Monday, 14 September 2015

My Journey To Health & Wellness


I’ve been tossing up whether or not to do this post for a while now (because I didn’t want to come across all “high and mighty”), but the fact of the matter is I am feeling happier and healthier than ever due to some lifestyle changes I’ve made over the past 12-18 months. I am writing this to share my personal experience, dispel a few myths and hopefully provide some useful information to those who are interested in moving towards a more compassionate and fulfilling life.


For the first 23 years of my life, I had little to no concern about health, fitness or nutrition. My diet mainly consisted of bacon & eggs, pizza, chicken parmas, fish & chips, steaks, McDonald’s and a plethora of other junk food. From ages 17-22, I would get blind drunk at least 3 nights a week and take drugs whenever the opportunity arose. At the time I didn’t see this as being a problem, as there were so many other people around me who were doing the same (if not much worse). Although I often felt lethargic, had mood swings, lacked motivation and was generally pretty negative about life, I had no major health problems so I was quite content to continue living this way.

It wasn’t until December 2013 when I had a cocaine-induced panic attack after DJing at a music festival that I really stopped and realised that my lifestyle choices were severely detrimental and something needed to be done. I was experiencing heart palpitations, acid reflux, stabbing pains in my pancreas and mental fogginess on a regular basis. Obviously my binge drinking and drug consumption were partly to blame, so I began to make an effort to cut back on the partying where possible. I would go a few weeks without drinking and start to notice slight health improvements, but due to social pressure and a lack of willpower on my behalf, I eventually reverted back to my old ways. I went back and forth like this for quite a while, until finally going completely sober on December 20th, 2014.


The next step was diet. My girlfriend Jade had been vegetarian for about a year (and I always admired her for that) however being an avid meat lover, I simply dismissed the idea of adopting that sort of diet for myself. Being curious by nature, I started to watch several documentaries such as 'Cowspiracy', which explains the devastating environmental impact caused by factory farming, and 'Earthlings' which shows the brutal reality of how animals are abused in the name of human greed. Exposing myself to these graphic images was shocking… So shocking that I often turned the videos off before they were finished because I couldn’t bare to see another cow be hung upside down, have it’s throat slit and drown in it’s own blood as it’s family watch on and scream in terror. If it’s not good enough for my eyes, why is it good enough for my stomach? Deep down I knew that slaughtering animals for my own consumption was wrong, but like many others - I chose to come up with any excuse imaginable to justify my behaviour and avoid making any real change because the thought of eating ONLY vegetables seemed so foreign and “extreme” to me.

Jade was holidaying in Europe at the time, and I thought it’d be a nice surprise for her to come back home to find me at least attempting to eat less meat. I tried being vegetarian for one day, and it was surprisingly easy. I then extended it to a week, and still found it quite easy. After about a month without meat, the health benefits started to show. My digestion improved dramatically and I had much more energy and mental clarity than I’d experienced previously. I started to wonder why I hadn’t tried this sooner and if there was anything I could do to feel even better. I then watched Gary Yourofsky’s famous speech on YouTube, and Jade and I decided the only logical thing to do was go vegan overnight. For those who are unaware, “vegan” refers to a person who chooses not to eat meat or ANY animal byproducts – including milk, cheese, eggs and honey.



Last week I turned 24, but more importantly it marked 1 year since completely cutting animal products from my diet. Over this year I have received quite a bit of criticism, snide remarks from family and friends and some sincere (but sincerely wrong) concerns for my health due to misinformation. Here is a list of questions I get asked frequently, as well as ridiculous excuses I hear from other people for why they could never go vegan…

1.Where do you get your protein from?”

This one always makes me laugh. First of all, did you know there has never been a recorded case of protein deficiency in medical history? There isn’t even a medical term to describe it. For whatever reason, people seem to think protein is the most important nutrient of all. Now I’m not saying that it isn’t important, but we can get MORE than enough protein from plants. Some of the most protein-rich vegetables include: spinach (49%), kale (45%), broccoli (45%), cauliflower (40%), mushrooms (38%). Aside from being less protein-rich – beef (25.8%), chicken (23%), eggs (12%)… using meat as your primary source of protein has the downside of being very high in fat and cholesterol, as well as being pumped with harmful hormones.

