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7 Reasons Why I Choose to Live a Plant-Based Lifestyle

by Friday, December 29, 2017
  • MOTHER EARTH

    Traveling the world has been an eye-opening experience in more ways than one. I have seen the most majestic mountains, the deepest turquoise seas, amazingly lush jungles, and vast desert sands. However, I also have seen devastating oil spills, deforestation, air pollution and waste-filled cities in third world countries. When I see these things I can’t help but to feel sadness and shame on how we treat Mother Earth, and somewhat helpless on what I can do to make a difference in protecting this nurturing planet that Gaia provided for us. I decided to do some research on ways that I can help and what I discovered blew me away! I learned that raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. With our already over-populated planet and the growing demand for animal agriculture, I realized that I was part of the problem by the food I choose to put on my plate. If people decided to eat a plant-based diet, there would no longer be a need to destroy all of the land and harm the ozone layer from animal methane. thewanderlustyogi.net

    MY DOGS

    I love my dogs as if they are my children. I talk to them, I cuddle with them, and I even sleep with them sometimes.  I look into their eyes and I see a soul, a sentient being that craves love, feels physical pain, and experiences sadness and fear. And I wonder why so many people love their pets the same as I, but don’t see other animals the same way?

I was visiting Cuba last year and as I was walking down the streets of  Havana, enjoying my day, all of a sudden, I heard a screaming crying baby in dire pain.  I was so startled and was trying to figure out where the baby was and if it was okay. Then, in the corner of my eye I noticed that it wasn’t a baby, not a human one anyway, but it was a man carrying a baby lamb, ready to slaughter it.  It knew it was crying for its life.  It was screaming in fear.  I instantly bursted  into tears in the middle of a crowded park. I couldn’t believe that sound, and I couldn’t believe that we do this to living creatures because we can, not because we have to. I was devastated for the rest of the day.

Then, I had another experience like that (but even worse) a few weeks ago, I was in Cambodia in a van driving through rural towns near Phenom Penh and saw the most horrific thing. Our van stopped at a light and next to us was a truck full of live pigs.  They were all crying out, shaking and squealing, piled one on top of the other, being crushed to death. Their faces were so helpless and you could see that they were in sheer agony. But then, there was this one pig that I will never get out of my mind for as long as I live. This one was in the middle of the pile. He was shaking and his body was riddled with bruises, scrapes and sores.  One of his eyes was bleeding on to the pigs below him. We locked eyes. I felt like if he could talk he would say, “please help me!” It shook me to my core. I felt my chest tighten, my stomach churned and my eyes began to well up.  I wanted to jump out of the van and rescue them, but of course, I couldn’t do that.  That would be crazy! But what if these were puppies?  If these were puppies, not only myself, but I bet every single person on that van would be right behind me helping.  Why is that I ask myself? A French girl sitting next to me looked over and once she noticed what I was witnessing, she screamed out! Her partner shielded her eyes and protected her from the gory sight.  This is what we all do.  This is why we can’t watch the documentaries that try to spread this awareness to the world. We don’t want to know the evil we are part of.

Do we think that if we don’t see it, it’s not happening?

The rest of my six-hour van ride I was full of sadness and thoughts running through my mind.  Do lambs not have a soul? Do pigs not feel pain? Do chickens not hurt when their beaks are cut off? Does a mother cow not long for her calf taken away from her at birth? Do these animals not feel fear when they are going to slaughter? The answer is YES, they all do!

I know these are hard questions that nobody wants to admit are true.  But they are. Most people like to rationalize that this is just how it is, without considering what it takes to get that food on your plate. But just because its culturally accepted and you were conditioned to think that way, doesn’t make it right.  Slavery was accepted, was that right?  And if you love your dog or cat, would you consider eating them if it was acceptable? They do in some countries. Why do we protect some species, but not others?

And most recently, why do we care so much about the elephants, but not turkeys, fish, goats, rabbits, geese? It feels very hypocritical to me and I can’t come up with a justifiable reason. “Because they taste good” doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for murder.thewanderlustyogi.net

 

