Nine months ago, I initiated the somewhat “radical” switch for my family to experience an all vegan diet. And I’m pleased to report that we haven’t looked back once. Having said that, this post isn’t about being boastful or self congratulatory or smug, but it is about accomplishment and for that reason alone I am proud of us.
Thus far, there have been no stumbles, no false starts, no slips, and no “cheating” – which in my view is a total mind-fuck way of describing nourishment, but whatever. Most importantly, there have been NO RAGRETS (to use a popular idiom). I, and my children, who were five and eight when I heard the siren call to Veganism, haven’t temper tantrum-d or experienced any sort of emotional or psychotic breaks as a result of not eating meat, and no one has reported feeling faint or ill or deprived. In fact, stopping Cold Turkey—to use a meat metaphor— has been one of the “best” ways (for me) to approach this whole food paradigm shift. (As for my husband? Well let’s just say he’s come a long way, baby).
In addition to eliminating all animal products and their derivatives from our diet including cheese, milk and all forms of dairy, I have endeavored to ensure that we eat mostly organic, local, seasonal and where possible fresh. When the weather is warmer, I dabble in raw food veganism, and I mindfully switch gears to a staple of cooked foods during the harsh Canadian winters since I find that emotionally and physically my body and spirit respond better this way. Eating like this has created a wonderful life flow that is in keeping with the yin yang balance of life. As such, we also do not knowingly or willing consume GMOs, additives and chemicals, and short of purchasing a home water filtration system, we’re aware of the effects of fluoride in our drinking water so we drink alkaline water and use non fluoridated toothpaste. Recently we purchased a Santevia shower head which effectively eliminates chlorine from our bathing water. Yay! Dry skin be gone!
Now lest you think we’re living in a bubble of privilege or have inordinate amounts of surplus cash stashed under the mattress, we aren’t and we don’t. We, like many of you “awakened” individuals have simply decided to take control of our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being, and for us the first step has been through food.
My foray into Veganism didn’t stem from a food obsession, disordered eating or a trend, but rather out of necessity. You see, my eldest daughter is severely allergic to dairy and eggs. She experiences an anaphylaxis reaction to milk much in the same way that certain individuals react to nuts and peanuts—a life-threatening allergy which she shares as well. My younger daughter was initially prescribed with the same allergy affliction, but she now appears to have out-grown it. When I learned that both of my daughters had this allergy, I referred to their inability to consume milk, dairy and eggs as a “Blessing in Disguise,” again, not out of food obsession, or judgment, but rather because it meant that they would not be unduly swayed by the chemically sweet, and nutritionally dense products that fake food marketers relegate to the children’s section. You know what I’m talking about. We have all seen and read the inexhaustible number of unpronounceable items that go into pre-packaged goods that are not only present in adult food, but baby food and “children’s food” as well. But this is what happens due to lack of time, busy mommies and daddies, general complacency, and/or passive aggressive behaviors that have developed over time due to the everyday stresses of our so-called in/convenient lives. And food marketers, AKA the new drug (food) pushers know it.
Regardless of who we perceive to be in control and who or what we choose to blame for our in/decisions and our inability to act or pass on those choices what it really boils down to is self-sufficiency. Are we committed enough to ourselves to take control of our lives, or are we still waiting for what we perceive we are “owed” in this life, be it the hand-out or the proverbial hand up. When I first embarked on this journey I wasn’t apprehensive in the least, but I knew it would require thinking, careful planning, and due diligence on my part. I was already an enthusiastic home-cook, and I enjoyed baking and cooking from scratch with love and wholesome ingredients so finding creative ways to nurture and grow healthy bodies under my roof was not labour of love, but an act of love.
The thing is, I was never a huge meat-eater to begin with and neither were my girls. They used to chew meat to get the essence of the flavors, and then they’d spit it out. I’d freak out watching them expectorate what I perceived to be all that nutritious protein, but I also knew they weren’t starving so I let it go. When I did cook meat, I’d only ever purchased hormone-free or organic meat so I felt like I was ahead of the game, anyway.
The one disturbing thing about meat for me was that it looked so raw, and it smelled odd. Each time I cooked chicken for example, blood would escape from some part of the flesh. When I’d see this happen, it made me think, “Omg, this poor animal is dying all over again!” I’d watch as animal blood would mix into the stew or whatever dish I was preparing and that’s when I made the decision: I cannot cook meat or eat meat anymore. So I stopped. Just like that. From that moment on, I started to think of animals in a different way. Like you, I was aware how meat was derived. I’d seen videos where they’d do despicable things to animals. I saw how animal flesh was strung up in butcher shops and it didn’t faze me one bit because like you I had been conditioned to believe that this is OK. With new eyes I now choose to believe it isn’t OK, and I respect your decision to believe that it is OK. This is the beauty of choice and freewill.
It took me about a good month to stop judging and criticizing others for their choices. I recall July 1st when my FIL had brought meat for us to cook. He wanted to my husband to barbecue and I told him no way. In fact, on the verge of hysteria I told him to remove the dead animals from our home immediately. I was insulted that having made the decision to be Vegan that my FIL would enter our home with all of this dead flesh. In hindsight it was pretty comical and I can laugh at myself now.
The point is this: We now know too much about too much and it’s high time we start being vigilante about what we consume. Our food choices are inextricably linked to body, mind and spiritual decline, deterioration, disease and discomfort, and this is a direct result of the harmful and unnatural food substitutes we ingest. Disease happens over time. Animal flesh is acidic. Fast food consumption depletes the body and mind of its ability to function properly over time. Some of us eat food items packed with preservatives and chemicals that sit on the grocery shelf for six months. Perhaps it’s time to seriously consider what that same item does to your body in less than six months. But I digress. This isn’t about food-shaming. On the contrary! This is about a personal choice. Do right by your family, and body and exercise yours.