So in my last post in this series, I was feeling very unsettled and confused because wheat, the major ingredient in my diet, was suddenly being implicated as unhealthy, and the cause of my husband’s Celiac disease.
This Celiac thing turned our world upside-down.
At first I approached it like a random allergy, as if he was allergic to strawberries or latex: “Bummer! Sorry you can’t have this pasta….”
So we bought gluten-free pasta–which is expensive–so we would just make two separate types of pasta… We soon realized just how much pasta we ate!
Now, my husband had been mostly vegetarian for most of the time we’d been together thus far–meaning, he would have meat when it was available, but for the most part ate a vegetarian diet with the rest of us. He’s the chef in our home, but he didn’t want to frequently cook something that only he would eat. Also, meat is inescapably expensive–even when it’s the hormone-injected “cheap cuts” at the big-box store.
- One of the major caveats with having limited funds is that your diet is one of sustenance rather than health-promotion. Ideally, we’d all eat foods that healed our bodies and supported optimum health–not just survival….but I digress.
As time went on, I read and researched more about Celiac. I have prided myself on my continuing nutritional knowledge base since I went veg as a teen, but here I was being presented with a glaring discrepancy and confusion.
I didn’t understand how it was possible that large numbers of people could be allergic to something that’s widely promoted as staple of a healthy diet. I mean, even in my impassioned vegan years, I’d never heard of a “meat allergy”! Yet there are so, so many people with Celiac–and even more with wheat intolerance. Some estimates claim that as much as half of the American population is sensitive to wheat!
My oldest son, who loves to critique and analyze the world, likes to ask me about nutrition pretty often: “Is this good for you? What about this? Which one is better for you? Why?”
When he asked about pasta, “whole grain” bread, rice, cereal….I never had an answer that I felt confident of. My nutritional knowledge up to that point left me with the weak conclusion that whole grains were “just okay”–i.e, that they didn’t have loads of nutrition but weren’t supposed to be “bad” for you, either. But what exactly did that mean?
Interestingly, the WIC program advocates “healthy whole grains”, and only lets participants choose certain cereals with “high whole grain content”. However, a “food product” that’s as processed as dry cereal cannot be a health-promoting food, and so should be eaten moderately, if at all. Anyway, Dora cereal is one of the allowed “healthy choices”–and if you’ve ever seen that stuff coagulate in milk, you’ll know it isn’t healthy just by looking at it!
I have been a fan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman since before his books were published, and I still very much agree with his central premise that the bulk of your diet must be whole, natural foods in order to be health-promoting. Ideally, he promotes a vegetable-based diet instead of a grain-based diet–which is sound advice. However, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t implicate whole grains as BAD–just as grossly overused in the typical American diet.
- I knew there was more to the story than just processed/refined grains versus “whole” grains…but what was it?
As you might know, when you turn your attention toward something, it grows within your consciousness. Law of Attraction and all that.. Gradually, I realized that several of my other friends were avoiding not just processed grains, but grains in general, and I started asking them why. I checked out Mark’s Daily Apple and bought The Primal Blueprint.
Also, another friend of mine began a journey of her own, called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is a very regimented diet that’s designed to heal your gut. I asked her about it, and the only thing that stuck in my mind–other than it was often the best prescription for Celiac patients (!)–was that it included an awful lot of meat!
Meat in a diet that is designed for healing?? This grew stranger and stranger, I thought.
Yet another one of my friends lives on a farm, and she’s quite healthy. It occurred to me that she and her family eat plenty of raw, unpasteurized dairy products, butter, eggs, and yes, meat. Organic, grass-fed meat from animals that had been gently taken care of, allowed to roam free, and were slaughtered as humanely as possible. If you know anything about the factory farming operations that most of America’s meats come from, you’ll know that this is about as opposite as you can possibly get from the family farm.
As I started unraveling the hidden mess of questions beyond just vegetarianism-or-not, I learned that even my beloved tofu wasn’t safe.
One of the major fallacies of the vegetarian and vegan movement is that it’s possible to eat so low on the food chain that you’re not impacting the environment at all. Most vegans I know (and the vegan I used to be!) still eat processed foods that have just as much of a negative impact on the planet and sustainability as the foods they are so diligently avoiding.
- So what it began to look like is this: Foods–ALL FOODS–vary widely in their ability to promote or detract from our health, depending on how they are farmed/raised/created.
Now, if you’re familiar with energy work and the quantum view of the universe, that is so obvious and simple–yet complex.
The positive energy that’s put into raising your own garden, or raising chickens for eggs, or even lovingly preparing a meal (as mentioned in my last post), affects the quality of that food, and carries the positive vibrations with it as we ingest it. Similarly, mass-produced, over-processed, ready-to-eat, “dead” foods that are regarded mainly in terms of some CEO’s profit margin, carry those vibrations as well.
You don’t need a psychic to tell you that a commercial slaughterhouse is a place that’s thick with the vibration of fear, death, terror. Animals feel–they are sentient beings, and those residual energies and hormones are present in the animals’ bodies at the time of slaughter, and become part of the meat you eat. (That’s in addition to the toxic compounds and mega-doses of drugs they inject them with in order to keep the animals alive in such crowded, filthy conditions. Can we say antibiotic resistance?)
However, vibration and energy go on to give further meaning to another argument that most people like to use to poke fun at vegetarians:
“Plants feel pain too.”
I used to get so frustrated with people who would say that to me. As if the “suffering” of a cabbage plant is somehow equivalent to the suffering of a pig or cow. Absurd, I thought. Of course those people were just trying to be thorns in my side, saying nonsense to goad me… But actually, I’ve come to believe that they have a point. (Yes, really.)
Plants are alive too, but more importantly, everything is energy. The suffering of an animal is more evident to us than a plant’s because we are biologically more similar, more able to relate. But to say that killing plants doesn’t matter is to reject the energetic, divine nature of All that IS. In the quantum view, a rock IS a leaf IS a cow IS a person IS the sun and stardust…
The veg movement is focused on getting people to extend their compassion to non-human beings…but why stop there?
I was starting to realize that that obnoxious song by Tool, about the carrot holocaust, was not so far off the mark, after all…
- Life feeds on life. The solution is not to remove yourself from the equation–that’s impossible. Everything is energy. You are responsible for the mark you make upon the cycle of life. No matter what, the fact of your existence creates suffering in other forms.
You must strike a balance, there is no opting out.
So, what does this all mean?? I’m honestly still chewing on that. 🙂
The short answer is, I’m regarding my food choices with a lot more conscious thought now than ever before, and I’m realizing that mindfulness and energetics are essential to my diet.
I’m still learning so much–about raw dairy, fermented foods, how to brew kombucha, urban homesteading, and raising our own egg chickens, eventually.
I think, lately, that labeling one’s eating habits as vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc, is misleading, limiting, and not focused on alignment with one’s body/health/Self.
Eating intuitively, seeking out high-vibe, consciously grown foods is where I’m at right now.
It means that I’m not really interested in wrapping my identity up with vegetarianism anymore. My diet still happens to be vegetarian–but the description (and stereotypes, and assumptions) of “vegetarian” is no longer all-that-pertinent to Who I Am…if that makes any sense.
My relationship with food is evolving…rapidly.
Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series…