Saturday, February 14, 2009

Deciding What Works Best for You, but Respecting The Choices of Others

Tod and I making Christmas Breakfast for Family
(I made vegan (egg and milkless) pancakes that everyone liked)

The following is a posting I did for a discussion in my Nutrition class. The question was related to what is a better choice: A Plant Based diet or an Animal- based diet, and would I ever choose a vegetarian diet. I held back a lot of my views about the treatment of animals, but tried to answer the question in a way that addressed a lot of the classmates who had posted before me. I was very frustrated in reading a lot of their responses, because they were very negative about vegetarians and so much of what they wrote to me seemed ignorant. Instead of getting upset though it taught me that we all need to be careful when we are making statements about topics we do not know a lot about. It can be so easy to form an opinion without having all the facts, but I think that it only limits us in our ability to explore and learn new things if we just always believe everything we are told. We should question where our information is coming from- could there be a better way to do what we have always just done? For some that might be a scary question to answer- it may just take us out of our comfort zone- but if it means a better way to live then why wouldn't we want to explore new options? So with all that being said, please know that I am in no way perfect when it comes to making the best choices for a balanced healthy diet- I have my days and binges just like everyone else- but I think it stands to be noted that I have not given up even when it does get a little bit tough. Do the best you can, that is all we ever need to really try to do.  

Stellar Nutrition starts with beautiful curiosity, a wanting that comes from within to do something good for yourself. Live, Learn, Discover and Enjoy your Life Deliciously!

I have a really hard time with putting myself or other people into a dietary label or category based on what we eat. There are so many ways to achieve a well-balanced diet and it is always going to be a personal opinion on what is the best way to survive nutritionally. As some of you have mentioned, the term flexitarian is probably an adjective that would most easily describe what most people strive for in regards to their diets. That being said, and to answer the discussion question: In my opinion a Plant- Centered diet is more healthful and compassionate than an animal-centered diet. The essential nutrients that we must consume in order to be healthy- this includes all amino acids can be obtained from a diet rich in plants, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.... The only reason I can imagine that anyone would believe that eating this way (vegetarian) would be harder is because we have been led to believe the only way we can get certain nutrients is by concentrating on certain products or choosing foods that have been enriched with vitamins and minerals, known as processed foods. Fresh meat is just as processed as a box of Mac and cheese, when you consider all that went into raising that animal- including antibiotics, and a regimented diet for that animal- enriched with nutrients in order to be passed on to the humans that eat it.
I can understand how it would seem impossible to eliminate certain staples like animal products and byproducts from your diet just to convert to a vegetarian lifestyle. When someone does not have the knowledge behind making a significant change- especially in their dietary intake- I think there is a lot more reason for concern and their health. Any time you make a change- your body, your cells are affected in a way that they must adjust to receiving new energy sources- it is much like riding a bike for the first time- where you are training your body to do something new and different. It is tough at first but after much practice it becomes second nature, easy, and in regard to choosing to eat a plant-based diet you are able to sustain yourself just the same without feeling like you are lacking or deficient. It is so important to have researched your new choice and know what will help you be successful though.
When it comes to nutritional information, please be weary of the source. It makes sense that the dairy and meat industry, even the United Soybean Board would be touting their products are the best way to get protein- its their business to sell their product. Who's best interests do you think they have in mind- as long as their product sells? Yes, everything in moderation is still the key here no matter what dietary label you assume to live under.

A whole foods, mostly raw vegetarian diet is the one that I choose, and I could go on for hours why I have made this choice, but mostly it comes down to the fact that I feel the healthiest and happiest in this type of lifestyle. I have also spent a lot of time researching, wading through all types of information, recipes and podcasts. I know that this isn't always ideal for everyone, and I believe that I am successful in this diet mostly because it is important to me to know the sources of my foods and to have a well balanced diet. I have a family to support nutritionally, and so I want to make sure I am giving them the best start possible. We are all thriving, and my kids love the fact that our fast food comes from the supermarket, or right off the tree- just as easily as going through a drive thru at Burger KIng. It just takes a little creativity and planning ahead sometimes, but our bodies are accustomed to this way of eating and we enjoy it!