The Evolution of the Revolution
A couple months after becoming friends in 2006, Donovan and I (Melissa Schwartz) both decided to become vegan. At that time we didn’t have many vegan or vegetarian friends, we didn’t know much about the profound health benefits of being vegan, we didn’t know about the devastating environmental impact that animal agriculture has on the earth - all we knew was that we loved animals and didn’t want to support industries that profited off abusing and killing them. We wanted to know how to be healthy as vegans; Donovan is an athlete and he was particularly concerned about the possibility of this new lifestyle adversely effecting his athletic performance. It might seem silly now because veganism is much more mainstream than it used to be, but at that time we had to actively seek out information on veganism. There was, and still is, so much misinformation about veganism and we knew we were going to need to do some real research to find information that wasn’t biased rhetoric produced and promoted by agribusiness.
The first thing we did was buy books by prominent vegan athletes like body building champion, Robert Cheeke and Ironman triathlete, Brendan Brazier. We wanted to see empirical evidence and first person accounts of what effects veganism had on the human body. We quickly learned that not only could we be healthy on a vegan diet, we would in fact be way healthier than we were when we were eating animal products. The resulting education was definitely a karmic perk of having compassion for animals; one we may not have ever sought out otherwise.
We realized that there were so many myths about veganism that had absolutely no basis in reality. The colossal amount of misinformation about veganism is being addressed over time, but it still always surprises and shocks me when I hear people talk about the dangers of veganism in relation to human health. I can imagine it happens way more in places other than Los Angeles, but it happens here too, and I even hear it from the mouths of very well educated (though not on the subject), very intelligent, very well meaning people.
For a while we were still the only vegans we knew which felt somewhat alienating and disheartening but eventually we volunteered to shoot a red carpet event for our friend Shannon Keith’s new documentary about fur, Skin Trade. I remember being in absolute awe of the amount of vegan people there. We had never known about nor experienced the vegan community in LA before. It was nothing short of life changing to be surrounded by so many kind, compassionate, motivated, creative and inspiring people.
At that same time we were starting our photo studio together, and we ended up having access to so many amazing vegans to do test shoots with. While working with all these new friends, we quickly realized that shooting vegans could have utility in helping dispel myths about veganism. This book is the product of a series of photos and interviews that we started creating those years ago.
It has been such an honor to have the opportunity to befriend and work with some of the very same people that gave us confidence in the health benefits of the vegan lifestyle at a time in our lives when we needed it. We have shot and interviewed many vegan activists, models, athletes, actors, health coaches, chefs, etc. over the years, and every single one of them has unique insight to offer people that are newly vegan or interested in learning about veganism. You can see more photos and interviews from different contributors at www.theveganrevolution.net.
The people we selected for this book are specifically endurance athletes, bodybuilders, health coaches, nutritionists or chefs. We also included some highly successful people from other fields. Many of them are also authors and you can find their books if you want more information from them. We consciously tried to include people that offer more information or other services related to the vegan lifestyle, so that readers could reference them in the future if they so choose. Additional support in the form of other health/fitness books, cook books, sessions with health coaches, etc. is available on our website as well.
We hope their chapters can inspire you to feel that you have what it takes to get your health and body into the shape you seek and also to help you realize that you have the power to make the world a better place.
 Shannon Keith is an animal rights lawyer, activist and documentary film maker. She is also the founder of Animal Rescue Media Education (ARME) and The Beagle Freedom Project (BFP).
The opinions and beliefs of each individual in this book are their own and are not necessarily shared by all or any of the others represented herein. As you will see, many people even have opposing views on how health and fitness goals are best accomplished.
This book does not provide medical or legal advice, it is for informational purposes only; as with any big change to one’s health, diet or fitness regime, please consult a physician that is knowledgable on the subject of nutrition, especially if you have serious pre-existing conditions.
You will see there is a theme throughout this book of questioning what is generally accepted. Always seek more information for yourself when something doesn’t make sense to you. Even when data, facts and figures are coming from a source that is thought of as reputable, it is important to find out more if there is a premise you don’t feel is objective or acceptable. While there are definitely entities that willfully produce and distribute misinformation, keep in mind that much misinformation is not consciously perpetuated. Research until you feel confident about what you believe, especially when your own well being and the well being of others is at stake. When in doubt, a good place to start, is looking into where the funding for specific research comes from. Often research is biased in favor of the financially responsible entity. Whether intentional or not, reality can be - and often is, misrepresented.
 Nutrition is not an area of focus for most medical professionals. Some resources for finding a doctor who is well versed in the benefits of the vegan diet are www.holisticmedicine.org and www.drmcdougall.com/doctors. Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is another great resource although it does not include a referral directory.
Health, Fitness and Veganism
Health and fitness. For better or worse, these two, closely related subjects seem to constantly be on our minds no matter how healthy or fit we may be. They are such important elements of our lives. Our health can literally be the determining factor in how long our lives last. The quality of our lives is also directly related to our level of health and fitness.
We know how important it is to take care of our bodies. The motivation to be healthier and fitter is all around us. While having a fit body can benefit one’s confidence in a big way, the motivation to get into great shape isn’t just about feeling good about how we look. Our bodies are also a reflection of our health and energy levels; two extremely important entities to prioritize indefinitely throughout our lifetimes.
