I became a vegetarian in my teens, and in my late 20′s a doctor told me I needed protein. My meat eating husband (boyfriend at the time) couldn’t have been more happy. What the doctor didn’t ask me is what I was eating as a vegetarian, he just figured no meat was the reason I was constantly ill with colds and allergies. At that time my “dinner” was some form of alcohol and chocolate chip cookies. Besides coffee and cigarettes, I don’t remember eating breakfast. Lunch usually consisted of the cafeteria food at my then University job — think grilled cheese and fried foods, best for sopping up the alcohol from the night before.
But don’t tell the people that know me now how “un”healthy I used to be. Now, everyone looks to me for advice on how to eat healthy, how to lose weight, how to get enough protein, best exercises, healthy meal planning, etc, etc, etc. I have come full-cirlce but now I am a full-fledge vegan. This time around, I am doing it the right way by eating healthy food at every meal and I feel great. In fact, my doctor tells me I’m his most healthy patient, 6 years running! All from eating healthy and not having to rely on any prescription medications.
How did I help myself heal? I started to read, A LOT. What spawned this radical shift from slowly killing myself to creating a healthy and happy love affair with food came about because I started riding a bicycle and rock climbing. Exercise and smoking just don’t mix. I gave up smoking and my fear of being fat, leading me to find healthy foods to snack on – thus was born the girl who constantly carries celery and carrots. I can munch, instead of smoke, and not gain weight. Brilliant!
Because I was paying attention to what I was putting into my mouth when I couldn’t smoke, I began to notice when I was stressed, I would reach for chocolate or candy, LOTS of candy. I would feel GREAT for a period of time and then BOOM, I would crash. Not only did the sugar cause me to have lots of energy and then crash, my moods would be elevated and then I would become the biggest bitch. There had to be some connection to this. And thus my obsession with reading about food and how it affects our bodies was born.
Thanks to authors Barbara Reed Stitt: Food and Behavior, Elizabeth Somer: Food & Mood and many others, I started to see a connection, and research to back it up, between what people ate and how they behaved. Being a therapist and social worker, this intrigued me. If we could change what we ate and feel better, why doesn’t everyone do this?
Then I read Michael Pollan who explained in his books the fight between those who control the food supply and those who eat the food. Eating healthy does not make anyone rich. When you are healthy, you don’t need medicine or doctors. You are in control of your life. When you are sick, you help the multi-billion dollar prescription companies remain in business. Food is a business and the more fast food you eat, the more pills you have to take. In 2009 alone, the fast food industryspent more than $4.2 billion dollars on commercials to make sure that not only did you want fast food but your kids did as well.
How has this hurt America? As we all know, many of our kids are fat. Not just a little fat, they are obese. And whose to blame? The government, the way of America to be rich, the establishment? Why don’t we start with ourselves. We are to blame. We have allowed ourselves to eat food that has been manufactured in a laboratory and can withstand sitting on grocery store shelves for years. Remind me how this is food?
When you spray your weeds with weed killer, what happens? They die. When you put chemicals in your body, what happens? You die. Being vegan is not just a catch phrase, trendy or the latest fad, it’s a way of life. It’s embracing growing your own vegetables, even if it’s just herbs, eating food from local farmers, buying organic when possible, eating as many whole foods as possible and if it has ingredients listed on the package you can’t pronounce – don’t buy it, much less eat it. It’s that simple. Really.
Still stumped on how to do this? Start with this: try making one meal a day with just whole foods.
For example, cook a whole grain like Quinoa or brown rice, add some lightly steamed broccoli, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and sliced avocado. You don’t even need dressing but if you feel you need a little something, add juice from a lime. That’s it. There’s your lunch or dinner.
As for breakfast… do you have a blender that’s mainly used for those alcoholic drinks? Try this delicious smoothie recipe, it’s especially good in the summer.
handful of blueberries
Hemp Seeds (can be found in grocery stores)
handful of spinach (or not if you can’t stand the idea of drinking your greens)
spoonful of ground flax seeds (also in grocery stores, Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite and it’s cheap!)
handful of ice
water to desired consistency
Blend and enjoy!
For the month of July, Intent Blog is featuring 30 Days of Recipes. Everyday we’ll feature recipes and food-related articles contributed by bloggers in the health and wellness sphere. Our intent is to encourage you to get back into the kitchen and re-connect with your food in a way that promotes greater health, happiness and well-being! This week, we’re focusing on veganism and vegetarianism. If you have a recipe to contribute, please send it to us (along with a brief story about why you love it) at editor [at] intent.com.