It is always such a struggle to balance between eating healthy and eating cheap. When I started to shift my focus on saving money I found myself drifting to inexpensive food. Typically that would mean food I could get a good deal on – fast food. It is easy to eat out for under $5 but that usually means 2 tacos or a hamburger from Taco Bell or McDonalds. And we all know – that is not real food. BUT. It is cheap! I was getting frustrated as I was trying to figure out how to purchase enough groceries for the week and still offer some sort of variety in the meals. We were eating the same thing every day because when you buy food for 2 people, the quantity is enough to supply us for a full week. Boring. And I would usually end up throwing a ton of stuff out. Such waste.
I recently made the decision to change my diet to one that is plant-based. This meaning that I am cutting out all animal proteins. (no dairy, eggs, meat, etc.) I did this several years ago and I found that my body reacted well to the change. After a year, I drifted back to a more main-stream way of eating as I was struggling to maintain the lifestyle while traveling. I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches way too often and a wide array of vegetables was hard to find in the dead of winter in the northern states. And so I fell back into what was easy. I always said that the reason I was “vegan” was that it felt better in my body, which was why I think it was easy to leave the diet after awhile.
As a yoga teacher I try to live by the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (a sage from about 400 CE). Part of the Sutras describes the 8 Limbs of Yoga. The first being the Yamas. (The 3rd Sutra is Āsana, which is what most westerners are typically familiar with – the actual yoga poses themselves). The Yamas outline the ethical rules of yoga, or moral guidelines. The first of the Yamas is Ahimsā. Ahimasā translates into non-violence or non-harming of all living beings. It has always been easy for me to not harm or want to harm other humans. (I sometimes fail when I am driving in traffic.) And it has also been easy for me to have compassion for all living things. But it has been a struggle to translate that into what I am actually consuming. It is much simpler for me to play ignorant to the things that I was eating. But it has grown harder and harder for me to convince myself that it is okay to eat animals and not think about what they go through in order to be that piece of meat on my plate.
I realize that this is not going to be a popular concept for a lot of people that may be reading this blog. I want to make it very clear that I am not judging anyone for their choices, I am simply offering my story and how I arrived at this decision.
About 2 weeks ago I had a mini meltdown on a trip out to Arizona to see my sister and mom. We were flying over Chino and had stopped for fuel and as I looked down from the plane, I saw dirt pasture next to dirt pasture for miles and miles. And in these dirt fields were hundreds and hundreds of cows packed together, trying to find shade under small, metal covers. It was over 110 degrees that day. And I started to cry. I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. It was absolutely breaking my heart. I was having the same feeling when I would watch TV and the commercial for all the abused animals in the world came on, asking for donations. And in the background, Sarah McLaughlin was singing “In the arms of the angels…” Ugh. I would turn the channel as soon as I could because I could not bear to see those poor shaking puppies, cowering in the corner of their cage. I couldn’t change the channel on this. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
And so I made a choice. A choice that is important to me and my values. And my health. And in all honesty, a lot gentler on my pocketbook. It is so much cheaper to buy plant based products. Fresh greens are enormously cheaper than fresh meat. And if I don’t use them, I feel a little less guilty throwing them into the compost.
Now, I will say that I went a little crazy on the groceries this week. A friend recommended a great little app that has awesome plant-based recipes and I have decided to up my cooking game. So I went out and spent over $100 in new spices and some core staples for my pantry.
And so I begin this new way of fueling my body and my soul. In just the last week I have new clarity. Like a soft fog has lifted from my body. I feel better about my choices and like I can rest a little easier. All I can do is change me. Make me and my life, my focus. Live a life I find truth and value in. And live consciously.
I want to make it clear that I truly believe that everyone has a choice in how they live their life. I know many people who are farmers who have raised their own food and find a reverence in the circle of life. Those who honor the animal and what they provide for sustenance. I respect that way of life and those choices. I am simply sharing what my choices are and how I came to those decisions. I really want to thank the friends I have whom are plant-based or vegan and all the info they have provided me in the start of this journey. I love the support and all the yummy recipes.