Wednesday, February 17, 2010

on being a conscious being

Well, it has been (yet again) months since my last post. An irregular internet connection and a beyond hectic schedule are good excuses, but only I am to blame.

While I have certainly continued to have many adventures in the physical world- all wonderful, exciting, and revitalizing, and which include road trips to vineyards in Sonoita, to Lake Havasu City (both with much hiking and revelry) and a last minute flight to embrace a billion new members of my family- my most incredible and blogworthy adventures have been those occurring in my mind/heart/soul.

A couple years ago (actually almost exactly when I met Charles), I turned from being an "occasional" meat-eater, to being a vegetarian/ opportunitarian (meaning if meat was all the food that was offered, I would accept it over not eating). This transition was really easy for me, because I didn't eat meat very often anyway. The only thing I missed was bacon, but after a couple months, I never thought about it anymore.

I still ate dairy and eggs, though. This past summer, though, I was have some major skin/complexion issues, and when over-the-counter meds only exacerbated the problems, I was pretty upset. So I started reading up on alternative cures. This led me to start paying attention to what I was putting into my body. I've always been supportive of natural healing techniques like energy work and spirit journeys, meditation, physical things like dance, etc.

But I think I was oblivious to 65% of what these things really mean. Or at least I chose to ignore the underlying implications because, let's admit it, eating and living healthy seems expensive- especially if you have to choose between the ramen noodles or organic produce. And for a college student, and even post-graduation as I wandered around the country, I was on a very fixed income. Long story short, I ate the cheapest stuff because it's all I could afford (so I thought). I spent my money on going out to the dance clubs, dance lessons, and road trips. Food was low priority.

So my research this summer was a wake-up call. We had already been buying all of our produce at the farmer's market, and it was organic. It was also the cheapest way to buy produce. So that was already great. But as for the dairy and eggs- eggs I had always bought "cage-free" but as it turns out that means absolutely nothing. Same goes for "farm fresh" and "free-range." These claims do not have to be certified or backed by fact, and the chickens laying these eggs more than likely lead miserable lives. And as far as dairy goes- milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese- I knew it was being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, but I wasn't aware of the effects these things could have on my body. I came across a lot of research suggesting that these things could easily cause skin irritations and breakouts when regularly consumed.

So I switched to all organic diary and organic eggs (which actually are certified and the most humane way to buy eggs). Life went on.

Then, just last week, I was talking to a friend who told me that her mom just began a vegan diet because of health issues. I had tried veganism for about 3 days, and then given up. But that conversation re-sparked my interest. So I logged on to my library account and reserved a copy of almost every book about veganism in the system. If you don't know- being vegan means that you choose not to consume any animal-based products- meat, eggs, milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, gelatin, honey, etc.

I've already read 2 of them, and I'm using all the cookbooks daily. I really feel like I have been cheated out of information my whole life. I urge you to research for yourself what's really behind the ideals and diets of vegans. There is no reason in the world why everyone could not support a vegan lifestyle- and be happier, healthier, and more full of life and love than ever. Not only does this way of life have UNBELIEVABLE health benefits (i.e. the complete reversal of heart disease) but it also supports compassion for all living beings (and being alive ourselves, it only makes sense). I won't go into the horrid cruelty that occurs just so you can have cow's milk on your cereal in the morning, or eggs in your cake, but you should look into it. You really do get back what you put out there. Plus, 100% of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, proteins, and carbs that your body needs are available from plants.

Also, it's 100% affordable, even more so than the average meat-eaters diet.

I don't want to sound preachy, because I will love you no matter what you eat (or don't eat for that matter), but I am so excited by what I am learning that I just want everyone to share it with me. I urge you to pick up a book from the library- or even surf the web.

I've completely cleaned out my shelves and fridge of everything containing animal-based products, and I've been creating some delicious cuisine every day- fig-anise almond cookies, chocolate raspberry cookies, mushroom barley stew, biscuits, rye bread, potato casserole, raw veggie burritos, asian pepper tofu over quinoa, zucchini bread, cranberry muffins, and the list goes on. You'd be surprised how little you have to give up. And how great you'll feel. (Recipes to be posted soon to my other blog).

It can't hurt to read about it... :) And if you come visit me, I'll make you some delicious eats. I promise.

Now here are some books I've been reading:

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating
by Erik Marcus

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet
by Brenda Davis and Besanto Melina

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Living

And this great cookbook:

How it All Vegan
By Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Yeah, so don't just take my word for it. Read up. Talk to people. Think outside the box for a minute.

I really feel good about this decision, and I think it will help me make other big decisions that need to be made in my life soon- like when and where to move (yes, move)? And what do I want to be when I grow up? I still don't know that one. But now I have a solid healthy foundation that will give me more drive and energy for the rest of life. And now I'll get off my soapbox. I love you all and hope you are doing well.