SDS 194: Why I Became Vegan

SDS 194: Why I Became Vegan

Veganism and Data ScienceIn this FiveMinuteFriday episode, I share to you how my year went since I started being a vegan. It’s been very great and it’s time that you guys also discover how it benefits for you so make sure to tune in!

It was September last year when I shared my experience of being a vegetarian. It has greatly improved my physical and mental health. Now, nearly after that SuperDataScience Episode, I and Hadelin stumbled upon the documentary film What The Health which talks about the real state of our food industry right now. It shows so many lies that health organizations are not letting you see, and it reveals so much truth about the healthy way of living.

It opened up a lot of things that I really didn’t bother to know about. Here are some questions that were answered by the movie: How big is the contribution of raising farm animals in greenhouse gases? Can we get the right amount of nutrients, like calcium from milk and protein from meat, if we go vegan? Do we really need Vitamin B12? What is a whole-food plant-based diet? Believe me, there are questions from the movie that rise up that you haven’t even crossed your mind. We tackle them all today.

I also share to you how I got motivated to start this, how I still have the drive, and what was my journey like. After seeing the documentary and learning that my health, the environment, and the animals could benefit more if I turn vegan, those were enough reasons. To tell you the truth, I’m not fully 100% vegan sometimes, I sometimes eat fish once a month. And you could do that too. You could start by lessening your meat intake for a week. Then, if you’re already getting the pace, be ready to cut it off fully. Then, do the same for dairy products, processed foods, etc.

Just like any diet, it will be hard to commit at first, since your body will also withdraw – releasing all the toxins you’ve gained from the unhealthy habit before. But you just have to have the drive to go through it so you could see the same benefits I got.

Discover more about my experience when you listen in! Just remember that what’s important is to stay healthy for our body, mind and well-being to perform at a 100% in career and in life!

(Note: If you’re going to make any change with your diet or lifestyle, consult a health practitioner first.)

