Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mommy, Why Does Everyone Say that Milk Makes You Stronger?

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last Reader Advice Day post. I'm thrilled to report that "Emily" is doing much better now and is very grateful for everyone's help.

"Thank you so much for all the advice on your blog and in this email! I do have a lot of weight to lose probably close to 70 lbs and I have been really enjoying all the yummy plant strong food I have been eating. I got interested in this style of eating from my good friend Beth [name changed]. I saw her change drastically and while I have spent years trying Weight Watchers with minimal effect her change was immediate. This week is my spring break (I am a teacher) so I have been taking this time to try lots of new dishes and I am feeling great! I have so much energy and really love the food I am eating. I feel full and I do not feel obsessed with tracking points and then feeling discouraged when I fail! I really appreciate all the comments and help so thank you! "

You are so welcome "Emily!" We're nothing without each other. If it wasn't for a supportive internet community, I don't know where I would be today with my health.

This morning my seven year old daughter Maya asked, "Mommy, why does everyone say that milk makes you stronger?"

It seems that her class is doing a unit on nutrition, specifically the USDA Food Pyramid, and she has been giving her teacher a real run for her money. She's been speaking up in class, sharing alternate views on matters of nutrition. Her teacher doesn't know what the heck Maya's talking about.

And I'm not at all surprised. Coming off of a ten day road trip, I have really had my eyes reopened to the pathetic state of food in America. I was left kind of depressed and a little pissed off. It feels like the world has forgotten what a vegetable is, as evidenced  by the little that is available that is not from an animal or some sort of processed carbohydrate. It's like the only safe place is in our homes.

Or not.

I read an interesting story this week and Sue from A Sunny Path has graciously agreed to share it with us on HGK:

"I had an interesting experience recently; I believe I came face-to-face with 'the Anti-Vegan'. I was really blind-sided by who this person is, as she is normally a very loving person. I've come to understand over the last day or two that I've had to process my experience, that the negativity exuding from this person is really a factor of ignorance or lack of information more than anything else. I guess the algebraic formula would look something like this:
Upbringing + Societal Indoctrination *(Mass Marketing Campaigns * 50 years) + Resistance to Change=Anti-Vegan

The back story on this is that I was having a light lunch at my house for a few people and I got wind that there might be an issue when this person expressed concern to my husband over what would be served at my house. I mean, A LOT of concern. I really believe she expected to show up and see a chunk of mud with sticks, stems and weeds poking out of it on her dinner plate!

I made some home-made bread, a salad with about 10 different kinds of lettuce in it plus a bit of fresh spinach from my garden, a fruit salad with mango, blueberries, kiwi and Christy Morgan's (Blissful Bites) Macro Mac 'n Cheese. My bread did not come out as well as it normally does, nor did Christy's casserole, but both were edible. The Anti-Vegan was clearly SUFFERING from this meal and it was obvious to me that it didn't really have anything to do with the actual food that was in front of her, but rather her IDEA of what the food would be.

She didn't want the salad at all, because 'she doesn't like spinach'. I did talk her into eating some of it
when I explained what a small amount of spinach was in there.

Even with that, she said, 'and you don't have any cheese???' With a whining noise made after I said no.

I had all other veggies chopped up and in separate containers so people could choose and add as they wished: mushrooms, 3 different kinds of peppers, cucumbers, celery and carrots combined in the same, she wants to know what is in with the carrots and complains about the lighting in my kitchen! <sigh>

She didn't want the fruit salad, because she doesn't eat fruit....except apples.

She didn't want to try the mac not cheese because it was made with squash and tofu, but another person (bless her) insisted she try tofu.

We didn't have real butter. (I served Earth Balance which is itself a compromise for me). Another whining noise.

The bread was 'missing something'...actually she asked if the bread was the macaroni because it was in a cast iron pan, so she thought it was a casserole....that should have been a big clue to me that she wasn't looking at what was actually in front of her, but rather some weird picture she had conjured up in her mind.

'Don't you eat ice cream' came up in conversation....'no', I replied. A tsk-ing noise, followed by 'I eat that every night.' (Inward sigh to myself as I noted her waist size that has expanded since the last time I saw her and wondered what the inside of her body would have to say about it all!---a quiet muttering from another person at the table '....whether you need it or not'....another sigh to myself).

It went on, but to her credit, she did try the food, and I think that was a huge leap for vegan-kind.

I learned a lot from this experience. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by supportive people, two extremely good friends that back me up daily, my husband who now proudly tells others of the changes I've made and two sons that are frankly inspirational, that I have forgotten what the 'real world' is like.

I've forgotten that the food I eat can actually be scary to some people and that the responsibility rests on me to bridge the gap between us.

I've forgotten that it is considered NORMAL, my guest even used that word in the form of a question about what my grand-daughter eats...'does she eat normal when she's not here?''s considered NORMAL to eat ice cream every night, slather butter, cheese, fat-laden dressings on eat food that is fresh, clean and unadulterated with these things is the oddity. To eat for health is ABnormal.

I was very upset that people couldn't come to my house and enjoy a meal...I felt disappointed and extremely hurt. I told my son later that it was a character flaw in me that I let this stuff upset me so much. He said 'being yourself is not a character flaw.' I swear if I ever get a tattoo, that'll be it.

It's true---I am who I am and I do care and want people to leave my house sated in every way. Hearing those words from him, took the sting out of everything and made it ok to be me. Lessons. Life is full of them. Philosophers. They are everywhere."

Thank you Sue, for fighting this fight.

If it wasn't for the blogging community and the few of my friends here in Cleveland that are almost Vegan, I would feel very alone in my plant-strong world. So I want to thank you all. Thank you for showing up here on a regular basis. Thank you for reading all of my thoughts. Thank you for leaving your own, whether you agree with me or not. It means more to me than you will ever know.

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