After visiting the Vegfest in Brighton last weekend and being part of several Vegan forums, I really would like to share the need for a new concept: Ecocentrism.
Many of the people who become vegan do so for the animals; they decide to pursue a route of kindness and avoid cruelty against other living beings. I really could not agree more, even though I became vegan for health reasons, that really did open my eyes to the need for kindness and the reality that living beings do die, for human’s taste buds (not survival).
But for many vegans, the connection between this compassionate lifestyle and health is still broken and many carry on eating heavily processed foods that jeopardize their health anyway.
The role of health within the vegan community needs to be stressed. If we want the planet to change, we need to become the image it should change to, and living a processed, even if vegan, lifestyle, creates contradictory messages. So how do we become more Ecocentric and why should we do so?
1. Be kind to yourself: Whilst writing in an online vegan forum, I mentioned that a “vegan diet should also be healthy “ and someone replied: “who cares about health, it’s all about the animals”. That was a surprise to me but also it made me realize that maybe not a lot of thought goes into why we become vegan. Those who become vegan for the animals care about not hurting them, but what about not hurting ourselves? If we want living beings in the animal world to be healthy and happy, shouldn’t we also consider how healthy and happy we are? Being kind to other animals and not to our body is a huge contradiction! After all, we are animals too.
2. What’s an Ecocentric? Be it: When it comes to being vegan, we need to think not only about animals, but also nature. We (both humans and animals) share this planet and we need to preserve it. By being a junk vegan, we may stop the cruelty against animals and the increasing commercial farming that is destroying the land we need live on, but we still support companies that use chemicals, plastic and the likes, affecting the eco-system around us! So we need take a step back and think: what am I doing for our system? Put yourself in the middle of that “universe” and see what is around you! By making yourself Ecocentric, you are able to look at the ripple effects of your actions all over! Eat from nature; she gives us what we need to stay healthy and preserving our planet.
3. Get involved: I always say this: when we get the chance to, if we have even a little patch of garden available, ditch the flowers and plant the veggies! We seriously need to go back to basics and learn how to work with nature; getting involved with the creation of food! The argument that we need commercial farming to feed the planet (and destroy it in the process) can be changed if we all try and be productive instead of just being consumers. We ought to invest in programs that help us learn about nature and working with it, so we can be sustainable and we can help the growing population to live healthily but also nature to stay strong!
4. Prevention is better than the “cure”: When we eat a poor diet, rich in processed food, we are stressing our body! We are poisoning ourselves with toxins that the body struggles to expel. When natural detoxification is impaired, we face disease! We come across chronic inflammation that leads to all sorts of illnesses. Some people, who find themselves in this situation, may approach their ill health from a holistic standpoint (which I hope) and the first thing they will be told is to clean up their diet and go back to nature! If however, the junk vegan follows allopathic medicine, they might be given drugs! So, the issue here becomes: drugs are not vegan! Most of them are tested on animals and it would be terrible for a vegan, who dedicated his/her whole life to protecting animals, to then be part of the cycle. The only way to avoid this conflict of interest is to look after our health and stay healthy! The Vegan Society supports my views and even THEY advise to stay healthy rather than curing diseases with drugs that are in fact tested on animals anyway!
5. Know your farmer: Buy locally and seasonally as much as you can! That allows the food to be sourced at the right time and without hurting the planet with this “massive industrial farming business!” Try and find a farm close to you; get to know the farmers and their practices and try supporting vegetables and fruit over meat. Let’s face it: most farmers need to make money and if animals guarantee their livelihood, then they will make that choice (unless you have a vegan farmer) so let’s support them through their vegan produce and push them to see that the future is not in hurting animals. (No matter how freely they live and kindly they were treated while they were alive)
6. Be the image of change: When we are out there inspiring others to become vegan we need to show people that they can look and feel better. A lot of my clients asked me: “aren’t there fat vegans?” and the truth is that YES, there are! But that is because they eat the wrong things! At the Vegfest I saw too many overweight people eating vegan but unhealthy food and that is just not inspiring! We need to look alive, have bright and clear eyes and complexions, energy and vitality one cannot ignore! The right sort of food provides that and this is what we need to show non-vegans - that a change is worth it!
You can see that the core of these principles and tips is to put humans in the middle of it all! We make decisions each and every single day that have a huge impact on animals and the planet. By not taking that role of central point and becoming Ecocentric, and taking responsibility, we are not really doing our mission as vegans any justice, in fact we are rather hypocritical. Not eating animal products is great, but it is not enough, not if we want the planet to be healthy and have happy and healthy living beings on it!
Contributor, SERENE Social
Chantal is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Author, Yoga teacher and founder of Live Lean Health and Live Lean TV.
Her journey started 16 years ago after two years long battle with anorexia and 14 yearsdestructive relationship with food, which forced her to then turn her life around due to health issues.
She mainly works with women who seek positive change, physically, spiritually and emotionally, and other clients who want to regain their health and feel their best ever!
Find more about her and events on her website: www.liveleanhealth.com