MY HEALTH

I have pretty unlucky genetics. I have cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and thyroid disease in my family.  Most, I suspect, is due from poor diet and lifestyle. I am 45 years old and am fortunate to be in good health at this current time, but my goal is to continue prevention of these diseases through diet and exercise, and abstaining for alcohol and tobacco. Medical studies have proven, while no cure has been set in stone for diseases such as cancer, diabetes or even obesity, you can see the benefits of a plant-based diet are far superior than any other diet. Because whole food sources of plants contain no cholesterol, no processed ingredients, and no detrimental animal protein, they support the body on every single level. And I know what you will say next, “but where do you get your protein from?” You get it from soybeans, edamame, lentils, broccoli, peas, asparagus, kale, pumpkin seeds, spinach, sprouts, mushrooms, artichokes, nuts, tofu, temphe, seitan, quinoa, chick peas and so many more.  That rationale is a myth and just an excuse to eat meat. And guess what? The animals that you think you need to eat to get protein from, get their protein from plants! I didn’t even mention the disgusting conditions that these animals are kept in.  That’s a whole other topic! Many have infections and literal puss and cancer being cut off and removed before packaging. Yum!
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ACTIVISM

I have always voted, ever since I was 18 years old, but it wasn’t until this last election, that I became heavily involved in activism on a whole. You may wonder what this has to do with choosing a plant-based diet? There are a number of reasons, but this was the most impactful reason why I made the connection to going vegan. I found myself going green in more ways than one.  I learned about the Dakota Access Pipeline and how horrible it was for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and their people. Not only was the government illegally trying to take away their rightfully owned land, but the oil spills caused by the pipeline has contaminated their drinking water and destroying the Earth. How can I march in protest for protecting this land, when I’m contributing to destroying land somewhere else from animal agriculture for the meat I’m eating that day. It made no sense. One activist said, “You can’t call yourself an environmentalist if you aren’t vegan.” and in that one sentence I knew she was absolutely right! Another reason was because I think one of the main goals in activism is giving a voice to the voiceless. I want to be on the right side of history when it comes to the environment and the animal rights. There is no reason that we have to contribute to destroying either and those who understand this need to speak this truth, even if they are standing alone. thewanderlustyogi.net

SPIRITUALISM

In 2012 I had what some would call a spiritual awakening. My entire life shifted.  I knew that something inside me had changed forever and ever since then I have been on this path. It was the most life-changing experience I have ever had and though it has given me profound joy and improved, literally, every aspect of my life, the journey wasn’t easy, and still isn’t.  Through the years I found myself being guided to completely stripping away my old self and transforming into my new self.  This was hard to let go of an old identity that I once knew, but I realized that this was what I needed to do to help me through this process.  I was so grateful for the love and support of my husband and as I evolved and changed, he did too.  Lucky for us that we changed together, because more often than not, when things like this happen it makes couples grow apart.  I can’t really compact the last five years of my transformation in a paragraph, but I will say that going plant-based is just one of my shifts in consciousness.

 I meditate frequently. I try to every day.  And in one of my deep meditations I came out of with the words, ” there is no path to enlightenment while contributing to the suffering of living beings.”  This to me, was my Higher Self telling me what I already knew inside my heart. I have my karma to live with and I know that killing is wrong. If I wanted to continue to work towards becoming a spiritually enlightened being in this lifetime or the next, I could only truly do that by not eating animals any longer, (as well as numerous other life adjustments I’m working on).  Just because I don’t kill my food by myself, I, in some regards hire a hit man to do my dirty work.  Its simply unethical when comes right down to it.

In all religions and faiths one of the golden rules is DO NOT KILL.

Ahimsa definition: “do Non-harmfulness (harmlessness). To not wish harm to any living creature — not even to any lifeless object. Ahimsa is about the intent, rather than the action itself. It is an attitude of universal benevolence.”

If  you are Christian, the Bible talks a lot about this subject. (Check out this video)

 

So, I’m wondering why do people who follow the teachings of the Bible break this rule, more than willingly, and with no remorse or guilt at all on a constant basis ?(some I know even gloat about it to me and mock me for my beliefs). This is in their rule book, not mine!

I know most are very good and compassionate people who have been conditioned to think that this is okay.  All people have been. Its never actually dawned on most I’m sure. But maybe, just maybe with more people sharing this information, it could be a new way of thinking; for Christians, for Jews, for Buddhists, for Muslims, for atheists, for ALL people?

I’m not even Christian, but I think the Bible is a wonderful tool for people to live by. Do people think the rule “do not kill”  meant, do not kill, well except if it’s a tasty animal? It really is an odd thing to me when I sit and contemplate about it. And btw, Daniel was the man!

