January 20, 2012

Labels

Vegan.


The image most people get of a "vegan" is a long hair, tree hugging hippie wearing a long flowy skirt (or long flowy beards for those male hippies), playing the guitar to their kids named Moondance and Sunbeam, while doing yoga and sipping on wheat-grass.

I get it.  I get that hippie connotation that comes along with the label "vegan" because that's exactly what I thought of a vegan just a few years ago!  "Oh but vegan.....that's so.....EXTREME!"

Well fast forward a few short years and now "extreme" to me isn't a whole-foods, plant-based diet. No....it's putting dead flesh and things you can't pronounce into your body, ending up on prescription pills and one day possibly having the front of your chest cut open to fix your clogged arteries.  Now THAT'S extreme to me!  Eating salad, rice, beans, kale?  Not so much.....

I remember a defining moment for me was when I had been reading about nutrition and diet and was out to dinner one night.  I ordered a huge salad with veggies, beans and chicken on it.  I ate my salad, enjoying conversation with my friends.  When I was done, I looked down at my plate and noticed that I had eaten absolutely everything on my plate, except the chicken.  I stared at my plate filled with chicken on it for a while and said to myself, "Uh....I think I'm a vegetarian."

It was so strange, so surreal.  Vegetarian?  That just didn't sounds like me at all!!

But, the more research I did, the more studies I read about, and the more new recipes I tried, it was clearer and clearer to me that I was also slowly un-incorporating dairy from my diet as well.

So there you go - I was a frickin' vegan.  But my hair didn't instantly braid itself, I didn't start wearing long, flowy skirts, and I didn't stop shaving my armpits.  I just stopped eating crap.  I just started eating food....real food.

Of course, you'll get the naysayers - the people who will make fun, or make jokes ("Here Ali, have a cheeseburger!  Hardy har har!").  No big deal.  The most important part of this transition is owning it.  Let people make fun and just be aware of where they are coming from.  Most likely, it's the people that aren't healthy at all, eating junk, and the same ones that will end up with high cholesterol, on Lipitor, and scheduling surgeries.  So let them laugh at you while they're scarfing down a cheeseburger.  You can only control you.  You are doing what's best for you.  You're going to feel so good, look so good, and be so much more healthy.....you'll be like a walking, talking "I told ya' so."

So the moral of the story is - if the label "vegan" freaks you out to the point you start hyperventilating, then screw the label!!  You're healthy.  You eat whole foods.  You eat a plant-based diet.  That's it, plain and simple. And if people don't get that, then they're simple.

Love and Kale,
Ali

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