The Beginner's Guide to Natural Living
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Vegetarian and Vegan Food
Ultimate Health Food for a Healthy Diet

A vegetarian shuns eating meat and fish, but will eat eggs and dairy. A vegan vegetarian (pronounced “vee-gan”) avoids eating all animal or dairy products.

I've been vegetarian since 1990, and adopting a vegetarian diet is probably one of the best things I've ever done. Twenty one years later I still enjoy the vegetarian lifestyle, including the great health. Most people still think I'm in my thirties, when in fact (at this writing) I'm forty six years old. Across the board, when I see people who have been vegan or vegetarian for a long time and they are older, they look much younger than their peers. Going vegetarian is what made me get into natural health topics, and I still believe it is one of the very best things anyone can do to improve their health.

I've interviewed a lot of vegetarians for my YouTube channel, and below are the transcripts from those interviews. I went vegan after reading Diet For A New America by John Robbins, and different people have different reasons for adopting a vegetarian, or vegan diet. And in almost all cases, they'll tell you it is one of the best lifestyle changes they've made. So I encourage you to read through what other vegetarians have to say about what made them start a plant based diet, how they get their protein, what they do for meals at home, and what they say to their meat eating friends. Eating vegetarian is healthy, and wholesome, and compassionate. I can't recommend it enough. If you want to learn more about how to eat a vegetarian diet and be healthy, please read my healthy eating page.

Anjee for Health Reasons
I’m 55 years old. I’ve been a vegan for eight years. I was a vegetarian except for seafood for several years before that, and the way I found my way toward veganism was through health reasons. I was having very chronic health issues: some yeast, some Candida, some other chronic issues, consulted a kinesiologist, and he specifically had me cut out most dairy, most animal products. I was still eating seafood. I felt better within three months—my health was tremendously improved and stayed improved. The reason I actually finally went completely vegan and adopted an entire vegan lifestyle was that I was on a retreat, and I was at a meditation center, and I was on a quiet moment observing in nature, and I was watching some wild turkeys.

And they were playing together—and they were like a family, and I could see personality, I could see playfulness, I could see siblings, I could see parent-child, I could see reactiveness and anger and closeness and tenderness. And in that moment I realized and knew that I would never eat any life form other than plant life again.

Well, the way I get my vegetarian protein is that I eat a lot of seasoned nuts, avocados, beans. I don’t seem to have any problem whatsoever getting my vegetarian protein needs met. Oh, my health is excellent. I’m in great shape—people are often surprised at my age. I’m very lively and I have a lot of energy, and I’m a real go-getter, and I hike and I travel. My energy’s great.

When I go to a restaurant that serves meat, I definitely ask a lot of questions. I often just ask them right out front: “I’m a vegan. What would you suggest for me?” And many times they will say, “Well, we’ll have our chef make something special for you.” It actually happens more and more often. When I’m making my own meals at home, I do a lot of sautéed vegetables; I do some quinoa because quinoa is an extremely high-protein grain. If I want to add some zip and some flavor to it, I might make it a curry flavor, or some coconut milk, something to add a little bit more interesting flavor to it. Being vegan is completely right for me because I really do believe that my goal in life is to live a life that’s for the good of all and the harm of none. Watch her video.


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Oscar Higuera: Weight Loss by Eating A Vegetarian Diet
I’m 27 years old. I’ve been vegetarian for three-and-a-half years, and I was always curious about the roommates that I had in high school and in college. They were vegetarian and I was always pretty interested about what they ate, what their reasons for being vegetarian were, and it wasn’t until after a trip to Mexico that I took three-and-a-half years ago, that I saw the ranch people kill four large pigs. And it was just pretty brutal and I wasn’t able to eat meat then, so when I got back to the U.S., I decided to just go ahead and not continue eating meat, and I haven’t done so for any kind of meat whatsoever for three-and-a-half years. For these three-and-a-half years that I’ve been vegetarian, I have noticed a substantial health improvement:

Mentally, I’m able to concentrate a lot better, and I know that because I was a student before I became vegetarian, and I’m a student now, so I definitely noticed the amount of energy that I have to study more. I’ve lost a substantial amount of weight. I have more energy; I feel better; I’m able to wake up easier, and I have actually better sleep.

Eating vegetarian is right for me because it reflects my lifestyle, the person that I am. It kind of reinforces my ideas about life and every animal species on the planet. I respect life in its entirety. I believe every living thing should have its own autonomy and to its lifespan and to the quality of life that it has. Physically, I appreciate it and I see the difference. I’d just like to say that being vegetarian has changed my life in ways that I never imagined, and I’m really happy that I made that decision for me. Watch his video.

Alina: Vegetarian Food For High Energy and Health
My name is Alina. I am twenty-eight and I’ve been vegetarian for twenty-eight years. I became vegetarian because my parents were vegetarian—they’ve brought me along for the ride. I never craved meat as a child. I was never very curious about how it would taste, but we used to joke around about how I was allowed to order meat at restaurants if I wanted. I always went with the veggie option, though. I’m very healthy—I’ve never had a weight problem; doctors are often surprised about how quickly and easily I recover from illness or injury. I have a really high energy level: I teach very young children, and parents are amazed at how easy it is for me to keep up with their kids.