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This is episode number 194, Why I Became Vegan. Welcome back to Super Data Science Podcast. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, super excited to have you back on the show and today we've got a very interesting and fun story on how and why I became vegan.
Now, before we dive into it, I wanted to kick us off with a disclaimer. This episode is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please do not take any of its content as health or other source of professional or health care advice or nutritional advice. Everybody's different. Everybody's needs for food, nutrition, and health needs are different so make sure to consult with a health practitioner and also the contents of this episode are just my story, how things happen for me, and my interpretation of things.
Now, having said that, let's get to the story. So, make sure you're comfortable and let's see how everything unraveled.
So, the chronology of events was as follows. Last year, I posted an episode on why I became vegetarian and described all the benefits I'm seeing, the boost in energy, how I'm feeling and things like that. That was after a year of being vegetarian. And the reason for that is I don't like to just share comments, or posts, or podcast episodes about something that I'm just experimenting with. That's why you waited a year to make sure that I am seeing the benefits, I'm able to maintain consistently and see good results and that's when I decided to share my story.
Actually it was really cool to see all the feedback I got. Many of you posted. Many of you said amazing comments and shared your stories with me so I got some very interesting feedback from you guys. So, thank you very much to those of you who posted and gave me some comments on that. Then, I was vegetarian for a bit longer. In total, I was vegetarian for one and a half years and then in September last year, Adlan and I, after going to a couple of Vegan restaurants and really enjoying them, but then in September last year we wanted to dig into this topic further and so we found a documentary about veganism and decided to watch it. And the documentary is called What the Health. It's actually quite recent. It was produced in 2017. Very well made, very cinematic. It goes into detail on [inaudible 00:02:35] I think it's from the creator of Cowspiracy. The same person that filmed Cowspiracy created What the Health. Amazing, highly recommend to everybody. Even if you're not planning on becoming vegan, it is just incredibly made and really opens your eyes to some things. It dives into three topics on why veganism is actually good for you. It dives into the health aspects, how that affects your health, how affects the environment, and how that helps animals. So, there's three main reasons for going down this path.
So we watched it and literally, watched in the evening, the next day or within a couple of days we became vegan. That's it. No negotiation. Straight there. To be honest, I have to clarify here that we do have our own cheat days or our own ways that we mix things up. We're not 100% vegan all the time. Most of the time, like 95% of the time we're vegan. I will sometimes eat fish like maybe once a month occasionally or if there's fresh fish around then I'll eat it more frequently. Whereas Adlan has his own system where he's 95% of the time vegan but then 5% of the month he will just eat anything and that's kind of his own way of structuring diet. That's why I said of the start that these are our interpretations and everybody's unique and different and you will find your own path if you look for going down this way.
Yeah, but apart from that, we decided that this is the best options for our health, became vegan. Now, it's been a year, so Adlan and I, so you've heard that right, not just me but both of us. Adlan and I and Adlan, those of you don't know is my business partner, he's also the co-instructor on the machine learning A to Zed and deep learning AI to Zed blockchain, and most of our major flagship courses.
So, both Adlan and I have been vegan for a year now. Of course, these are our own interpretation of this diet. Yeah, so, that's how it happened. We're very excited about it. We're continuing doing that. So, let's talk about a few things.
So, first of all, not just vegan. Well, I can't speak for Adlan here but for myself I'm not just me again, but the diet I follow is called a whole food plant-based diet. If any of you are interested, a great doctor on this topic is Dr. John McDougall. He's got a few books and one of them is called The Starch Solution. I haven't personally read it but I've seen some of his other works and he's got a website, got some interesting recipes. He's also in ... and he's in one of the documentaries. I'm not sure if he's in What The Health, I think he's in Forks Over Knives or something like that, but a very interesting person.
It's not just about being vegan it's actually about following a whole food plant-based diet. So, no processed food, minimum emulsifiers, minimum other types of like colorings, other ingredients. You know whenever you see in the ingredients you see something starting with an E, E like 234 or something like that, all those things, not necessary for your body, actually do damage to your body. So, that's the type of diet, whole food plant-based. Another thing is my mom is vegan, I'm just checking my notes here, which is really cool. What I would say is that you ... in the movie they say that you experience health benefits within like two weeks after starting this whole food plant-based diet and it's true. Within two weeks felt lighter, haven't felt ... very rarely I feel bloated now or very rarely I feel heavy in my stomach, always full of energy, all those stories that you don't get enough iron, you don't get enough protein if you don't eat meat, that's all nonsense.
