5 Unexpected Benefits of Going Vegan

By now I think most people are familiar with the major benefits of transitioning to veganism. Many, like me, are initially drawn in by promises of weight loss while still eating large quantities of food. Then they wind up staying for the animals and the myriad of other bonuses you notice along the way. Other people do it to be healthier in general or to contribute less to the destruction of planet Earth. There are tons of posts out there that will tell you about the same handful of positive changes a vegan diet brings into your life. After being vegan for over 10 years, I’d like to shine a light on the somewhat stranger, less discussed benefits a vegan lifestyle offers.

One: Level Up Your Cooking Skills

I hate to cook. Or at least… I used to. Now although the amount of time it takes and the mess it makes frustrates me from time to time, I can’t help but get an immense sense of satisfaction from the incredible, healthy dishes I’ve learned to throw together so easily. In the beginning the increased necessity for cooking your own meals may be daunting to new vegans. In a small area like the one I live in, going out to eat every night or buying pre-made vegan food items isn’t really an option (even if I could afford it.) I can’t just go to the deli and buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner when I’ve had an unexpectedly long day. On the other hand, I honestly have no desire to let others make my food. They simply don’t do it as well as I am able to now. I’m quite surprised and proud of my newfound cooking ability and can genuinely say I prefer the meals I make at home over the expensive vegan restaurants’ dishes. If you’re interested in the types of food I prepare, you can find links to all my most used recipes in this post.

Two: Expand Your Food Repertoire

After ten years of hearing, “But what do you eat?” I’ve grown quite perplexed by the question. Imagine trying to answer that as a non-vegan. Am I supposed to list dozens of food items and meals? I eat so many different things! I feel like simply responding, “What do you mean?” I once heard someone on a podcast who explained it perfectly. How many different meats are there really? Maybe three or four that people eat regularly, then cheeses and milk. That really isn’t much variety. On the other hand there are thousands and thousands of different plant foods available to us to eat. Non-vegan meals now look quite sad and tan-colored to me, very bland and unappetizing. Since going vegan, my experience with new, interesting, and exotic foods has expanded beyond the wildest dreams of the normal, American meat-eater. I’ve tried dishes from many different cultures, mastered the art of utilizing spices, and tasted fruits and vegetables I never knew existed before! I assure you I eat a more exciting and varied diet than any non-vegan I’ve ever known.

Three: Bye-bye Common Cold

While I had a vague awareness of this before, the Covid-19 pandemic really brought it to the forefront. I think we’ve all gotten a bit more paranoid around anyone who seems to be sniffling or coughing in the last few years. What’s surprised me is just how often everyone I know experiences cold symptoms like these. It’s almost as if everyone around me is perpetually ill. There are people I’ve noticed who are literally always congested, dripping from their noses and eyes, and have a cough that won’t quit. And these aren’t people with long Covid. Many of them never got it to begin with. Hopefully I won’t be jinxing myself by saying that in my ten years as a vegan, I’ve never gotten sick. Seriously. Not once. And before you go attributing this to luck or good genes, I used to get sick all the time. At the very least, I could expect a few days of serious battling with a stomach bug every year and being plagued by the pesky common cold every fall/winter. I never even realized how badly my body felt at a baseline level until I went vegan and experienced real health for the first time in my life. I thought regular sickness was just how life was supposed to be. I’m here now to tell you, it’s not. Veganism is your ticket to not only long-term health, but daily wellness.

Four: Faster Recovery Time

Not only does a vegan diet prevent you from feeling achy and sluggish after a big meal, it also helps your body recover more quickly from a workout. A vegan diet contains absolutely zero cholesterol, so the heart benefits are usually a big focus. But in addition to a stronger, healthier heart, the rest of the body’s abilities are also bolstered by eating plant-based. I can’t help but laugh when I see fitness bros proclaiming vegans are weak and can’t build muscle for lack of protein. Not only are there world-class, record breaking athletes that are vegan, the diet is also a great help to the average fitness enthusiast like myself. You are not only just as capable of building muscle, but the process will be much less painful. Inflammation in the body wreaks all sorts of havoc, but it also is the culprit when you notice sore, tired muscles after an intense workout. While I still get a satisfying sense of soreness from a challenging leg day, my body recovers and replaces those aches with new, stronger muscle tissue much faster than it ever did before I went vegan. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of veganism on athletes, I’d recommend watching The Game Changers. Or you can read about this specific aspect on their website.

