By Erik Whipp, Audio Tech, Green Connections Media

The holiday season brings out the food – rich, sugary, heavy and the like – and we feel justified in splurging on it, because it’s, well, the holidays.

I tried that, only not just during the holidays, but all the time, as a freshman in college when I took on bodybuilding. Many masters of the sport suggest eating one to two grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to excel in the sport, so, eager to excel, I followed their advice.

This meant eating a lot of meat, milk, and eggs, which I loved. So, I ate about 30 grams of meat and other proteins per day – about 180 grams/day – by eating things like chicken breast and 2% milk.

Over time, my muscles grew, as did the amount of weight I could lift. But I didn’t feel stronger. Contrary to what you’d think would happen with body-building, I actually felt weaker and woke up feeling fatigued. I couldn’t focus, and I felt as though my health was deteriorating.

Since I felt lousy, I decided to explore the relationship between animal products and health. My findings were drastically different than what I thought I’d find.

Surprising Links

Searching through different scholastic articles and databases, I found more information regarding the link between animal agriculture and the environment than I found on the link between health and diet. The research was baffling, and completely new to me.

According to the studies, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 51% of environmental pollution. The impact of animal agriculture is much larger than the greenhouse gas emissions of boats, cars, airplanes, and trains combined. This may sound impossible, but if you look at the logistics, it makes sense.

For example, it takes 440 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. Furthermore, when dairy cows lactate, they produce large amounts of methane. Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping greenhouse gasses within the atmosphere.

Not Enough to Switch – Until…

Then, I explored the health aspects of eating protein, especially in the quantity I was at the time.  And it pushed me over the edge.

According to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, you can reverse heart disease – the number one cause of death – by following a plant-based diet. Then, I saw research studies showing a link between animal products and a long list of diseases and ailments:

  • Allergies and inflammatory disorders
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Cellulite
  • Dementia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Gout attacks
  • Neurological diseases
  • Prepuberty
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

This list pushed me over the edge and I became a vegan.

If you add the health benefits and the environmental ones, the rational position would be to end the animal agriculture industry. Some may say this would ravage the economy. On the other hand, this would enhance the budding industry of vegetarian meat, milk, and egg replacements. Farmers will still farm, but they will farm different foods instead of slaughtering animals.

My switch to veganism hasn’t been hard, either. In my experience, the best way to modify your diet is through research and slow implementation.

As a vegan for almost a year and a vegetarian for almost two years, I feel so much better than when I ate meat. I still train, but my energy is high, my head is clearer, I’m more motivated, and I feel present.

Have you attempted to go plant-based?

What are your thoughts on veganism?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @joanmichelson or on our Facebook page or join our private Facebook group here for more discussion!

11224218_10204574426061437_5699766180699265720_n Erik Whipp is one of the talented Green Connections Media audio technicians who helps us make sure you sound fabulous in our interview. He’s a student at American University, and very conscientious and kind.