Monday, July 22, 2013

Staying Healthy on a Vegan Diet-- More Than Just a Personal Issue

Being a vegan, I get a lot of questions and comments when people find out about my lifestyle. Their questions range from "What's your favourite food?" to "Do you feel healthier now that you're a vegan?", and their comments range from "I would be a vegan, but... ['I couldn't give up meat', 'My parents wouldn't let me', 'Carbs make you fat', etc.]" to an "Oh" followed by an awkward silence (which is by far the most ominous, in my opinion!).
The truth is, if you're the first vegan (or vegetarian) a person meets, they're likely to judge veganism as a whole based on the assumptions they make about you. It's been proven by social scientists that one negative experience with a member of a demographic group can jade people's opinions about that entire demographic. When you present yourself to others as a vegan when you first meet them, you are becoming the example of veganism to these people. This is why it's so important to be a good example of veganism to people who you meet-- it could affect their views of  veganism for possibly even years to come.
Being a good example is especially important when it comes to health. Many omnivores believe that vegans are generally unhealthy people-- which isn't true, of course. However, if you look unhealthy, people may assume that this is 100% due to your vegan diet. (Even if you have some unrelated health problem. I acknowledge that this is totally unfair.)
Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced vegan diet and get enough nutrients. "Oreo Cookie" Vegans, Obsessive Vegans, and people who don't bother to take fortified foods and/or supplements especially have to be careful of this. Exercise if you can, and get holistic treatment for any health issues that are bothering you. Not only will this make you look healthier to outsiders, it will also make you feel healthier, so you can help more animals and generally live a good, fulfilling life.
If you have the cold or the flu, I recommend not choosing to wear your animal rights garb that day. If you do, people may look at you and say, "Oh, look at his/her shirt: 'Vegan'. But he/she looks so unhealthy!" They won't realize that you just have the flu.
If you are suffering from complex health problems, I'm certainly not blaming you for not looking healthy as a vegan-- that would be cruel! If they are feeling up to it, people with poor health can still be animal rights advocates, although it might cause meat-eaters to be slightly prejudiced. If you can improve your health, then try to.
A good way to make sure you stay healthy on a vegan diet is to read vegan nutrition books (such as Vegan for Life or Becoming Vegan) or consult a dietician or nutritionist. You can also go to www.veganhealth.org for free, scienifically-backed information if you just need a bit of quick info.
It never hurts to inform people of the following:
Veganism can be very healthy if you do it properly, and many, many of us vegans are healthy! :)
And remember to set a good example; try to be as healthy as possible. Wear your "Vegan" logo shirt when you go running at the track, shopping at the grocery store, and walking the dog. People will look at you and say, "Wow! That person looks so healthy! And they're a vegan? Wow! Maybe I should go vegan, too!"
Have a great week! :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sable Island: A Wild Paradise for Once-Domestic Horses

In the Canadian Maritimes, there exists a small island that is often shrouded in fog and plagued by storms. Once you reach it, however, you will be amazed by the wild beauty of the place: horses roaming free, seals swimming in peace, sand dunes sweeping the vista, and sky and water. There are a few human-made buildings, but very few people can be found there and it is generally wild. This island is called Sable Island.
I've almost always had a fascination with this mysterious isle. When I was a lot younger, I did a school project on it, and I've been determined to go there ever since. However, it  is rather difficult to obtain permission to get there-- too many humans visiting at once would unfortunately ruin the pristine beauty of the place. Eventually, however, I will find a way!

File:SableIsland1.jpg
Photo Courtesy of  HiFlyChick at en.wikipedia
The "wild" horses on Sable Island aren't actually wild. Technically, they're feral; their domesticated ancestors (probably mostly taken from Acadians when they were being deported from Nova Scotia) were shipped to the island in the 18th century, and now they live in nature. The humans who do live on or visit the island aren't allowed to touch the horses, and they don't feed them. They just live amongst each other. According to Zoe Lucas, a researcher who has worked and lived on the island for about 10 years,
"[B]ecause the horses are protected, have been protected for decades, there’s no reason for them to fear people. You can make them nervous by misbehaving, but if you just behave yourself, and watch their body language, and don’t disturb them, they’ll basically — they might look at you, and then go back to grazing. [...] I mean, it’s a treasure, right? — to be around wild animals and have them ignore you. That’s basically the ultimate experience: to have a wild animal not chase you, and not be afraid of you — that’s perfect." [Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/80216-work-fun-all-same-sable-island-researcher]
Some people say that our domesticated animals would go extinct if we stopped using them for our purposes. But really, is this true? Looking at the Sable Island horses, there seems to be a truly perfect human-horse relationship. Could that be accomplished with currently domestic horses and other animals, as well?
Perhaps it could. We would have to set aside a lot of land for national parks, etc., but-- in my opinion-- we need to do this anyway to preserve the environment. Humans should stop consuming as much on individual, workplace, and industrial levels, and we should try to be more self-sufficient. Then, perhaps, we might be able to live in natural harmony with animals, as well.
Even with cows we could do this. A major argument from meat-eaters is that all the cows would go extinct if we stopped eating them. But in truth, if humanity made the transition to a vegan lifestyle over a few years, even (because there is no way we can convince every human being on Earth to go vegan overnight), people would eventually realize that certain heritage breeds of cows were going extinct, and those ones would be set up on wildlife reserves. The species of cows who have been bred to be dependent on humans would probably be phased out, but by no means would ALL cows go extinct. The same goes for pigs, chickens, and more.


Photo Courtesy of HiFlyChick at en.wikipedia

Seals also live on the island:

Harbour seals basking on north beach
© Parks Canada: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/sable/visit/visit08.aspx


Sable Island has become a National Park in recent years, meaning that it will be protected for decades to come. It really gives me hope that humans, animals and nature will one day be able to live in harmony with each other! :)

To see some gorgeous pictures of the horses of Sable Island, check out this photographer's website:
http://www.sableislandhorse.com/feral-horses.html

To read first-hand accounts of visiting Sable Island, to contact Zoe Lucas, and more, please go to http://www.greenhorsesociety.com/!

Feel free to tell me what you think! I'm always excited to hear your comments. What do YOU think we can learn from Sable Island? If you've been there, what have been your experiences? Do you think we should try to live close to nature in the way they do at Sable Island?
For me, simply thinking about Sable Island enchants the mind and warms the spirit.

Have a good week, everyone... Come back next Sunday for my next post!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Filler Post

Have a nice week!
(Sorry, but I don't feel like posting anything today.)



Coming up next week:
Photo Courtesy of http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/