Five: Brain Fog Finally Lifted

Before the pandemic, this aspect of veganism was also a bit harder to explain to people. With so many long-covid patients reporting the now common term of “brain fog” I feel I have a better chance of helping people understand what I mean. It’s been so long, I can’t really remember what it used to feel like inside my head. Still I’ve never forgotten the experience I had after about a full month of vegan eating. I woke up one morning and everything just felt clearer. It’s hard to describe exactly. I’ve always said it was like a cloud had lifted off of my mind. I could think faster, more coherently, more easily than ever before. It’s not like I had been struggling or anything. I had always been a straight A student and prided myself on my above average intelligence. Even so, this was something different. Almost like I had been carrying a heavy weight that was suddenly dropped, allowing me for the first time to move at my full potential. When you and every one you know have been living in a perpetual state of mild illness, you don’t really understand what it means to truly be healthy and well, physically AND mentally. But I promise you, give it a month, even if just as an experiment. You’ll be blown away by what you discover.


I hope that this has given you a bit more insight into the nearly infinite reasons to go vegan. I’m sure there are many more that I have accidentally overlooked, but these five are the ones I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m no saint. I went vegan in the beginning for selfish reason, not for the animals, as I wish I had. I’m hopeful that personal gain will be a motivator to other people as well. Regardless of what aspect of veganism you look at, there is some incredible benefit to be had whether it be to your health, daily lifestyle, cognitive function, the Earth, or the animals. Please consider giving yourself, everyone else, and everything on this planet this amazing gift.

County Fair

My favorite part of the county fair was always visiting the animals. My mother, grandmother, sister, and I would spend hours visiting each barn and spending time introducing ourselves to each and every animal. I always especially liked the rabbits and the chickens even though they wouldn’t let you pet them 99% of the time. I’d usually still risk a peck or a nibble for the chance.

As a vegan, I’ve never really known whether or not it was okay to go to the county fair. Was paying for general admission making me complicit in the live auctions as well? Was I paying to prop up the 4H program, teaching children to short circuit their empathy and stamp down their natural love for the gentle animals they are forced to raise? Probably.

Still, I can’t help but go to the county fair most years. With hardly any food I can actually eat and no rides that seem safe enough to get on, I go solely for the animals now. $10 seems like a small concession to make for the chance to offer a few gestures kindness to beings in their last moments of life. I try my best to send them love as they prepare to leave this world in the most brutal of ways.

It’s interesting to notice how everything about the cow barns are set up to discourage connection. Each cow is tied with its head turned away, hind legs facing the aisles. They are not even given the measly amount of space to move that the others get in their small pens. The most they can do is turn their heads slightly, pulling against the ropes that tether them tightly in place. It’s obviously not wise or safe to walk up behind a frightened two ton animal. Still, I try my best to spend time with the few that I can manage to get reasonable access to.

I hope that the small crumbs of affection I am able to offer them is worth something. I fear it may be the only compassion they have ever or will ever receive in their bleak lives. Tears well up as I gaze into their big baby eyes full of fear. How quickly they overcome their distrust and surprise at my soft words and gentle touch. How hungry they seem for the smallest source of love. It breaks my heart when they tug at their ties as I have to finally walk away. I try to take heart in the knowledge that I’ve done all I can and at least allowed them one solitary experience of true love. I tell them that I see them. That I love them. That I’m so sorry. I pray for mercy. I pray they will be the last beings to suffer this heinous fate. Even though I know that they will not be. I know what I am able to give them is not enough, but it’s all I have.

At least this year there were a few in the “petting zoo” area.

