I dropped the vegan label long ago, for my own personal reasons. I don’t judge people that say they are vegan; I don’t judge people that say they eat Big Macs. Eat what you choose to; what you feel you thrive on; what you feel like eating on any particular day. It’s not my place to tell anyone what to put in their body.
When I say I am vegan, there are too many things that you can assume about me, whether they are right or wrong; I don’t want that assumption to be there. I also refuse to participate in the blatant elitism, ostracizing and MAJOR anti-science pushing that goes on within the community.
Calling yourself a vegan means that you are privileged enough to be selective, regardless of the reason, of the food that you eat – and that’s great! – but I don’t need to label myself to participate in it. Whether you want to accept it or not, the products that are geared towards vegans (mock meats, dairy free ice creams, yogurts, milks, etc,) are double or triple the price of other products. There is no way that someone on a budget, or someone on food stamps, is going to be able to eat the same diet and adequately meet their nutritional needs as well. That’s why I try to keep everything as close to whole foods as much as possible, as simple as possible.
It is NOT ok to compare animal cruelty to slavery. It is NOT ok to compare animal cruelty to the plight of a sex slave/ the trade of girls and women for sex. It is NOT ok to compare animal cruelty to the oppression of women of color.
YES, stand up for what you believe in. Take part in caring for our earth and our environment – but do it in a way that we can ALL participate. Not just the few on the top.
As close to nature as I aim to be, I still understand that science is an integral part of our society for a reason.
I am pro-science.
I eat (mostly) plant based because:
1- I can afford it
2- I feel good eating a plant based diet, physically and mentally
3- I believe that for MY body, whole foods (rice, potatoes, fruit & veg) help my digestive system greatly.
I am not afraid of modern medicine. Why are people living so much longer than we used to? Because we now understand better how the human body works. We can fix things. We can eradicate disease with a shot, we can preform an operation to save a life, we can take an antibiotic to cure an infection, we can take a pill to help lower blood pressure.
I am vehemently pro-vaccine. I have always been pro-vax. There is no reason to be anti-vax unless you are ok with buying into propaganda and this idea that “big pharma” exists and people are trying to microchip your children as they come out of the womb, without your knowledge. Decades of scientific research don’t get to be thrown away because of fear mongering, anti-science, cherry-picking google “research” that someone did on their iphone.
Afraid of formaldehyde? Oh wait, it’s in apples and pears too so don’t eat them please.
I am also pro-GMO. I might have started off being wary of GMO’s thanks to the insane amount of falsified information and fear mongering out there, but I was happy to be enlightened on the subject over many months and found that it’s OK. It’s OK to change your mind about things, and admit that you were wrong. It’s an ego thing, for most, I assume. It’s totally fine to *not* want to purchase non-GMO products for yourself and for your family, friends, etc; it’s not OK to protest GMO research that can help children dying of vitamin A deficiency by creating a “biofortified banana” – this stuff is AMAZING!
There is a LOT of information out there. It is hard to distinguish what’s truthful and what is biased. In my opinion, the most important thing is having credible sources. Sources being, peer-reviewed studies and not anecdotes or internet “research”.
(When “celebrity” chef Tom Collichio is writing an op-ed touting the dangers of cancer causing GMOs…you know they’re grasping for straws. He has a huge vested interest in the anti-GMO side of things; it’s no surprise to me that he spent time participating in the fear mongering. Many of the corporations he support and holds stock in benefit from the anti-GMO push. Gwyneth Paltrow anyone?)
A common misconception that I’d like to address:
“I buy organic because they don’t use pesticides!”
Here is a list of organic pesticides approved to use in the USA:
When it comes to chemicals, the toxicity is all about the dose. Anything is toxic when it is applied in the wrong amount. WATER is toxic if you drink too much of it.
There are even synthetic pesticides approved for use by organic farmers that cross over into the conventional farming methods.
“The dose is what makes the poison.”
There is also no difference nutritionally in something that has been grown organically or conventionally – another common misconception.
*This is not meant to discourage anyone from a vegan life or plant based eating; this is simply a reminder to stop the judgements, stop the holier than thou attitudes, stop the name calling and most importantly have some damn compassion for our fellow humans in addition to caring about other species. I realize that I’m throwing all who call themselves vegans into a proverbial “box”; I don’t mean to make generalizations but I do want to call out the obvious that continues to go (mostly) unsaid.
I make it my best effort not to use or buy animal products but that doesn’t make me a better person than someone who does.
I try to stay true to my original motto of the importance of living L O C A L. Taking an interest in local politics, community, businesses and schools.
Hydrate: Drink water!
Our adult bodies are made up of about 60% water. A dehydrated brain does not function as well as a hydrated one. I have been suffering from migraines since I was a teenager and I find that staying hydrated helps me ward them off (to an extent).
- Allows your cells to reproduce and grow
- Regulates body temperature
- Helps to deliver oxygen to all parts of your body.
Meditate: Allow yourself time each day to relax and reflect.
So much easier said, than done, I’ll admit.
My mom is a Buddhist and makes time for this every day. I aim to follow her example but it is difficult for me.
