The Ultimate Vegan Guide-Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Should vs. Must

We have already covered a lot of ground. We’ve seen, for instance, that all vegans need a daily source of Vitamin B-12 and omega-3s, and that it’s a good idea for many vegans to take a multivitamin to guard against other deficiencies, particularly Vitamin D, iodine, zinc, and perhaps iron. We’ve also seen the benefits of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.

From all this, perhaps you’re thinking something like, “It would be a good idea for me to start taking flax for my omega-3s, and I’ll see if I can find some B-12 somewhere. I really should make a point of taking this stuff.”

Well, I don’t know if the road to hell is really paved with good intentions, but the road to an inadequate diet certainly is. So before we move on to other subjects, I want to emphasize as strongly as I can that proper nutrition is not optional.

In one of his books, Anthony Robbins presents a simple idea that has changed my life: he makes a strong distinction between the word “should” and the word “must.” There are all sorts of things in your life and mine that we tell ourselves we should be doing, but that we never get around to completing. But when you elevate an intention to a must, you become unwilling to flake out. For instance, you and I probably share at least one must. Before leaving the house in the morning, we simply must brush our teeth. It doesn’t matter if we’re tired, or running late, or feeling annoyed, or whatever. We’ve decided that the importance of brushing our teeth before leaving the house in the morning outweighs any priority other than escaping the house if it’s on fire.

So don’t let a wimpy word like “should” be all that’s in place to ensure that you receive adequate nutrition. It’s silly to risk your health, when the commitment to guarantee proper nutrition amounts to just a couple minutes a day. If you’re going to make the effort to be vegan, isn’t it worth resolving that, every day and without fail, you’re going to take in the nutrients your body needs?

With that in mind, let me tell you a few things I do every day to ensure my nutritional needs are covered. I like to use my morning rituals to get my difficult-to-obtain nutrients out of the way. So every morning when I wake up, I make sure to get my omega-3s and DHA. I also take a multivitamin with zinc. And, finally, I let a sublingual B-12 tablet sit under my tongue a couple times a week.

These are all personal musts for me. And I hope you’ll consider these steps musts as well. The vitamins, DHA, and omega-3s I consume cost only about $15 a month. Considering how far these steps will take you in protecting your health, the cost is absolutely trivial.

Now, in addition to my musts, let me share a couple of habits that further improve my overall nutrition. I’m a big fan of eating some fruit first thing in the morning: an apple, a banana, an orange, whatever. When I’m done eating this fruit, I’ll have a small handful of nuts.

So before I’ve even started my day, I’ve already consumed a significant amount of healthful produce. And since a small amount of nuts eaten daily is associated with better health, I’ve gotten that out of the way too.

And finally, as long as I’m not driving anywhere, I try to have a glass of wine or beer, and only a glass, with dinner each night. There are countless studies that indicate that a small amount of alcohol taken daily substantially reduces the risk of heart attacks. In fact, a serving of alcohol every day delivers benefits comparable to taking statins, for less money and at lower risk to health. You might think twice about drinking daily, though, if you’ve got alchoholism in your family—I couldn’t bear the thought of prodding anyone predisposed to alcoholism down that awful road.

Since I have a nasty family history on both sides where heart disease is concerned, I try to make it a habit of drinking that daily glass of booze. With luck, my diet will do much to reduce my chance of heart problems, and it could well be that a small amount of alcohol will put me over the top in eliminating my risk.

Once in a while I’ll forget my daily drink, since it’s not quite a must as far as I’m concerned. But the vitamin and omega-3 regimen I’ve presented here is a must, each day and every day. I hope you’ll refuse to compromise as well.

Next Chapter: The Mental Game

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