Shielagh Shusta Hochberg, Ph.D. - Personal Growth Throughout the Life Cycle
Meditations and Reflections

Why Vegan?

When people find out I am a vegan, 
I get asked many questions from all corners--family, friends, colleagues, clients-- about why I live a vegan lifestyle.  For some reason, the idea of eating only foods derived from plants: (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) seems to many to be strange, suspiciously unsatisfying, and impossible. Some worry vegans don't get enough protein and other essential nutrients. Ah, I eat well and I am brimming with health and vigor. I am not wasting away, anemic or underweight. Far from it!

Initially, I began eating a vegan diet for my health.  

I'll let the good folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) give you a visual to answer a few of the questions I get asked a lot.  Visit to print out your own easy to read copy of this chart.

What is a vegan?
The Vegan Society, a British organization founded by Donald Watson in the 1940's and who coined the word vegan, defines a vegan this way:

A vegan will not eat any animal products, for example:
  • No meat, fish nor other products that come directly from killing an animal, such as animal fats and gelatin.
  • No dairy products such as cows milk, cheese and yogurt; nor goats milk.
  • No eggs nor foods containing eggs, such as Quorn.
  • No honey.

The Vegan Society also says (italics mine):

"Today, the Society remains as determined as ever to promote vegan lifestyles - that is, ways of living that seek to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. With your help, veganism will soon be accepted and understood across the globe. Ultimately, the use of animal products (such as meat, dairy, eggs, leather and wool) will be viewed as an inhumane and unsustainable practice from a much less enlightened age."

"Isn't It Hard to Be A Vegan?"
As a psychologist and vegan coach, people often tell me how great it is that I became vegan but say that they know they just wouldn't be able to do it.  But no, becoming vegan really isn't difficult. 

Consider the resources available now: plant-based reference books; vegan blogs; vegan coaches, nutritionists and dietitians; restaurants friendly to or even catering to vegans; farm stands, markets and stores; plus scads of great cookbooks with amazing recipes so you can begin to prepare vegan dishes right away. Chances are you already have things in your kitchen to whip up something tasty.  Here are photos of some I've made myself:

Tofu Scramble topped with Homemade Cashew Queso and Salsa

Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Soy Protein Powder and Home-Grown Parsley

Cinnamon Sweet Rolls frosted with Maple Glaze (really easy, too!)

All above photos © Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg

If you are ready to consider a vegan lifestyle, 
here are just a few ways to get started. 
Remember, Knowledge is Power!

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 21-day Vegan  Kickstart site offers valuable health information and suggestions for transitioning to vegan eating. PCRM works hard to further the cause.

The book The Engine 2 Diet by firefighter Rip Esselstyn, with the vegan rationale clearly stated, and lots of yummy vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. Rip has a great website and a new book out called My Beef with Beef, which as I write this has reached Number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

Ready to tackle the nutritional ins and outs and have ammunition to use when inundated with questions or deluged with reasons why you shouldn't go vegan? Vegan For Life by Virginia Messina and Jack Norris, both respected, registered dietitians who are also experienced vegans, will answer all those questions, and some you never thought to ask. The link takes you to Virginia's lovely and informative website, "The Vegan RD".

Prospective and newbie vegans should check out the blog Post Punk Kitchen by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, an incredible vegan chef and baker. Just reading through the recipes with their succulent photos will tempt you to tie on an apron and grab a wooden spoon. Her cookbooks are wonderful, too.

If you would like a guide, I provide vegan coaching.  
Call me at (212) 777-0775 if you'd like an appointment.

for your health
for the animals
for the planet

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