Alright, it’s time to talk food, and I don’t mean fun recipes. It’s about to get real. I need to work through some concepts, and I need to share my perspective. Take it all with a grain of salt and know that I extend nothing but love, light, respect and appreciation to every single one of your beating hearts.
I eat a plant based diet. I am quasi vegan with the exception of natural greek yogurt, organic, local eggs from vegetarian fed hens and occasional seafood. However, I find myself leaning farther and farther from any animal products. I kept the last three food items in my diet for several reasons. One, flexibility. It is difficult to eat out or with others who don’t follow a plant based diet without having some degree of flexibility. Allowing eggs, greek yogurt and seafood on occasion has helped me with this (though I just got into an emotional discussion with my mom this past weekend about my different diet, which I will get into shortly). Secondly, preference. I enjoy seafood, eggs and greek yogurt. Last of all, nutritional reasons (which have, as of late, been disproven).
If you’ve not seen Forks Over Knives, I highly recommend it. I watched it last month and it revolutionized my already holistic nutrition obsessed world.
The truth is that plants contain protein. The truth is that we do not need animal protein to survive, much less thrive. I am not going to say an omnivorous diet is wrong. I would never dream of telling someone else what is right for them, I merely suggest and passionately share what works for me and my body.
My reason for being vegetarian (err, pescetarian, I suppose) is rooted in moral reasons. I simply do not want to eat animals. I have come to a point where I don’t want to eat fish, either. For three reasons: one, they are sentient beings. No different than land animals. Two, mercury levels are poisoning what would otherwise be very healthy fish. Three, I simply have become so accustomed to a plant based diet that I find it totally satisfying, and have lost my desire for fish.
As for eggs, I always buy organic, local eggs that come from pasture raised, vegetarian fed hens. I pay top dollar for the best possible eggs that come from hens treated like family. In fact, the lady whose eggs I buy actually sings to her hens! No joke. That being said, they are also a nutritional powerhouse. Necessary for health? Not at all. In fact I buy half dozen egg cartons because I so rarely eat them. There are a lot of nutrients in an egg yolk, and they are a great source of protein, and I enjoy them. But they’re not necessary for survival nor thriving, and I intend to consume them very conservatively.
Third of all is greek yogurt. I consume one type of yogurt, as it’s the only dairy that my body tolerates, but upon watching the film Forks Over Knives and reading a very informative and reputable article just yesterday, I’ve learned that dairy protein (namely casein) is proven to be cancer causing. I enjoy greek yogurt and have mainly kept it in my diet for added protein and calcium. But, the truth of the matter is, I am getting well enough calcium through the plant based sources I consume passionately all day long!
That being said, where does one draw the line? How does one venture out into the world, take a vacation, go over to someone’s home for dinner, when one eats a plant based diet and much of the world does not?
The Eating for Health Model provided by my new school, Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition, shows me that my plant based diet is rooted in fact and a huge community of likeminded people.
I am far from judgmental. I believe diversity makes the world go ’round. I got into a discussion with my mom the other night about my plant based diet. It is a limiting one, when I go home to my family who eats plentiful plant based foods but who also consumes animal products regularly. I was raised on animal products. I like
them! I enjoyed meat and seafood and ice cream, growing up. I still sometimes think meat looks good! Honestly. But my ethical vegetarianism runs deep. I am committed to my lifestyle for both moral and health reasons. How can I say that, though, without sounding as though I judge my family for consuming animal products? Meals that I, by the way, adored growing up? How is my mom to feel knowing she can’t cook for me the way she ordinarily would?
I feel overwhelmingly guilty about how my lifestyle makes my mom feel. It breaks my heart that my mom can’t cook the meals for me that she’d like to. It makes me feel like I’m renouncing my culture by no longer consuming my childhood favorites. Food is a huge way that people connect, share and show love. So naturally my choice sends a negative message to my mom, the one I love more than anyone on the face of this beautiful planet. My mom supports me fully, but I know how sad it makes her to not be able to easily share a meal together. She will eat my cooking, but it doesn’t appeal to her like it does me. We’re German and, while always healthy, my mom cooked a wide variety of homemade foods, both German and all American.
A part of the issue in my family is that I do come from a past of restrictive eating. So, naturally, having a limiting diet (and now wanting to also eliminate seafood) brings back memories of the “eliminating” and “restricting” I did while battling an eating disorder at 17. I, however, have come so incredibly far. I am the absolute farthest that I have ever been from being a restrictive eater. I relish in avocados, almond butter, nuts and seeds, super foods, olives, leafy greens, root vegetables, berries, legumes and beans…and I am healthier than I’ve ever been.
The only issue I face is that, if I am vegetarian and don’t consume any meat or seafood, as well as avoid all dairy, how do I go to dinner at someone’s house who eats like the average person? How do I go about this without being rude? Is it even possible?
My friend Dina often quotes Deepak Chopra as having once said, I’m 98% vegetarian. The other 2% is for my sanity. I find this very interesting. I suppose that 2% is where my seafood, egg and yogurt consumption could fall into. I believe in being fully committed to one’s lifestyle on one’s own, but there must be a bit of wiggle room for the sake of sanity and stress. If one is eating a cancer-fighting, ethically pleasing, vegetarian diet but one is ridden with stress, where is the benefit there?
I won’t eat meat. That ship has sailed for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the taste of certain meat, but it’s a moral decision for me and I personally feel much better spiritually, emotionally and physically for having committed to this lifestyle. It keeps me holistically well.
I want to extend my deepest and sincerest love, respect and gratitude to my mom and my dad. For embracing my lifestyle and decisions, supporting me in all of my endeavors and for understanding that my choices are made with utmost respect and appreciation for all they are and all they have always provided for me. I have nothing but the most wonderful memories of my childhood in terms of food. Many of which include eating fresh tomatoes and carrots out of the garden, eating the sunflower seeds out of our homegrown sunflowers, making tomato, fresh pesto and basil pizzas on whole wheat crust, loading vegetables into wild rice and having a bursting bowl of fresh fruit. But I also relish in the memories of beef stroganoff, meatloaf, sausage and potatoes, pfannkuchen and pizza with salami. I thank my parents for embracing and uplifting the health and wellness oriented, vegetarian, eco-conscoius young woman I have become. I am grateful to them for loving me and not taking offense that I have gone my own way. I trust that they understand I’m part of a vast community, and an entire generation, who embraces plant based diets and lead a holistically clean lifestyle.
Mom and Dad, I love you more than life itself, and I appreciate you.
My beautiful readers, I thank you for hanging in while I work through the ups and downs of a diet I’m so passionate about, but one that also can be isolating when surrounded by those with a different viewpoint.
I think this is a good place to lay down my perfectionism. I am committed to my healthy lifestyle, but there’s a middle path of avoiding seafood in my own day-to-day life, but perhaps making exceptions here and there when no other options present themselves. I think, more than anything, that in sticking to my lifestyle it is important to extend abundant love and light into the world. To my loved ones. To myself. To the beautiful plants that nourish me. To the activities we engage in as a family, as friends, as human beings. Here’s to taking the focus and emphasis off of food for a while and directing that prana towards living life with lungs full of air, hearts beating to wildly unique melodies and the extraordinary rhythms of this exquisite earth.
May all beings be in peace, harmony and bliss always.
Gratitude, light and love. Namaste ~*~