Why You Need to Become a Vegan

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Alicia Silverstone cooking with her family. (Photo: Amy Neunsinger)

Alicia Silverstone might be best known for her role as Cher Horowitz in the 1995 hit ‘Clueless’, but it’s her vegan activism that still has us buzzing about her. In 2009 she released “The Kind Diet”, a guide for adopting a plant-based diet. In honor of Earth Day, Silverstone is sharing her insights with us, as well as a few of her favorite vegan recipes.

These days, it seems like there are a million and one problems in the world; global warming, droughts, rising food costs, toxic waterways, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, starvation—it’s enough to make anyone want to crawl into a hole with a big bowl of ice cream. Of course, you know ice cream’s not the solution. But what if I told you that the ice cream you’re craving is actually one of the causes of every single one of those problems? What if I said that by choosing nondairy ice cream instead, you’d be taking a huge step toward solving them all?

When it comes to your health, do you feel like your body is some mystery that only your doctor understands? Do you feel like getting older is just another way of saying “falling apart”? What if I told you that, by eating a varied, plant-based diet, you will strengthen your immune system, beautify your skin, increase your energy, and reduce your risk (significantly) of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, allergies, asthma, and almost every other disease? The food we choose is not the only factor in our health and well being, but it’s definitely one of the most important—and, luckily, it’s one we have control over.

When I wrote The Kind Diet, my goal was to change people’s relationship to their bodies and to food—and to turn the whole idea of “dieting” on its head. I wanted to show how eating “kind” could make you feel whole and balanced in a way you might never have imagined.

Ready to give it this style of eating a shot? Start by prioritizing food. I know, you’re thinking, “I already prioritize food—I’m always on a diet! I think about food all the time!” But that’s not what I mean. It’s time to really reacquaint yourself with actual food, the stuff that comes out of the ground, the stuff that’s designed to go in our bodies, supporting not only our physical functions but our hearts, and even our souls.

Here’s another promise that perhaps you need to hear: You will not feel deprived. If you make that single decision to prioritize food, try out some recipes, and explore some great healthy restaurants, you will be amazed at how delicious this food is. I didn’t grow up vegetarian (as a kid my favorite food was pork chops) so I’ve made the transition that I’m asking you to consider. Not only was it possible, it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

By the way, this isn’t a lifestyle designed for celebrities and rich people. I’m not selling you some glamorous program that requires ridiculous equipment, fancy private sessions, or expensive creams. This radiant health is available to every single one of us because it’s nature’s way. And these days, the food is even cheap; trade in steak for grains and beans, and your grocery bill goes down. Find a local farmers’ market for great prices on organic vegetables. You may find, over time, that you see your doctor less often, that you walk more and drive less, and that you don’t need that coffee, antacid, or sleeping pill.

One of the things I love best about this lifestyle is that you will actually become part of the solution to our global problems. Following a plant-based diet dials down our insane consumption of resources like fresh water, oil, coal, and the precious rainforest. It helps to heal the environment by denying support to toxic food industries. It’s a significant move toward ending world hunger and distributing food more equitably. So, why not start today?

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