Why plant-based (vegan)? Part 1

If we feel the same, you have also asked yourself this question. This is often the question that follows when we tell people that we have a plant-based diet as well as the question that is never asked as most people answer it for themselves. When asking about it what strikes me is that almost everyone has a very own answer to that question.

In the summer of 2014 I asked Lisa if she would join me on a plant-based diet. At first she was sceptical. Afterwards she agreed with the following question: “If the biggest meat fanatic I know wants to go on a plant-based diet, I’m in!”. With that sentence our path to a plant-based diet began.

In this article I describe our personal journey to a plant-based diet, what moved us to that, the difference to a vegan diet, facts on the production of food of animal origin, myths about the vegan diet and questions for further discussions on this topic.

Plant-Based = Vegan?

For us a plant-based diet means that we abstain from food of animal origin. This includes meat, fish, milk, eggs & co.

Isn’t plant-based vegan? – Basically yes. However there are two main aspects to why the term “vegan” doesn’t apply to our diet and lifestyle so far.

Vegan is more than a diet. Being a vegan is a lifestyle which often involves that one also abstains from leather, silk, wool and cosmetics involving animal products and animal testing. So far we haven’t lost much thought about the topics outside of nutrition and don’t know much about it. Also, honey (which is not vegan) is part of a plant-based diet for us and we occasionally consume non-vegan wine, in which gelatine (fining procedure) is used in its production.

There is a second reason to why we don’t like calling ourselves vegan. We want to separate ourselves from the vegan-cult in which much is absolute and the dogma of “better and smarter, because vegan” reigns.

For the reasons mentioned above we don’t call ourselves and our diet vegan. However all our recipes that don’t include honey are vegan. The term vegan is also common and therefore more understandable. That’s why we use both terms in this article and in other parts of our blog.

Why did we go plant-based?

As I said in the summer of 2014 I asked Lisa if she would join me on a plant-based diet. After also being fully convinced of this idea our path to a plant-based diet started.

Both of us have already been occupying ourselves with our nutrition before. The questionable industrial food production and the use of toxins and drugs in our food have prompted us to buy organic products only and to abandon heavily processed foods in our household. We had also limited our consumption of animal products to eating fish up to one time a week and meat up to one time a week to live vegetarian 5 days out of 7 in a week.

The questions „What speaks for a plant-based diet, and what against it?” was still unanswered. I used my summer holidays to read different texts and books on nutrition. Combined with internet research it gave me new insight into the dairy- and egg industry. I soon discovered that the answer to this question couldn’t be found in books or on the internet.

Each author used his own individual values and personal experiences to answer this question, what made it impossible to me to find an objective answer. I had to look inside me to form my own opinion. Numerous conversations between Lisa and me have lead to more and more clarity on this matter for both of us.

Personal reasons

A big reason for me most certainly was that in the industrial food industry the earth and the animals are not treated and honoured with the due respect. For example, like explained in the facts, a large number of breed animals never land on our plates, but are branded as useless and gassed or thrown away as a result of over-production. This lack of respect can not only be found in the meat production, but also in the production of eggs and dairy products. I do not support this. Great role models are the Indians who hold rituals and ceremonies for the animals they kill and consume.

What also intrigued me was that the limitation to plant foods only would reveal a new world of natural enjoyment in which previously unknown foods and combinations would be shown to me. Our recipes should also serve as an inspiration for that.

How the conviction developed with time

The conviction to continue with the plant-based diet developed with time and more reasons came to this journey that I’m going together with Lisa today.

To buy and consume plant-based products only is more than a private decision. It’s a political and economic statement. For every Swiss franc we spend on organic and plant-based food we support their production. With our contribution we are increasing the demand what results in supermarkets and corporation responding to this demand with new offers the longer, the more.

Asking for a vegan and/or organic plate in restaurants and snack stalls encourages the owners to think about adding such plates to their menus. In this way we point out that a good meal is or should also be possible without the use of animal products.

With my consumer behaviour I want to act as a counterweight to the excessive consumption of animal foods in today’s society.

Now after almost a year the plant-based diet works out well for both of us. To follow a plant-based diet, just because it works has become reason enough.

Why so absolute?

We are both convinced that a plant-based diet in today’s society is the right way to live the “Real Life” for us.

However there are really great producers of animal food which share our philosophy on nutrition. For example the grass-fed Angus beef from biodynamic production in Niederried, Switzerland, the trout from Lake Neuchâtel or the fish in the restaurant of a Portuguese village, which bought the fish from the fishermen on the sea cost the same morning. But we have also decided to abstain from that.

The absolute approach helps us to consistently live our belief. Would we eat meat or fish in certain situations and not in others it would lead to constant justification. This would use up a lot of or energy. In addition, it would affect our quality of life if we had to actively decide whether we want to it something or not each time.

However, we could imagine to consume animal food again, if there could only be found ethically, rich food which has been treated with respect behind the fresh goods counter at the supermarket. If we were forced to consume animal food for health reason we would also think about it (by producers who share our philosophy).

