Almost twenty years ago, I became vegan which turned out to be a life changing experience .
Although I shiver when I think about the way chickens, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, fish and other animals are treated before getting butchered for human consumption, that was not my main reason to adapt the vegan lifestyle.
I’m not a doctor, nor a scientist. I’m just a regular guy who likes to lead a healthy and active life. Ever since I was 16 years old, I have been practicing sports like running, bicycling, swimming, squash, fitness and the occasional rock climb. I guess you could say that as a young boy, I was pretty active as well. My friends and I used to play soccer at a field near my house, play in the woods, make camps or ride our bicycles the whole day.
We didn’t have any video games, computers, cartoon network and all the other stuff that kids get hooked on these days and keeps them from being active, and I guess I’m still thankful for that.
A history of weight problems
A first mayor change in my life occurred when my father, who was military, decided to send me to school in the army at the age of 15. It was one way to get me a cheap education and the same career as he had. But here’s the thing: I’m not really the army type I guess.
Being more of a free spirit, I don’t like/need people to tell me what to do and how to do it (basically having my life run by other people) all the time. The only thing I gained in the army during the six months I was there, was about 25kg and an unhealthy taste for beer… lots of beer.
That’s right, after only six months (I had done really bad at the year-end exams), I was “discharged” and returned to the civilian world, almost an alcoholic and weighing 89kg, which with my height of 170cm makes for a BMI of 30,8, which is Obese (not that I really cared).
I was 16 at that time and my dad made it clear to me that he had no intention to pay anymore for my further education, and that I should start looking for a job, which I did. I started working in the sawmill that was run by my grandfather and his brothers.
The hard physical labor at the sawmill made me lose weight very quickly. After only 3 months, it was down to 75kg. No need to say I felt a lot better by then.
Around that time I also started to do some jogging. After a hard day’s work at the mill, I still had enough energy to go running. It started with 3km, then 5km and pretty soon I was running 15-20km per day. My eating habits had changed too. Ok, I ate lots of meat and other “animal food”, but there were fruit trees at the sawmill and at lunchtime, I used to climb into one of them and just eat fruit (apples, pears, cherries…).
The 6 months I had spent at the military school hadn’t saved me from having to do my “military service” so at 18, I had to go back to the army for 8 more months, but this time I didn’t come out obese. Running had become my number one hobby and I managed to keep my weight around 70-75, which was still pretty high for my 170cm.
The vegan turnaround: Fit For Life
Fast forward… At the age of 28, I had a wife, two sons and was still running a lot, but I started to develop serious pain in my joints, especially my knees. Every time I went running, I was in a lot of pain for a few days. It was so bad that I had difficulties walking up the stairs.
I went to see several doctors, but the only thing could come up with was, that I had “over-trained”, or that I had “destroyed my joints by not stretching enough”. One of them, a specialist, even told me that I had better forget about running for the rest of my life… Ouch. The only solution was to take pills, heavy painkillers, and I felt bad to be having to take them in order to be able to practice my beloved sport.
Around that time, my wife (now ex-wife), who never felt good about her weight and was constantly on some kind of diet, came home from her doctor and told me that she had been advised to read the book “Fit for Life“, by Harvey Diamond. She became very exited about it, so after she read it, I did too…
The book basically describes how we can be in control of our weight and our general health by just being logical, going back to the basics and make sure that 70% of what you eat is fruit or vegetables, preferably raw. It is called the method of “natural hygiene“.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of the amount of crap they put inside themselves, slowly poisoning themselves, while they do so much effort to look good on the outside. This book really opened my eyes. Everything was so logical, so clear. It all made perfect sense, and especially because it also talks about how the right eating habits can lead to a life free of pain, I decided to give it a shot.
From one day to the next, I gave up all “animal food” and became a vegan (although at that time I had never heard of the word “vegan”). I started eating raw food like there was no tomorrow.
The first weeks are considered to be a cleansing stage, where your body gets rid of all the toxins that have been stored in in it over the years. Some people have headaches during this period, there can be some diarrhea, or, like I had, a nasty taste in your mouth.
Every day I made myself a huge bowl of mixed salad, and to my surprise, I quickly started to like them. Most people don’t come any further than lettuce, tomatoes and a lot of mayonnaise and ketchup when they think about a “salad”, but you can basically create almost any raw vegetable mix, add some black pepper and olive oil, and you have a fantastic meal.
I use lettuce, rucola, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, apple, raisins, strawberries, kiwi, corn, peas, to name a few things, in changing quantities to bring some variation. I re-discovered the pure flavors of all these vegetables and fruits, without being ruined by tons of salad dressing.
So what was in it for me?
Good question. Most people who heard that I didn’t eat meat or fish or poultry, or cheese anymore, looked at me like I was crazy, and almost everybody asked me where the hell I would get my protein if I didn’t eat meat.
There’s a whole chapter in “Fit for Life” about the subject of protein, but maybe you should ask yourself: where do cows, horses, and other grass eaters get their protein if they never eat meat? Or that other myth that you need to eat meat in order to be strong… I would consider a gorilla or an elephant to be pretty strong, but guess what… they eat only plants. Think about it…
In the second “fit for life” book, Harvey talks about how dairy products, other than what the food industry wants you to believe, are the biggest CAUSE of osteoporosis. That’s right. I know it is a bald statement, but it’s a fact that most cases of osteoporosis occur in those countries where people consume huge amounts of dairy products. I urge everybody to read Harvey’s books. It will quickly become clear to you how the food industry is manipulating the whole world population to slowly poison itself.
Bottom line is, I decided to become vegan and the results didn’t take long to appear. The pain in my knees and other joints disappeared after just three weeks. No kidding. After suffering for almost two years, and hearing from the doctors that I destroyed my joints I was able to run my 25-30 km again.
It didn’t stop there. I have contact lenses, and it was very annoying (and expensive) to have to put them in a special solution once a week to take off the protein excess that gets stuck to them. After a while, I noticed that my lenses didn’t become “misty” anymore so apparently the composition of my tears had changed as well, in a good way.
Also, skin problems, digestion problems, headaches, the throat infections I had two times a year… all gone… You don’t have to believe me, but I’m just telling it the way it was. Once you start eating living food instead of the processed alternatives, I’m sure that you WILL feel the positive impact after just a few weeks.
Now, almost twenty years later, I still consider becoming a vegan one of the most important decisions I took during my life, because after all, the most precious thing we have is our health, and it saddens me to see that worldwide so many people don’t seem to have the strength to leave the unhealthy lifestyle behind and start to enjoy a more healthy, happier and LONGER life.
I can go on and on about all the positive things that come with a vegan (or as close to vegan as you can get), but then this post would get boring. I’m just incredibly thankful to Harvey Diamond for writing the two books that changed my life. It would be great if just a few people, after reading this, decide to read the books, and join the growing group of people who take their health in their own hands.
So what about you?
Are you living a healthy, active life, or are you one of the many victims of the modern day food industry? It’s never too late to make a positive change and you don’t have to become 100% vegan to improve the quality of your life in a big way.
Update: October 4, 2012
Today, while browsing the net for something entirely different, I stumbled upon this video about the treatment of animals destined for the food industry. While every person with half a brain these days should be aware of what’s going on, I think most people choose to ignore all the cruelty, torture and barbaric treatment that farm animals have to undergo so that man kind can enjoy a juicy steak or tasty chicken wings.
Please take a look and decide for yourself whether you want to be part of this.
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