A Yogi Carnivore Soliloquy: From Breaking Point to Balance
There are a lottt of documentaries out there nowadays that condemn the common diet in the United States. I’ve seen all the popular ones — Forks over Knives, Food Inc, King Corn, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, etc. They all have the same thing in common — they are quick to point out the sad, scary truth about the unacceptable conditions of our American mass-produced food supply.
Both sides can sit here and argue about this all day until they’re blue in the face. However, I think the easiest way to make sense of this madness is to simply look at the apolitical evolution of life and living beings. I am currently studying biology on my road to finishing grad school pre-reqs, and when you get down to the molecular details — we are all the same. Not only is this an argument for “namaste”, it’s scientific proof that we are what we eat. We are all a product of DNA, a structure made up of the same 4 molecules whether you’re a human or a tree. The more we deviate away from the natural plants and animals our ancestors consumed, the more we will set ourselves up for generations of diet-induced health conditions that humans can only manage until they can’t. This is the breaking point.
I am 29 and I grew up in a fast food friendly household with busy parents who worked full time. I am not a perfect example of one who is culinarily enlightened. One of my favorite meals is a double-double from In’n’out, and the two meals I can remember eating most in my childhood are boxed macaroni and cheese and the #3 Bacon Western from Carl’s Jr. (with criss cut fries). In high school, my household only got slightly food-conscious but we still didn’t come close to eating clean, whole foods. From the beginning of adolescence, my hormones weren’t balanced and I had never had regular cycles. I was put on the Pill as soon as doctors would allow it which would continue regularly over the next 12 subsequent years. When I think back, I am still very angry that western medicine would pump a teenager full of artificial hormones to fix the problem instead of looking at cause and effect. No doctor asked my mom about my diet or about the fact that I played sports 12 months out of the year. They simply chose the quick fix, which is how we all got here in the first place. Eventually, the Pill stopped regulating my cycles for me, and now I am on the quest to create regularity in my endocrine system by adopting a plant-based diet.
So what do I eat?! I loooove meat and pizza and cookies and ice cream and beer and bar food. I know I want to be in my best body, and I am ready trade moments of nostalgic food bliss for a healthy, fertile body. I know one thing for sure: I want to eat clean.
A few months back I was in the thick of a frustrated spell about how hard it is to avoid eating processed foods, man-mutated meat, and hormone-pumped produce. Everything seemed to be GMO and Monsanto-laced causing me to feel hopeless and developing a case of the F-it’s. So I bought Amie Valpone’s book and went through the obligatory “I need to throw out everything in my pantry” thought process. But then I realized one major thing: the practice itself will simply lead to progress. Instead of spending $400+ on new cooking items and wasting food I already had, I decided to finish my pantry then purchase a more favorable substitute for that item on my next grocery visit. I remembered my life mantra: progress not perfection.
Yoga is the process of replacing poor, suboptimal habits with better, more conscious ones. For the past few weeks, I have been taking baby steps toward progress. The great thing about baby steps is that they are small and do not require abrupt change — it is usually the act of changing one’s diet abruptly that causes so many of us to fail at it. Here are best practices I’ve found that allow me to have my clean food, and eat it, too:
- I will choose the organic option 100% of the time. If I can’t afford the organic option, then I simply won’t purchase the item until I can.
- I am extremely scrutinizing towards the meat I choose to consume. All beef is 100% grass-fed and organic. Cows are not meant to consume corn!
- I only eat meat in 3 meals per week because it’s good for the environment! See the Vice story at http://www.vice.com/read/vice-on-hbo-water-crisis-meat-production
- I don’t eat out unless we are going somewhere that aligns with eating clean. Bad news: most places don’t.
- I welcome opportunities to indulge instead of forcing myself into a mental state of aversion. You’d be surprised at the decadence of Cafe Gratitude’s vegan dessert options.
- I still eat dessert, but now I make it fresh in my Vitamix and I enjoy it even more than I used to.
- I will always try my best to be conscious of the food I am eating and why my body will benefit from consuming it.
If you have a similar experience with food or are looking for motivation to change your diet then let’s connect. Share a message or your story and know that this community supports you on your journey.