Opting Out

Why should I have to opt out of violence?
brutality and bloodshed shouldn't be
weaved into the very structures of society
I hate proclaiming "I'm vegan"
like it's something special and exotic
othering myself in the eyes of those around me

Why am I the odd man out for not killing animals?
it feels like I'm living life upside down
having to justify myself to those with
viscera and flesh stuck between their teeth
receiving weird looks for eating a plum
rather than slitting the throat of another being

Why is it my responsibility to explain choosing peace?
compassion and kindness were supposed to be the default
but in reality they are so far from the norm that
I am a sensation, a social pariah for caring for others
for simply trying to exist without victimizing those
not even worthy enough to be considered victims

Why is it my job to not ruffle any feathers?
years spent learning how to make myself small enough
not to offend the inhumane actions of the masses
choking off my own inner sense of justice and morality
just to share a meal with those I love
as they grin between bites of slaughtered babies
and mock me for not partaking in the carnage

Why am I the one left to make sense of this madness?
the surreal sensation of a sinking stone inside my stomach
as I snuff out the ever swelling righteous rage before it spills
out of my tight lips and separates me from all the "normal" people
that I desperately want to share my life with despite
their conditioned participation in egregious daily cruelty

Why is it weird and sentimental for me to cry
when the realities of this world come crashing down on me?
when I can't help but remember the shuddering suffering
of billions and billions of precious innocent beings
being exploited and mercilessly tortured and confined
on behalf of my own friends and family

Why do I have to opt out of violence?
why am I part of a pathetically small minority
of people who live by the values we all pretend to have
I'll never understand why it's even up for debate
whether we should subjugate and slaughter
or take the life of another for a fucking flavor
Omnivorous Irony – Protect the Innocent original 2020

The Density of Suffering

There is this weight
that presses me down
into the thick clay earth
the undercurrent of awareness
of all the souls left unseen
the immensity of the masses
subjected to bone shaking suffering
the surreal recognition of
the world somehow still turning
despite the violence that lurks
just below the surface
the colossal cruelty of humankind
how can a system so monstrous
continue to exist without consequence
how could justice ever hope
to tip the scales back from
what we've collectively done
what we continue to do
the inexplicable gravity of grief
overlooked and unacknowledged
left alone with this deep knowing
an anchor of unbearable anguish
I am helpless to lift from those I love
the gut wrenching screams of billions
kept hidden behind closed doors
cannot distill the poison these sins
spill into every particle of air
apparently no peace can prevail
until we all choke
Be Their Voice – Protect the Innocent Original, 2021

Freedom

Love
an enormous expanse of field
is closed in a few playful bounds
a sacred innocence we can all recognize
the halo of protection found within
a mother's unconditional embrace

Curiosity
big black baby eyes gazing from behind a fence
cautious steps slowly closing the gap
gently leaning toward the world beyond
timid retreat into the shelter of the herd
ever watchful and wondering

Joy
silent laughter embodied by the sight
of swift hooves chasing geese through
the tall grass at the edge of the pond
the silly, light-hearted mischief of childhood
the ecstatic freedom of first movements

Grief
the unending low bellow of a mother
robbed of her beautiful new born child
no form of personification could mimic
the unbearable pain of this deep ache
sinking into the bones of all who can hear

Shame
how dare humanity shun and ignore
the inner experiences of other beings
a disgraceful denial of the inherent value of life
the relentless drumbeat of bound, bleeding hearts
demanding their unalienable right to be free

Formerly Vegan

"I used to be vegan"
all smiles as they say this
confident this confession
has shown me that they
are one of the good ones

"I get it" they assure me
with their eyes fixed on mine
the strange sense of pride
that emanates from
their knowing smirk

I've never quite understood
why this is believed to be ingratiating
I'll let you in on a little secret
if you're a proud former vegan
I like you less than a life-long carnist

This comradery you imagine between us
only exists in your delusional mind
at least a non-vegan can feint ignorance
most people just don't understand
but you're a different breed

You've seen what I've seen
you've let it sink into your bones
let it change your whole being
then actively chosen to return to brutality
exploitation, suffering, and violence

All I see is the allegory of the cave
Plato knew it would be hard to believe
the world we've always known was all shadows
this I can understand, because I once lived
shrouded in the same blissful darkness