2. “God put animals on this earth for us to eat!”

I’ll leave this one to Mr. Yourofsky… “If you truly believe that God gave us the architectural plans to construct a house of slaughter, so we can cut the heads off his terrified animals… that he doesn’t mind when we steal newborn babies from their mothers, or cut their horns and beaks and tails and teeth off while they’re fully conscious… then what does the devil do? What could a cow, a pig, a chicken or a turkey ever do to deserve the wrath of God himself for eternal damnation? And for the record, I do not condemn God. I condemn violent rituals and bloodthirsty habits and traditions in God’s name. I’ve noticed something quite disturbing about all religious people all over this planet… They never EVER worship anything that God actually created, they only worship things that we created in God’s name. Bibles, crosses, churches, synagogues, Qurans, stars of David, The Wailing Wall. I can assure you that God is completely unimpressed with our creations, as long as we act like barbarians. Living in peace though… I think he’d be pretty impressed with that. You can’t possibly believe there are slaughterhouses in heaven, or that violence against animals was allowed in the Garden of Eden… and those are God’s 2 most perfect places.”

3. “I don’t like the taste of fruits and vegetables enough to eat them ALL the time”.

It has been scientifically proven that all tastes are acquired, with the exception of our mother’s breast milk. This means that we enjoy the tastes and foods that we currently enjoy because we have eaten them over and over again. If you decide to start eating more fruits and vegetables, I guarantee you will learn to love them. I used to HATE salad (literally wouldn’t even eat a hamburger if it had lettuce in it because that was too much greens for me) and would only eat a few pieces of fruit each week. Now I eat 10+ bananas for breakfast every morning and would gladly eat an entire meal of salad and feel completely satiated.



4. I’d love to go vegan, but I just couldn’t live without cheese/milk/eggs.”

As mentioned above, these tastes are all acquired and I’m sure after a few weeks you’d find that you no longer crave them. There are vegan substitutes for all three of these things. For milk: try almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk or macadamia milk. For cheese: try Daiya or nutritional yeast. For eggs: try chia seeds with water, or you can get vegan egg alternatives. Although some of these items are not particularly healthy and somewhat inconvenient to buy, they are useful for those transitioning from a standard Australian (SAD) diet. I’d always recommend eating predominately fresh fruits and vegetables over processed crap.

5. “It must be so expensive!”

I’m not sure how this myth came about. Since when do bananas and rice cost more than meat, milk, cheese and eggs? The fact that eating out at a restaurant as a vegan is slightly more difficult has encouraged me to do more cooking at home, which is a fun new hobby and also saves me a heap of money.

6. “We were designed to eat meat. Look at these canine teeth!”

The physiology of the human body is actually 100% herbivorous. The length of our intestines is 7-13 times the length of our torso, which is the same as all the other herbivores on the planet. The length of intestines on REAL carnivores such as lions, bears, dogs and cats is only 3-6 times the length of their torso. They have a very short intestinal tract so they can quickly push through decaying and rotting flesh (which contains animal protein, saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fatty acids). This is why it is physically impossible for a genuine meat-eater to clog their arteries. What’s the number one killer of human beings? Heart disease from clogged arteries! Humans (and other herbivores) sweat through their pores to cool themselves down, they don’t pant like cats and dogs. We also don’t have claws. We have carbohydrate digestive enzymes in our saliva, which is a trait possessed only by herbivores as we’re designed to eats lots of carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Our teeth are broad, short, blunt and flat just like all other plant eaters. As for the canine teeth, majority of other herbivores have these too as they enable us to eat hard fruits like apples. Our lower jaw moves in a side-to-side in a grinding/chewing motion, unlike carnivores or omnivores whose jaws only go up and down.

7. “That’s just the circle of life.”

