As we give thanks for our many blessings this week, let’s not forget Mother Earth, who provides everything we need to survive. I’m never more aware of this fact than during citrus season, winter. At a time notorious for more illness, here comes citrus, high in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants, ready to enhance our immune systems. Coincidence? I think not.
I’ve been a vegetarian now for almost four years. In the beginning, I used to be asked all the time, “why vegetarian?” I still don’t have a quick, easy, light response. I’ll usually panic and say, “for health reasons”. The truth is, I can’t think of a quick answer that doesn’t sound self-righteous and condescending, which is never my intention. That’s not my style. So here’s an attempt at a longer, yet concise, explanation that hopefully sounds as intended: nonjudgmental and sincere. Perhaps through this, a shorter version will emerge that I can use on the fly. And I’m not here to convert you, so relax.
Originally, it was for health. In Fall 2011, I read the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and started a Kundalini Yoga training program. At the time, I was overweight and unhealthy on many levels. This perfect storm changed my entire perspective on eating and what it means to be healthy, which in turn drove me to start a plant based diet in January 2012. In a mere six months, I lost 70 pounds. That could be more of a testament to how unhealthy my diet was before, rather than a vegetarian diet, because you can be an unhealthy vegetarian. Can anyone say chips and cheese? I didn’t simply eliminate meat, but much of the processed foods I previously ate – refined carbs, most dairy, white sugar. The biggest benefit I discovered was that eating healthy, living, life nourishing foods, made me feel more alive. The weight loss was just a nice side effect. And no, I was not depriving myself. I’ve tried that in the past and it always backfires. This didn’t feel like a diet at all. Still doesn’t. I was just following more of a 90/10 rule – 90% healthy, 10% whatever. Which these days (post-child) has turned into more of a 60/40 rule, but life changes, and I’m always doing my best. But I’ll be honest. On occasion, I will eat shrimp, bacon or chicken strips, because you know what, they’re just damn good. It’s not about perfection, but slow transformation.
Now though, I’ve read so much about vegetarianism, that it’s really hard for me to narrow down a simple reason why. For health? Yes. And…for the health of Mother Earth, for the gentle treatment of all beings, for a kinder, more compassionate life, for trusting that the Creator that created everything will always provide everything I need to survive. Try explaining that at a party and see how people react….in Nebraska.
After why, the big question is always protein, because protein is all the hype right now. Originally I was concerned about it too, until I learned how many plant foods have protein and how we actually need much less protein than our sell-out-meat-industry-driven FDA suggests. Rather than spew facts at you though, I’ll suggest you do two Google searches: 1) herbivore animals, and 2) vegan body builders. You’ll find that some of the world’s largest, strongest animals and people, thrive on plant diets – elephants, apes, giraffes, cows, deer, camels. It’s a fantastic reminder that there is a magnificent order to Life.
If you’re at all interested, do you’re own research about vegetarianism. I suggest starting with Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, which will point you to many more resources. Also watching documentaries like Food Matters or Food, Inc. will be helpful and probably give more information than you’re ready to intake. If you’re not interested, thank you for reading this far. Now go eat some chicken strips for me.
For now, let us give thanks that we always have enough food to eat, no matter what it is. Thank you Mother Earth. Without you, we would not exist, yet you would be just fine without us. Better probably. I hope in the future we can all treat you with the same love and respect that you’ve always shown us. Happy Thanksgiving.