I get my protein from nuts, from beans and rice, tofu, dairy products, whole grains and greens. I was a high school athlete and always had a variety of proteins to choose from. I never had a problem with energy or strength—I still don’t. I’m still athletic and I’m still going strong. I love to eat, and I love to go to the grocery store and bring home all the delicious food to cook. I make things like oatmeal and whole-grain pancakes for breakfast; I make things like falafel sandwiches for lunch. For dinner I’ll make hummus and spinach pies, black beans and rice, scrambled tofu. The hardest part about being vegetarian is deciding what delicious food to eat. You know, I’ve tried meat and I found it bland and uninteresting. They say that vegetarians have more sensitive palates, and I agree. Being vegetarian is right for me because it works. Why should I change it? I’m healthy and I’m happy, and I intend to stay that way. Watch her video.

Sarah Kellet: Depression Gone After Going Vegetarian
I’m 32, I’ve been vegetarian for almost ten years now, and why I went vegetarian is actually a really long story. It started when I was in seventh grade and I did a project about animal experimentation, and realized what we were doing with animals is definitely not for the greatest good. However, there was a part of me that still believed that we needed meat because of my upbringing. And so I went for another, maybe about twelve years after that continuing to eat meat with the—with the understanding that I had that maybe it was part of the food chain, et cetera. Years later I realized I was feeling terrible: I was in the modeling industry and I was on Atkins diet, which is pretty much nothing but meat, and I was pretty depressed and having to use a lot of makeup in order to have color. And I decided that I really wanted to do it in a better way.

I started looking up in nutrition books—I read Fit for Life, and his advice was to just cut back on the meat, to have it once every other day, and what I realized was the less that I had, the less I wanted. And over time I realized that I was feeling much better as well. So that was inspiring. One day came up and I picked up a barbecued piece of chicken from Whole Foods, which I was about to eat, and at that point I was only eating free-range, organic chicken and I had been doing that for about a year, and I realized—I just looked at it, and all of a sudden it was just not looking like food to me. It just looked repulsive. It looked like a bird’s leg, and I just threw it out, and three weeks later was thanksgiving, and I took one bit of turkey just to make sure, and I realized that it was just over for me.

Since I became vegetarian, my health has soared. I had depression problems at one time—I no longer. My eyes actually became brighter. My skin responds to the sun much, much better. There was a combination of things—I wasn’t just vegetarian at this point because I stopped eating milk and cheese before I stopped eating meat, so I was not just vegetarian; I was vegan and eating predominantly raw foods. And between all of these things, the skin, the elasticity of my skin, the energy levels in my body just—it was an unbelievable difference. And I had motivation levels that I never had before, and I could think clearly in ways that I never could before. And it’s just been unbelievable—I’ve never even thought about going back to eating meat—it doesn’t even look like food to me anymore—and I still am boggled by how and why we do it as a society.

I get my protein from a variety of sources. My favorite place is avocados and it does have a great source of natural protein. There are organic dark green leafy vegetables that are very high in protein. There’s sprouts. There’s legumes, nuts, seeds, and of course all of this I eat raw. There is also spirulina, which I supplement sometimes, and different algaes. And that’s pretty much—oh, coconuts—that’s pretty much it for the most part.

I’m much stronger than the average female, and the reason why is because the protein is actually more absorbable into the system, so it may be less in quantity but what your body can actually use is far more when you’re dealing with a vegetarian diet. Being vegetarian is right for me because it makes me feel great. It makes me excel having high energy levels, and it also makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing in my life. Watch her video.

Vanessa Meier is Vegetarian for Moral Reasons
I am almost 31 years old. I went vegan almost thirteen years ago—this summer will be thirteen years—and I was vegetarian first, about six years before that. So I actually went vegetarian when I was 12, and it was—then it was all about the animals. I had animals in my backyard and I put it together from the start, and then when I transitioned from vegan it was about me learning that there were other options—oh my gosh, there’s soy ice cream, and there’s soy milk, and there’s rice milk, and as soon as I realized there were other options, the other products went out. Well, one of the reasons that I am vegan is for the environmental reasons. And, you know, we take a huge amount of food in the form of grain—we take a ton of water, and we feed it to animals to make a really tiny amount of food called meat.

And it just doesn’t make any sense—I mean, they say it take about 12 pounds of grain to make just one pound of beef, and 2500 gallons of water—I mean, that’s insane. And the energy output that it takes, and—I mean the number-one source of water pollution now, it seems to be coming from factory farms.

You know, I still go for my yearly checkup with my doctor every year and my doctor always tells me that I’m the theoretical “perfect” that she reads about in her textbook that doesn’t actually exist. When it comes to cholesterol, my number’s ideal and she’s never seen that before. When it comes to my iron, I’m always at the dead center of the perfect level. And so, you know, my doctor every year that I’m her healthiest patient, so I’d like to believe her.

You know, when I go to a restaurant that’s not vegetarian, usually I’ll ask the server—you know, what do you guys do for vegetarians or vegans? Because chances are they’ve come across it, they know exactly what the restaurant can do that’s delicious and amazing and that the chef’s willing to do. And, you know, in the beginning I went through this stage where I almost felt apologetic about it—“Oh, I’m so sorry I don’t want to be difficult, but you know, could you tell me what you do that’s vegetarian?” But it turns out that they don’t care—they know—most restaurants know exactly what they’re going to make that’s vegan, and they get it—they understand. And so I just ask the server right off the bat, and they always give me great suggestions, and it’s usually more than just one option—I usually have a decision to make. So I think it’s pretty easy.

