As I prepared to write this update on my year as a vegan, I looked back at my transformation story in the July newsletter and realize I feel even more strongly about changing to a plant-based lifestyle.

“So, now I am a dedicated vegan, discovering the enormous variety of food possibilities that don’t involve animals. I am already feeling lighter, both physically and mentally. The health benefits are a wonderful side effect in addition to the alleviation of suffering amongst our fellow animals and the protection of the environment.” – July 2022.

In the first eight months, I lost 10 pounds purely from a change to a plant-based diet and subsequently have lost another 10-plus pounds with the help of the Noom app (awareness and motivation). I am back walking, running, cycling and swimming, fitter than I have been in a decade. In fact, I feel 20 years younger!

My mental state is much improved, knowing that I am doing as much as I can to help the environment through my diet, avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of animal agriculture and alleviating the suffering of our fellow animals.

I have realized that I have been removing unnecessary components of my diet for many years as my desire for better health, better tastes and better environmental impacts has become more important to me. Back in the ’80s, I stopped taking milk in my coffee, driven by the terrible vending machines of the day that used powdered creamers of dubious origin. I realized that coffee and tea tasted better without the addition of cow’s milk. During the ’90s, I reduced and almost eliminated all added sugar and salt, primarily for health reasons as research showed the dangers. Again, I discovered they were hiding the taste of the actual food. In the early 2000s, I stopped eating red meat; in the 2010s, all meat; and, finally, fish and dairy in the 2020s.

I don’t see this as “giving up” anything, but as an enhancement of my appreciation of the taste of food. There are so many great chefs and restaurants providing wonderful plant-based food that there are no good reasons to continue to eat animal products of any kind. The availability of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains and, if needed, meat, egg and cheese alternatives means that you don’t have to miss out on anything.

We must start thinking more of ourselves as part of nature not the dominator of nature. The exploitation of our fellow animals is not necessary for our survival and, in fact, is a major contributor to our potential demise. The need to stop the destruction of our environment and the decimation of biodiversity is becoming urgent. We can all contribute by taking a kinder, healthier, more environmentally sustainable approach through a plant-based diet.