I don’t practice or follow any dogmatic religion per say, I am more of a spiritual person than religious one, I do however, think all people should live by these rules. It’s what being a compassionate human being is all about. Here is a link to many more Biblical scriptures on the subject:Bible verses about vegetarianism

 

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FEMINISM

This is another one that might make people wonder how there possibly can be a connection to eating plant-based and feminism. Well, let me explain. If you don’t already know, I’ll fill you in on how we get our milk, cheese and all dairy products-cows that just gave birth. Now that is pretty obvious, I know, but were you aware that these cows are actually being raped by the farmers, getting artificially inseminated, and their babies are instantly stolen away from them the moment they give birth? The babies born aren’t allowed to bond with their mother or drink its own mother’s milk.  If you watch any of these videos, you will see the mother cow anxiously trying to get to her calf. It is gut wrenching to see.  So, not only is the female cow raped, then its newborn is taken away at birth, most have to experience these assaults over and over again until they are too old to produce milk. A lifetime of rape and torture for us to have milk, yogurt and cheese.  In addition to the cruelty of these actions, many have puss-filled and painful inflamed mammary glands(mastitis), due to the horrible conditions of factory farming.

Furthermore, the sadness continues onto their babies. If their baby is a male, they are slaughtered after 18 weeks for veal. If it is a female, they look forward to the same atrocious life as their mom had.

These cows are also genetically altered to be able to produce more milk, pumped with antibiotics and hormones.  Also note, that another myth that has been debunked is the flawed belief that milk is good for your bones. This is untrue. Milk actually depletes the calcium from your bones and can cause osteoporosis! Cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infant and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.

As a female I could not ever imagine that type of emotional and physical trauma. Learning this made me realize that when I was a vegetarian, thinking that I wasn’t harming animals by eating dairy products, that I was so wrong. I was still harming animals in more ways than one.  thewanderlustyogi.net

IT FEELS AMAZING!

Living a plant-based lifestyle for moral, environmental, health, spiritual and ethical reasons is great, but what is even better is how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. My husband and I both have more energy than we did before living this lifestyle.  We also have lost 10+ pounds each, without even meaning to.  We discuss how we sleep better, feel lighter, never weighed down from heavy fats and meats, and our regularity is something that we never thought would be talking about until we were in our old age. 😉 It’s such an amazing feeling knowing that we are nurturing our bodies by fueling it with plant-based nutrients, healthy proteins, fiber-rich carbohydrates and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats(the good kind).

It also tastes so good!  These days with companies like Beyond Meat, Gardein, Daiya, Tofutti, just to name a few, it’s so much easier to find protein substitutes and the plethora of nut milks, cheeses and yogurts is really impressive.  Before these items were either unavailable or tasted terrible. Now, they are getting better every year and even meat industries are investing in these companies because they see its growth in popularity too. Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in Beyond Meat with his interest in fighting climate change. Man do I love that guy! And Whole Foods isn’t the only place you will find these yummy foods either.  I have found these products in my regular local grocery store, Target and even Walmart!

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And its fun! My husband and I have made it a hobby to “vegan-ize” meals we usually eat. We still eat spaghetti and meatballs, chili, fish tacos, burrito bowls, sushi, mandarin chicken, burgers, and the list goes on! Besides that, we also love finding new delicious recipes. Our favorite goto vegan recipe blog currently is The Minimalist Baker.  She has the most flavorful recipes that only use minimal ingredients so its super easy as well!

After a day’s worth of cruelty-free eating, I can’t help but feel good in my soul too. Just knowing I didn’t contribute to this kind of suffering one more day is like a karmic cleansing for past regret.  I am now more mindful of everything I put into my body.  I hear it even helps you stay youthful, which wouldn’t be a bad side-effect either.  The whole process of transforming to this lifestyle has been extremely empowering.  I feel like I am living as a more compassionate, empathetic, globally conscience citizen and I’d love to see more people join me!

“The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Gandhi

thewanderlustyogi.net

Would you ever consider living a plant-based/vegan lifestyle? If so, contact me! I’d love to talk to you about this and give you tips I’ve learned to help you transition. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Namaste!

For more information on the subject:

http://thegreenplate.com/blog/here-are-8-of-the-most-vegan-movies-on-netflix/

https://www.peta.org/

http://mercyforanimals.org

https://minimalistbaker.com/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/

http://ohsheglows.com/

https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/

 

 

Koh Rong, Cambodia: An Island Village with Heart

by Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I sit on the porch of my rustic bungalow, feeling the warm ocean breeze against my sun-kissed skin; I hear seashell chimes singing its familiar tune and children at play in the background.  I’m on a tiny island off the southern coast of Cambodia, where time isn’t of anyone’s concern.thewanderlustyogi.net

Koh Rong, Cambodia is an island village with heart. It is small ocean side village with the kindest people you could ever meet. Although its population is around 200 and a very close net community, they welcome foreigners with opens arms and enormous smiles.

