I didn’t do it for the animals.

The first thing I read this morning was an article about veganism and how a plant based diet has the possibility to cure diabetes. And I wanted to say something about myself, that maybe you already know. 

I switched to a vegan diet in 2012. The worse year of my life. The wake up call.

First I did it because I was ill. I spent several months with almost no energy to get out of bed and thinking I was about to live a painful life forever, my joints used to hurt as if I has needles stuck between them. And I wasn’t even 30. I went vegan and have been back and forth from vegetarian to vegan for a year and a half (I have made exceptions when I considered it appropriate and most times I did this my body had something to say afterwards), I started experimenting, listening, changing, trying to maintain a vegan diet while keeping my social life active (which is very difficult when everything served has bacon or cheese in it and when you order a vegetarian salad people ask you if you want chicken to go with it) and tolerating the comments and judgments from people around me (and also experiencing love from people who understand and support me and make an effort to avoid losing our friendship because of food).

A week after I started being a vegan the pain associated with my disease had cleared 80%. I now very rarely feel any discomfort, I have more energy than I ever had, I feel awake and happy, and strong. I feel good about myself and what I do.

A year after, I haven’t had any crisis or flare ups. I am healthy. In case you’re worried about my protein I can say I am strong and I get enough vegetable protein from delicious food that I cook. My skin is healthy, my muscles have grown and toned. I am a yoga student and a diver. I practice. I dive. I work. I travel. I party. My blood work is only lacking vitamin D (in Belgium, really?).

I didn’t do it for the animals. But in the end you know what? It feels good to know that what I put in my body is alive and didn’t scream with rage before being slaughtered. It feels good to know that I am doing some good and less harm. That my eating habits contribute to the planet, just like sorting waste does, just like not littering does, just like not killing does.

It came as a by product to my vegetarian/vegan diet: I am doing less harm. Ahimsa. As a yogi there is no way to deny it. You can accept your responsibility, and decide not to comply with this principle, we are all free to do that, you can also decide to get in fights with your neighbor, to be envious of your friend, to be unhappy with what you have, you can decide to live in the past and not stay in the moment, you can do any of this, accept your responsibility, and live like that, no one is perfect and we all go through that in different ways and different moments of our life. What we cannot do is deny it. Becase we know. Ahimsa means doing less harm. And eating animals does not do less harm. It does more.

As a side note, although I have no evidence that vegans are more bendy (and I haven’t done any research on that) I would put money on it. If you want to improve flexibility try a vegan diet for a month while you practice daily. You will tell me what happens. I really want to know.

 

Namaste!

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We all start on our first day

I am dedicating my blog post today to someone dear to me because yesterday she completed her first day as a vegetarian ever. I would like to think I didn’t have anything to do with her decision but I did. I have been pestering her incessantly with recipes, the benefits of a vegan/veggie diet, the perks of not eating bacon wrapped in bacon and the advantages of eating healthy, while still enjoying eating. It’s not that I WANT her to be a vegetarian, but I would like her, and everyone around me though, to feel as good as I feel. I must admit that it feels right to acknowledge that I was wrong back then, when I used to be a carnivore, and when I said I will never stop eating ribs and bacon, I was wrong, and I am happy I was wrong.

I get a lot of comments about being a veg, especially “how do you do it? I would die”. First let me tell you, NO, you won’t die. In fact you might even live longer. Not that anything is granted in this life but why not give it a try? That’s my teasing line, just, why not give it a try. It might be for a week, or a month, or 2 months. And see how it goes, maybe you’ll feel good, maybe not, you’re free to decide, but you can’t say you can’t until you try it. When to do it, when to start? Well, I would say don’t do it on the day of the dinner that your friend organised at the Ribs all-you-can-eat place downtown. I mean, help yourself a little. Do it on a weekend, you’ll have time to shop, cook, eat slowly. Do it without telling other people, just start your day and choose the veggie option at the restaurant, get fresh stuff from the market and avoid the roasted chicken stand. Don’t make it a big deal because you’ll feel the pressure, remember you’re just trying it out. It can be over whenever you want, and no one will punish you if you go back to eating the other stuff. This is something you do for yourself and yourself only. I won’t get the benefits of you being a vegetarian. I will be happy if you feel happy. That’s it. And if you don’t want to try because you’re scared or anxious about the first day, well just remember everything you started you started on the first day. Same thing that I tell the newcomers at the yoga studio. We all started on our first day. When I tell students to relax sometime they tell me “Yes, you say that because you already know everything about it”. Well, I don’t know everything about nothing. I know some things, and I have some experience. But the first day that I showed up at the studio I didn’t know any of that, and I took my first Ashtanga class as a newbie (even though I had tried other kinds of yoga). And guess what, there has not been any record yet of a person who showed up for the first time at an Ashtanga Yoga class (or any other style) who already knew everything. This is official information taken from the World Records of the Yoga People (WRYP*). I can assure you, it’s legit 😉

So, the same way we start our first day of school, or first day of work, the first day of being a mother, or the first day of being a teacher, a vegetarian or a vegan, enjoy that first time, enjoy not knowing anything and discovering something. Listen to yourself, ask yourself questions, find the positive in this new experience.

 

Yesterday at an event I saw a colleague and asked her if she’d be eating soon as the catering had come out and the smell of the deep-fried shrimp filled the air and our nostrils. She said nuh-uh. I told her, yeah I’m not eating either. She asked why? I told her, well, I eat other stuff. She looked at me and said: are you a vegan? I said yes, well, I am a tolerant vegan, and avoid most things that are actually being served right now! We spent an hour talking recipes and food, with the occasional stop on the global warming subject and the CO2 emissions, the fishing industry problems and the extinction of the species. Unavoidable once you start talking green. I was happy to find someone at work that doesn’t ask me “All you eat is salad?”.

So, congrats to my friend who tried being a vegetarian whether it lasts 24hrs or 24 years, and thumbs up for opening her mind and exploring the uncomfortable zone of the vegetable fajitas, the spinach lasagna and the portobello burgers! I am up for sharing my veg diet with anyone interested in looking at my weekly menu ideas. Just shout!

 

Namaste, and bon appetit!