If you do your research, if you plan your food, if you watch what you eat, you can get everything from a purely whole food plant-based diet and there's a beautiful app for that which is free. It's called Cronometer, C-R-O-N-O-M-E-T-E-R so no H in that word. Cronometer, you can download it, you can put in what you ate like cup of rice and it'll tell you exactly what you got. Fibers, carbs, how much and so on and it'll compare it to how much you're burning per day, really, really cool thing. If anybody's interested in that. Basically you can get everything from a whole food plant-based except for one thing. There's one vitamin you can not get and that is vitamin B12.
So vitamin B12 you can not get from a fully vegan diet and to be clear here, so some people might say that, "Well that is because you need to eat animal products, you see B12 isn't contained in plants and so on so we have to eat animal products." Well actually, no. Actually B12 is generated by this bacteria that lives on in the forests, I think it's bacteria it might be something like micro organisms that live on leaves especially towards the ground and where it's dirty. Basically where there's dirt, where there's some manure or some other stuff and through that natural process that micro organism generates this vitamin and then cows and other animals eat the grass and then they have that B12 in them and that's why you can get it with meat and other animal products.
But, the reason why we can't get it from plants is because we no longer live in forests, we no longer eat leaves or pick stuff off the grass and we don't have access to that, everything is you know, comes from farms where everything's sterilized and your fruits and vegetables there they don't contain that B12 anymore so that's the reason, to the best of my knowledge why we don't get B12 from a whole food plant-based diet and that's why B12 you take a supplement. I take a supplements like a little spray once a week or several times a month is enough. You just need a tiny amount of B12 but it's important that you get it.
So that's that, and then everything else you can balance out, you can just make sure by observing things you're eating and checking them, for instance on Cronometer that you are getting the right amino acids, the right carbs, the right fats and so on.
So, what are some of the benefits of being vegan? Well, definitely as discussed the health benefits like a lot of energy, a lot of strength. In fact some of the strongest people on Earth are vegan. Some of like pro athletes and that what I like about this movie is that at the end they give you examples of people like body builders and other types of athletes like marathon runners and so on who are vegan and they're totally fine. So, lot's of health benefits, clarity of mind, focus and things like that. Of course, enviornmental aspects are very important as well, by not eating meat you're helping save the planet. Statistics are pretty crazy like to produce one burger, it takes about something like 50 liters of water in order to produce one burger because of like, the cows drink the water and then the crops require water and so on. So it's pretty crazy.
Also, most of the ... and I mentioned this in my other episode, most of gas in the greenhouse effect that is causing over heating, global warming on the planet doesn't actually come from factories and cars and airplanes as you'd think. Those all account for about like less than 50% but more than 50% like 51 or 52% of these gases that are causing the problem, and the main one is methane, that comes from cows, from their digestive system because eat grass and the way they digest it it produce methane, goes into the atmosphere and that's where most of it's coming from. I think, as far as I remember, several football fields. I think it's 40 football fields, 40 like stadiums of Amazon Rainforest are cut down every minute in the Amazon Rainforest. So 40 stadiums of trees are cut down every minute in the Amazon Rainforest and most of it goes for either soy production, which is in most cases used to feed cows and livestock or it is used for the livestock grazing pastures. That is also pretty insane.
There's like ... I think there's like a billion cows on the planet right now and that's also ... like then are numbers are enormous and all of that is affecting our planet in terms of environment, in terms of the oceans, in terms of trees and so on and so by being a vegan, by eating just plant-based products you're really reducing your enviornmental footprint and helping this planet survive.
Then the other benefit is of course animals, right? So animals are extremely mistreated and it's your way of just taking care of them by choosing not to eat animal products. Again, I'm not advocating for everybody to become vegan and things like that, just my story and how I feel about this. Why I feel this, like the power to go through because it is sometimes difficult like for instance after becoming vegetarian for one and a half years and then vegan for a year I don't miss ... I don't miss meat anymore. When I look at meat it does nothing for me. Most of the time it just feels strange and a bit disgusting even, but I do miss cheese. I really miss cheese and the reason for that is that when you eat cheese, it goes into your system and then it triggers, kind of affects your brain the same way that morphine affects your brain.
So basically, not as strong, but same type of chemical reactions, something that happens in your brain and the effect is similar to morphine. Basically it's addictive, right? So, whether you like it or of course if you don't like it, you don't like it, but if you like it it's not just because you like the taste and maybe you know it like ... it's a taste that you develop over time. It's actually because you are getting addicted to it, and it's really hard to let it go and that's probably the reason why I still miss cheese, that I really think about it a lot and ... but like, you know I've been ... it's been pretty, pretty crazy but I've been pretty diligent with this. In the past year I think I tried one slice of cheese, that's pretty much it because I know, you know like other things like fish for instance and stuff, I know it's easier to control whereas with cheese it's addictive so I'd rather just stay away from it, kind of cold turkey approach.
