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Why Go Veg?

Why Go Veg? Learn about becoming a Vegetarian

Why are people drawn to vegetarianism? Some just want to live longer, healthier lives. Others have made the switch to preserve Earth’'s natural resources or from a love of animals and an ethical opposition to eating them.

Thanks to an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, even the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits.

And no wonder: An estimated 70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.

Why go vegetarian? Chew on these reasons:

You'll ward off disease. Vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States.

But the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease is lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthful because vegetarians consume less animal fat and cholesterol (vegans consume no animal fat or cholesterol) and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce——another great reason to listen to Mom and eat your veggies!

You'll keep your weight down. The standard American diet—high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates——is making us fat and killing us slowly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight 5 years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.

You'll live longer. If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat. "People who consume saturated, four-legged fat have a shorter life span and more disability at the end of their lives. Animal products clog your arteries, zap your energy and slow down your immune system. Meat eaters also experience accelerated cognitive and sexual dysfunction at a younger age."

Want more proof of longevity? Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy of any Japanese and likely the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, according to a 30-year study of more than 600 Okinawan centenarians. Their secret: a low-calorie diet of unrefined complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and soy.

You'll build strong bones. When there isn'’t enough calcium in the bloodstream, our bodies will leach it from existing bone. The metabolic result is that our skeletons will become porous and lose strength over time. Most health care practitioners recommend that we increase our intake of calcium the way nature intended——through foods. Foods also supply other nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D that are necessary for the body to absorb and use calcium.

People who are mildly lactose-intolerant can often enjoy small amounts of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and lactose-free milk. But if you avoid dairy altogether, you can still get a healthful dose of calcium from dry beans, tofu, soymilk and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens.

You'll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses. The CDC reports that food-borne illnesses of all kinds account for 76 million illnesses a year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods rich in protein such as meat, poultry, fish and seafood are frequently involved in food-borne illness outbreaks.

You'll ease the symptoms of menopause. Many foods contain nutrients beneficial to perimenopausal and menopausal women. Certain foods are rich in phytoestrogens, the plant-based chemical compounds that mimic the behavior of estrogen. Since phytoestrogens can increase and decrease estrogen and progesterone levels, maintaining a balance of them in your diet helps ensure a more comfortable passage through menopause. Soy is by far the most abundant natural source of phytoestrogens, but these compounds also can be found in hundreds of other foods such as apples, beets, cherries, dates, garlic, olives, plums, raspberries, squash and yams. Because menopause is also associated with weight gain and a slowed metabolism, a low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet can help ward off extra pounds.

You'll have more energy. Good nutrition generates more usable energy——energy to keep pace with the kids, tackle that home improvement project or have better sex more often, Michael F. Roizen, MD, says in The RealAge Diet. Too much fat in your bloodstream means that arteries won’'t open properly and that your muscles won'’t get enough oxygen.

The result? You feel zapped. Balanced vegetarian diets are naturally free of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that physically slow us down and keep us hitting the snooze button morning after morning. And because whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are so high in complex carbohydrates, they supply the body with plenty of energizing fuel.

You'll be more 'regular.' Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming more fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. People who eat lower on the food chain tend to have fewer instances of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.

You'll help reduce pollution. Some people become vegetarians after realizing the devastation that the meat industry is having on the environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams. Runoff from farmlands is one of the greatest threats to water quality today. Agricultural activities that cause pollution include confined animal facilities, plowing, pesticide spraying, irrigation, fertilizing and harvesting.

You'll avoid toxic chemicals. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of the pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium) that can'’t be removed through cooking or freezing.

Meat and dairy products can also be laced with steroids and hormones, so be sure to read the labels on the dairy products you purchase.

You'll help reduce famine. About 70 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the American population. “If all the grain currently fed to livestock were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” says David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University. If the grain were exported, it would boost the US trade balance by $80 billion a year.

You'll spare animals. Many vegetarians give up meat because of their concern for animals. Ten billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year. And, unlike the farms of yesteryear where animals roamed freely, today most animals are factory farmed: —crammed into cages where they can barely move and fed a diet tainted with pesticides and antibiotics.

These animals spend their entire lives in crates or stalls so small that they can'’t even turn around. Farmed animals are not protected from cruelty under the law——in fact, the majority of state anticruelty laws specifically exempt farm animals from basic humane protection.

You'll save money. Meat accounts for 10 percent of Americans'’ food spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each nonvegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.

