Ethical vegans may object to those who adopt a vegan diet vegan for health reasons alone and other incremental measures toward veganism espoused by popular media.
Rather than expecting carnivores to give up their Western diet habits overnight, “Veganist”, the latest book by Kathy Freston, health and wellness expert and author of “Quantum Wellness”, encourages people to “lean into” the vegan lifestyle.
Freston coined the term veganist by adding “-ing” to “vegan”, as in violinist or pianist. “A veganist is someone who does or studies implications of changing to a vegan diet and everything you can get from it,” she says. While the word “vegan” is sometimes perceived as a polarized term, “veganist” sounds new and promising.
According to Freston, who became vegan 7 years ago, “Taking small, manageable steps toward the changes we want to achieve has a more profound effect than trying to radically alter any one behavior.” As an example, she cites how she first gave up dairy products, then gradually became vegan by giving up eating one animal at-a-time.
Freston goes on to discuss the benefits of vegan eating including effortless weight loss, reversal of disease, environmental responsibility, and spiritual awakening. “These are just a few of the ten profound changes that can be achieved through a gentle switch in food choices.”
For those who discovered vegan diets as adults and took months or years to completely give up eating animal products, it makes sense that the greatest potential for change is in our daily actions: First, we adopt a plant-based diet little by little (perhaps by substituting mock meats at first), and then stick with it for the physical and spiritual health benefits. Still later, we become aware of the impact of our diet choices on the environment, on all creatures, and finally develop spiritually as a result.
In conjunction with Freston announcing “Veganist” on The Oprah show, Oprah’s 378-member staff took a “Vegan Challenge” and lost more than 4oo pounds in one week. While critics may point out that their vegan diet contained a lot of processed foods, or that few if any of them stick with a vegan diet in the long run, with “Veganist” is on the NY Times Bestseller list. “A case for moving toward a whole foods, plant-based diet.”) something positive must be rubbing off.
The Vegetarian Resource Group estimates that vegans make up less than one percent of the Western world’s population. “Veganist” offers hope that the needle has finally started to move. If you’ve tried to go vegan but haven’t been able to stick with it, why not give leaning a chance?