new year’s re-solution

Tis the season. ’Tis the season to celebrate, over-indulge, reflect and perhaps decide to make some significant changes for the upcoming new year.

The new year is a yellow striped starting line (ready-set-go,) an esoteric “do-over,” a “wipe-the-slate-clean-and-begin-again” point. The landscape of the New Year may be the perfect time for a transition to a vegan lifestyle that is healthful, compassionate, forward thinking and environmentally effectual. It’s like multiple resolutions wrapped up in one big paradigm shift. But first we have to re-evaluate our perceptions.

To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions
— Stephen R. Covey, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Many of our conscious perceptions come “pre-packaged,” because we are taught most of them throughout a lifetime of school, ads, religion, television, celebrity, branding and now social media — and then they become solidified through time and reinforcement. Would you agree that much of our culture is not set up to encourage us to think outside the box or challenge the norm? Sometimes, though, like a Riker’s Island prison break, we blast out of that box, and everything changes. Yes, veganism is a different lifestyle than the one we’ve grown up with, but once explored and understood, it is as natural as sun and rain.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
— Wayne W. Dyer

Oprah calls it her “Aha” moment. We’ve all had our own version of this. Maybe you’ve said at one time or another. “I’ve never thought of it that way” or “I’ll never look at this the same way again.” What we experience in these moments is a shift in perception, and when our view of the world and our place in it changes, it is called a paradigm shift.  Veganism is that shift.

Great changes start with our own personal paradigm shifts. They start with thinking about your inherited views that just maybe are views you might change with the right “trigger moment.”

One of my “trigger moments” for becoming a vegan was viewing a documentary called Earthlings. (www.earthlings.com) To say that it was an “Aha” moment would be an understatement. I wanted to know where the food I was eating came from, so I could make informed decisions. Soon after, I became what is known as an ethical vegan. Many people make the transition to veganism exclusively for their health. Their “trigger moment” might be a heart attack or a diagnosis of the beginning stages of diabetes or obesity.

They may have seen the health-focused documentary, “Forks Over Knives” (www.forksoverknives.com) or What the Health" (on Netlix) and discovered that a plant-based diet could literally save their lives. An environmentalist who recognizes animal agriculture as the leading cause of climate change threatening our future may experience that “trigger moment” after watching the documentary, “Cowspiracy” (www.cowspiracy.com), which emphasizes the urgency of reducing methane emissions from animals raised for food and the environmental agencies that will not address the issue because of financial reasons.

With so many health, world and spiritual concerns taking place during this volatile time in history, changing our perceptions may be a very viable option.

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury. It’s becoming critical
— Pema Chödrön

here are five reasons to consider a change in perception & a transition to a vegan lifestyle:

1. Lose weight: This first reason is likely the No. 1 resolution of all time. Vegans are, on average, up to 20 pounds lighter than meat and dairy eaters (www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/obesity). Physician Dr. Neal Barnard, a nutrition researcher and the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes, “There are many advantages to a vegan diet. 1. Dieters can eat as much as they like of plant-based foods without worrying about calorie counting. 2. Plant-based foods are high in fiber and filling so they offer appetite control. Vegan dieters don’t feel hungry and don’t overeat. 3. Vegan dieters lose more weight between meals than those on a traditional diet plan. 4. Plant-based meals allow people to reduce their fat layer without reducing muscle mass and bone mass.” (http://yummyplants.com/vegan-nutrition/vegan-health-tips/dr-neal-barnard-discusses-weightloss-using-a-vegan-diet/)

2. Get healthy: Vegans are less likely to develop diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. (www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/vegan-diet-cancer_b_2250052.html)

Study after study shows that a plant based diet can prevent, and in some cases, reverse disease. This is a great way to start taking care of yourself and your family for the future.

3. Save animals: More than 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year for food. The animals raised for our “food” can feel joy and comfort, fear and pain — just like our cats and dogs do. They are not commodities, they are living beings. And all living beings desire the freedom to live out their natural lives, whatever that may mean for them.

4. Save the planet: The Humane Society International is one of the many organizations that claims that “Raising enormous numbers of land animals for food causes significant emissions of three of the most important climate-changing gases, disrupting weather, temperature and ecosystem health.” (www.hsi.org/issues/climate_change/)

5. Vegan food is awesome: After a short and easy learning curve, vegan cooking and eating becomes fun, joyful, creative and delicious. There is a vegan version of just about anything, with sumptuous tastes that are satisfying, filling and mouth-watering. Dozens of new vegan cookbooks are coming out every day with ways to make gourmet vegan cheeses, gourmet vegan entrees, casseroles, stir-frys and unbelievable vegan desserts.

As you make your new year’s resolutions, I invite you to choose them wisely and consider some of the advantages listed here. May this new year see you live as loudly, fully and richly as you can — with an open mind, a grateful heart and a willingness to change your perceptions. Happy New Year

Sande NosonowitzComment