In my first few years of being a cannabis activist I learned a great deal about the wide range of potential uses the cannabis plant could have if not for prohibition. Being a seventh generation Canadian on both sides of my family, but the first not to grow up a family farm, I took a keen interest in helping educate others about hemp. This journey lead me to making some very important personal choices, essentially putting my money where my mouth is.
This month marks 20 years since I have eaten meat, a decision I made in part because I learned hemp seed was an even better source of nutrition. It seemed to me that if I wanted others to believe that hemp seed was a smart alternative to eating meat, that I should lead by example. After two decades of eating lots of hemp oil, seeds and hearts, aka nuts, and eating no meat or fish, I feel like I am living proof that cannabis seeds are one of the most important foods on the planet.
Research on hemp hearts almost seemed too good to be true. Could cannabis seeds really replace meat for proteins and other essential nutrients? Having no formal education in biology or medicine made it difficult to critically analyze what I was reading when I started Hempology 101 in Victoria in 1995. However, I had such great conviction in the cannabis plant that by August 1996 I was ready to take a leap of faith and quit eating meat entirely.
The information I was learning when I started my activism was very compelling. While the study I cite below was not done until 2004, it confirmed everything I had been reading and experiencing myself. Indeed, the more you look into the benefits of using hemp seeds, the more you realize how important this plant likely was in our ancient history.
“Technically a nut, hemp seed typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Hempseed oil is over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and is an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hempseed oil is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. In addition, the biological metabolites of the two EFAs, gamma-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-6; ‘GLA’) and stearidonic acid (18:4 omega-3; ‘SDA’), are also present in hemp seed oil. The two main proteins in hempseed are edestin and albumin. Both of these high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain nutritionally significant amounts of all essential amino acids. In addition, hempseed has exceptionally high levels of the amino acid arginine.”
Not only have I been able to stay alive without eating meat for 20 years, I would like to think I am thriving. At 47 years old I am in excellent shape, though I do not exercise a lot.. I have learned that by doing a few things to keep myself in good shape I can maintain peak athletic prowess and help keep my immune system healthy. Health is not just about food, but without the right nutrients it is very difficult for a body to function so well for so long without an excellent diet.
As I get older I plan on keeping myself in top form, participating in lots of sports and games, in part to prove to everyone that smoking cannabis does not detract from athletic abilities and that eating hemp seeds is the best fuel for your body, too. That is one reason I formed Team 420, so I could play dodgeball, run in 10 km marathons in big pot leaf costumes, and do other activities that most people would never expect an old pothead like me to be able to do.
This spring I also celebrated 20 years of not drinking alcohol, something that would have been inconceivable as a teenager. While my reasons for quitting drinking and the reasons for stopping the consumption of meat were totally different, there is no doubt that replacing my use of all of those substances with cannabis has made me healthier. The herb is truly here for the healing of the nations.
In 20 more years I will still be kicking ass and saying the same damn things I have for the last two decades.