Another thing I wanted to say is that this wasn't my first attempt at becoming vegan. I tried way back, back when I was still at Deloitte I tried twice because I had a roommate, his names Chris and he was vegan then, I think he's vegan again now. He had his own type of diet so I tried ... he inspired me, basically and so it's always good to do like with friends or roommates and stuff and so he inspired me to try. I tried it but it didn't work for me and his diet involved a lot of smoothies and juices and stuff and for me, once I tried it the first time, the second time I became really ill. I became sick like I don't know, three, four times a month. I remember being sick six, seven times in the space of like three months. Just with like flu and then I get better and then flu again and colds and stuff like that and I just didn't understand what was happening and he kept telling me that, "Hey man, you gotta wait, it's like your toxins coming out of your body, it's gonna happen," and so on, so on, so on.
At the time I didn't really understand what he meant but now after doing all this research and doing that 10 day fast I did in Bali and other understanding how all this works I can see what's happening and what is happening is when you eat processed food, when you eat meat, when you eat things that contain emulsifiers and you know just other unnatural stuff, toxins, basically toxins that come into your body. A lot of those ... or even like you know, toxins that come out of the air because of the cars driving around. It's just like whatever toxins are around, when they get into your body, a lot of the time ... like I won't ... don't quote me on whether it's 100% of the time or whether it's 10% of the time, not sure but a lot of the time they are actually not water soluble, they are fat soluble. What that means is that they can not be removed from your body with just water. You can drink as much water as you want but they're there, they can only be ... they can only attach themselves to fat so when something's fat soluble it's kind of like ... you know if you have water and you drop a drop of fat on it, like oil or something then it doesn't defuse in the water it just stays there.
So, a similar illustration so fat soluble toxins that can only be taken away, taken out of your body with fat and so what your body does is when there's excess amount of toxins that can not just naturally go through your system like through your liver or whichever way they go out of your body. What it does is it creates fat to store those toxins because it knows okay, I can capture those toxins with fat and put them away so they don't affect me, so they don't ruin the digestion or the organs and they don't affect the body in general. And so, that way your body creates fat and stores away toxins so not only does your body create fat when you over eat and things like that but it's a protective mechanism to capture toxins and put them away. Then what happens once you go vegan, like cold turkey from eating meat five times or three times a day, seven days a week, when you jump to being vegan is that your body has so much of these toxins, of this fat because it's been getting excess toxins all the time so it's been putting them away, putting them away, putting them away.
Now, you jump to vegan and all the sudden has this opportunity to clean up it starts burning that fat because you're probably not eating as much or eating enough, getting enough ... like you need to watch how much you eat when you're vegan to get enough nutrition. I eat a lot. And so especially when you start being vegan your body starts fixing itself up, it might burn the excess fat and as soon as it starts burning excess fat all these toxins start coming out and where so they go? They go into your bloodstream. They go through your whole body to get out but in the process they're ... inevitably before they get out they're going to cause some harm to you and that is why your immune system drops, you become sick and a lot of people take that as a sign that no veganism is not for me or vegetarianism is not for me, like I got sick so many times, definitely not for me.
But the reality is your body is going through this healing process and hence you're becoming sick, not because the food is making you sick. So, that's that. Some things you should be careful of and therefore again, don't take this as health advise but my view is that if I was talking to a friend I wouldn't recommend to go straight into being vegan from meat eating to vegan right away. I might be, like I'm probably not in line, not consistent with other or like I'm not ... a lot of other professionals in this space or vegans will not agree with me but that's my view. All those people just say just go straight vegan, my view is I would rather go slowly. Maybe cut out ... a lot of us eat meat three times a day. Breakfast is bacon, lunch is like a sausage, dinner is a steak and things like that and it happens most days a week.
What I would do is I would cut out ... and I've recommend this to one of my friends, you cut out meat on two days out of the seven, preferably in a row like Friday, Saturday or something like or Tuesday, Wednesday. Just pick those two days and you don't eat animal products. Not just meat, meat, cheese, eggs, all that stuff, dairy. You don't eat all that stuff for two days and so you see how you go. Maybe one day to start with and then two days, three days. Gradual, gradual transition and again, everybody's different. My point is maybe for many people doing it gradually can be easier psychologically and actually maybe it can be not as shocking to the system in terms of the health aspect.