Honestly, I don’t get any peer pressure from meat-eating friends. Usually they’re asking me ways to start introducing plant-based foods into their diet. They’re asking me, you know, “What’s this tempeh thing and how do you cook it?” I have people over for dinner a lot and I have potlucks, and the non-vegetarians—you know, they discover things like quinoa, and it’s—“What’s this thing you put in your salad?” and they just want to learn how to make it, so I don’t get peer pressure from other people at all—you know, I don’t put the pressure on. I just live a really positive example and I enjoy food and I enjoy life, and I think people see that and start asking me questions about what I’m eating.

Well, I cook every night. I love to cook, and generally, I cook a lot of, you know, whole organic food. I do cook a lot of grains. I love brown rice. I make beans regularly. I love tempeh—I cook a lot of tempeh. A day is not complete without kale in my house—raw kale, sautéed kale, steamed kale—any way you make kale, I love it. And I think that kind of sounds maybe boring to some meat-eaters, but I also will make, you know, vegan version of tempeh sloppy joes, and I’ll make enchiladas with potato and kale, and I’ll make pizza all the time. You can make just about everything vegan, and I do, but for my own health I like to stick to something that actually grew out of the ground and hasn’t been processed.

I get my protein from just about everything I eat. When you eat whole foods, whole beans, whole grains—it’s all filled with protein. Even spinach has protein. If you’re eating enough of your greens, you’re getting protein there. I eat nuts and seeds and, you know, there’s protein everywhere. You absolutely don’t need animal protein in your diet. Being vegetarian is right for me for every reason: for my health, I feel better, I’m happier. For my peace of mind, I feel that I’m living a very compassionate life. It just—for the love of the animals, for every reason, I think being vegan is right for me. Watch her video.

Kimiko: Eats Vegetarian Food For Environmental Reasons
My name is Kimiko and I’m thirty-one years old. I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years. The reason why I became vegetarian is because when I moved to Australia, I saw the meat-packing process—or the end of it—meaning I walked into a local supermarket and I saw the carcasses being hung in the background, and that’s when I made the connection, that, “Oh, that part of the animal is this packaging.” And after that connection was made clearly like that, I just couldn’t eat meat anymore. After a couple of years being vegetarian, I read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. I was appalled by the way that the meat industry operated.

For example, the negative impact they had on the environment, and many of the workers being treated absolutely inhumanely, and that it takes up to something crazy—like a hundred separate cows—to make one single little patty. After that, I had to be a vegetarian. Since being vegetarian, I have experienced weight loss, I have a lot more energy, and I rarely get sick, and my skin glows. I get my protein from beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and also hemp powder, and all my greens—so I get my protein from all plant sources. Being vegetarian is right for me because I leave less impact on the environment, and I’m healthy, and I have so much energy, and a lot of people that I meet tell me that I glow—and I like that. Watch her video.

Morgan and Monika Healthy Couple Eat Vegetarian for Moral Reasons
I’m 35 years old. I’ve been a vegan for one year. I chose to become vegan because of animal cruelty, the suffering. I didn’t want to have the negativity in my life anymore of taking in this tortured animal and suffering animal. Well, I’m 31, yeah I’ve been vegan two years, vegetarian seven years, and I turned vegetarian because I saw a video of how they torture animals. And then I became vegan when I saw a farm—how the baby cows—calves, how they’re taken away from their mothers and it was just heartbreaking, and then I became vegan. We get our vegetarian protein from beans—all different kinds of beans. Leafy greens and whole grains and rice, and stuff like that that has a little bit of protein in it, but—organic food—we have to have our beans every day. All different kinds: garbanzo—what’s your favorite? Pinto?

Yeah, pinto beans. I love garbanzo. And red kidney beans, black beans. We really love our beans now. I’ve been sick all my life, you know, and I became vegetarian—I don’t get sick anymore. More energy—yeah, lighter—I feel lighter. I think so, my skin, people think I’m younger actually. It’s true—I used to get sick probably like two times a year, like a big cold or I’d be sick for like a week and it would linger on for like another week—like two weeks, maybe I’d have the thing.

I don’t get sick. This year, I have been really healthy. I went vegan because of animal cruelty and I—she introduced me into it. I was already starting to kind of go that way because I just—I just started thinking, like, “I can’t eat something that I can’t kill,” and it started in me going that way, and then when I learned about animal suffering, I just didn’t want to eat anything, and so for me, vegan—I just went right into vegan.

Yeah, it was the animal thing, you know, how they torture them—but the health thing, it’s a big plus. Yeah, when I got into I started reading about it and how terrible it is. Like, just all the heart disease and cancer all seemed to be linked to meat.

Vegan is right for us because—because we don’t support any cruelty, any torture of animals, health benefits, environment—just general positivity all around when you adopt this diet, you know? It’s just plusses; it helps everything, it really does, and there’s no reason that we need to eat meat. If you really do your research, there’s no reason—we don’t need to eat meat. You know, for years I thought we did. I was brought up to think that way—because we are raised that way. And there’s no reason. There’s such a better lifestyle behind being vegan—and cruelty-free, no suffering involved to the animals, to the environment, to everybody. Watch their video.

