This blog entry actually first appeared as the introduction to my Neckbones2Nectarines blog. I was so tired of feeling like I needed to explain myself to people on “both” sides of this argument; those who felt like I needed to be fighting for animal rights and those who thought I was a snob because I preferred quinoa and tempeh over my old habits of cheese danish and Wild Cherry Pepsi. I continually find the discussion over what people put in their mouths fascinating. While it is my career to help people decipher their way through such, I, in no way, tell people exactly what to eat. This lifestyle works for me. My job is help people find what works for them. I hope this encourages you to find your OWN way and not be swayed by what’s popular or cool. Being sick, overweight or starving…..that’s not cool.
I actually prefer to refer to myself as a “a plant-eating panther-like personal training powerhouse.”
For the sake of this blog, I am going to refer to vegan
as someone who doesn’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. It can get deeper (and it does) but I don’t. Actually, after the last couple of months or so, I prefer to not even be categorized as such so people do not identify my choice as a belligerent food snob who is constantly telling people what they should or should not do with their plates or their lives. While I am concerned about the state of our country’s health as a whole, I have found it best to, well, stay out of folks’ personal business unless they invite me for assistance. That’s what I do. I am a holistic health coach, trained by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition
, with a Masters in Counseling, certified as a personal trainer, food psychology coach and a pletheora of other things but, mostly, I am someone who had just had enough and wanted to take back my life.
As a child, I was sick ALL of the time. I had chronic bronchitis, asthma, low immune system, always wanted to sleep (well, some things never changed), hated to be outside, couldn’t see some mornings, always felt depressed, never felt like I had the “energy” of other children and was a very picky eater. If you ask ANY member of my family what I was like as a child, chances are (except for my parents, bless their heart) they will use the word “weird” to describe me. I always chose tomatoes and lemons (which I’d buy with my allowance over the other treats the kids would eat). Now, I loved my Cherry Chans, Mary Janes and pop (as we called it up North) but I had a special relationship with produce. Any type. Never met a piece of produce that I didn’t like.
When I first decided to become vegetarian, I was eight. No one forced me. I didn’t know any vegetarians. I had never heard of such. I DO remember, one time, my cousin’s girlfriend’s daughter Chris telling us about how the poor chickens had died so we could eat. The guilt lasted with my sister for about one meal. I don’t function off guilt. It just wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I am not sure that’s when I started but I was perfectly content with my lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. And lemons. I loved lemons.
Over the years, as fast food became more prevalent in my life, I started to have less of a finicky appetite because I could eat french fries with every meal. I never put on weight because I would dance for four or five hours a day at school. I stopped getting sickly or, let’s say, I stopped paying attention and called it something else. When I was a teenager, it wasn’t “cool” to be sick. Yet, I remember distinctly, as I began to eat more fast food, my hair started to fall out, my perfectly straight teeth shifted and my freshman year of high school, I took a couple of trips to the E.R. for random stuff. But, of course, it had nothing to do with the food.
If I tell you my entire life story now, there will be nothing left for this blog. So let me get to the point. 🙂
I do not choose a plant-based diet because it’s a fad. I do not choose a plant-based diet because I was raised on one or it was the diet of my community (I was raised in the Robert Taylor Projects in Chicago. Vegan, what?) I do not choose a plant-based diet because it’s convenient (for heaven sakes, I live in MADISON, ALABAMA. The closest Whole Foods is 90 miles away and we have Farmers Markets only 6 months out of the year, there are no all vegan restaurants and I have no vegan friends that I share potlucks with. My children nor my husband are vegan but I digress….). I do not choose a plant-based diet because I am an animal advocate.
I choose a plant-based diet because:
- I don’t like meat and it makes me sick.
- Dairy creates havoc in my life, including my reproductive system, which is now completely destroyed.
- I have no use for eggs and no love for them either.
- Produce is my livelihood.
- I feel better than I have my whole life.
- At almost 40 years old, I still get mistaken for my son’s sister.
- Did I mention I feel fantastic?
- I found what works for me. This is not a fad or something I’ll grow out of because it’s just “one of those things”.
You don’t have to be “vegan” or anything other “label” that you call yourself. Be the best you can be. Sometimes (well, most of the time), it takes some trial and error. Be willing to stick with it and find what makes you feel fantastic. You’ll be glad you did.