Why vegan, how vegan and why why why on earth vegan? Why not settle for vegetarian?
Why vegan – well, we haven’t always been vegans, just like we haven’t always been minimalists or full time travelers.
It all began late 2014 when our oldest daughter Isabella turned 5 and we had to face inscribing her to the nearby public school, where she was destined to start August 2015. She was and had always been a very shy and quiet girl, almost invisible when together with others. When she was a baby, she would not let anyone else than me or Tina carry her and outside our home she would scream if a stranger as much as looked at her 🙁
We knew in our hearts, that the chance of success and happiness for her in a classroom together with 29 other screaming attention seeking kids was minuscule at best and we started looking for alternatives.
Tina read about a homeschooling family, and it turned out that it was actually legal to home school in Denmark. Legal by law, but almost unheard off in public. Only about 1 out of every 1800 kids in Denmark are home schooled, and as it turned out, most people would judge us as bad parents, gambling with the social evolvement of our girls. For more on this, read our post about worldschooling.
Vegan Family by choice
It turned out to be an eyeopener for us in many ways. We changed our lives. I (Daddy) quit my job as a school teacher and started building up a new income by opening an online store, selling a pizza stone made of steel, so that I eventually would be able to spend more time with my wife and children.
..and because we began thinking more about our lives – what we did with our lives and how we lived our lives – things started to change!
One day Tina admitted that she had always wanted to become a vegetarian, because she loved animals.
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I had always loved a big steak, cheese, yogurt and milk – so I started to read scientific books and studies about the benefits of these animal proteins as a means to convincing her that it would be a bad idea to become vegetarians.
But, much to my surprise, almost all the real scientific evidence (studies not funded by the meat or diary industry), pointed towards a plant based diet as the best way to live a long, healthy life?
After reading for a while, and accepting defeat, I told her about my findings, and we decided to give it a try. Within one year, we had started homeschooling our kids, quit jobs, established a company, turned vegetarians.. and now VEGAN!
We just couldn’t help it. When you allow yourself to listen to your heart and find out that something is wrong. Doing something about it isn’t a choice anymore. Its a necessity or you will loose your self respect. Take a look at our favorite vegan YouTube channels here.
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You will meet people who don’t understand your choice. Some people will try to accept it and some will cut you out of their lives. This could happen with both friends and family, but you will also find a lot of new friends. A community of love and respect for life :-). Just as other people ask you “Why vegan”, you will start to wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t feel the need to share this feeling of love, improved health and respect for other beings. The question has transformed itself into “Why NOT vegan?”.
If you are interested in learning more about what helped inspire us to change our lives, you should watch these movies:
- Cowspiracy (available on Netflix)
- Forks over knives (available on Netflix)
- Earthlings (available on Netflix)
- Speciesism (available on Netflix)
But again.. why VEGAN?
Vegan for health reasons
Why vegan? Why not vegetarian? For me (daddy), it didn’t make any sense to avoid meat while at the same time continue to fill our bodies and the bodies of our children with milk protein, which countless studies had shown to cause cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular deceases etc. So, for me it was (initially) a logical choice based on science. Logically it made sense too. A cow will only drink milk while it has the need to grow fast. As soon as it is strong enough to outrun a lion, it will turn to a plant based diet for the rest of its life. The same is the case for all mammals. The only exception is Homo Sapiens – Human Beings like you and me, drinking mother milk while we are babies and then turning to cow milk (milk, yogurt, cheese etc.) for the rest of our lives. In a way we try to boost our body with something that is created by nature to make us grow faster and stronger. There is a reason why no other animals do this. Growing fast and strong comes with a price. Just imagine driving your car at full speed all the time with no time to rest or no time to see a mechanic. It will do fine for a while, but eventually it will break down. Not lasting as long as it was supposed to. The same happens with the human body.
So, let the calf have its milk, and live a longer healthier life yourself :-).
(Of course this is a very simplified explanation, and I really think you should read serious studies about the subject. The (at times boring) China study would be a good place to start.)
And no, living on a Vegan diet doesn’t automatically mean you are healthy. If you base your vegan diet on french fries, vegan ice cream and vegan cakes etc, you would end up very unhealthy. A vegan plant based diet, based on a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit will on the other hand help you live a healthy and happy life.
Vegan out of love and respect for animals
For Tina it was all about the animals. What good did it do a cow, not being killed for beef, if we continued to drink its milk? A cow won’t produce any milk unless it is impregnated and gets a calf. So the dairy industry impregnates her, lets her give birth to a calf, and then separates mother and calf after birth, resulting in both of them screaming, sometimes for days, because of their loss and desire to be together. She will then give milk until she dries out, whereafter she gets impregnated again, gets separated from her calf and cries out in agony. Again and again, until she at a (for a cow) young age is turned into chopped beef because she is worn out mentally destroyed. This normally happens after 5 years. In nature she would have lived up to 25 years.. sometimes even longer. If you compare that to a human life of 90 years, the equivalent would be impregnating as soon as her body was ready, then repeatedly impregnate her and steal her children, until she at age 18 would be mentally destroyed and her body exhausted. I couldn’t possibly disagree with Tina on this :-(.
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The main difference between vegans and vegetarians, is that vegetarians will/can eat or use any product, as long as an animal isn’t killed in the process of creating the end product. The animal may live a life in a cell, never see a green pasture or die a few days later as a consequence of the process. As long as the process of producing the product doesn’t result in immediate death for the animal, the product can be included in a vegetarian diet.
Vegans on the other hand will not eat or use anything where the use of an animal, be it mammals, fish, insects or birds is part of the process of creating the product. This includes wool (use of a sheep), egs or part of an egg from any animal, milk/milk powder/milk protein/cheese/yogurt and other dairy products, any meat or anything coming from any mammal, fish, insect or bird, honey or beeswax (taken from bees) and everything else where the use of an animal is required, fx “tested on animals” is a no go.
So in short: If an animal or part of an animal was involved in creating the product – it will not have a place in our lives.
Vegans also won’t go to the zoo, attend a circus where animals are part of the show, ride an elephant on vacation etc.
We don’t use the phrase: “animal welfare“, since it is invented by the meat industry to give the consumer a clean conciseness. We don’t think a life of imprisonment or a life as slaves should be described as welfare just because the food is a little better or the prison a little larger.
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What gives us the right to shorten the lives of other beings and then feel good about it by using words like “Animal Welfare” and “Organic Meat”?
Pigs: Are slaughtered at 6 months young; Natural life span would have been 6 to 10 years
Chickens: Slaughtered at 6 weeks young; Natural life span would have been 5 to 8 years for those birds bred as “egg layers” such as Rhode Island Reds; 1 to 4 years for factory layer breeds such as leghorns; and 1 to 3 years for “meat” breeds.
Turkeys: Slaughtered at 5 to 6 months young; Natural life span would have been 2 to 6 years
Ducks/Geese: Slaughtered at 7 to 8 weeks young; Natural life span would have been domestic ducks: 6 to 8 years; geese from 8 to 15 years.
Cattle: “Beef” cattle slaughtered at 18 months young; Natural life span would have been 18 to 25+ years
Dairy cows: Slaughtered/worn out at 4 to 5 years young; Natural life span would have been 18 to 25+ years
Veal Calves: Slaughtered at 16 weeks young; Natural life span would have been 18 to 25+ years
Goats: Slaughtered at 3 to 5 months young; Natural life span would have been 12 to 14 years
Rabbits: Slaughtered at 10 to 12 weeks young; Natural life span would have been 8 to 12+ years
Lambs: Slaughtered at 6 to 8 weeks young for “young lamb” and under 1 year for all other; Natural life span would have been 12 to 14 years
Vegan for our planet?
Well, this is highly debated. Producing meat requires large amounts of water. A lot more than producing lets say carrots and potatoes. But, what about producing an avocado in a dry area in Peru? This could take up a lot of water too, and then comes the transport to Europe or The US?
Our view on this, is to try to use locally grown vegetables and fruit. Organic if available, and then from time to time treat ourselves with imported fruits or vegetables. But, most of it should be locally grown, organic and sustainable.
Vegans don’t get enough protein or B12!
Wrong! Plant based protein is powerful – Just ask an Elephant, a Gorilla, a Rhino, a Bull or a horse :-).
You don’t have to eat meat to be strong. And I don’t feel like a lesser man after I switched to a plant based diet. On the contrary – I have never been so healthy or had less sick days than I have had the last few years.
True, we as a family need to eat a varied diet. We can’t survive on potatoes or carrots alone. But if we mix our intake of vegetables, and take a vitamin B12 from time to time, we won’t have to worry about our diet.
One thing we certainly don’t worry about is our protein intake. Studies have shown that we don’t really need as much protein as we are told, and since plant based protein is digested more natural by our bodies compared to protein coming from animals, we don’t need as much as we did before.
Protein works as a booster for our bodies. Too much protein and our system runs on max capacity full time. Great if you want to lift weights or perform at the Olympics, but bad if you are planning on depending on your body for many years to come. Again, don’t take my word for it. Read “The China Study” and let the numbers convince you.
But a vegan diet is so..
..exciting, adventurous, healthy, cheap?
I know, most people think its dull, boring and limited. It doesn’t have to be.
The picture below explains it better than I would be able to. Being vegan can be a challenge. Especially if you travel like we do, but we have managed until now, and I’m sure we will continue to do so.
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We didn’t decide to become vegans because some famous person told us to, but sometimes it just helps to know that you are not alone out there 🙂
So, here is a list of famous vegans:
Myley Cyrus, Woody Harrelson, Joaquin Phoenix, Ellen DeGeneres, Casey Affleck, Ariana Grande, Moby, Morrissey, Alicia Silverstone, Sia, Stevie Wonder, James Cromwell (turned vegetarian and later vegan after playing the farmer in the movie “Babe” about a pig that wants to be a sheep pig), Jessica Chastain, Ellen Page, Liam Hemsworth, Peter Dinklage, James Cameron, Pamela Anderson, Al Gore and many more :-).
Vegan family goals..
We are just a few years into our vegan journey, and still consider ourselves to be vegan infants :-).
We really want to eat more raw food, since we know that it would be good for us. Hopefully in a few years, a considerable part of our diet will be enjoyed raw. I don’t know if we will ever go 100% raw. Right now it feels unlikely, but if you had asked me a few years ago whether we would become vegans, I would have called you a fool. ..so I will leave it with that and see what the future has in store for us :-).