A little over a year ago I switched to a (mostly) vegan diet. But “diet” is a weird word with way too many negative, restrictive connotations. So, let’s call it…a vegan approach to eating. We’ll go with that. After years of dabbling in vegetarianism, I realized that I felt better physically when I ate mostly plants. And I also realized that I felt better emotionally when I knew where my food was coming from, if possible, and that my spirit felt better when I knew I wasn’t eating animals.
So you see, this was a originally selfish decision: eating vegan made me feel better. It didn’t have much to with anything other than that. It also sparked a serious amount of creativity in the kitchen as I explored the literal rainbow of fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, beans, and spices we have available to us! It’s awesome!!
The only tricky part is that, in the past year, I’ve found that often it seems that my decision to eat what makes me feel great seems to be threatening to others. Although I don’t go out of my way to bring it up, veganism seems to hit a nerve with many people. I come across people who say things like: “OH, well, my Aunt Beatrice was vegan and she used to force us to weave handmade dreamcatchers whenever we visited her, and she thought she could cure her fibromyalgia with kale.” Or, “Yeah, but do you get protein?” or “Haha, I just could NEVER give up a burger and fries.”
Which is all okay. I’m not asking anyone to give up a burger, nor am I prepared to explain Aunt Beatrice’s decorating sense! Though I’m so happy to have a discussion about the pros and cons of various food choices. It’s a luxury, truly, to be able to inquire about food, educate ourselves, and then eat what we choose.
This is not a claim of perfection, either: I had to set veganism aside while I was teaching in my small town in central Thailand, where it was nearly impossible to do — and not wither away to a shell of my former self, anyway. But after yoga training, I was back at it, particularly after spending time studying one of the central tenets of yoga: ahimsa. Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence, of doing no harm. So as I strive to live more thoughtfully and make a positive ripple on this planet, ahimsa must come first before anything else.
But I’m still often caught off guard when what I eat somehow ends up putting me on the defensive. It wouldn’t occur to me to provide unprompted negative commentary or observations to someone digging into an In N Out burger (a former love of mine!). But if you would like to have a balanced, inquisitive discussion about it, I’m game!
Do you hear what I’m saying?
It thrills me to chop like mad, roast vegetables, make my own hummus, and sit down in front of a meal like this:
And I want you to do, and eat, what thrills you and fulfills you, too! So let’s be friends.