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By Olivia Janisch

Cruelty free, vegan, plant based, the kind diet – there are many different names for a lifestyle completely free of animal products. For many of us, going vegan is pretty extreme. Animal products are everywhere, and being the difficult diner on group outings is not the role many of us have the desire to assume.

There are many respectable reasons to go vegan, including the environment, animal rights, or the potential health benefits. For some, their connection to these causes is powerful and warrants an entire lifestyle overhaul, while for the rest of us, it just sounds completely nuts. There are some extremely redeeming qualities of a vegan diet that are worth incorporating into our lifestyle, if only to try something different.

1. Go plant based

You don’t necessarily have to eat only plants, but most of us could stand to incorporate more fruits and veg into our diets. Nature is incredible in its capacity to provide for us everything we need. From antioxidants to fiber to protein, fats and carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables have the healing energy of the earth and are packed with the nutrients we need for glowing skin, a clear mind, and a vibrant inner system.

Eating a plant based diet means that the majority of your meals and snacks are plants, nuts, legumes and fruits. Then if you want to do a cheese or meat or eggs those come last, but aren’t the bulk of your diet. Eating this way can totally transform your life by helping you to increase nutrient intake, lose weight, get better sleep, and improve your energy.

2. Get rid of processed junk

A lot of processed food has all kinds of random animal products in it that you would never even think of. Being aware of this helps us to get rid of snacks and junk food that make you fat and tired. Ditch the canned drinks and packaged sweets, swapping them out for fruit infused water, dark chocolate, and organic fruit and nut bars. It’s an adjustment at first, of course, but snacking smarter will quickly improve your life, eliminating artificial ingredients that contaminate your body and mind.

3. Shop locally

Shopping at farmers markets is not only good for your spirit, it’s one of the most responsible actions you can take as a consumer. Shopping with local farmers stimulates the economy and supports small business. It also ensures that you’re eating food that isn’t jet lagged from a flight from Ecuador or Africa, with a massive carbon footprint.

If farmers markets are inconvenient for your schedule, there are farm-to-table delivery services popping up everywhere now. Good Eggs and Santa Monica Merchant are both great places to start where you can customize your delivery with all kinds of items from local farmers.

4. Know your source

The impact of raising meat for human consumption is drastically changing our planet. The amount of resources including arable land and water that go into creating a pound of beef is absolutely startling, and should be noted. Without advocating that everyone stop eating meat, it’s fair to say that we should pay attention to how far our meat is traveling to get to our grocery store and plates.

It’s also important to consider the life of the animal that you’re eating the products of. Eating the meat of a fat and depressed cow, chicken or pig pumped full of hormones and antibiotics is no bueno for your bod, no matter what your morals. Seek out meat and animal products from quality sources, and eat organic and local when you can.

5. Respect for all life

Whether or not animal rights are a cause you’re into, veganism has a beautiful sentiment in that it recognizes and respects all life as sacred. If we can incorporate this into our daily routine, recognizing that everyone we come across is a child of creation, our own personal world will be a lot more kind and enjoyable. Keep this sentiment in mind at all times, and the innate love of humankind will flow unceasingly toward you.

Photo by Crucifix Jean-Luc

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