I came here on a last-minute decision to visit my daughter who is currently living here.  She is a team leader for volunteers working for a non-profit organization called Reach Out Volunteers She has been here a month, and will be here for another six weeks.

thewanderlustyogi.net

my little island girl!

Since she won’t be coming home for the holidays, I wanted to bring her a little holiday cheer, and with me, love and hugs from everyone back at home who will be missing her this year.

thewanderlustyogi.net

I’m just a little bit excited to see my daughter! 😉

The project her team is working on at the moment, is building an artificial coral reef to place into the ocean, aiding in marine conservation.  The volunteers work on their land project in the hot blistering sun, mixing cement and pouring it into molds. If they haven’t already been scuba diving certified, they study and earn their PADI scuba certification to later scuba dive “with a purpose” by diving with the cement bricks under the sea, to the area where the artificial reef is being built.  Reach Out Volunteers have already placed 500 artificial coral reef blocks into the ocean since the start of this program.

thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net

https://www.facebook.com/namastemumma/videos/10157009157349126/

I feel quite guilty, as I can view them working from this very porch I sit.  My days consist of sunrise gazing, reading, swimming in the ocean, taking leisurely walks along the shore, ocean hut “vegan” dining and afternoon naps. However, the volunteers don’t seem to mind at all, and watching them makes me feel very proud of them for what they are doing. I’m their official cheerleader for the week.thewanderlustyogi.net

They are a small group this time, probably due to the holidays, only five, (usually being triple that number) but the group is happy with the size and has already become a little family. I have been even fortunate enough to get to know each of them myself.

thewanderlustyogi.net

Reach Out Volunteers- Cambodia! (Sophie, Jess, Kelly, Magnus, Jess, Maddie)

There is Magnus from Norway who is a big teddy bear.  He made it a point for me to join them one night to play a game of trivia. The random facts stored in his head is unreal! I think that’s why he wanted me to play? To show me his skills.  And yes, I was quite impressed! I call him a walking Wikipedia and this gift of his is great for him, since he is in college studying education to become a teacher. He also loves Oreo cookies more than anyone I have ever met.

Then there is sweet Jess from Australia. She is the youngest of the bunch, only 17, but very mature and has a heart of gold. She reminds me a lot of my daughter.  She loves to surf and anything to do with the ocean and is planning on becoming a sports physical therapist. I also learned her love for chocolate. She always gets her chocolate shake before bed, which is as sweet as she is. We shared a sunrise together talking about her future goals and I see her going very far in life.

Next, we have another “Jess” and Kelly. A young couple from Australia as well. Jess is already scuba certified and loved it so much that she wanted to go for the next level of certification and brought Kelly along to so he could get certified also, while they give back to the world together. I haven’t gotten to know them too well, but they are very nice and taught me about a famous Australian sweet called Lamingtons, which sounds totally delicious. I wonder if they sell it on Amazon?

Last, but not least, there is Sophie. Yet another Australian volunteer.  She is always happy and smiling no matter what. Her upbeat attitude is contagious and her smile makes everyone around her feel happy. She loves movies and music and is studying to become a psychologist, which seems to be the perfect fit for her, since she is so approachable and accepting of others. I’m positive she will help many people throughout her career. She also taught me the correct way to eat Vegemite; on toast with butter or crackers, but a very thin layer. I’m still not sure if I will ever like the stuff, but I’ll try it again just to give it another chance.

I’m so glad that I got to come here to Koh Rong, to see my daughter working on this beautiful island with these beautiful people. It is something that I will forever cherish. Before, I could only imagine in my mind what the location was like, what the project was all about and who she would be working with. And now, I know!thewanderlustyogi.net

Although I couldn’t spend a lot of time with her, I loved our morning sunrise ritual together before the volunteers would wake up, talking about the day upon us and getting morning kisses from the hotel family’s puppy Joop Joop. I looked forward to her frequent stop-bys with updates of what they were up to next. I also enjoyed a few nights hanging out playing games or watching movies with these wonderful kids, who gave a few weeks of their lives to give selfless-service, in helping to save the oceans.

I even had the honor of teaching them a sunrise yoga class on the beach, along with the island dogs, and it was pure magic!thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net

I cannot put into words how proud I am of my daughter. She is fearless, determined and passionate and touches every soul she meets. Watching her lead and making connections with people from all over the world is the best Christmas gift I could ever wish for.  My heart is overflowing with pride, joy and gratitude.

thewanderlustyogi.net

morning sunrise ritual with Maddie

In these times of sadness, devastation and constant turmoil, a week witnessing the younger generation giving back, gives me hope that they are the change that we wish to see in this world. The future looks bright and they are the light!

Namaste!

thewanderlustyogi.net

 

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