Week Two: What’s Your ‘WHY’?

Week two of Ken’s annual veggie challenge came and went with another trip, this time a wedding. This meant that it presented him with another opportunity to falter.

Ken: Hunger and cravings spiked this week after cutting fish out of the diet. A visit to Seattle for a wedding meant another buffet of meat. The taste & smell is still familiar and since I’m doing this for the healthy lifestyle rather than moral reasons, the appeal of a roasted pig (tradition at Chinese weddings) was a true test of will power.

Ken faced up to the challenge like a true champion and was able to resist the buffet. It would seem that his commitment to his health is strong enough to overpower his desire to satisfy his taste buds. Ken talks about this mindfulness in his week one summary, which you can read about here.

I want to spend a little bit of time on mindfulness right now. I could have touched on this in week one, but when Ken said “...I’m doing this for the healthy lifestyle rather than moral reasons…”, it triggered something in me. Lately, there has been a huge shift of focus inward, and people are really questioning their motivations, their beliefs, their values, their commitments and how well their actions are in alignment with their truth. Simon Sinek talks about this in his very popular book titled ‘Start With Why‘. Although the area he’s attempting to impact is satisfaction and success in the workplace, the process of delving deeper in to ourselves to understand thyself and thy motivations in order to guide our choices and actions, can be applied to any area that we want to cause a breakthrough in. Including the choice to become vegetarian or vegan, whether it be for a challenge or forever.

Sinek discovered a guiding principle to success, and he summarizes it using The Golden Circle.

Golden Circle

Sinek identified that most companies work from the outside in. They are clear about what they need to do and with a bit of thought, how they need to do it, but Sinek argues that the most inspirational and successful leaders and companies in the world work from the inside out. You can watch his speech explaining The Golden Circle on Tedx Talks here.

In the case of adopting a vegan lifestyle, the ‘WHAT’ would be what you do. Easy. You stop consuming animal products, so all meats, fish, eggs, honey and dairy. You stop using animal products such as leather, silk and wool and you switch up all your household and beauty products to those that neither test on animals nor use animal products (such as beeswax). Easy to ascertain right?

The ‘HOW’ is simple as well, you simply no longer buy products that are not vegan and make sure that wherever you go, there are vegan options for you (such as weddings).

But the most important aspect is the ‘WHY’. Your ‘WHY’ is your purpose, your cause, or your belief.

What are you really standing for? What will you spend your life’s energy working towards? What is your true purpose in life? What kind of future do you want to leave behind for the next generation? What and who will you vote for with every dollar you spend? What will be your legacy?

Being aware of your beliefs and then acting from them is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. People often ask me if I feel lighter after becoming vegan (a common question that refers to how difficult it is for our bodies to digest meat and dairy). My answer is always “Yes, because my conscience feels so much lighter”. This is a perfect example of how living and acting in line with my belief that animals deserve to be treated with just as much respect and dignity as humans do provides me with a sense of pride and peace. It has integrity and gives my voice power. It also gives me conviction in the face of challenges (like Mum’s amazing cooking!). Just in the same way that Ken was able to resist the buffet, as his ‘WHY’ was very much front of mind for him, trumped all temptation and did not inhibit his ability to follow through with his ‘HOW’.

For the switch to veganism, there are many reasons ‘WHY’ people choose to guide their life based on vegan principles. Here are the main ones:

  • HEALTH. (See a comprehensive list here.)
    • Vegan diets have less saturated fats which is linked to cholesterol and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the Western world.
    • Vegan diets have been shown to prevent a number of diseases including blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, arthritis and osteoporosis.
    • A great documentary to watch about why the Western diet is not optimal is Forks Over Knives.
  • ETHICS.
    • Animals in factory farms are treated as objects rather than living beings and are subject to horrific living conditions and painful slaughter.
    • There is no reason for animals to suffer in the name of fashion, food, entertainment, beauty, supplementation or shelter when there are cruelty free alternatives available. Check out Choose Cruelty Free for brands that don’t test on animals and/or contain any animal products.
    • For a grim glimpse in to the lives of animals under our current paradigm of “humans first”, watch Earthlings.
  • THE ENVIRONMENT. (See a comprehensive list here.)
    • Animal agriculture produces MORE greenhouse gases as measured in CO2 (18% of the world’s emissions) than transport (that’s cars, buses, trains, trucks, taxis, ubers, ferrys, boats, submarines, airplanes and motorbikes etc combined!).
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for 80%-90% of US water consumption.
    • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US, compared to 5% which is consumed in private homes.
    • Livestock covers 45% of earth’s total land.
    • ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF SPECIES EXTINCTION , OCEAN DEAD ZONES, WATER POLLUTION AND HABITAT DESTRUCTION.
    • Every minute, 7 MILLION pounds (3.175 MILLION kg) of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US. That’s 130 times more waste than that created by humans in the US.
    • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
    • WE COULD SEE FISHLESS OCEANS BY 2048.
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
    • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals and the animals are eaten by Western countries.
    • A MUST SEE documentary on the environmental impact of animal agriculture is Cowspiracy.

Generally speaking, the more connected you become to your ‘WHY’, the easier it will be for you to succeed. The way to get connected with your ‘WHY’ is to educate yourself. Expose yourself to the facts. Visit the sites I’ve linked, watch the documentaries I’ve recommended, do your own research. Get to know where you really stand on these matters and the only way to do that is to get real.

A sneaky benefit that Ken noticed in his second week could also be considered a ‘WHY’. This one is fantastic because there is a myth about the cost of veganism and how it’s only really available to the privileged. NOT TRUE! Here’s what Ken found:

Eating fresh veggies and fruits has become easier and at times more convenient and fulfilling than eating out of the box snacks.  A food processor has become one of my favorite kitchen tools for quickly dicing up veggies to put into an omelet, stir fry, or other culinary experiment.

At work, I’ve found more and more places that have extensive vegetarian menus.  Thanks to being right near a major tech company, the options for Indian and Asian cuisine seem endless.  That being said, I need to get better about prepping meals at home.  Oh, added perk of going vegetarian, its cheaper!  Quite a bit cheaper.  Eating out, vegetarian meals tend to be 20% cheaper than the options with meat.  Even shopping, the replacement of animal products with vegetables has reduced weekly grocery bills by quite a bit.”

Thank you, Ken for busting that myth! I don’t know why the myth even got created but for some people, a real deterrent for giving veganism a go is the perceived cost. But if you think about it, how expensive can rice, beans, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables be in comparison to a lifetime of meat, fish, dairy and eggs? One cup of lentils contains almost the same amount of protein as 113 gm of beef but without the saturated fat and at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention the hidden cost of healthcare once your arteries start to give way and your chances of cancers increase due to a high consumption of animal protein and fats. Why aren’t we talking about that? Seems crazy to think that governments and health care professionals don’t promote a vegan diet more openly and instead, keep us all in the dark for the sake of profits. This is why it’s so important to do your own research and do what many people in the world are doing at the moment, waking up and calling ‘bullshit!’ on what companies and governments try to tell us is the truth.

Here’s a teaser for you, try hunting down the truth about dairy and why it’s not a good source of calcium. You won’t be able to look at another commercial or ad for milk and cheese in the same way again.

For now, I wish you happy (fact) hunting and soul searching as you begin to design what you want your life to be about and what you choose to stand for in this world. Make it good, make it great, make it EXTRAORDINARY, like you!

If you’d like to read about Ken’s Annual Veggie Challenge in chronological order:

  1. Ken’s Annual Veggie Challenge
  2. Week One: Mindfulness without Obsessing

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