Your dinner plate will be full of color. Disease-fighting phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues. They come in two main classes: carotenoids and anthocyanins. All rich yellow and orange fruits and vegetables——carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, corn—owe their color to carotenoids. Leafy green vegetables also are rich in carotenoids but get their green color from chlorophyll. Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables——plums, cherries, red bell peppers——contain anthocyanins. Cooking by color is a good way to ensure you’re eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.

It’'s a breeze. It'’s almost effortless these days to find great-tasting and good-for-you vegetarian foods, whether you're strolling the aisles of your local supermarket or walking down the street at lunchtime. If you need inspiration in the kitchen, look no further than the internet, your favorite bookseller or your local vegetarian society'’s newsletter for culinary tips and great recipes. And if you’'re eating out, almost any ethnic restaurant will offer vegetarian selections. I

n a hurry? Most fast food and fast casual restaurants now include healthful and inventive salads, sandwiches and entrees on their menus. So rather than asking yourself why go vegetarian, the real question is: Why haven'’t you gone vegetarian?

Comments on this Article

35 years old and meat eater all my life, finally decided to turn vegan both to live with a clear conscience and for health reasons. I am not opposed to animal consumption, but I abhor the meat processing industry we have in place. Anyway, MFA (mercy for animals) released a new documentary recently from an under cover investigation called "From Farm to Fridge" and here is an 11 minute excerpt which you should show to any meat eating person who tries to defend himself. http://www.meatvideo.com/

started a vegatarian diet after watching my healthy brother go thru open heart surgery because of blockages including his widow maker artery, then finding out my healthy self , except for a bad lower back ,also had a 80% blockage on my widow maker because of a cta my brother and sister insisted i get.5 months and a stent later i am enjoying learning every day about eating better ,the veggie way.

i became a vege and i lost a lot of weight and i feel more healthy and stronger then ever! i hope to meet more people that are also vegetarian add me on my messenger; yosemidee@hotmail.com

I have been an on/off vegetarian for 15 years, today is my first day of not turning back...I care about animals, the environment and my health....so it is only logical!! I hope I can inspire others to join me and my husband on this ethical decision

I have been a vegetarian for 28 years. Primarily vegan now. I have more energy than anyone I know, although they would probably call it hyperness

I became a vegetarian after reading your magazine one day at the library,and have lost weight without even trying! I have alot more energy and my skin glows.

I turned vegetarian after a lingering illness caused by eating meat everyday for lunch and dinner. I saw my husband,who is vegetarian, for a long time now, has more energy and stamina and hardly any health issues. SO I turned vegetarian and am very happy and healthy since then. These facts make me want to spread vegetarianism! I blog at: http://www.poonamphatak.blogspot.com/

I recently decided to go vegetarian after years of feeling unhealthy eating meat. It's only been a few weeks, but already I feel healthier, happier and better about doing my part to help my body and the environment!

I decided to become a vegetarian a week ago. I did after watching Peta videos . I love animals and could not even think about eating meat after learning about the animals go thru. I noticed I lost weight too. I think going veggie is easy and the way to go.

I just decided to try out a vegetarian life style 3 days ago, for health reasons. I give myself 30 days to see if it really does make a difference like a lot of people say. Everyone's different ya know. I am glad that there are websites/magazines like this one to help a newbie out. Thanks

Becoming vegetarian was the easiest thing ever. I don't miss meat at all and rather than limiting the variety of foods I eat, vegetarianism has expanded it an gotten my to try and love many new foods I would otherwise have missed out on.

I chose to become a vegetarian over five years ago because of my love for animals. Since then, I have a newfound love and respect for all living things on our earth. I feel it is our responsibility to ourselves and our children take care of our planet and everything and everyone that occupies it.

I'm a 53 year old mom. I've been a vegetarian for 23 years & have raised 4 healthy vegetarian adult children. None would consider causing unnecessary harm to another living being just for their sense enjoyment. We eat a varied diet from American cuisine (mock fish, Boca burgers, tofu pups), Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese, etc. It's the only compassionate way to eat.

Since Jan 07, I finally committed to being a vegetarian. I've lost 18 lbs. and my I feel like I've dropped ten years off my face.