Larissa Eats Vegetarian Food For Health and Flavor
My name is Larissa Hamel. I’m twenty-four years old and I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life. My mother raised me a vegetarian because of its many health benefits, and I’ve continued to be a vegetarian because of the many health benefits, and because meat’s not really appealing to me or appetizing. I’ve been a pretty healthy person all my life. I’ve never really struggled with any serious diseases, any chronic diseases, any lifestyle diseases. I’ve never had acne except for a couple of minor breakouts every once in a while when I was younger. And I’ve had very few visits to the doctor. If I did have hospital visits it was because I’d slammed my finger in the car door, things like that. I’ve been able to exercise very regularly, and I’ve never had any trouble with energy or anything like that.

I’ve never really had any problem with getting enough protein in my diet. I usually get it from beans—I eat a lot of different kinds of beans—there’s lots of protein in that. Also green, leafy vegetables—those are a great source of protein. And soy products: I eat tofu and veggie meats, things like that. I eat pretty regular food. In the morning, I eat cereal with soymilk on it; Silk is a great soymilk to drink. I can’t even tell the difference anymore between it and regular milk, honestly.

And I’ll eat like a pro[inaudible] patty or breakfast link, which are different kinds of veggie meats—those taste great. For lunch, I’ll eat pasta, vegetables, salads, soups, sandwiches—I love sandwiches. And for dinners, we like to eat Mexican food a lot, so we’ll do Spanish rice, we’ll do burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and we’ll just use beans instead of the meat. Or, if we want to use meat, we’ll use the veggie meat, and it’s great. I continue being a vegetarian because of its many health benefits. I don’t have to worry about my cholesterol intake; I don’t have to worry about my fat intake. Plus, the high fiber in my diet keeps everything working great, and I don’t have to worry about meat rotting in my gut. Plus, I just don’t find meat appealing.

Being a vegetarian is right for me because it’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s flexible. I can shop where I want, I can eat where I want. Plus, I don’t have to worry about being constipated, I don’t have to worry about getting mad cow disease, I don’t have to worry about getting salmonella poisoning, I don’t have to worry about being obese, I don’t have to worry about getting degenerative diseases—I mean, the list goes on. I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty-four years. I am healthy. If you become a vegetarian, you can be healthy, too. Watch video.

Melissa Schwartz Is Vegetarian For Moral Reasons
I’m 28 years old. I’ve been vegetarian on and off for twelve years, and the reason why is because I love animals and ever since I was old enough to put it together that you’re eating an animal that’s dead, you know, that I decided that’s not what I wanted to do. I get my protein from organic beans and lentils and I do get a lot of soy protein. And I get a lot of products from the store that’s, you know, specifically made vegetarian with vegetarian proteins, so there’s a lot of different stuff out there now. There didn’t used to be, but you know, like meat replacements—some of them are soy, some of them are soy, some of them come from fungus actually, but you know it tastes good to me! I know what I can order and what I can’t order now.

It used to be hard for me to, you know, to say no to the foods that I grew up really liking, but it got easier and I don’t crave them as much anymore. Being vegetarian is right for me because it makes me feel healthy. It makes me feel good about myself, but the number one reason is because I don’t feel like I’m hurting animals, and I really do love animals, and whatever I can do to alleviate the torture that our society puts them through is what I’m going to do. Watch her video.

Jeannie Eats Vegetarian Food For Moral Reasons & Vitality
As most children probably do, I grew up loving animals.  But while most kids could disconnect the fundamental realities involved in getting a chunk of meat from a living creature to their dinner plate, I could not. In fact, I couldn’t help but see a connection between the attractively packaged meat in the supermarket and my adored pets. Despite the obvious discomfort, taking a lifestyle stand that would affect a significant number of choices made throughout the day was just simply too difficult for an elementary school kid. The catalyst for exploring vegetarianism actually came years later during a school campaign to purchase land in the Brazilian rainforest to protect it from deforestation by the American beef industry.

While to me this was still a cause for saving animals, this campaign also brought to light the positive environmental impact of vegetarianism and solidified for me that this one act of protest was something I could completely stand behind on several ideological fronts. Before long, this simple act of protest evolved into a personal philosophy and in many ways a personal religion—today I follow it without thought.  It has essentially become a part of who I am, and I live my life as… full… as the next person. Never once have I felt that my diet has slowed me down—in fact, my experience has been quite the contrary! I never missed a day of school; I participated in a variety of performing arts; I played sports year round; and years later, I even wound up working for a website that centers on Dragonboating, one of the sports I’m completely obsessed with.

For my family, I am incredibly grateful that they also eventually began to adapt a healthier diet and lifestyle. While I don’t try to impose my view on others, if my actions effect positive differences, even in a roundabout way, then I am more than happy.  My family’s healthier approach to diet and exercise was a reward I never expected. 

It has now been twenty years since my pre-teen act of defiance, and I never foresaw that it would develop into one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Through time, more reasons affirming my decision to become a vegetarian simply presented themselves, and so on many levels my diet became an integral part of my character and lifestyle. As an adult I may be different from how I was as a kid, but the fundamental core has always existed. As William Wordsworth wrote “the child is father of the man” and I believe this to be particularly true when thinking of my vegetarianism—this path I made in my youth is a path I still walk today.

