Friday, 29 July 2011

A whole-food lifesyle!

I am in the process of starting up a website dedicated to a whole-food, plant-strong lifestyle. One of the pages on my website is an 'about me' page. I have been writing (in longhand) what I will put on that page but I often find that I need to see it in typed and posted form to really be able to make the edits that I need. So this is my practice space. I am going to type up my about me and post it here and then revisit and rework it.

*update - I started typing this at least an hour ago and found myself rambling on. It will definitely need some editing and tweaking but will do for a jumping off point.*

Here goes....

June 15th, 2011 will go down in history; The Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins in game 7 of an epic playoff series; Hoodlums and hooligans rioted on the streets of Vancouver, flipping cars, setting fires and looting stores; And I ate a smokie hot dog smothered in mustard.

June 16th, 2011 was a healing and reparative day. It was a lot quieter and received far less media attention than the day before; Vancouverites came out in droves and lovingly cleaned up the mess the rioters had left behind. Part of that clean-up included messages written on the wooden boards covering the holes where shop windows had been less than 24 hours earlier; And I made the choice that day to heal and repair my own body. I decided to clean up the mess I had left behind after years of neglect and poor food choices. I made the decision to stop eating meat and to begin the process of leaning into a plant-strong lifestyle. It would be my love letter to myself.

My love letter isn't written with a pen or a keyboard. It isn't written on paper or a computer screen. It is written with beautiful, colourful, natural, whole foods. It is written on me. On my senses; my eyes, my nose, my palette, my stomach, my heart, my body, and my soul.

What I didn't expect was that this love letter to myself turned out to also be a love letter to the world. A whole-food, plant-strong lifestyle is better for the earth, better for the people and better to the animals. It is a kinder lifestyle. And one that I never thought I would choose.

I have always loved meat. I tried being a vegetarian years ago and lasted about 9 months. I missed meat and I had no idea how to actually eat healthfully. I just avoided things with faces but stuck with cheese, dairy and processed foods to make up the bulk of my diet. At the end of 9 months I was tired, lethargic and hungry for something with substance.

This time around the things that I am cutting down on in my diet are those things that are processed, refined, or made from animals. I am instead eating whole, natural and real foods - fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, beans, lentils, brown rice, tofu, almond milk.

As I write this, I just passed the 6 week mark of my new lifestyle and by and large I feel pretty fantastic. There have been some bonuses that I expected and others that I had no idea would happen. For instance, my dishes are always easy to clean - no grease! I can`t help but think of what that animal fat was doing inside my body if just the residue of it was making my dishes that greasy. Another notable and unexpected side effect is that almost immediately after I stopped eating animal products, I felt lighter and happier. I think of the suffering animals that I am no longer ingesting and it seems like there is an obvious connection. Other benefits - my skin has never looked better or felt more smooth. I`ve lost weight. Food tastes better and is more colourful and appealing to me.

I should clarify that I am not a vegan. I am allowing some flexibility in my lifestyle. It isn't plant-based, it is plant-strong. My goal these days is to have a diet of 90% plant-based proteins with an allowance of up to 10% animal-based proteins. The numbers are somewhat arbitrary since I'm not figuring out the math on everything I eat but, I find that I rarely end up dipping into the 10%. When I do it is mostly when I am out and there are absolutely no vegan options - something will have an egg cooked in it or it has butter or cheese in it. If at some point I am desperately craving a chicken wing, a piece of bacon or a bite of steak, then I will weigh my craving carefully and make a decision in the present.

So why did I do it?

Seeing the documentary Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study were pretty major catalysts for changing my behaviour. Learning that there is a protein in animal products that acts as a fertilizer for the big 3 diseases in North America (heart disease, diabetes and cancer) let alone a legion of smaller (but no less devastating) ailments was perspective altering to say the least. I am a candidate for all of the big 3 as well as some of the other diseases like macular degeneration and arthritis. If I can take control of my health, my body and my future through my diet and lifestyle then take control I must. The timing was right for me. The information clicked in my brain. I knew it to be true and I knew that I had to get on board.

Since making the switch to a whole-food, plant-strong lifestyle I have discovered new foods, new recipes, new energy and a new passion! It is my goal to continue living this great lifestyle and through my energy, excitement, and improved health, I hope to inspire others to want to look into trying it out too.