I had a stent inserted in my widow-maker heart artery (80% blockage) back in late March. I have some blockage in the sub-branches of this artery as well. Two years ago I met a man in California while on business who had 4 stents and was on a arteriosclerosis reversal program. After four years he now has no blockage -- all gone. I contacted him and learned that it takes vigorous exercise, no-fat diet (vegetarian), and take the prescribed meds. I am now following his program. I do not eat meat -- just veggies. I walk-interval jog for over an hour early each morning. I weighed 265 in March and am now down to 203. My goal is to eventually get to around 180. The new energy level surprised me. My doctor has cut my blood pressure meds in half. I hope to eventually get of BP meds. While exercise is important, the vegetarian diet-style is also important. Frankly, it was amazingly easy to lose the weight with the veggie diet. I feel great! I am 65 years old and I have changed my lifestyle. A friend referred me to this site.

I am in the process of going vegetarian for health reasons. I've tried in the past but this is the easiest and most exciting time of it.

I just recently went veggie a few days ago, and now, I don't have to feel guilty about eating animals.

I have been a vegetarian for about 2 months now, and I am wondering why I waited so long to take this step! I have been concerned with healthy eating for several years now, and have always been an animal lover. I always said that if I thought too much about where the meat came from before it got to the supermarket, I would not be able to eat it. I finally decided I couldn't kid myself any longer. I had intended to gradually wean myself off meat, but found that once I started, it just felt completely right to go all the way. I think what took me so long was worrying about how others would react, but my family and friends have been very accepting, even if they don't agree with me.

I just turned vegetarian several weeks ago. I've never been a real meat eater so now that I am watching my Mom go through yet another cancer battle, I have decided to quit eating meat and dairy 100%. I have also banned all hydrodenated oils from our diet and have been doing so for the past 2 years.

I am looking into becoming a vegetarian, and I just wanted to thank the creators of this website because it has been very helpful to me, and I am seriously considering making this transition in my life! Thanks!

No brainer - I've been a vegetarian for 14 years now. Without doubt one of the simplest and easiest things you can do to benefit yourself in terms of health and wealth as well as disassociating yourself from the unnecessary suffering inherent in factory farming and limiting (massively) your carbon footprint is to go vegetarian. I would defy anyone who is fully presented with all of the relevant facts and sufficient time to ponder them to NOT choose to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.

...and when you cook, you never have to worry if you used the cuttingboard with meat, or did you wash the meat bacteria off well enough, or is it cooked enough? What I don't understand, is why non-veg have their eyes closed to the health and animal wellfare issues-and these are smart, educated people...i guess i was one of them too! Does anyone know how you can talk to people about this subject without preaching/annoying people?

I have just started on the path, but in the short time doing so I feel better, on both a personal and enviromental level. A big part of the journey is perception and education, and this site offers direction in both ways.

I am looking into becoming vegetarian due to the fact that illness can be due to the way you eat and i want to live a healthy life style as well i want to convert my family to live a healthy life style too and i too am a animal lover too no animal should be slaughterd for the consumtion of one's self .

i just turned vegan 100 % and my body feels so differents and so light. I swear if my body could talk it would say " what took you so long to be a vegan" Im an animal lover and after i got the courage to see what they do to animals for meat i went vegan "cold turkey" . I couldnt belive all the thing they would do just for meat. I wish more people can turn vegan for they can see how much your body will appreciate it and how much the animal will appreciate it aswell. just ask yourself this "would you eat your pet"? It has been a life changing event and the best one ever.

I am a "vegetarian in progress". I am changing my lifestle due to health issues. I began buying organic products several years ago and eliminated or controlled many health issues. I know this final step will be the greatest.

My family went vegetarian when I was 15, purely for health reasons. So I grew up with Vegetarian Times, and always thought it was one of the best food (veg or non) mags out there for real people. Once I reached adulthood, I stuck with it for a couple more years, but then started eating meat again, because, well - steak tastes good. However, I could never get comfortable with handling meat, and basically ate almost entirely vegetarian at home, and meat only at restaurants. I'm now in my early 30s, and a month ago had a small epiphany - I've been kidding myself. I respect animals (as living creatures) too much be part of the nightmare of industrial meat processing. I worked in the food industry and saw chicken processing up close and personal, and haven't eaten chicken in years. Why it's taken me so long to face the rest of the obvious connections, I can't explain. Even more importantly, the efficiency of how many people can be fed per acre of land/qty of water/unit of labor raising meat vs. raising grain and produce makes it just far, far, FAR more logical to choose a vegetarian diet, especially since we have so many other protein choices in tofu, tempeh, etc. So I'm returning to the fold, and am delighted to find VT still here for me, and still offering great information for real people with busy lives.

