I wish I could say that. I wish I could say I don’t feel the need to broadcast my dietary preferences. But I do. I hope I’ll move out of that, but at this stage of my life, I’m rooting myself in my beliefs and for some reason feel inherently defensive of my decisions.
Okay, the “for some reason” bit of that sounds hazy, perhaps ambiguous. It sounds like I don’t know what that reason is. I do. Well, I believe it’s a myriad of reasons lumped together to form one great reason.
I watched a video today via the amazing Nat Kringoudis. Two of her intelligent, health savvy galpals were having a discussion about the various “perfect diets” out there. One of the women is a paleo yogini, the other a vegan cross fitter. Their physical hobbies and lifestyles are only coincidentally intriguing, as stereotypes might expect their diet and hobby pairings to be reversed. Beautiful break in stereotyping! The point is one that goes far beyond this minor detail, though, and is rooted in what was discussed by Adele and Lola. Adele, the vegan, spoke many a likeminded thought with both Lola and myself in her expression of opinion. Lola, a paleo yogi, also mentioned something valuable to me which is enjoying what one eats and being able to share meals with family. More than anything what stood out about Lola’s bit was her concept of eating mindfully. I fully embrace mindful eating, it is the foundation of food consumption in Ayurveda, and it is a practice that does not have any dietary prerequisite. Whether omnivorous or herbivorous, mindfulness is transcendental.
Truthfully, I envied Adele in her honesty, saying she doesn’t make a big deal of being vegan. She says it doesn’t come up in conversation with her family, even! At this I felt overwhelmed with envy (an ugly emotion). I found myself thinking, Why can’t I be so fortunate? Why can’t I just meld in without a fuss, embraced wholeheartedly by my family for the decisions I make and the lifestyle I’ve chosen over the years?
I believe part of the answer is my history of an eating disorder. While I wouldn’t change my history for the world, as it’s made me who I am and given me the gifts and insight I hope to share with receptive fellow beings, it is a very detrimental past in terms of my current lifestyle. I’ve evolved into a label-less healthnut who, if I were to subscribe to a label, is vegan 99.9% of the time. Labels make me rather fearful, to be honest, and I’ve fully stamped myself vegan before. I found the label to oft attract negativity and debate, which is counterproductive to my purpose, to minimize harm and maximize health.
I’ve come to terms in past essays on my blog about the young woman I’ve grown up to become and the decisions I make. I’ve discussed in depth the hardships of seemingly “renouncing” cultural foods and shared family meals in the process of adopting a plant based diet. I’m not going to rehash it but rather explore a new avenue. I find that continuing to go down that same path (the oh I don’t want my mom and dad to have hurt feelings and I just want them to accept me always and I hope they understand my lifestyle choices have everything to do with my passion for the planet, my health and the wellness world and nothing to do with judgement, eating disorders or restriction) mumbo jumbo is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I worry and invite insecurity into my world, the more it manifests in conversations with my family and episodes of me broadcasting my dietary preferences while my inner critic cringes at the word vomit. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the one who slides under the radar. The one who makes decisions based on my own moral and physical compass without disrupting the waters. I don’t want to splash land at the party splattering everyone’s respective plates with my drama. I don’t want to be drama!
I work and exist on the daily in the health industry and am making my career in holistic wellness. I’m the farthest from judgmental (though I was chastised today for trying to get my parents to watch health food documentaries, I will never stop making my family green smoothies!). This is who I am. I’m finished playing the guilt card in my own heart. I’m not going to change, so why beat myself up over it? I’m loved and adored by my family. I am embraced by them. So stop wishing! It already is.
As for the next step, I’m losing the drama. I’m not going to continue talking about it. I have noticed recently that my tendency to broadcast my preferences and lifestyle has begun to accelerate in what I recognize to be an act of self-presevation. My primal instinct to protect myself and the inherent drive to open up as many food possibilities as I’m humanly able by pre-announcing my needs. It’s human nature to want options and, in a supersized, deep fried, fairly carnivorous world, I suppose I’m on the pulse with feeling like I might not have many avenues if I don’t pave them ahead of time.
That being said, it isn’t really necessary. In fact it’s totally unnecessary. My primal urges date way back to when food really wasn’t available at the ready. Nowadays, whether one’s vegan, paleo, vegetarian or a (gasp) easygoing omnivore, food is accessible. One can satisfy one’s desires and needs physically pretty much anyplace. Adele also mentioned in the health talk that she doesn’t dub herself a vegan, just like I don’t dub myself one. She says when she goes out she orders a vegetarian meal and just discretely asks for it with no dairy, or no eggs, what-have-you. How refreshing! The image is like a cool breeze in comparison to the, “Hi I’m vegan and I’ll have the _______,” scene that had been playing like a broken record in my head. Have you ever heard the joke “How do you know someone’s vegan? … They’ll tell you!” because I have. I don’t want to be a walking billboard. Yes I have my personal beliefs and am an ethical vegetarian, but I don’t need to (after this blog post) express that unsolicited ever again.
I’m releasing myself from the need to be defensive.
Nobody is 100% perfect. If we were it would be a boring, boring world. My one guilty television pleasure is The Bachelor(ette). Catherine Giudici was on the last season of The Bachelor and she is vegan. She actually refers to herself as an “opportunistic vegan,” meaning she strays only on very special occasions. To me, the greatest constituent of being a holistic wellness advocate and advisor is remaining true to one’s own bodily compass. That means that, if my only plant based option is french fries but I could have a tub of greek yogurt instead, I’d rather have the non-fried option. I’m not going to go out of my way for it, but my priorities there are that I not ingest toxic foods. Clearly deep fried is something I want to avoid. I’m just illustrating here that every choice we make has a direct impact on our health and our environment. In the documentary Vegucated I learned that being vegan for one year would make more of a positive impact on the environment than switching from a normal car to a hybrid car. At the very least, choosing to “vote with one’s dollar” by buying only organic, cage-free, humanely handled animal products makes a huge impact on one’s health as well as the environment. And, last but certainly not least, it’s not all or nothing! Even going without animal products one day a week makes a huge difference, both environmentally as well as physically.
I am passionate about health and the planet and one thing I can say for certain is that a plant based diet is the best thing for both the environment and one’s health. Now, just to clarify, my definition of a plant based diet is just that…plant based.
It doesn’t mean vegan. It doesn’t mean vegetarian. It can, and often does, but it’s not a stipulation. It means that the foundation of one’s diet is comprised of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds. Minimal processed foods are consumed and if animal protein and products are consumed, they are equaled if not outweighed by the consumption of plant protein and nutrients. Honestly, that’s easy. For the average person, I think that with mindfulness that is a painless shift. One tat doesn’t require any huge lifestyle shift but rather an increase in conscious living.
My personal intention within this passionate lifestyle of mine is to float under the radar more. I don’t want to stamp any label to my forehead nor do I intend to advertise my dietary preferences or beliefs. My intention is to spread non-judgement in a cyclical, contagious fashion, as well as the deep set desire to increase the wellness of our society as well as our beautiful planet. I believe that, despite the rambling and babbling I’ve done, my energy delivers my message clear and true…I wish wellness upon us all. Unparalleled wellness; environmental wellness; physical wellness. Holistic wellness. I trust that my passion for life and universal wellbeing will exude nothing but love, light and positivity. I trust it will be embraced and understood. I trust that the life I envision will manifest. Trust.
Watch the “to each their own” health talk I referenced in this essay here: http://www.natkringoudis.com.au/2013/07/healthtalks-the-vegan-cross-fitter-the-paleo-yogi/