About 5 1/2 years ago, I embarked on a journey to become “healthy”.
At the time, becoming “healthy” meant feeling healthy. I wanted to have energy to run and hike and bike and ski. I wanted to eat without doing any type of math. I wanted my food choices to benefit my health, not destroy it.
I researched the living daylights out of everything I could get my hands on related to health and nutrition.
And what did I learn?
I came to realize that all calories were not created equal and the human body functions best when eating REAL food.
So I went through my cupboards, the fridge, and the freezer, scrutinized every label, and ditched anything that was not real food.
Goodbye, 100 calorie Vitamuffins.
So long, Yoplait Light yogurt.
Adios, Lean Cuisine frozen dinners.
A few months later, as I continued to learn all I could about nutrition and health, I stumbled across the vegan diet, which kind of intrigued me. (Interesting, given the fact that many years previous, a neighbor’s son went vegan and I thought he was bat $hit crazy.)
At any rate, one thing led to another, and I quietly stopped eating meat (not a big deal) and dairy (a very big deal) and eggs (only a big deal because they were in everything).
Clearly, my venture into the vegan world was motivated by health, and health alone.
And it worked. By my own definition, I was healthy.
I had energy to run…
I had energy to hike…
I had energy to bike…
And I had energy to ski…
And I did it all without counting anything.
So why then, have I have considered ditching the vegan diet?
Well, I’ve continued to learn.
I’ve continued to be open to new information concerning health and nutrition.
And as difficult as this process is (because having your personal beliefs challenged is not easy), it’s a good thing.
I appreciate reading scientific, research based information. (Not Facebook posts or magazine articles or studies sponsored by a group benefitting from the results.)
Remember this book?
You should. I’ve written about it ad nauseam.
It made sense. Eat local. Eat in season. Eat real food. So if I am looking out for my health, shouldn’t I be eating real butter made with a couple of ingredients rather than vegan butter made with, well, quite a few more than a couple of ingredients? Should I even be eating banana? Haven’t seen a banana tree lately.
And then there is Robyn of The Real Life RD. Her focus on intuitive eating and finding peace with your body and food, definitely provides food for thought (ha-ha-ha…see what I just did there?). Her message of not labeling food as good or bad (healthy or not) also makes a lot of sense to me. Most importantly, Robyn encourages abandoning a diet mentality. Is the vegan diet a diet mentality? Do I have a diet mentality?
And most recently, I read this book:
I was sooooper excited to get my hands on this book. I even preordered it. I couldn’t wait for Amazon to let me know my order was on its way.
I was disappointed.
Although I appreciated some of what Dr. Hyman had to say:
- “…if there are health claims on the label, what’s inside is probably unhealthy.”
- “…cultivating and consuming real, whole food is the answer to many of our world’s problems.”
- “Food literally controls almost every function of your body and mind.”
- “Every bite you take is a powerful opportunity to create health or promote disease.”
- And I really love this…”Food can even help our kids get better grades and avoid eating disorders, obesity, and drug abuse…”
…I didn’t love the book.
Some parts made absolutely no sense to me.
At any rate, I began questioning my motives.
Was I vegan for my health? Was I vegan because I needed to identify with something? Was I vegan because the label made me feel special?
Vegan does not necessarily equate to healthy.
I mean after all, you don’t have to look far to find ex-vegans who destroyed their health by their restrictive food choices.
At any rate, I began contemplating incorporating meat and dairy and eggs back into my diet. (Okay…probably not meat, but definitely dairy and eggs.)
Turns out, after much soul searching, I simply have no desire to eat non-vegan foods. None whatsoever.
But…not for the reasons I thought.
Yes, I feel healthy. I enjoy making and eating food.
And I don’t at all consider my diet restrictive. While I feel at my best eating a diet of vegetables and fruit and whole grains and nuts, I also enjoy ice cream and donuts and cookies and chocolate.
(Check out my Instagram. I am hardly deprived.)
What it comes down to, for me, is that I can’t ignore where my food comes from. I can’t ‘unknow’ what I know. I can’t support industries that clash with my values. I’ve watched too many videos. Read too many books.
So, am I suggesting the whole world become vegan?
While I firmly believe the vegan diet is a good choice for healthful eating, I also realize it’s not the only choice.
My values are not your values.
My morals are not your morals.
My journey is not your journey.
What I am suggesting is to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision. Be aware of how the food you are eating arrived on your plate. Be aware of the impact your choices have. Know who and what you are supporting.