I have been a vegetarian since birth. I was raised by a vegetarian mother who ate that way for health reasons. I have found it a very easy way of life. I was not always understood when I was a child, I would get gravy on potatoes and have to send them back to the kitchen explaining once again that I am a vegetarian and do not eat any meat, fish, poultry etc. I do believe with all my heart that this is the best way to eat for health. My Mother was a very smart woman! Way ahead of her time. I have been a vegetarian for 57 years. I know of very few vegetarians who have made it a life goal. Perhaps in the future that will be more common. Good luck to everyone just starting the journey!!

I have adopted a vegetarian diet because I don't want to contribute to the slaughter or to the destruction of the environment. My weakness is extra-sharp cheddar cheese! It's the only thing preventing me from being completely VEGAN. Does anyone have any suggestions as to a really good soy version? The ones I've tried just don't satisfy my craving! Thanks for your help!

I have recently decided to go vegetarian and so far it doesn't really seem like that big of a deal--I'm not missing meat as much as I thought I would. Seriously, from all the reading and research I've done I think that being vegeatrian will be a very healthy life style. :)

I became a vegetarian about six weeks ago. It was hard at first but so glad I have made it this far. I do not even want meat anymore. I did this for health reasons and truly believe we will live longer on this plan. Good luck to everyone just trying this.

I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years. I can not imagine ever ever eating an animal again! I only wish i would have had the knowledge i have now from the begining. It is such a healthy, satisfying, compasionate, educated way of life. I wish the entire world saw this point of view! I am an absolute animal lover! The cruelty and inhumane doings to animals for the pleasure and consumption of humans is absurd. They call us humans because we are supossed to act humane! The facts are plain and simple... we are NOT carnivores! I wish the best of luck to all those out there just begining the journey of this amazing life style! Good luck! And to all the long time Veggies out there..... YOU ROCK! : )

I became a vegetarian when I was a teenager, we had a small farm and I could not stand the thought of eating the animals I had come to know and love. I remained such till my mid twenties. My new husband thought I was depriving myself when I would cook him non-vegie meals. So to keep the peace I would eat meat now and then. But after having health issues in the last few years I have gone back to vegetarian full time. I have never felt better. My oldest son, 18 yrs., is also now a very committed vegetarian. We have both lost considerable weight and feel terrific. And I'm happy to report that after 23 yrs. of marriage my husband is finally coming around. He's been eating primarily veg meals for 2 weeks now. As far as cooking is concerned, you really do get to be more creative in the kitchen. Your focus changes from planning a meal around one thing, a hunk of meat, to building a meal around several types of vegetables and healthy carbs. The way these things can be prepared is really limitless.

I've been vegetarian my entire life--29 years! I actually have an enzyme deficiency which prevented me from breaking down the proteins in red meats. Now, I cannot imagine even trying to develop the tolerance for it--I love being a vegetarian.

It's fantastic to see all the people out there who are or are going or are even considering gong veg. Way to go! I've been a vegetarian now going on 11 months, and it's just fantastic. I especially love all the healthy new foods I'm trying all the time. Good luck everyone!

I have been vegetarian off and on for 10 years but for the past 2 months have been 100% vegetarian. I intend to never go back to eating meat again! I am completely convinced that this is the healthiest diet and way of eating on the planet. I have read article after article that says eating vegetarian prevents many illnesses. I eat more produce than I ever have before and I feel great! Thank you for this website! I will visit it daily for encouragement and recipes!

I decided to become vegetarian starting today. I saw a PETA video and I had to do something! I pray my husband will join me soon.

I am on my way to being 100% vegetarian. I started with a particular meat and worked my way to the other meats. Now, I am down to one (Turkey). Once I set my mind on one meat, it gets easier not to eat that paricular meat. With time, the idea and urge to eat that particular meat is gone. I find that this process is much better than just quitting 100%. If you can go that route, more power to you. This route just makes it easier to get to being 100% free of meat. More of a transition process than quiting cold. I just have to say that mankind must realize that the Earth/Life does not revolve around humans. Just because we don't feel the pain and suffering, does not mean we can inflict pain on other living things. We will NEVER have piece on earth if we slaughter animals for our consumption.

I've never eaten pork and not much beef. For the last few years I've tried vegetarianism several time. Now, with increase age, weight, and illness I am done with meat. I am looking forward to the new life and dinning experience. I purchased a juicer and have stopped dinning on fast food. I'm already feel the difference and loving it. Im glad I found this site to help with the process.