Meditation is best if done in the early morning when you wake up or in the evening before you go to sleep.
Stretching for a few minutes before committing will help you ease into it.
Try to meditate when you know you won’t be distracted. As someone with an eight year old, a
newborn toddler three year old, six five dogs and a farm full of hens, I can tell you that this is not always the easiest feat. That’s why I recommend early morning or late night for meditating. They seem to be times where I find there are less external distractions.
If you can find some wall space, lay with your back on the floor, butt against the wall and legs straight up towards the ceiling against the wall; this is one of my favorites. Also a great hamstring stretch.
Give yourself anywhere from 5-30 minutes to meditate and be realistic about it. Don’t aim for a goal that you know you don’t have time for.
Don’t force it! If you’re not in the right frame of mind, try again later. If it doesn’t come organically, you may feel resentment.
be present in the moment.
Some benefits of mediation:
- Stress relief
- Protects your brain (in the long haul) from mental illness
- Lessens depression
- Helps you sleep better
- Most importantly, it makes you feel good!
Stick with meditation as a life long practice and you will reap the benefits.
Note that meditation doesn’t have to be done this way. Like yoga, meditation is a state of mind. I can go into a meditative state while hiking (by myself) as odd as that sounds. Hiking through trails that I know by heart and can walk through (probably) blindfolded gives me time to push all thoughts out of my head and just listen. The sound of birds, leaves crunching, wind, rain, etc…are relaxing to me and help pull me into a meditative state. The rhythmic beat of walking helps me to have a clear mind. It truly is a time that I feel 100% at peace.
“meditation in action” – is a phrase I just learned, but something that I have been doing all my life. You don’t have to be seated to meditate. Through a vinyasa flow or a steady paced walk, you can meditate. Don’t be afraid of straying from the norm. 🙂
*I’m sure there is a general definition of meditation; for me I use mediation to clear my mind and relax my head, neck and shoulders. I tend to tighten up in those areas since having been in a car accident +10 years ago and it helps immensely to release the tension and give me some relief.
Perspire: Sweating is healthy.
Whether you go for a hike, rake leaves or scrub the bathroom floor…do something that gets your heart pumping, your face flushed and your body energized. Aim for at least 60 minutes each day.
Sweating improves blood flow and is great for your skin [just remember to rinse your body off after sweating profusely so it doesn’t irritate your skin].
Sweating boosts your endorphins [you’ll feel happier, which seems to be a common theme here, no?]
Yoga, hiking, Bike riding and lifting heavy things are my main forms of exercise. I try to get in at least one every day. If I’m lucky, I’ll get both. I walk every day, regardless of considering it exercise [( I have 6 [rest in peace Diesel] 5 energetic dogs!)I have 2 kids that don’t stop running 😉 ] When you stop thinking of exercising as a chore and start thinking of it as just another part of your everyday life, you will see how easily it comes. You can always find time to exercise. No matter how tired you are or how hard you have worked, getting your blood flowing feels great. Exercise doesn’t have to be something that tires you out and makes your knees feel weak. You just want to increase your circulation and get your heart pumping.
A lot of people have asked me in the past about how to get started with yoga.
I have not taken a yoga class [in a studio] in almost a decade. I practice using books, DVDs and an online resource of classes called Yogaglo.com.
EDIT: I have been taking classes at a local studio here in Vermont. (yay! finally!)
Though I can’t always get to a class each week with my busy schedule, it is an enormous help to my mind and body to make the effort and do something outside my home, 100% for myself. Yes, somethings you have to do solely to make yourself feel good.
Go to your local library and take out some books on yoga! I know in this day and age we tend to stray from tangible books but I love opening up a yoga book way more than reading on my computer.
Most importantly, don’t be intimidated by the advanced poses and flows that you see. Even doing a simple 10 minute routine gets you started. You are doing yoga! It doesn’t matter how beginner or difficult what you’re doing is; all that matters is that you make an effort. Yoga can be spiritual or solely physical. Yoga, for me, is a state of mind & a way to treat my body well.
What I’m concentrating on within my yoga practice currently, is breath and non-attachment otherwise known as Vairagya.
*Breath* meaning allowing myself to breathe into poses instead of holding my breath. You will notice sometimes that when you concentrate very hard on doing something, you are not allowing yourself to breathe fully. Breathing deeper allows you to enter a pose deeper.
*Non-attachment meaning not feeling attached to the outcome of a practice and not feeling defeated about achievement. Giving your practice a purpose rather than a “goal”. If you can’t achieve an ultimate pose, not feeling irritated about it. Your practice is to strengthen your body and mind and doesn’t need to be about aesthetics. Learning to let go and surrender. Not worrying about how others perceive you.
I have been studying ashtanga yoga for the past year. I highly recommend reading about it and seeing what is different about it from other yoga styles like a vinyasa flow or hatha. Ashtanga has opened up the understanding of my physical body in a huge way and given me access to deeper breathing.
go green. [and eat your greens!]
Connect with the earth.
Read a book.
Pick up trash on the side of the road.
Hug an animal.
Feel the grass between your toes.
Eat your lunch outside.
Support a local business.
Hike with a friend.
Above all, BE KIND.