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Andry Sophocleous, Cyprus

"Why are you vegan? You know your body will be depleted of a lot of vital elements”. This is how many people react when you say to them you lead a vegan diet. Please note: animals do not produce protein or B12. They simply consume the plants that have amino acids and B12 and we take them in the form of a recycled process, that is nor clean or pure. 

My journey to veganism has not been planned. I was eating meat until my 20s and was mostly vegetarian up until late 30s. My vegetarian diet consisted mainly of soft cheeses of all kinds that I daily consumed. Cheese was my weakness. I could never imagine my life without cheese. At that time, I started having bad adult acne. All my blood tests and hormone levels were normal and doctors could not find the root of the problem. I began to read about the connection between acne and the consumption of dairy-related products such as cheese and chocolate and kept notes of my diet and when acne got worse. My notes suggested that after about 5-6 days of consuming cheese my acne got worse and only lessened after I cut it down. Andry Standing Splits

In 2016 I enrolled in a teacher training program with Sri Dharma Mittra. He spoke very passionately about seeing animals as our inferior brothers and sisters and treating them with respect and love. Something inside me switched and I started looking into how cheese is produced, what it contains (apart from the milk) and the pain and suffering animals go through so we the ‘intelligent’ animals can please our palate. I started reading about how dairy can affect our health and what diseases it is related to. More and more studies indicate that too much calcium from dairy can actually make your bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures as you age. Quite  the opposite of what doctors are suggesting! The phlegm from milk makes sinus problems worse and dairy consumption causes inflammation in joints. Cholesterol increases and arteries get blocked. Your meals contain pus and blood from the mastitis of poor cows that have to be milked repeatedly to meet the demand for milk. Very importantly, the milk you consume will contain the pesticides, hormones and genetically modified food these cows are fed with. Did you know that people in Asia do not have as many cancers as we have in the West? Research suggests that this is due to them not consuming dairy. Significant differences are apparent in the case of breast cancers in Asia, where they are almost non-existent as opposed to what is happening in the West. 
Did you know that there is no regulating body to control what cows and chickens eat? So, what are YOU eating? 
These health-related issues are strong enough reasons to encourage one to switch to a plant-based diet. Moreover,  you should consider the quality of life these animals have. Have you ever thought of the fact that cows need to be artificially impregnated so they produce milk and whose baby calves are taken away from them only a few days after they give birth to them? Are you aware of the hormones injected in the cows that end up in your milk? And the constant milking and torturing of them? For what? So we can have that ‘delicious’ cheese in our fridge that we will enjoy over a glass of wine?
Turning to veganism made me become more compassionate not only towards cows but towards all animals and people. You get to discover a kinder, softer, part of you that is more in harmony with everything alive around you. You respect nature more as you gradually discover that nature will feed you and keep you healthy, if you treat it well. 
It is clear that the meat and dairy industry are not sustainable at all. Eating meat or consuming dairy should not be an option due to the fact that lots of water, land and other resources are needed so these farms  can function. There is also the ozone layer that keeps on getting bigger year by year and it’s greatest contributor is the cow gas releases. Their gas contains methane which is a greenhouse gas, a lot more destructive than CO2. This largely contributes to global warming. 
Closing, I encourage you to consider whether you want your children to inherit an Earth that is barren and lifeless and if the consumption of meat and dairy will truly bring you pleasure knowing that these animals are awfully suffering. Don’t remain ignorant. Be the Change. Love all animals. Respect Earth.  

—Andry Sophocleous
Instagram: @dharmayogacyp

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