I love your cook book

love the info provided in both the mag and on the site. i decided to go lacto-ovo-vegetarian (and only eat free range eggs/dairy items) since i've made that some what difficult decision, i've never felt better. i used to suffer from migranes and skin allergies...since i've made the switch, i haven't had anymore bad headaches & my skin feels and looks a lot better. the reason i thought the move was going to be so hard was simple: i loved fish and chicken. but i researched a lot prior to becoming a vegetarian & was concidering changing ... but didn't think i could swing it. to my surprise, i have adapted well. PLUS:: i am a big animal lover and it only makes even more sense to REALLY AND TRULY LOVE THEM, ALL OF THEM. RESPECT AND CHERISH WHAT EXISTED BEFORE MAN. ahhhh.... let me not get started, lol the bottom line: I'm very happy with what i'm doing..i hope to be 100% vegan one day... one step at a time

I'm think i'm ready to start the vegatarian life style now. I've read all the comments on this page and found a lot of motivation. I'm not much of a meat eater anyway, my problem is going to be milk, eggs and cheese, and i have high cholestrol. I was thinking about making it a New Years Resolution, but i dont wait that long to get started.

love the web site. all i have to say to non vegitariens is wold you eat your dog?

I have been toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian for awhile. My conscience tells me it is the right thing to do, so I am going to do it. My grown son has been a vegetarian since he was a teenager. He is the picture of health and vitality. Thanks for all the enlightening articles.

I have been a vegetarain for 30 years and have found that the benefits of being a veggie keep multipling. Im 57 now and I see my friends and family dying of cancer heart disease and many kinds of degenerative diseases.So here i am still healthy as can be. Im very active and do a labour intensive job and out work the younger guys on the job and some of them are in their 20s. They ask me how i cand do this at my age so I tell them to become vegetarians but they say they couldnt live without their meat so they carry on with their cruel way of life. So they will have pay for their meat eating by dying a slow and painful death for killing the innocent animals and causing untold suffering for them. this is a crime against the animal kingdom and its fitting that we should suffer a well. Im very happy as a veggie and recommend it to anyone who wants a healthier and happier lifestyle.

I have been vegetarian for about 4 months now. I recently got re-married to a vegetarian and I decided to give it a try. It makes things so much easier that we eat the same things. My kids are still eat meat, but not a my house. Since they spend most of there time with my x-wife and she is a meat eater its going to be difficult to get them to switch to a vegetarian diet (they are 11 and 9). Amazingly, they like what we eat and don't complain much. We recently had a baby and we decided to use soy formula rather than milk formula. We are going to try to bring up our baby vegetarian. I am an athlete and compete in triathalons and marathons, I feel so much better and have more energy on a vegetarian diet. I encourage everyone to try eating vegetarian foods.

I'm contemplating becoming a vegetarian. I grew up on meat, chicken and (sadly) meatloaf, but in college I took on a vegetarian lifestyle out of survival. Recently I've cut back on red meat and feel healthier. I don't think I could give up chicken, but I'm finding new ways to mix chicken with fresh veggies and even salads. I was looking for a place like this to swap vegetarian recipes, so yay. :-)

I became a vegetarian after researching animal testing laws and slaughter houses for a proposed bill in my state. After seeing everything I became a vegetarian that very day. Factory farming has allowed the main population to become distanced from the process. I think people would eat less meat if they knew where it came from and how it was killed.

I think i am the only non-vegi to comment on this article. I just want to say that what all of you are doing is really truly admirable. Becoming veggie is such a simple way to actully have a positive impact on other lives and the enviroment. This website has made me take a seccond look at myslef and my diet, and i am confidant that i will elimate meat from my diet. I have never been a big meat eater, and it makes me sick to think about the dead flesh in my hands when i prepare meat. Plus i am heavily involved in the equestrian industry i could never think of eating one of my horsey counterparts.

I just recently went 100% Vegan and i love it! I had been vegetarian for about a year and i didn't feel like it was fulfilling enough. As a thin 16 year old, when i went vegan everyone was worried that i would get sick for some odd reason and i think i was asked at least 3 times a day what i ate (as if to say that if you don't eat animal products, you must not eat at all.) I'm sick of people not understanding what veganism is, and thinking that it is unhealthy. I've converted to eating zero animal products and i feel great!