets/Companions

A lot of vegans have pets, but we usually call them companions or children. The love between a dog or cat and their human companions is real and healthy for both. Vegans absolutely do not patronize puppy mills or breeders. Instead, we choose to adopt animals who might be euthanized if they don’t find a loving family.

Feeding your companions vegan food is a challenge. Unlike humans, cats and dogs are carnivores/omnivores. They’re designed to eat other animals, even though they can process some plant-based foods.

There are a lot of vegan pet food options available, but your dog or cat may not take to them or may even be allergic to them. If you feel bad buying animal-based pet food, talk to your vet about vegan options before making the switch.

Vegan Activism

If you want to join the animal rights activism movement, go for it. However, you don’t have to protest to be vegan. Changing your diet and the products you buy, and leading by example are just as powerful.

New Vegan Resources

Learning how to go vegan can be challenging for new vegans, so here are some more resources to help you on your journey.

Vegan and Plant-Based Documentaries

Watch these five documentaries and you’ll be more educated about diet and the treatment of animals than 95% of the population:

  • Forks Over Knives and Food Choices – both discuss the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
  • Cowspriacy – discusses the environmental impact of eating meat vs. going vegetarian or vegan.
  • Earthlings – this covers the ethical aspect of veganism and our horrific treatment of animals.
  • Vegucated – follows three people switching to a plant-based diet showcasing their trials and tribulations.

Plant-based Diet Books

These are the best two books you can read on the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet:

  • The China Study – the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.
  • The Starch Solution – your beliefs about diet and nutrition are completely upside down thanks to clever marketing campaigns from the animal ag industry.

Vegan Cookbooks

These are two great starter cookbooks for new vegans:

  • Nom Yourself – easy and delicious vegan recipes.
  • Big Vegan – loaded with over 350 delicious vegan recipes.

Vegan Recipe Websites

Here are some of our favorites vegan recipe websites:

  • LottaVeg.com – this is our recipe index loaded with lots of comfort food, dessert, soy free, oil free, gluten free and a variety of other recipes.
  • MinimalistBaker.com – delicious recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.
  • AllRecipes.com – lots of recipes in their vegan recipes section.
  • OhSheGlows.com – lots of vegan recipes and most are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods.
  • BrandNewVegan.com – lots of vegan comfort food ideas for new vegans.
  • VeganInTheFreezer.com – lots of recipes that you can freeze for later to save you time.

Facebook Groups

Day or night, someone is online to help you solve a cooking problem, deal with a confrontational friend or family member, provide emotional support, or just listen. Here are some good private groups on Facebook to join:

You should also checkout Meetup.com for local vegan groups and vegan cooking classes in your city. Your city may also have a local Facebook group like our Denver Vegans group.

You don’t have to go it alone. There are lots of people both online and offline who are eager to help you make the most of your vegan journey.

If you have any questions or suggestions about how to go vegan, please leave them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you and will respond to everyone.

If you found this “How to Go Vegan” guide useful, please share it with your friends and Follow Us on Facebook for more vegan information and recipes.


[1] Orlich et al. JAMA Int Med. (2013)

[2] American Diabetes Association. “Preparing to Prescribe Plant-Based Diets for Diabetes Prevention and Treatment”

[3] VegSource. “The Comparative Anatomy Of Eating”

[4] The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The Protein Myth”

[5] McDougall Newsletter. “When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?”

[6] McDougall Newsletter. “Vitamin B12 Deficiency—the Meat-eaters’ Last Stand”

[7] WorldWatch Institute. “Livestock and Climate Change”

[8] World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon”

[9] Cowspiracy. “The Facts”

[10] U.S. Geological Survey. “Water Science Activities Drip Calculator: How much water does a leaking faucet waste?”

[11] EarthSave. “2,500 Gallons All Wet?”

[12] Psychology Today. “A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience: No Pretending”

[13] Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition . “Economical Healthy Diets (2012): Including Lean Animal Protein Costs More Than Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil”

Vegan Diet and Erectile Dysfunction

Back in 2015, I started having issues in the ED department. That’s not something any man (or the woman he’s with) ever wants to experience.

In my case, it was caused by a shattered disc in my neck and three ruptured discs in my lower back, but for many men who suffer from erectile dysfunction, instead of taking a pill, switching to a vegan diet may be all you need.

According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, ED affects between 15 and 30 million men in America so if the lack of wind in your sail is keeping your ship in the harbor, you’re not alone.

The good news is, doctors know what causes ED and they also know how to fix it the right way without pills. Big pharmaceutical companies make billions selling little pills to provide a quick fix, but they may be camouflaging a bigger problem: cardiovascular disease.

You may think this disease only affects your heart, but vascular health affects blood flow throughout your body, and a healthy blood flow is the key to a healthy erection. Most doctors and researchers agree that the best way to improve your vascular health is with diet and exercise.

In fact, “a study looked specifically at impotence and healthful dietary changes and found that normal sexual function returned in almost one-third of the men who ate less saturated fat and cholesterol (both of which are abundant in animal products) and more fiber (only found in plant foods)….” In addition, “emerging research notes that processed meat products, such as hot dogs and bacon, lower sperm quantity and quality.” [source]

This means that curing your ED may be as simple as switching to a vegan diet that’s high in fiber without cholesterol! And if your little swimmers are drowning in the pool, it may help them, too!

Of course, you need to talk to your doctor about your vascular health and changing your diet before making the switch, but this could be a viable option for curing your ED and fertility issues, as well as improving your overall cardiovascular health.

Check out our Plant-based Recipes for some high fiber, NO cholesterol cooking ideas.