Our goal for 2016 is to achieve more balance in our lives. Balance, to us, is all about maintaining an even keel – equal parts work and rest, input and output, doing and thinking, science and art – to support steady, continual growth and progress. Who knows what 2016 will bring, but it feels like balance can help us accomplish more, become better versions of ourselves, and stress less.
This balance thing might seem weird coming from people who’ve taken such a seemingly unbalanced stance on food. The binary nature of a plant-based diet – you’re either vegan or you’re not – can be hard to fathom in the culture we live in, where vegans represent a measly 1% of the population. As Graham Hill says, most Americans can’t imagine having their last hamburger. And yet, that’s exactly what we’ve done. My last beef burger went down the hatch sometime around 2011… Kayli’s even earlier.
So what gives? Are we, the vegan 1%, the unbalanced extremists or, perhaps, is our meat-eating, chronic-disease-having culture the extreme one?
To Kayli and I (and many other plant eaters), taking this stand doesn’t feel extreme or imbalanced whatsoever. Now that we’ve arrived at this point, we actually can’t imagine our lives without taking this stand.
Here’s why a plant-based diet makes us feel the most balanced:
It’s grounded in scientific research
When Kayli translates the research, she tells me this: each bite we take is either helpful or hurtful. Our rates of disease (whether we’re talking heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer’s) are directly correlated to the hurtful bites. Yes, helpful bites decrease risk, but consider this: why do we need to take the hurtful bites at all?
The best place to learn the science? Try our FAQ page, or our favorite site, nutritionfacts.org. Are you a bookworm like me? Check out How Not to Die. Seriously, do it! Got Netflix? Go watch Forks Over Knives and then Cowspiracy. Go.
We got here one step at a time
Our 5+ year journey towards whole-food plant-based was taken one step at time, starting with a simple thought: “I think we should eat healthier”. Each time we dropped an animal food off the grocery list, it was hard at first but ultimately we decided we didn’t need it anymore. First it was red meat, then processed deli meat, then cow’s milk, then chicken (tough one!), then fish. In the past year, we’ve dropped off eggs, the occasional cheese, and even oil. Each step was a mini experiment, followed by some adjustment, and then it became our new normal. I can’t think of a more balanced, sustainable approach to improving your diet.
We find our meat-obsessed culture quite extreme
Let’s flip this question on its head! When you think about it, some of the stuff we do in the name of MEAT is a little over the top. Consider these perspectives:
Some people think the WFPB diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.
– Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I’ve discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory– disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals