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My Road To A Vegan Diet – Part 1

Posted Feb 07 2012 10:04pm

I always considered myself a compassionate person.  One of my guiding values has always been taking of care of children, animals and the earth and  I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with children and animals.  But I still ate animals.

I never was fond of beef or lamb, so in my adult life I rarely ate beef and never ate lamb.  When I found out what veal is and how these calves are raised I stopped eating it – that was about 10 or 15 years ago.  In the last five years or so I tried to eat mainly organic poultry and eggs, thinking the animals were treated more kindly than those in the factory farms.  There were only certain kinds of fish I would eat – ones that I considered environmentally friendly based on my research from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

But when I ate out I didn’t have control of my food.  I didn’t know where it came from and what was in it.  About 10 years ago I attempted a vegan diet, but it didn’t last.  I thought it was too difficult, especially when eating out, and back then I ate out a lot.  So although I considered myself a compassionate person, I was still eating animals.  I was desensitized to what was on my plate, not thinking of the animal I was eating, just thinking it was food.

I had a very healthy diet, yet it included animal products.  I didn’t eat processed foods, but I did eat eggs, dairy, poultry and fish.  Then I was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s amazing what that can do to a person, and what it can do for a person.  I didn’t feel in control of the cells that were growing in my body, so I tried to control the things that I could, which included diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

As I mentioned before, I pulled out the book , because that was what I already owned.

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The first time I read this book I found myself discombobulated by all of the different foods that Dr. Pratt recommends we eat each day.  In the end I just made a list of the super foods, including but limited to:

  • spinach
  • walnuts
  • blueberries
  • wheat germ
  • halibut
  • pumpkin seeds
  • soy milk

Reading it a second time left me feeling the same way.  There is a ton of good information in this book, maybe too much.  It can be overwhelming.  I moved on to the next book – .

Dr. Servan-Schreiber was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 31.  I was saddened to learn that he died last summer, at the age of 50 after living almost 20 years with cancer.  First of all this book is inspiring; I found it an excellent book to read after a new diagnosis of cancer.  Reading his story and knowing he had felt the same things that I felt was comforting.  He does write about studies that have been done on animals, but admits there will always be controversy about this issue.

There is a chapter devoted to how to break the news to loved ones.  Another on factors that might explain the rising rates of cancer since 1940, including highly refined sugar in our diet, factory farming, and exposure to large numbers of chemicals.  He gradually introduces the idea that animal products may be best avoided, but never comes right out and says so.  There is a chapter about “anti-cancer” foods and supplements.

The last couple of chapters are devoted to the Mind-Body connection in which he covers the topics of stress, fear, helplessness, mindfulness, healing wounds from the past, dealing with death, and exercise.  Dr. Servan-Schreiber was a psychiatry professor and the combination of his profession and his own experience with cancer gives his writing a lot of credibility.

I had bought this book for my Kindle, and after my surgery a friend came to visit and brought me a gift – Anti Cancer in the hardcover version.  I prefer the hardcover, it’s much easier to flip back and forth through a real book than a Kindle version.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, and to anyone who would like to reduce their chances of getting cancer.

My reading was starting to plant a seed in my head, but I wasn’t thinking, “Oh I must be a vegan now.”  That came later.  But I was starting to become more informed and I started to do some thinking.

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