I never really thought I would go on a plant-based diet. I have a few friends who are vegetarian. When I met them for a meal, I was usually happy to choose a vegetarian food venue, or opt for a neutral setting, where there were enough plant-based options. Definitely not a steakhouse nor a churrascaria (!) I did enjoy eating meat and having a great wagyu steak. And I did muse to myself that it was so difficult to be vegetarian that I would never attempt to do that.
So what made me turn plant-based?
I believe there were several reasons.
Over the years, I have read enough literature extolling the benefits of going plant-based. As such a diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, rich in fiber and full of antioxidants, they help to lower the risks of heart diseases and hypertension, amongst others.
One interesting study I read was how a plant-based diet could help reduce diabetes risk by a whopping 23%. In terms of cancer, the phytochemicals from plants and vegetables can help lower cancer rates.
After my annual health check in February, I realised that my LDL cholesterol crept up a little. It's above the optimal level but lower than what I would term the "danger zone". Nevertheless, this was one of the impetus to get me to eat more healthily.
Another major trigger was the documentary "What the Health", by filmmaker Kip Anderson on Netflix. While it had its fair share of controversy, the documentary basically exposed the serious health problems caused by consuming meat and dairy products. Other related documentaries also pointed to the high amounts of growth hormones given to farmed animals.
Care for Animals
Over time, I also started to develop a deeper empathy for animals and wildlife. I was affected by the killing of the dolphins in the documentary "The Cove". I was also upset by the treatment of orcas in "Black Fish". "Seaspiracy" also shone a spotlight on how overfishing has affected the dwindling marine population. But what really affected me was "My Octopus Teacher", which I watched and wept twice. While it was just about an easily forgettable octopus, it made me realise that these animals were no different from Tigger and Yuki, my cats, whom I loved deeply. The fact that meat was served at my dinner table should not eradicate my thoughts about the entire life journey that they have been through. And if I can do in whatever small way I can to make "the world a better place," why shouldn't I?
The third point is about sustainability. The impact of animal agriculture on the environment is larger than what we really believe. Animal agriculture is in fact the major source of environmental destruction, including global warming, deforestation, the loss of water supplies as well as ocean dead zones.
Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize winner and the former US Secretary of Energy stated once that agriculture and land0use generates more greenhouse gas emissions than power generation, and livestock are responsible for at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
My Journey Thus Far
I have been going plant-based for about two months now. Strangely, I have not had any cravings yet, but my food options are definitely more limited. I do share my beliefs with my friends, but I do not encourage them to follow what I am doing, simply because I am not sure if I will have the tenacity to continue this indefinitely. Nevertheless, I am still happy to do what I can for the following reasons, and hopefully with more impossible burger, and other plant-based meat alternatives, we can make the world a healthier and more sustainable one, with greater care and love for our animals and wildlife.