Facts on the animal food production

  • In Switzerland’s egg industry alone over 2.5 million male chicks are killed after hatching: male descendants of lay hens can’t lay eggs and give little meat compared to chickens kept for meat productions, so they are gassed the first day after hatching (Hirt, 2004). This is also the case for organic production. This 2011 Swiss video shows how the male chicks are killed in the egg industry:
  • 51% of global GHGs are attributable to livestock production: In 2009 Robert Goodland reported that at least 32’564 tonnes of CO²e or 51% of global GHGs are attributable to livestock production (World Watch, 2009). This is mainly due to deforestation for land use for feed production as well as the global transport.
  • Antibiotics in the feed of farmed animals builds resistance in humans: 3 out of 4 chicken products are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria (Geser, Stephan, Hächler, 2012). When consumed frequently this has the consequence that most antibiotics will fail (Widmer, 2014).
  • Calves of dairy cows are separated from their mother 2 to 3 days after birth: Milk cows are continually impregnated from their second year of life so that they continually give birth to calves. In this way the milk production is artificially stimulated contrary to the natural cycle. This procedure is also common in organic production.
  • Every year enormous areas are deforested for feed production: Especially in South America, valuable habitats are destroyed to build soy on it. For example in Argentina the soybean acreage has increased by 190% since the year 2000 (WWF, 2012). 80% of the worldwide produced soy is used as feed (Faszination Regenwald cited after Veja).

A more comprehensive collection of facts can be found on Sentience’s website.

Vegan diet myths

  • Vegan = Protein and nutrient deficiency: Following a vegan diet doesn’t mean suffering from the lack of various nutrients. You should however inform yourself before making a complete change to the vegan diet. Plant proteins can be well combined and are found in legumes, nuts, cereals and vegetables. Even vegan bodybuilders, athletes and strongmen don’t seem to have problems with nutrients.

    Many vegans supplement vitamin B12 in the form of pills, powders or directly through the targeted consumption of certain foods. There are synthetic and non-synthetic herbal supplements.
    How the body absorbs certain nutrients varies from person to person therefor everyone has to make his own experiences. From an e-mail exchange with vegan.ch, we know that some animal foods only contain B12 by vitamin B12-enriched feed (e.g. eggs, chicken and pork). B12 deficiency is also not a vegan problem only, but occurs also in meat eaters and vegetarians. I brush my teeth with a B12 enriched toothpaste and Lisa takes a purely natural supplement that was recommended to her in a pharmacy. We are unsure if it’s really necessary for us to take these measures, however prophylactically we take them anyways because it’s being recommended to us from all sides. To check I run a laboratory blood test regularly for my part.
  • Vegan is the healthiest diet: As described above the perfect diet is a very individual thing and there is no direct concept that can be applied to all people as the healthiest (Fitzgerald, 2014). But this doesn’t mean that the vegan diet can’t be the healthiest way of eating for you, but more, that you need to find this out for your own body. In most medical systems (also in traditional medicine) many diseases can be cured with a healthy diet or pre-emptively prevented. Not to forget are the changes that not only cure us from diseases but also give us more energy and zest for life. I personally didn’t notice any changes after switching to a plant-based diet. But for Lisa switching to a plant-based diet resulted in purer facial skin and shinier hair. As for us, we are convinced, that a plant-based organic diet represents an advantage for our health.
  • Vegan tastes monotonous: Following a vegan diet doesn’t mean that one has to depend on tofu, soy sausages and vegan schnitzel or that one has to follow a very monotonous diet. If this would be the case I wouldn’t follow a plant-based diet ^^. We want to counteract this myth with our blog and share enjoyable and at the same time healthy plant-based recipes with you.
  • Vegans are better people: As mentioned above, we don’t think so.

Questions to further discuss this topic

Following you can find some questions we repeatedly ask ourselves in relation to this topic. Perhaps it can also stimulate your thinking.

  • Do you support the industrial food production?
  • Is your present diet doing your body good?
  • Do you stand at a turning point and do you want to change your life and crush your comfort zone?
    Changing your diet can be a consciousness-expanding experience and show you a totally different side of life and a new body feeling.
  • Are you open for new ideas?
    To get a taste you could grab a falafel instead of a kebab next time, order a vegan menu in an organic restaurant or try one of our recipes.

What is your perspective?

On our about page we mentioned that “Real Life” for us also means living in harmony with our environment. Now you know why a plant-based diet is a part of it for us.

I hope this article helps you answer the question “Why plant-based (vegan)?” for yourself. Maybe our personal journey and the information listed here will help you make your own decision.

What are your thoughts?
How would you answer this question for you or how did you answer this question for you?
What questions should we as ourselves to occupy ourselves deeper with this topic?
Is there a topic you would like to read more in another article by us?


Why plant-based (vegan)? Part 2 – Beyond Local

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