If you have been following my blogs and posts for some time, you may have noticed that I used to eat meat, and now I don’t. And you might be wondering why.
It was a slow and steady progression, from meat, eggs and dairy to mostly fresh raw fruits and vegetables. The truth is I had no plans to make this transition; it simply happened naturally on its own time, as a result of feeling unwell in my day to day. Just when I thought I found the solution, another symptom would creep up and I found myself in a continuous cycle of feeling good, then bad, then good, then bad again until most of the time I was just feeling bad. (Click here to read about some of the symptoms I was experiencing.)
I found that changing to mostly raw fruits and vegetables not only helped me feel better, but quickly became a lifestyle that I have thoroughly been enjoying. I am in love with the amazing new plant based recipes I can try. I love the colors and flavors of nature, and I feel more energized and alive than ever before.
I have been asked by many, “So are you vegan now?” And, I suppose the simplest answer would be yes. But I hesitate to refer to myself using the term “vegan” unless someone asks me directly, I’m ordering at a restaurant, or I’m in a social situation where that term helps others understand my food preferences. Here’s why I don’t call myself vegan:
1) There are many foods labeled “vegan” that are unhealthy for the human body.
Vegan is a term used to describe a diet free of animal products including meat, dairy and eggs. A vegan diet can certainly be a healthy one, but it isn’t always that way.
Processed foods have been a huge detriment to our population’s health. Yet I have seen cookies, crackers, soups, cakes, chips, boxed meals and much more labeled “vegan.” This is not only meant to cater to the vegan population, but also to create the illusion that a particular product is healthy. There are certain connotations with the word “vegan,” one of them being “healthier option.” I am not saying that eating these types of vegan products is a bad thing. Everyone is different in what they choose to consume.
However, a vegan diet does not necessarily mean a healthy diet. I would never want anyone to mistake my diet for anything resembling a box of vegan mac n’ cheese, or sugar loaded vegan cookies. I eat for nutrition, not just to say I’m vegan. And just because it says vegan does not mean it’s a healthy choice.
2) As mentioned above, I eat for nutrition.
At this point, I suppose I could publicly call myself vegan. But again, this is not the point. The majority of my diet consists of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. These beautiful and high nutrient foods created by nature contain everything the human body needs: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, natural fuels, amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fats).
Eating fruits and vegetables in abundance helps support and nourish our organs and glands, balance the PH in the body, hydrate our cells, provide sustainable energy, detoxify, create a self-healing environment in the body and much, much more.
I don’t think of myself as vegan with this diet. I think of myself as someone who eats what my body wants, craves and needs for fuel. I want to live a long life. And not just long, but long and vibrant. This is how I feel when I eat some of the healthiest foods on the planet.
3) It’s a lifestyle, not a label.
In the past year or so I have discovered that I have a deep bond and connection with animals. I knew I loved animals before, as I have always loved cats and other sweet furry friends. But in the past year I have truly discovered that my love for these little creatures runs deeper than I ever thought.
It is my mission (and now my obligation) to treat all creatures with love and kindness. To honor all beings, human and animal, and to treat all with respect. I have a strong devotion to making sure the animals I come in contact with have a loving home, or are treated humanely and left to roam freely in their natural habitat.
A few years ago a sweet little kitten appeared on my front porch. She had no collar, but looked very healthy and was so loving. I sat with her, scratched her sweet little head and let her crawl into my lap for a few minutes. I knew I could not let her into my own home, as I had a sweet kitty of my own to care for and protect. But my plans changed that day, from grocery shopping to making sure this little being had a home.
I took her to the vet to make sure she was pest free. I got some bloodwork done on her so I knew she was disease-free. I took her to the clubhouse at our apartment, handed them the paperwork, and they housed her overnight. In the meantime, I asked all my friends and family if they would like to adopt a kitty, just to make sure I had a backup in case her owner never came forward. As it turned out, the original owner claimed the kitty, and was so overjoyed she cried and thanked me endlessly.
To me, this wasn’t a choice. It was just what I was supposed to do. I could never leave a tiny innocent being on the streets and I wasn’t going to, regardless of how my day changed.
The same goes for eating my fruits and vegetables. This is just what I do now. It’s not a choice anymore for me. My body gets what it wants for nutrition, nourishment and support.
To me, being vegan is just a lifestyle. I don’t have to think, I just do. I don’t even think of myself as vegan. I think of myself as a healthy eater, a mentor and teacher for others, a lover of all creatures, a lover of Mother Earth and the environment, and somewhat of a chef who makes yummy healthy food!
All of this is now second nature and part of who I am, not something I call myself.
4) All friends are welcome in my world.
As mentioned above, I love all creatures on this planet, human and furry friends. When I go to someone’s home for dinner, or when I eat out at a restaurant socially, or when I’m in any type of group atmosphere, all ways of eating are welcome in my presence.
Just because I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs any longer doesn’t mean someone else has to do the same. And it certainly doesn’t mean I would judge someone who does, or be offended by it.
It also doesn’t mean I would feel uncomfortable when someone eats a steak in front of me. Everyone is on their own path. Everyone has their own specific dietary needs and desires.
The first thing I say to someone would not be, “Hi I’m Andrea and I’m vegan.”
We are all the same, vegan or not. So why would I need to call myself vegan? I know in my heart who I am, and those who know me do too. I most certainly don’t need to place a label on myself to tell others about me.
So, am I vegan?
Well, I guess technically yes.
More accurately though, I’m a health and environmental advocate. A teacher. A friend. A loved one. A sister. A daughter. A wife. A kitty mama. A yogi. A normal gal who likes to keep my body, mind and spirit healthy.
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