The beliefs, philosophies, and loves in my life have all intertwined in some fashion with, simply, my diet. It’s such a simple concept—a dietary preference—but its impact is profound. While life changes constantly, I firmly believe that being vegetarian has kept me healthy, fueling my vitality and allowing me to do the things I do, all the while keeping me rooted to principles I embraced early on. In the bigger picture of mind, body and soul, vegetarianism paved a road to happiness in my life on all levels: mental, spiritual and physical. Watch her video.

Director Shaun Monson is Vegetarian for Ethical Reasons
You mean where do I not get animal-based protein? That’s always a question people think is—they can’t imagine that protein can come from anywhere other than animal sources, which is amazing because in the rest of the world—not in America, but in the rest of the world—people get their protein from plant-based sources, or from beans and that sort of thing. But in America, we’ve associated meat and protein as being inseparable, so people always ask this question: “Where do you get your protein?” There’s no protein deficiencies in America—anywhere—but we have this fear that there’s this lack of protein, that we need protein, which is all commercially motivated, so, you know, advertisers have been successful in pushing that thesis forward, that you have to have animal protein to have protein.

But plant-based vegetarian protein is the strongest source, especially for human beings—I mean, I don’t have fangs; I have, you know, these stubby fingers. I don’t know, if I had a deer in the woods, I don’t know how I’d kill it, I don’t know how I’d tear into it really, without a weapon. But I could go up to a tree and pluck off an apple or an orange, a piece of fruit. So it seems that our nature really is herbivores, really.

I always thought it was interesting, to be honest, that humanity formed a compassion and cultivated love and sympathy and empathy, essentially, for some expressions of life—for the inner circle, for the family pets, for the family, for the tribe, for the nation, for your favorite sports team…whatever. But in the same breath an attitude of aggression, or apathy, toward this out-group. So what you have is you have people that are very compassionate for the whales, for instance, or the seals, or dogs and cats. Cows, chickens, and pigs—not so much.

So I find that interesting—despite all our religions, all of our twelve-step programs, all of our self-help books, our technology—I find it interesting that there is moral consideration given to some expressions of life and not for others, and I think—I suspect that if we view any group, any expression of life with apathy, that will mirror itself in humanity. And it reminds me of a quote from Leo Tolstoy, who said something to that effect: he said that as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. And I think that’s what he meant: as long as there’s an attitude of apathy toward a certain group, it’ll mirror itself in humanity. So by being vegan—particularly if it’s for compassion reasons—you’re actually sacrificing something for another who can’t acknowledge or thank you for it, or give it back to you in any way. It’s completely an act of compassion for another. And I don’t think it would hurt the planet to have more of that kind of compassion, you know?

The only benefit one gets from eating meat is that it deteriorates health, and that’s a fact—I mean, the number-one cause of death is heart disease, which I find extraordinary. Because if you look at any medical journal from, say, a hundred years ago—if you look at 1910—you will not see heart disease as the number-one cause of death. This is death by food, primarily; this is a clogging of the heart. I mean, nobody going to the doctor, who’s vegan or vegetarian for instance, is going to hear from their doctor, “Listen, you’ve got to cut down on the broccoli. You’re eating way too much salad. It’s clogging you up.” I mean, you never hear that. You’re always going to hear, “You’ve got to cut out the meat and dairy.” I mean, look at cholesterol: cholesterol exists nowhere in the universe except in animal products. It’s the only way—so here’s an idea: you want to lower your cholesterol? Don’t eat it. It’s so simple. Instead of eating it and taking maybe a pill, or trying to skirt around it, you just don’t eat it.

I don’t know how mankind really got in—became such heavy meat-eaters, eating the flesh of animals and the secretions of animals, because that’s what milk and cheese is—it’s secretion. In fact, when I hear the word “secretion,” and the word “food,” I just can’t put the two side by side, but you know, we’re accustomed to it. Milk, of course—we’ve been drinking milk, particularly in the last thirty years, when the milk industry said, “Okay, well, Coke and Pepsi is selling a lot. How can we sell this drink more?” And milk and so forth was born, and that’s how it began, and so people drink milk and they think it gives them strong bones. It’s funny—it’s called a “negative calcium balance”: the more animal protein you eat, the more calcium you lose through your urine. It’s a slow death. It takes forty years, but that’s why grandma falls and breaks her hip, you know—why do we have all this osteoporosis in this country? We’re drinking all this milk!

I mean, so you ask me a question like, “Is it healthier?” Yeah, I don’t know how we can afford to keep eating animal products. This is the last thing, since you got me on a roll now: human beings are the only mammals on earth that have the longest infancy, you know. We’re young for twenty years. We don’t reach bone maturity for twenty years. We also have the longest period of old age, of being old. And though we live longer today than we’ve ever lived before, we’re sicker longer. We’re sicker for decades. I can’t imagine being sick for twenty years, or for thirty years—I can’t fathom it. And that’s becoming normal. So it’s very healthy to be vegetarian. Again, like I said, you don’t have fangs, you don’t have claws. It seems natural to eat this clean, healthier diet. And just to try it—just to try it once a week, or twice a week, you kind of lean into it, give yourself a chance to kind of acclimate to it. You don’t have to jump into it full—all the way—but just to be open to it. Watch his video.