Clearly, obtaining an optimal level of health and fitness is worth working for, for so many reasons, yet it may seem so difficult an objective to accomplish, especially for those of us that feel like we are currently very far away from our future goal(s). We live in a world with so much competing and inaccurate information about nutrition and human health, we are constantly bombarded by the promotion of food products that are terrible for us, we are often rushing in our busy lives and don’t take the time to take care of our everyday health needs - it is extremely easy to make unhealthy choices and subsequently become unhappy with ourselves in regards to our bodies. It is also extremely easy to make choices that are detrimental to not only ourselves, but others and the world around us as a whole. Fortunately though - it is also possible to recognize the need to evolve and educate ourselves enough to enact changes that will profoundly better our lives. The most important of these changes is discontinuing to consume animal products. Improving our own lives with this simple premise simultaneously benefits the lives of others and the world we live in.
A Revolutionary way of Thinking
Are you ready to make the best decision of your life?
There is one thing you have the power to do right now that can change your life and literally save the world. Stand up for animals, other humans, the planet, possibly even your own life - and witness yourself and your universe transform. You can make your life so much better and you can do it right now if you decide to. Today is the first day of the rest of your life; today is the day you can choose to become vegan.
Veganism isn’t just about taking control of your health, changing your body or becoming the best physical version of yourself that you can be. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself you can be, period.
You can lose weight. You can gain muscle. You can gain endurance. You can become stronger. You can become faster. You can be fitter. You can be healthier. You can save animals. You can preserve the earth and it’s resources. You can begin to recognize and take a stand against violence, wastefulness and injustices so prevalent that we often don’t even notice them. You can become vegan.
You already have everything it takes to reach your most sought after aspirations, no matter what you may think; no matter how unsuccessful you’ve been at attaining such goals in the past. All any of these things requires is conviction, education, practice and perseverance.
Reasons to become vegan are almost too significant to quantify or qualify. Overall, boycotting animal products is better for the animals, better for the planet and better for your health. Those are huge, HUGE reasons. Conversely there are only two, much less significant, albeit hard to get past, reasons not to be vegan. 1) Most of us grew up eating animal products so we are used to it being socially acceptable and habitual. 2) We like the way animal products taste.
Habit, cultural acceptance and instant gratification.
It’s interesting that when we get stuck in some facet(s) of our lives that we’re not happy with - it’s these same forces that tend to be the ones that hold us back from what we deeply want.
There is no real mystery about accomplishing something as tangible losing weight, becoming fitter or gaining muscle. We pretty much know what we need to do - eat healthier and work out more. The real question is how do we break old habits? How do we learn how to have self discipline? How do we learn to be patient? How do we not give up when it gets really hard?
We need inspiration. We need motivation. We need an education.
The process of becoming vegan is actually a lot like the process of creating a healthier, fitter body. Both transitions necessitate will, determination, belief in oneself and practice. Luckily, if you do it right (and sometimes even if you do it less than right), becoming vegan with jumpstart your health and body goals. Also, if you care about animals and the environment, becoming vegan will help you accomplish your health and fitness goals in other ways too, because there is one thing above all else that can help you build the skills that will facilitate your health and fitness transformation: conviction.
Conviction will ultimately be the thing that is most responsible for your success or failure when it comes to changing deeply engrained habits. Conviction inspires courage, it teaches self discipline, it generates patience - it has the power to instill so many virtuous qualities; recognize it as an indispensable tool for accomplishing your most desired goals. The kind of powerful and profound conviction that compassion for animals offers you is something this book will never be able to give you. No amount of words will ever convey the urgency or the seriousness of the situation for the animals. Life changing conviction is a few clicks away though if you have internet access. Go to www.meatvideo.org and watch. If you can’t handle it right away watch it first with no sound. But take that twelve minutes and really do it. Anyone can do anything for only twelve minutes, and it is so important that you do. It will show you one facet of what is at stake and deeply motivate you to take action.
That’s the beautiful thing about veganism as it relates to your health and fitness; the desire to become a healthier, fitter, better looking, better feeling version of you is not just about you, it is about protecting others and the world around you. And that is so much more powerful.
The only other things you really need to succeed are education, practice and perseverance. Combine these elements over time and there is no way you won’t succeed. For some people the shift away from old habits is easy. For most others though, it isn’t. Expect to go through some difficult times when you feel like you won’t accomplish what you’ve set out to. Understanding that it won’t be easy and forgiving yourself for not being perfect right away is often essential to lasting success when attempting to change your life in a significant way.
Once you successfully transition into your new lifestyle the amount of effort it takes to maintain is far less; when you go through hard times, remember this and know it will get easier.
Find your conviction, educate yourself, practice doing what you know you need to and preserver. You can change your life. You can change the world.
The Revolution is Worth Fighting For
Animals are being exploited. Human health is declining. The earth is being ravaged. It seems greed and corruption are conquering kindness, fairness and justice at every turn.
When contemplating the ails of our modern world, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and utterly subjugated. It is easy to feel like anything you do - even if you do it with all your might - will only be a drop in the bucket and not make any real change. That is only part true. The impact you have on the world around you is only a drop in the bucket; however, it is also the one most important and necessary thing any of us can do to change the world. While in the context of the actions of 7.2 billion people, your actions are small, realize that the way you live your life also has a huge impact on you, those immediately around you and those that are in turn effected by others that you have effected. Given time, your seemingly small contribution is in fact like a small candle in a comparably huge, dark room - it will spread light.
In chapters to follow you will learn about the health benefits of veganism, the impact that animal agriculture has on the earth and the animals, as well as the economic, social and political implications of agribusiness. You will also learn how the vegan diet is working for a number of people that are successfully meeting their health and fitness goals.
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." - Robert F. Kennedy