But Plato didn't account for anyone
knowingly turning back into the cave
the frustration of seeing someone learn the truth
and then throw it away in favor of comfortable illusion
that's worse than never seeing the light

40,000

There is a man in Italy
with a body made black
by tiny tattooed x's
a permanent reminder
of the burden he shares
the shameful knowledge
of a horrific truth
hidden in plain sight
the blood staining
the hands of humanity
is impossible to measure
6 million bodies burned
in German gas chambers
shaken to our very core
by the unimaginable cruelty
every two and a half hours
that same death toll is met again
with silence and disinterest
the clinking of silverware on ceramic
those 40,000 tiny x's
represent a body count
the sentient lives lost each second
to humanity's greedy palate
to grotesque notions of tradition
the earth groans under the weight
of our atrocities as they continue
unimpeded, growing every day
40,000 slaughtered every second
40,000 tiny markings of ink crowding one body
a silent protest, a sadly inadequate attempt
to atone for the immense pressure of suffering
that is impossible to conceive
that chokes the lungs of the world
with the thick, black smoke of karma
with the unreal irony of
the word "humane"
do not dare ask God for mercy
we don't know the meaning

Easy Vegan What I Eat In a Day (10th Anniversary Edition)

Over the last ten years of vegan living, I’ve come up with a pretty comprehensive menu of healthy, fresh, easy, and quick meal options. Despite my dislike of grocery shopping and cooking in general, I can’t help but be overjoyed when I look down at my grocery cart filled with brightly colored produce. There is also a simple joy and meditative peace from chopping up all these fresh fruits and vegetables each day, knowing I’m giving my body the very best fuel. I see it as the ultimate act of self love, giving my body and mind exactly what they need to heal, grow, and flourish.

I’d like to share the tips, tricks, and recipes I’ve collected over the years with any new or prospective vegans who might be struggling to transition into a healthier diet. In the beginning it can be very hard to balance health, time, and money while also trying to figure out what you can and can’t eat and resisting the temptation of old favorites. Establishing new eating habits can be frustrating and in the worst cases lead to giving up efforts to live a vegan lifestyle all together. I’m hear to help make sure that doesn’t happen by providing all the knowledge I’ve gained on my own vegan journey.

Breakfast

Breakfast is actually something I only began participating in within the last year or two. For most of my life I tried to “save” my calories for later in the day. However, it’s definitely been much better for my mental and physical health to start eating earlier. It also makes it much easier to avoid binge eating at night. Because I’m new to breakfast, I usually keep it pretty simple and similar every day.

Fruit: My go-to breakfast is usually a big pile of fresh fruit. I’ll make a bowl of cut up melon and berries, eat 2-3 bananas, or have an apple with peanut butter. My favorite my far in the summer is to start my day with a ton of super sweet, hydrating watermelon.

Bagel: Usually reserved for a weekend treat, I’ll also sometimes have a whole wheat bagel with natural peanut butter and a drizzle of agave. This warm and filling breakfast easily keeps me happy and full until lunchtime.

Lunch

If you’re someone like me who works 40 hours a week, lunch can be the trickiest meal of all. Some people go out to lunch every day, but if you’re trying to live on a budget or live in an area that has little to no vegan options, this is out of the question. My method for getting around this hurdle is meal prepping my lunches. It’s nothing elaborate, but I’ll spend an hour on the weekend making one big batch of soup for the rest of the week’s midday meal. Yes, it may seem boring to some, but I eat soup for lunch every day. I just LOVE soup. I keep it interesting by having an ever changing menu of soups to enjoy. Soup is one of the easiest things to cook in my option. It’s also a great way to pack in lots of leafy greens and healthy root veggies. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

  1. Lentil Potato Soup
  2. Cheesy Broccoli Soup (I add potatoes to this one.)
  3. Creamy Ginger Sweet Potato Lentil Stew (I use lite coconut milk.)
  4. Potato Corn Chowder
  5. Bean Soup
  6. Gnocchi Soup (A bit more expensive ingredients, but so worth it)
  7. Chickpea Noodle Soup (I use like coconut milk, again.)
  8. African Peanut Stew
  9. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup
  10. Cabbage Potato Soup

