It wasn’t until I realized that what I currently “know” about nutrition is just one perspective, that I started to journey into this whole new world of information. I would read health magazine articles that often contradicted others. I once believed that low carb was the way to go and assumed that the information was well sourced. I also once believed that I needed dairy for calcium and a gram of protein per pound of body weight. The key word here is “believed.” How many of us question the choices we make unconsciously, or the choices that chose us? I have found that when we “know” something and disregard other possibilities, it limits us to all possibilities – including ones that are far better than we could imagine.
It all started a couple of years ago after moving to Pittsburgh. I got a temporary job working 10-7 with a 40-minute commute, and our eating habits took a turn for the worse. Back in Charlotte, we were eating “healthy.” I would spend a lot of time cooking. I used healthy produce and often made things from scratch. We ate well, including many regional dishes and varied cuisine. We also enjoyed eating out. We were so-called foodies and loved going out for burgers at least once a week. After our move, however, we were eating a lot of processed foods and avoiding the produce department. Our food tasted good and was convenient, but I noticed that I just didn’t feel as healthy as I wanted to be. I felt like I was lacking. I felt deficient.
“Like a man travelling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them.” -Benjamin Franklin
I was in the fog. I knew what I wanted. To be healthy. To be as healthy as possible and to feel good. To take advantage of life and experience it in a higher perspective. I started to look outside of my normal ways, into the fog of things I don’t know. I started to seek medical texts and journals because I knew my previous sources would have differing opinions (and just that, opinions). I wanted to get to the source. I wanted to read what doctors read. Something that is unbiased. I often came across information on a vegan lifestyle, and it was often well documented and legitimate. This was the seed that was planted and is still growing healthfully and strong.
It took the span of a year before I actually became vegan, but I progressed slowly. My initial goal was to increase the amount of plant-based meals, but I was sure I would not give up meat and dairy. After all, I “needed” it and I was fine with using it sparingly. Along this journey, though, I have made continuous self-discovery. I had since found Dr. John Mcdougall (www.drmcdougall.com), Dr. Michael Gregor (www.nutritionfacts.org), and many other experts and sources with a wealth of information on plant-based benefits. They are just the messengers, though. Their information is cited in thousands of published peer-reviewed studies in the most respected medical journals around the world. Who do you listen to? Perhaps a solid foundation of medical science that is dispersed in the haystack of advertisements, financial interests, and misinformation? I find more and more that the people in the vegan community sharing this knowledge also walk the walk. They are usually trim and healthy human beings.
In 2013, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our family that came into town. We had the usual roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc, etc. We also had the after dinner bloat and lethargy. I remember talking and contemplating with my brother later that night about vegan philosophy. I had shared with him some sources and information. He was at the time reading “Walden”, by Henry David Thoreau. In one part of the book, the author was contemplating eating either a potato or piece of meat. He reasoned that both will fill you, and you’ll be hungry in a few hours either way but the potato was simpler and less destructive. We both vowed to go further towards veganism.
Meat began to have a lesser and lesser appeal to me. It was almost as if the plant-based meals were rewiring me. I started to look at things differently. It started to seem like the sun was brighter and everything around me was more alive. I would often eat a delicious vegan meal and just feel a rush of gratitude. Food had never had that effect on me. I remember eating my last piece of meat in February of 2014. We went out for a burger. I remember halfway through eating it, looking at it while chewing, and saying to myself and Kathy, “I don’t want or need this.” The realization hit me in an instant. It was a concise decision and my outlook took a turn for the better. There were a couple instances of eating animal products after that, but as of April of 2014, I was vegan all the way with no turning back .
My life since then has been elevated in that decision alone. Everything tastes better. There is such a deeper level of satisfaction in eating every meal. Sometimes I feel like I could take off, knowing that I’m eating for a purpose. It’s less destructive, nourishing, and energizing. I’m no longer eating to satisfy my taste buds. I’m now eating to satisfy much deeper desires that I never knew existed. It’s not just about the food, but a greater perspective on life in general.
A few years ago I “could never do this.” My way was the only way. I scoffed at Veganism. I can look back and see myself stuck in my own way of thinking. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone a couple years ago and discovered this world that I never knew existed; a world that is actually amazing. I hope you at least realize there are more things outside of your current perspective in the fog, and make a baby step toward a more plant-based life. I hope you question what you currently “know” and make progressive discoveries as I have along the way. Before this journey, veganism seemed restricting. I was focusing on the lack. I have found that it turns out to be the other way around. I eat more of a variety now than I ever would have dreamed. Veganism is not about giving up what you currently think you love. It’s about expanding, experiencing, and progressing.