Patra Eats Vegetarian Food For Health & Moral Reasons
My name is Patra Gupta. I’m thirty years old. I turned vegetarian about a month ago, and three reasons why I turned vegetarian: firstly, I’m Hindu, so I was brought up not eating beef. Secondly, I’ve not really liked eating meat since I was a kid, but I’d had to just culturally—when you go over to someone’s house, they serve meat. And the third and most prominent reason why I turned vegetarian a month ago was because I read a book called Skinny Bitch, and it talks about how you are what you eat, and it graphically described how animals are treated in slaughterhouses. And that completely repulsed me and I just haven’t been able to eat meat since. Since I turned vegetarian, I’ve noticed some changes in my lifestyle—for example, shopping. I used to shop at places like Vons, Ralphs, Costco, which are much cheaper to shop.

But now I seem to shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which are known for their good quality of organic produce. So price is a bit higher, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve also noticed socially, in my family-friends network, that’s changed: it’s not been as supportive as I had hoped it would be. I thought I was doing a good thing, but what’s happened is—my boyfriend who I live with, I generally cook for him, so omitting meat out of the meal plan has not been very good on him, so he hasn’t been too supportive.

And my friends, they tend to eat at fast food joints like McDonald’s, and they think it’s a bit strange that I’m not eating meat, so I don’t feel supported by them. And then also my mother—I called her and told her, “Mom, I’m vegetarian now, so when I come home from England, the meal plan’s going to be different.” And she kind of thought it’s just going to be a passing phase and I’m going to start eating meat as soon as I get back over there. But I am vegetarian and I’m going to stick with it.

So now that I have turned vegetarian, I find that I’m eating a lot more salad and vegetables than I used to, and definitely a lot more fruit. And just reading up on it, I found fruit is a really good source of vitamins and nutrients, as well as vegetables. So I’ve bulked up on them. I generally didn’t eat meat before a lot, but what I’ve done is instead of eating chicken with my stir-fry, I’ll substitute that for tofu. I also buy ground beef substitute, which is a soy-based substitute for ground beef. And I’m still learning, because I am a new vegetarian, I’m still out there looking for new recipes, to fulfill my dietary needs.

Since the month has passed of me being vegetarian, I have noticed some slight changes in my health. For example, I feel like I’m processing food much easier and I’m going to the bathroom more efficiently. Also, I don’t feel as tired as I used to. I think just eating meat here and there made it a bit heavier in my system, so I just feel a bit lighter. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic , but I just feel a bit cleaner inside.

Being vegetarian is right for me because morally, I’m not contributing to the pain and the suffering that animals reared for meat production have to go through. I’m saving a lot more money. I’m buying healthier foods that are organic, which people think are much more expensive, but it’s much cheaper than buying meat. And you are worth it—I’m worth it, and I feel so much more healthier. I feel like my body’s running more efficiently, and that I’m sleeping better. I feel like I’m getting the right nutrients, and these are all the reasons I feel like vegetarianism is right for you. Watch her video.

Kyle Finch: Digestive Problems Gone After Going Vegetarian
Hi, my name’s Kyle, I’m 41 years old. I’ve been a vegetarian for two years, and a choice was made in my life at that time—about two years ago—to stop consuming animals, and there are several reasons why. But it started from a question about where the animals come from, what happens to the animals, and why I actually needed to eat them. And as I began to answer those questions, it became clear that consuming animals was not okay. I’m a student of nonviolence and I believe that when we consume animals, we are taking part in a very violent practice. And so nonviolence to me is not just nonviolence against other people, but it’s nonviolence against the other beings that share this planet with us, including all the animals. And so that’s why I decided no longer to consume animals and no longer be a meat-eater in my life.

So I get vegetarian protein from quinoa. I get it from rice and beans. I get it from leafy green vegetables, I get it from broccoli, kale, collard greens I love. Rice—I think I said that—sunflower seeds, tahini, nuts, almonds, you name it—there’s a brilliant amount and array of foods that I can get protein from in this world. My health’s never been better. I used to suffer from really painful intestinal things—digestive problems—when I consumed meat products. And it was completely eradicated once I became vegetarian. I just very rarely have those problems anymore, and that I’m very happy about.

Being vegetarian is great because it allows me to live according to my conscience and it really allows me to be true to what I know is best for me. On a health standpoint, and on a nonviolent standpoint—I’m into the nonviolence; it’s very important to me—this allows me to live according to my truest beliefs. I would encourage anyone who’s not a vegetarian to really give it a try. It is a change in the life, in the habit patterns of diet, but just like anything, it’s a slow but steady process and once you’ve taken the steps—if you do it in a healthy and conscious way, you’ll be very, very happy you did. Watch his vegetarian video interview.

PETA Video Gets Christy Morgan To Eat Vegetarian
I’ve been vegan eight years now. I had a lot of friends in college that were vegetarian, and I ate a lot of vegetarian food in college but I wasn’t fully vegetarian, but I never cooked meat at home because it kind of grossed me out. So I went vegetarian to give it a try, and then I watched the Meet Your Meat video on PETA, and that’s what turned me vegan overnight, pretty much. I get my vegetarian protein from beans, from tempeh, tofu, nuts, seeds, whole grains—everything, really, has protein, so we don’t really need animal protein. Our bodies really like plant-based protein better. I’ve noticed a lot of difference in my health, especially now that it’s been eight years, because every cell in your body changes every seven years—so I feel like even just from four years ago, my health has improved.

