The Benefits of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge™: a foreword by Brenda Davis, R.D.
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Tags: 30-day brenda davis dietician health vegan vegan challenge vegetarian
I am so grateful for Brenda Davis’ endorsement of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. She’s one of my favorite people in the world and someone whose work I respect immensely. When I first became vegan many years ago, her work gave me the confidence I needed to transition healthfully.
In Brenda’s Words:
In all likelihood, you have already made a spirited decision to accept the 30-Day Vegan Challenge™ and embark on a journey that may, at this moment, seem rather daunting. Fear not! You could not have chosen a wiser way to begin.
The 30-Day Vegan Challenge™ is no ordinary online program; it is an extraordinary vehicle of change that is beautifully crafted to offer every morsel of support imaginable as you venture through unfamiliar territory. While your head may be spinning with questions, I can assure you that each and every one of those questions will be thoughtfully addressed in the content that follows – whether as written text, recorded audio messages, or videos. Take a deep breath, and know that you are in very capable hands.
My personal experience is as a registered dietitian. When I first decided to become vegan in the late 1980’s, I was employed as a public health nutritionist. I was not sure if there was another vegan dietitian on the planet. I thought that once the truth was uncovered, I might very well be ousted from the profession. I wondered how I could remain in a career that had at its very foundation four food groups, two of which were animal-based. The only reference to vegan diets made during my entire university training was a stern warning that such extreme regimens were downright dangerous. After considerable soul searching, I decided that I would stick with my chosen profession and make no apologies for my ethical choices. I decided that the balance of my career would be spent helping to ensure that those who had chosen a similar path would have the necessary nutrition information to succeed brilliantly.
With each passing year, the evidence in favor of plant-based diets grows stronger.
Today, even the most conservative medical and dietetic organizations in the world acknowledge the safety, adequacy, and health benefits associated with vegan diets. This shift is solidly reflected in the marketplace where mainstream manufacturers are increasingly using the word vegan on labels to sell their products. It is quite possible that these companies could find no single word that better captures the ideals consumers are seeking out: healthful, wholesome, responsible, ethical, and eco-friendly.
The evidence is quite clear that vegans have lower body mass indexes and are at reduced risk for most chronic diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. These are the very things that fill our doctors’ offices, hospitals, and graveyards. We live in a food environment that is essentially toxic. The incontrovertible fact is that our food system is responsible for the vast majority of our health care expenditures. Well-planned vegan diets produce a dramatic shift in this paradigm. And while the personal health benefits of vegan diets are impressive, their consequences beyond personal health are perhaps even more compelling.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle is arguably the most powerful step any one individual can take towards the preservation of this planet. It takes about 1/20th the resources to feed a vegan than it takes to feed a non-vegetarian. Intensive animal agriculture is simply not sustainable; it pollutes the air, the water, and the soil, and is among our greatest contributors to deforestation, desertification, and species extinction. A 2008 award-winning study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that our carbon footprint is more effectively reduced by eating 100% vegan one day a week than by eating 100% “local” seven days a week.
Perhaps the most gripping argument of all is that of ethics. For many of us, the beautiful illustrations of family farms in children’s storybooks stay indelibly etched in our minds. Unfortunately, for today’s farm animals, their lives are about as far removed from these images as they could possibly be. A hundred years ago, over 40% of Americans lived on farms; today the figure is close to 2%. With the consumption of animal products rising, how is it possible to supply sufficient meat and milk for such a huge demographic? Every year in North America we slaughter over 10 billion land animals for food, and over 90% of these animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s), otherwise known as factory farms. These facilities turn sociable, intelligent, feeling animals into production units. Their goal is simple – to produce the greatest amount of meat in the shortest possible time for the least amount of money. The consequences for animals are both unthinkable and unjustifiable. Although the average consumer is far removed from these establishments, efforts to invoke a sense of compassion in individuals are beginning to take hold. One can only hope that the words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, one of the greatest humanitarians of all times, will soon ring true:
“…the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility with regard to everything that has life.”
Each and every one of us who dreams of a kinder, gentler world – who shares this vision of real ethics – has the capacity to turn their thoughts into actions and to bring us a little closer to this reality. By participating in Colleen’s 30-Day Vegan Challenge™, you have taken the first courageous step towards this end.
When I had the privilege of experiencing the 30-Day Vegan Challenge™ in its entirety, I was touched by the compassion woven through each and every written and spoken word; I was awed by the painstaking attention to detail, and I was impressed by its reliability and accessibility. In a laudable effort to provide you with the most complete and practical guide possible, no stone was left unturned. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an outstanding writer and a remarkable human being. I cannot imagine finding a more capable and delightful partner in this journey. I am grateful that such a comprehensive resource exists and delighted that you have chosen to accept this challenge. May this journey be the journey of a lifetime. May it be a source of immeasurable rewards for you and for those with whom you are connected.
Brenda Davis is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. She has been a featured speaker at nutrition, dietetic, medical and health conferences throughout the world.