Dinner

With breakfast and lunch being taken care of so easily, the only meal I really have to put any thought and effort into each day is dinner. As I’ve mentioned I hate to cook so all of the seemingly elaborate and complex dinners I make are surprisingly easy to prepare. If I’m especially short on time, I’ll just have something extremely simple like a couple baked sweet potatoes (I use this for quick, easy baked potatoes) steamed broccoli with vegan butter, and roasted carrots or veggies of some kind (just wash, cut, oil lightly, season to taste, and bake in the over for around 30min.) Delicious!

When I have more time to prepare like on the weekends, I’ll make one of these mouth watering options. Given that I live alone, there is always enough for at least one day of leftovers too!

  1. Creamy Chickpea Potato Curry
  2. Veggie Peanut Sauce Stir Fry
  3. Roasted Sweet Potato with Peanut Sauce
  4. Aloo Palak (Indian Potato & Spinach Curry)
  5. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  6. Vegetable Potato Fritters
  7. Potato Pepper and Kale Bowl with Spicy Tahini Dressing
  8. Chickpea Noodle Casserole
  9. Creamy Broccoli Pasta
  10. Chickpea Corn Patties Over Kale Slaw

As my ten year veganversary quickly approaches, it is an honor to be able to share some of what I’ve learned with others. I hope that these cheap, quick, easy meal options can serve you as well as they have served me over the last few years. I hope that you will give your body the gift of fresh, colorful, healthy foods this year. And I hope that this advice will help with the often daunting transition to a more ethical, healthy, and environmentally friendly lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. Try these recipes out and discover how yummy veganism truly is! Let me know how it goes or if you have any favorite recipes you’d like to share. Don’t forget to like, comment, and/or share these recipes to support the incredible chefs that have come up with them. Be well, be kind, and enjoy!

MLK Quotes and Animal Rights

If he were still alive today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be 91 years old. Insane to imagine this man is only one year older than my grandmother. How much more wisdom would we have been able to gain from his presence on this earth had he not been assassinated? What would his opinion be of all that is happening in our world today? I would be so interested to be able to hear Dr. King’s perspective of the animal rights movement. After reading dozens of quotes from his writings and speeches on Monday, I was deeply touched by how many of these statements could be attributed to the oppression of other animals as well as to the oppression of different groups of people.

I’d like to think that because of the obvious similarities between all forms of oppression, he would be a supporter of animal liberation. Yet my cynical side doubts that would actually be the case. He may even take offense to the comparison as so many people seem to do and seek to distance himself from this even less well-received movement. Despite what he may or may not have added to this important conversation, I still think the comments he did make about social justice can and should be applied to the plight of all enslaved and/or subjugated beings.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This quote is definitely one of my favorites. This expression covers so much of what I feel about society today. Dr. King was a very hopeful man. He hoped against all hope. I do think he believed deep down that we would one day “live together as brothers.” However, I think it’s pretty obvious which end we’ve chosen, and it’s not brotherhood. It is my belief that our selfishness, ignorance, and greed will surely result in us “perishing together as fools.” Whether you want to apply this to the pandemic and our piss poor response or use it to reference our propping up of animal agriculture and its huge influence on climate change, pollution, deforestation, and species extinction, the ending looks the same.

If we can’t give a damn about others enough to stop spreading disease all over the world to suit our own convenience, we will surely perish. If we can’t respect the life and liberty of other beings enough to stop enslaving and killing them for a “yummy flavor” we will most definitely all perish. If it were only the human race that would be affected by the latter demise, I would say “good.” We deserve nothing less. At the very least, I will take comfort in the fact that you cannot get away with such atrocities forever. There will be consequences. And we will soon meet the ultimate consequence for our selfishness, our greed, and our infinite stupidity as a species. It will not be a tragedy either. It will be our due. It will be the ultimate stroke of justice to end our pathetic existence on this world which we do not deserve to be a part of.