While we're talking about dairy, just now I mentioned dairy, what I wanted to say on that as well is that dairy, there's been plenty of studies to show that dairy ... like milk and stuff, you know how we all hear that milk helps stronger bones because it has calcium? Well actually that's not true. There's been quite a few studies and two that I've heard of that have proven that milk actually makes your bones weaker and why is that? Well because milk is an acidic environment, is an acidic substance and when you drink it what happens is your body needs to neutralize that acidity. Yes it gets calcium out of the milk but it needs to leech more calcium out of your bones and in order to neutralize that acidity so therefore, your bones become weaker.
There was like, one of the studies was about, I think it was about women and the study was over several ... actually quite a long study I think it was like over a decade and they studied two groups of women. One group who were drinking milk, another group who weren't drinking milk and they were looking at hip fractures and there were way more hip fractures. There were statistically significant larger number of hip fractures among women who were indeed drinking milk. So, you know, there's something.
All of these numbers, quotes are all available in any of those documentaries. If you want to watch one then the one I mentioned at the start of this, What the Health. Great place to start, please get some more information on this topic.
One more thing I wanted to say, very important as well. To keep your body alkaline, to keep your body more alkaline we mentioned, or you'll hear this in an upcoming episode where we talk to Carl Massey, author of The Guidebook To Happiness he'll be in one of the upcoming episodes and we'll talk about this there, about water. You need to keep your body alkaline because when you're actually born, when a baby is born it is alkaline, mostly alkaline. So PH 7.0 is middle, medium ground. Below that I think it's acidic, right? So PH below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. And so let's have a look, yeah, zero is totally acidic and 14 is completely alkaline.
Your body is slightly alkaline, should be slightly alkaline, 7.35 and 7.45. Basically when a baby is born it's more alkaline as it grows, as it eats more meat and more milk and all other acidic things it becomes less alkaline and more acidic and guess what? Cancer, it thrives in acidic environments. It can not survive in alkaline environments, it thrives in acidic environments and that's why meat, in fact what is it? I think either bacon or eggs by the World Health Organizations have been classified the same level of cancerogen, or something that causes cancer, as cigarettes. Right on the same level, how crazy is that? That is how dangerous these things are for your body if you eat them over a prolonged period of time.
Yeah so, as you grow up, as a baby grows up it's body becomes more and more acidic and that's where cancer can thrive so it's important to first of all drink water to make sure you're hydrating enough. That's kind of separate, that's just like you need water to clean your body and drink. I drink at least two liters per day and that's before lunch. Before lunch I drink at least two liters of water. Probably throughout the course of the day between three and four. But in terms of PH ... what's it called? Vegetables and whole food plant-based diet it helps bring up your PH so it helps make your body more alkaline because you're consuming ... instead of consuming meat you're consuming vegetables and green leafy vegetables and things like that so you can look that up and you'll see that most of these things that are green and vegetables, they're usually alkaline and they help your body become more alkaline which is good for you.
You know I think, I think that's all that I wanted to mention here. I hope you enjoyed this episode, it was quite a long one, coming close to 30 minutes now. But I found it important. I was looking forward to sharing this episode for a year now. As you can imagine I was so excited after a month, after two months, three months. I remember counting down the time, and it was at some point it was six months, eight months, ten months. I was really looking forward to sharing this with you guys but I specifically waited for a whole year and yeah, I'm enjoying it. If you're interested then definitely consult with your health practitioner, do your own research and stuff like that but for me it works. I feel lots of energy, feel clarity of mind, focus, and things like that.
One negative I will mention is that if I do eat meat now, or chicken, if I just try it, I did that by accident. I think when I was still vegetarian. It's hard for your body to handle it, so just look out for that. If you're gonna go down this path you gotta make sure that you can sustain it or you can continue with it because if you then try to eat meat again, it will be difficult. It can be difficult, that's what it's like for me so I just wanted to put that out there as a heads up. It's the price you pay I guess. But other than that, very happy with this choice, very excited about it. Gonna keep doing it. Yeah, let me know if any questions, hope you enjoy the episodes, throw in your comments here. I'll read them all, i'llsee what you guys have to say, what kind of diets you guys are following. Very interesting, I think it's important because we use our brains so much in the workplace, as data scientists, analysts it's very important for us to be in the right state of mind, have the right energy and focus to perform our work and jobs and do whatever we need to do.
And on that note, thanks so much to everybody who supported me on this journey, to everybody who's inspired me to be vegan, vegetarian, and to explore these paths. I'm very excited about everything here, so thank you so much everybody and thank you for being on the show here today. Hope this episode was useful and I look forward to seeing you back here next time. Until then, happy analyzing.

Kirill Eremenko
Kirill Eremenko

I’m a Data Scientist and Entrepreneur. I also teach Data Science Online and host the SDS podcast where I interview some of the most inspiring Data Scientists from all around the world. I am passionate about bringing Data Science and Analytics to the world!

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