Summer vacation is here. My goals: Read a lot. Write even more. Drink good beer, and more importantly, starting eating real food again.
My diet has been a lot of things…
I’ve tried to eat as little as possible for as long as possible.
I’ve been vegetarian. I’ve been vegan. I’ve done these things well, and I’ve done them poorly–relying on processed fake foods with really no better impact on the environment or my body than the original.
I’ve given up all rules & ate what I felt my body needed. Turned out my body needed steak tartare & a lot of bread. Oh, the gluttony of knowing you’ll only be in France for a year & gorging yourself on cheese & baguette… I think I’m still carrying that year around my midsection.
I’ve been in grad school. Enough said.
And it’s all led me here, to the end of the longest month of my life. Through a time when I ate shameful amounts of frozen, processed food. Food that left me tired, bloated, sad & broke. Food that didn’t feed anything. It didn’t feed my body well; it didn’t nourish my spirit; it sure didn’t do anything positive for the environment. We were still shopping at the co-op; we were going to the farmers’ market. But I was mostly eating… well, anything for free from anywhere. Coffee cake at work. Pizza anywhere on campus that would pass it out for free.
It’s led me here, to two main realizations: (1) I hate rules, especially when it comes to food. Because your meal should never make you feel like a failure. (2) I feel a lot better when I’m eating wholesome, fresh foods. It’s that simple. Combine those two things and you get Summer 2013: The Vegan Adventure.
This is not about rules. We’re not going strictly vegan. There will always be some cheese. And eggs. And I will not feel bad about it.
This is very much about living well & feeling whole again. Through all of my different diet labels, I’ve been trying to find the best way to eat my ethics. That’s been no meat; it’s been meat only when I knew the way in which it lived–and died. Now, it’s not really meat unless I really want it, can afford it & could look at the farm feeling confident in my choice to eat its product. It’s been only organic, though that diet has it’s own problems and still let me eat a lot of boxed mac & cheese.
This, the vegan adventure, is applying all the things I feel about food. Putting our ethics &
morels morals to work for three months to reform the habits lost over graduate school. It’s activity to calm the body, literature to educate it & whole foods to nourish it. It’s more varied grains & more seasonal vegetables. It’s the occasional block of cheese.
It’s transitioning from spending on all butter-and-egg baking to some more wholesome, nutritious goodies filled with nuts, dates & coconut milk–learning to use healthy ingredients in new ways without spending more money. (While balancing the fact that these are not local goods…) It’s no boxes of pre-made goods & no frozen, fake “meats.”
It’s living more seasonally, but also within our modest means. We’re taking time to prepare food, sit down, & eat it. We don’t all always have this luxury, but we can learn how to make it work. How many wholesome casseroles or stews can you whip together in a few Sunday afternoon hours? A lot. How much does it save when you stop buying lunch out at work? Loads.
It’s remembering that seasonal eating & time to cook isn’t a sacrifice. It’s an incredible blessing, one that few people outside of the Midwestern United States can really understand. The variety of food that this land will bring us is–well, it just doesn’t even seem fair.
So, this summer we’re getting back to our dietary roots & weeding out the extra habits we’ve gotten into. (Sorry–garden puns are just too easy.) We’re gathering inspiration on this Vegan Adventure Pinterest board, but this isn’t all food. We’re hoping to read & talk about some great, food-focused books as well; you can find those on the Books to Live By board. We’re also hoping to get back in shape, exercising & spending more time outside. So, what does this all mean?
1. I’ve been feeling the impact of a less-than-wholesome diet. Extrapolate that out to my lifetime, then extrapolate that to millions of American lifetimes and you get this: a massive obesity epidemic. We’re fighting back, cutting out the unneeded purchases & empty calories. We’re making each meal, each snack, each ingredient count.
2. We’ve been spending more at the grocery than is necessary. We need to trim spending, especially through the more, umm, austere summer months. Relying on whole foods is hands down the best way to do this: more filling ingredients, often with less packaging. That means more of each dollar spent on the actual food than on the extra stuff.
3. This should be fun. There are so many great ways to make healthy, wholesome meals. So many fun ways to twist recipes. So many crazy-looking vegetables that grow in the coming warm months. It’s about rejoicing in a seasonal harvest, getting better about food preservation & reducing waste.
4. It’s also about having the diet be a part of a lifestyle, from increased physical activity to a stronger sense of place. So let’s do this: let’s build the next phase of our life here, this summer. Let’s stop going through diet phases that only touch on part of what we believe. Let’s leave those frozen pizzas behind & embrace everything we love about food. Finally. Once & for all. So that the adventure doesn’t stop when school starts back up. This is just the beginning…