VEGANO SPOTLIGHT: Phil Ugalde
Vegan Since: 2013
Heritage: 50% Mexican, 50% Scottish
MY VEGAN STORY
I decided to go vegan when I was 33 years old after a lifetime of eating badly. Turning vegan was a process that I had been going through for a while. I have always been concerned with the environment, my health, and animal welfare. For as long as I can remember I have been taught to respect the natural world and all of the beings in it. I was raised as a hiker, backpacker, outdoorsman, and naturalist. Being so close to nature showed me the link between the natural world and human’s place in that world.
As I grew older and got more education, I also learned about ecology and environmentalism. I learned about the horrors of the industrial revolution and how food production is so negatively impacting the world we need to survive. Couple that with the knowledge of how animals are viewed as a commodity by that industrial network, and not as living sentient beings; eventually I had no other choice but to choose compassion over inaction. Even with the knowledge that animals were being tortured, and that the industrial food production complex was profoundly harming the planet I still was not convinced to become fully vegan. The last tipping point for me was the care and well-being of my body. I watched a series of documentaries about adopting a vegan lifestyle and the amazing health benefits of doing so. I learned that cancers are fed by animal proteins, and that cutting out that part of one’s diet lowers one’s risk for getting certain diseases that our society considers to be unpreventable.
I grew up eating a lot of meat. My Mexican grandmother would make typical Latino fare with meat and lots of cheese. My Caucasian family made everything with eggs and butter. Transitioning was mainly the result of years upon years of eating badly and starting to see the results adding up. I have a genetic propensity to be overweight. I like to call it the survivor gene. By this I mean that whatever genes I carry in my heritage most likely come from places in the world that people had to evolve to survive not in times of feast but in times of severe famines. My wife and I laugh that we just sniff a donut and get fat. Honestly I could probably survive marathon training on bread and water. Perhaps this would be a great asset to have in a post-Apocalyptic world where food is scarce but turns out to be a liability in the forever feasting society we live in. Opting for a lower calorie-dense lifestyle such as veganism became the best option to maintain a healthy weight. Diets don’t work, so for me this had to be a complete lifestyle change. That’s the main reason I am vegan: to put more thought into what I eat.
- Don’t settle for vegan junk food. Processed food is just as bad in vegan form as it is in non-vegan form.
- Take time and research places to go and find the vegan community. One of the things we might be losing in our society is the eating as a social construct.
- Plan ahead. If you know you’re going somewhere that does not have vegan options, then bring food or eat beforehand.
- Lastly, if you don’t know how to cook, start learning. It’s fun to learn and try new things and it slows you down.