I just came back from the most amazing weekend in Amish Country with a bunch of great friends. I was more relaxed than I have been in over a decade. Was I able to eat a 100% vegan diet on my trip? No. What I ate was less than my ideal and could definitely be described as plant strong, but NOT plant perfect. There was cow involved.
I was so looking forward to the trip and now that I am back, I can't believe that it came and went in a flash and now I am back to reality. The reality of fighting kids and potty training and stressful work situations and never enough hours in the day.
And back to Healthy Girl's Kitchen. Yeah! Keeping this blog is what I do for me, and if I can participate in helping others and repairing the world just a little bit, well, that's an amazing bonus. So I was so thrilled when I turned my computer on this morning and found, amongst a long list of e-mails, some real gold.
First, an e-mail from a reader that I want to share in it's entirety.
"I subscribed to your website. I visit it every once in a while, and have loved hearing about the popcorn deal. You go girl.
May I vent to you for a minute....
Well, I've been falling off the wagon with this whole vegan thing. (well at least my very partial vegan thing!) I went to Florida for a week and stayed with my mom. My simple request was fresh vegi's, fruit and whole grains. Well that didn't happen. She bought me some canned vegi's and some enriched wheat bread. Thank god she has a mango tree in her backyard, because that was my only thing going. Oh, she did buy my almond milk.
It's amazing that now that I am so aware, and my eyes are open - the crap that the rest of the world is eating. It's the way I grew up, it's the way they still eat. I opened her fridge and cabinets and wanted to take a big garbage bag and throw everything out. All my mom does complain about how she has heartburn and is constipated, and how she is overweight. Hello - get rid of the processed crap....
We would be making dinner and I would be steaming some vegetables, (which I had to go out and buy ) and I would turn my back, and she would put margarine or cheese in them. As soon as I went to try to say stop, she would say stuff like - Oh Michelle, I just put a little in there. Or we would be sitting out at the pool and she would bring out a plates of salami/cheese, potato chips, and crap.
I feel bad, because my parents eat so crappy and complain about their health. I tried to tell her some tips, and she didn't want to hear about any of it....
This was the first time in my life, I am worried about them - and there is nothing I can do. They are caught up in the American way of eating. Its so scary that that was me, too.
So thanks Wendy, for helping me to stay focused and continue this lifestyle. I am very lucky to be surrounded by friends who live a healthy and enjoy life doing so.
So, I'm trying to get back on schedule and get back to healthy eating. As of today - no dairy for me!!!"
And now for Part II. My Uncle Bob (isn't it funny how everyone has an Uncle Bob?) from San Diego who is home recovering from MAJOR, scary surgery on his head sent me the following link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/business/22stream.html?ref=health It's totally worth reading the entire article, but in case you don't have the time, I'll summarize it here.
We are in a health crisis of epic proportions. Obesity and it's related diseases has got to be stopped. But, as individuals, we are almost powerless against this beast. The easy availability of cheap, fatty, and unhealthy food, combined with our sedentary lifestyles spent in front of computer/tv screens is the cause. But the solution does not lie in individuals changing their habits (read the article to find out why). It will take a collective and mass movement to alter our world (for the better I think) so that healthy food is available in mass and that together we can reverse this trend.
So to my friend who shared her story about her visit to her parents home I have this to say: Stay strong! This journey is not going to be easy. The type of collective change that we need to achieve is going to take years, if not generations. But the fight is worth it. Some people need to be the pioneers, the warriors, the town criers. Your mom may not hear you right now, or ever, but your children will thank you for it. Society will thank you for it.
And don't even think twice about what you ate last week. Let it go. We cannot control what we eat all of the time, just most of the time. This weekend in Amish Country I had very little control over what I ate. I did my best, but my best certainly wasn't what I consider very good. This will happen in life, unless you become a hermit.
Which is why I have so strongly attached to Rip Esselstyn's expression, "plant strong, not plant perfect." The world is not easy to navigate when you are trying to eat a no-added-fat, vegan diet. But it is more important to just let it go, get back on the wagon and keep trying after a "fall" than to spend time dwelling on it and berating yourself.
What does it mean to be "plant strong?" To me, it means that every time I eat, I focus on finding or preparing vegetables, both fresh and cooked, fruit, beans and real whole grains. Avocado, young coconut, nuts and seeds to a far lesser extent. As long as I am filling up on those three food groups, I don't have much room left in my belly for other stuff. You will be totally surprised if you try it. It works! You absolutely can be plant strong, but few people can be plant perfect every day for the rest of their lives in the real world that we live in today. Maybe someday in the future, maybe in our lifetimes, maybe not.
So to my friend who spent the week in a far less than ideal environment, and to myself after this weekend, I say, "Just let it go." Today is a new day, a day that we can be plant strong. Have a great day everyone!