A lie cannot live.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mother Earth’s Last Gasp

Nature is truly remarkable in its ability to adapt to ever changing conditions. Not only do individual species evolve, but the whole earth seems to shift and grow as time marches on to accommodate new creatures and circumstances and keep everything relatively stable. For a long time now it has seemed that human beings are some kind of wild aberration of nature, something that mother earth has no hope of adjusting to fast enough for our existence to be sustainable. Every now and then I’ll see something that gives me some form of dark hope for our planet though, some otherwise strange development in nature that no one seems able to explain. Just when I think mother earth has finally succumb to our brutality and greed, she surprises me with another clever innovation to overcome our destruction.

A few years ago on the news there was a lot of talk about a new species of tick. Apparently people who were bitten by this tick didn’t contract lyme disease or anything serious. No, this tick did something much more innocuous, yet important. It made its victims allergic to meat. I don’t recall how common this tick was or where about in the world it was located, but I remember at the time half-heartedly joking about procuring one of these little buggers to breed and systematically unleash on the world. If people couldn’t make the choice to go vegan to save the animals, themselves, and the planet, I would work hand in hand with mother earth to force them to. And I would have felt completely justified in doing so. Eating meat is one of those tricky “personal choices” that isn’t so personal when you realize the effect on others. It might be your choice to litter or pollute the water supply, but I doubt anyone would try to defend that as a right. (Even though pig farming is one of the biggest polluters of water ways.) But I digress.

I waited to see if anything would come of this miraculous little tick, but soon this news story faded into the background like so many others with little impact. Just yesterday though it occurred to me that mother earth may have a new trick up her sleeve with Covid-19. Ticks may not be capable of spreading around the globe very quickly, but a virus certainly can, especially this one. From the moment this pandemic started, I felt in my heart that it was nature’s immune system trying to rid it of another virus, us. Still, it made me wonder. After all, Covid is deadly, but not nearly as deadly as other illnesses that have sprung up in the past. No, it seemed as though Covid’s goal wasn’t explicitly to kill, but to spread quickly and over great distances.

One of the more peculiar symptoms of this virus has been the loss of taste and smell, particularly in that these senses often do not return after recovering from the virus. I recalled my coworker saying it wouldn’t be all bad to lose his taste. At least then he would be able to eat healthy with no qualms. I absentmindedly thought to myself, well maybe he’d even go vegan. (Not that vegan foods are not exceptionally delish, mind you. Meat eaters just assume they aren’t.) At this, I nearly jumped out of my chair at the poetic justice of it all. NO TASTE! THAT’S IT!

All of a sudden it felt as though I could hear the earth saying: Oh, fucking taste is the reason you continue to kill me? That stupid sensory pleasure is your excuse for slaughtering and consuming billions of animals every year, wasting my resources, and poisoning my environment? haha bacon tho? How about never tasting anything again? Maybe that will suit you better. If that’s what it takes to make you finally stop this madness.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a vegan is presenting all the important, essential reasons we must, as a species, change our diet if we hope to survive, and the unspeakable atrocities we commit every day by eating animals, only to be met with the counter argument, “but I like how meat and dairy taste.” It is absolutely infuriating and exasperating. It’d be like if we actively helped start and spread wildfires because “ooo, pretty.” It’s fucking stupid.

I am far too cynical to believe that the human race collectively losing its sense of taste would actually make people stop eating and abusing sentient beings. I am still curious to see what effect this will have on the human diet. It would be nice to imagine that with every last one of their already idiotic and irrelevant excuses gone, people would make the easy and obvious choice to adopt a vegan diet, but I have little hope of that happening. I’m sure everyone will just come up with some other illogical reason to continue on just as they are. Still it gives me hope to think that all is not lost. Mother earth hasn’t surrendered just yet. She is testing out new strategies all the time. Unfortunately we seem committed to forcing her hand and giving the unspoken ultimatum “kill us all or we will kill ourselves and everything there is.” I sincerely hope it does not come to that, but I’m not holding my breath for humans to change.

Mother Earth Posters | Fine Art America