And the older I get, the better I feel, which is amazing—I have more energy now. I can work out and not feel tired. I have energy throughout the day and I feel better than I did even when I was in college—when I was in high school, even. I feel thinner and healthier, and more vibrant now, so it’s like—it’s a process. Every year it gets better, so it’s really amazing.

I have a business in Los Angeles. I teach cooking classes. I do nutrition counseling and personal chef services. Like I said, I went vegan overnight from the PETA video, and I started cooking for people, and I started teaching myself how to cook, and I loved watching people’s faces light up when they ate my food. And it inspired me to go to culinary school. So that’s how that all happened—I went to culinary school and I decided to start teaching other people how to nourish themselves with good food. Being vegan is right for me because it helps me feel great and it helps me be the most authentic person I can be and live a truly compassionate life. Watch her video.

Vicki Eats Vegetarian Food For Nutrition & Youthfulness
I originally went vegetarian because I felt my health going downhill rapidly. I was very, very sick. I had lots of headaches, I was overweight, had stomach problems, couldn’t sleep at night, had mood swings and just didn’t feel good. My skin was a mess, and I didn’t look good either. I was constantly sick with throat and sinus problems. I had no energy and had a number of food addictions, including a coffee addiction. I had gone on a high-protein diet and it severely messed with my metabolism. That’s when things really got out of control. I had tried everything and nothing seemed to work. I read a few books, including “The Body Ecology Diet.” I didn’t think I could do it, but I thought, well maybe if I “remove myself from temptation,” I could break the cycle of some of the terrible food addictions I had going on.

So, in an act of almost sheer desperation and not knowing what else to do, I went to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego for a week.  Their focus is on introducing people to the raw vegan way of life (a type of vegetarianism) and educating people on proper nutrition while they feed participants meals, helping everyone to feel better right away.  This experience totally transformed my life.  I immediately felt better and had a renewed energy and vitality that I had not felt in many years (if ever). My health and energy level improved substantially in just one week. 

Once I returned to my home in L.A., I continued my educational process about this lifestyle.  I read more books, connected with other people who are involved with this lifestyle and went to lots of raw and vegetarian restaurants.  The more I learned and the healthier I ate, the better I felt, and it was a cycle upwards; rather than a spiraling, out of control cycle downwards, which is what I had been experiencing.  Within a few short weeks, ALL of my disease symptoms disappeared and I felt better than I ever could have imagined.  I had my energy, my positive outlook and my YOUTH back.  I was literally a new person.  It was not an effort at all putting healthy, nutritious, non-toxic food into my body because I felt so good and so on top of the world.  I never even knew life could be so good.  It was easy for me to let go of the old habits of eating “bad” foods (i.e., highly processed and junk foods).  I just didn’t want them anymore.  I was more in tune with my body and listening to my body.

I feel like I have my life back.  I feel great, look much better than before, sleep better, and I have the energy and vitality of a teenager.  No more mood swings. And no more “getting sick” -– I don’t even worry about it because I know that as long as I’m eating healthy and keeping a positive, healthy mental outlook and keeping the overall stress levels at a minimum, I don’t get sick.  It just doesn’t happen.  Since I focused on the health aspects of the lifestyle, I figured the weight would take care of itself, and it did.  For the first time in my life, I was free from the bondage of “bad” food.

For the most part, being a vegetarian is not difficult for me.  Once in awhile it is challenging to be around non-vegetarian friends and family.  But, when I really stop and think about the fact that I now have control over what I put into my body and I love myself and my body like never before, and when faced with decisions from one moment to the next, I CHOOSE to make the loving one because I never want to slide back to where I once was. I don’t view it as a diet—I view it as a lifestyle—and now that my habits have changed, I don’t give it a second thought.  Eating vegetarian is now second nature.  I just naturally reach for the healthy foods because I WANT TO.

I eat a lot of salads; dark, leafy greens; green smoothies, veggies; fruits; some nuts and other natural fatty foods such as avocados, coconut oil and olive oil.  Sometimes, as a treat, I have soaked legumes or more traditional vegetarian dishes such as brown rice and veggies and/or black beans.  I finally understand the truth of the saying, “You are what you eat.”  I recommend this lifestyle to everyone searching to improve their health—this is the answer they’re looking for. Watch her video.

Maryl Celiz Gets Vegetarian Protein From Quinoa, Nuts, Greens
So I’m 33 years old and I’ve been vegetarian for about ten years on and off, and I originally went vegetarian because I wanted to be good to the animals and I heard that was a way to respect animals. And then I stayed vegetarian because it’s something really, really healthy for me. One of the reasons I stayed vegetarian—you know, I was on and off, on and off—was because whenever I would go off a vegetarian diet, I would feel heavier. And so as far as health goes, you get more energy when you’re a vegetarian, especially if you’re a healthy vegetarian—because you can be a junk food vegetarian and I’m not that guy. I have a sweet tooth but I try to go—you know, fruits for the sweets. And I just felt like I had a better sleep, more clarity of mind. My body shape completely changed, especially when I took off dairy, and I just felt like myself—like the way it should be.