There’s a big difference between a lion chasing a zebra in the wild, and human beings paying a corporation that pay other human beings to slaughter innocent, defenseless cows/pigs/chickens. The zebra has a chance to run away or fight back, whereas we don’t give factory-farmed animals that chance. Breeding animals for our consumption is not only unnatural, but also insanely cruel and completely unnecessary.

8. “Isn’t vegetarian enough? Why do you have to be vegan? Drinking a cow’s milk or eating a chicken’s eggs doesn’t harm them!”

Although a vegetarian diet is obviously more ethical than one that includes meat, animals are still being used as commodities. Their bodies do not belong to us; therefore we have no right to take anything from them or use them for our entertainment. Animals used for milk, eggs, wool, etc. are killed as soon as they stop producing the things that WE want them to produce, and therefore I refuse to support these industries. Also, a lot of people are unaware that cows need to be pregnant in order to produce milk, just like human beings. This means that cows are artificially inseminated so that they are constantly pregnant. As soon as their children are born, they are stripped away from them and taken off to the slaughterhouse to be made into veal. Having so many babies obviously wouldn’t occur naturally, therefore their udders become infected from overuse and a large amount of puss is transferred into the milk that you buy from the supermarket.

9. “You’re not making much of a difference. People will continue to kill animals and eat meat even if you don’t, so why do you bother?”

This is perhaps the most pathetic excuse of the bunch. Firstly, even if I were the only vegan person on the planet I’d still do it. Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forests, 20 lbs of CO2 equivalent and the life of 1 animal. Do the math for how much would be saved over 80+ years, and tell me I’m not making a difference. Pair this with the fact that there are 7.3 million vegetarians and 1 million vegans in the United States alone. And as Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”!

10. “Drinking soy milk and eating tofu is feminising due to the estrogen. I don’t want to turn into a woman! I’m a man!”

Firstly, milk and dairy contain up to twice the amount of estrogen as soy based products. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that proves soy consumption is harmful; in fact it’s quite the opposite. Studies show the populations that consume the most amount of soy always have the least amount of cancers and all other deadly diseases. The meat and dairy industries have noticed a decline in sales over recent years and therefore spread these falsehoods in an attempt to shut down the one thing that is a staple in most vegan people’s diet… soy. Any man who is hesitant to go vegan because they think it’s feminine or it will affect their “masculine” identity should consider the following… You are paying someone else to kill an innocent, defenseless animal for you. That is possibly the least manly thing imaginable. Real men eat plants.

11. “Where do you get Omega 3, Vitamin C, ________ (insert various other vitamins & minerals) from?!”

Plants. Plants. Plants.

13. “What about B12?”

B12 is the only vitamin that cannot be found in fruits and vegetables, but guess what? It doesn’t occur naturally in meat or animal products either. B12 is a waste product of bacteria, which is found in soil and in our stomachs. Although cattle farmers often inject their livestock with B12, consumers of animal products are more likely to develop a deficiency as the B12 in meat is easily destroyed - both by the heat that’s needed to cook it and the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs that’s needed to digest it. Meat also contains a heap of other factors that inhibit vitamin absorption. B12 plays an important role in brain function and the formation of blood, so it’s advisable to go to the doctor every few months for a check up (regardless of your dietary habits).

The list goes on and on…



All in all, making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle was without a doubt the most positive decision I've ever made and I'm yet to find a downside. I've become more accepting of who I am, my relationships have improved, I'm more grounded, I have more energy and determination, I have new hobbies, I'm more productive with my music, I'm more passionate... It has literally benefited every aspect of my life. If you told 21 year old me that in 3 years I’d be a straight-edge vegan cyclist, I would’ve laughed in your face and told you how ridiculous that is… but here I am! If you’ve got 48 minutes spare and you’re interested in learning more about veganism, I strongly urge you to watch the following video. It changed my life and hopefully it changes yours too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K36Zu0pA4U

If you have any questions or would like to know more, feel free to email me at hello@mikemetro.com



#GOVEGAN
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