Well I’m Hispanic—I’m Peruvian, so I cook a lot of Latin variations on, you know, foods that usually have meats—I’ll use tempeh to substitute things, you know, like stuffed bell peppers but with tempeh rather than beef. You know a lot of fajitas that have a lot of vegetables. Salads, you know, I make my smoothies in the morning—that’s a staple for me—with lots of greens and flaxseed—ground flaxseed. I don’t know…what else? Mexican food, Asian food as well—I make a lot of sushi now. Sushi—vegetarian sushi for me is great because you really can’t find a lot of vegetarian sushis—very fish-based, so I make it at home. Get inari, get some rice and all your vegetables that you want to throw in there.

I get my protein from various sources: one of them is soy, and you know, it could be soy milk as long as I get it organic because it’s one of the top genetically modified crops in the country, so organic soy. So food tempeh—tempeh I really like because it’s fermented and it’s much better for you. Nuts—nuts have a lot of protein. What else? I think I really like quinoa. Quinoa is from my country—I’m Peruvian, so I make a lot of quinoa dishes. Yeah, a lot of various sources. Leafy greens are huge—I love leafy greens and I put some in my smoothie in the morning, and I put them in my salad—as much as I can get them, yeah, that’s one source that people don’t know about that has—leafy greens are huge. Another thing is algaes: chlorella, spirulina, dulse—algaes have a lot of protein.

For me it’s not difficult being vegetarian for two reasons: one, I cook; and two, I live in Los Angeles. You have the best vegan, organic vegetarian, raw—you know, a huge variety of vegetarian options. And so if I’m not cooking at home, I can just stop by the various restaurants that I already know and love. So my website is www.hlifemedia.com and it’s a holistic health lifestyles publication, and it has information on, you know, recipes—vegan recipes, plant-based—all nutritious and delicious. Nutritional and so—we have an H food that we feature and we talk about the particular food and its applications, briefs from science journals, relationships—mind, body, spirit, planet—we have a DRH life section where you can ask us things and we will answer.

And I founded it because it—you know, I found it difficult to find all the information that I wanted, you know, on vegetarianism, on planet being green, on, you know, even Spanish stuff—I’m Hispanic and I wanted my mom to read stuff. We have a section en español, so I wanted it to be a hub of information on what it really means to be optimally healthy. Not just function, but really to thrive and, you know, to feel your best. Watch her video.

Zack is Vegetarian Food For Better Mood and Health
Hi, my name is Zack and I’m twenty-nine years old, and I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years. I was introduced to the concept of vegetarianism from a previous girlfriend, and after we broke up I read a couple books: Fast Food Nation and Animal Liberation—they kind of talked about how meat was prepared and animal rights issues and things of that sort. And I kind of decided after reading those books that I wanted to be a vegetarian. Before I became a vegetarian, I noticed that I was really lethargic, I had mood swings, things like that. But since becoming a vegetarian, I’ve noticed that my mood has improved—I’m just a more upbeat person. My energy is much higher, I exercise much more and I have a drive to exercise, which is really great. And I don’t get sick very often.

One thing I noticed before I was vegetarian was that I would get sick quite a bit, but I really can’t remember the last time I had some serious illness. I get my protein from all sorts of places: I can get it from nuts, legumes, whole-grain bread, and tofu, tempeh, greens. I have no problem getting protein on a daily basis. For breakfast I usually have yogurt with granola and a banana, and then for lunch I’ll have some sort of sandwich—usually peanut butter or a tofu alternative with a couple pieces of fruit. For dinner, usually rice and beans or a tofu stir-fry, or pasta.

When I go to a meat-based restaurant with friends, I normally order sides, and there’s usually a wide range of sides to select from—you know, mashed potatoes, some sort of fresh steamed vegetable, usually some beans and rice. Even pasta sometimes you can order on the side. So I don’t really have a problem ordering and having a complete meal when I go to restaurants with my friends.

Being vegetarian is right for me because I think it’s the moral thing to do. I think that the raising and slaughtering of animals in today’s society is inhumane. I know I live healthier because I’m vegetarian, and I feel better about myself and the environment in which I live. Watch Zack's vegetarian video interview.

Peter Arpesella, A Diabetec, Saves His Eyesight With Vegetarian Diet
I’m in my mid-forties and I have been vegan, macrobiotic vegan, for the last sixteen years. I am originally from LA. I grew up eating meat and meatballs and ragu twice a day. And then all of a sudden it just didn’t work for me, and so for me, it was a health awareness, health-conscious kind of choice. And then I discovered that it was also extremely good for the animals and for the environment and for everybody, really. I’m also diabetic. I’m Type I diabetic, and when I switched to this different way of eating and way of living, I was diagnosed with a beginning retinopathy, which is when your retina starts to break, and they said to come back in three months—that we would have to test it again, and if it showed increasing size of retinopathy, I would’ve had to have laser therapy.

And accidentally—I didn’t plan it like this—but that’s when I turned macrobiotic, and I changed my way of eating, so when I went back—it wasn’t three months; it was like more four or five months after—that they said, “You know, maybe we need to re-test your retina because we might have made a mistake. There’s no sign of retinopathy anymore.” And I said, “Well, I think maybe that’s okay.” So they tested it again and it was completely healed, and now I have full vision and healthy eyes for a healthy person—not for a diabetic person. And that’s all due to the vegetarian diet.

Belsandia is a guide to healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living. You can find vegetarian healthy recipes, healthy living tips, and how to fight global warming with your food choices.