Food Enlightenment to Empowerment
So, I decided to go vegan for 2 weeks, which of course was fueled after watching popular Netflix documentaries such as What the Health, Forks over Knives, and Food Inc. I suspect you have one of two reactions upon reading this: 1. You are a vegan who is gleaming with pride or 2. You are a meat-lover and think I have been brain washed. Well, let’s rewind back in time to where my relationship with food all started so you can gain a deeper understanding of why I decided to try it and what I will keep with me moving forward.
Growing up in a Japanese-American household, we ate a fusion of Japanese and American foods. This included anything ranging from steak and potatoes to shabu shabu. Up until two weeks ago, I ate almost everything because that’s what I was raised on. I know this sounds extremely weird, but I didn’t know how to eat chicken and steak. As a matter of fact, I would chew the meat until it was dry and lacked flavor and then spit it out into a napkin. I know, super gross. Since all I wanted to eat was fruits and vegetables, my parents got worried and immediately saw me as being a picky kid. Of course, this didn’t fly with my parents since they wanted to instill the importance of not wasting food and not being picky. I’m not sure how long it took, but eventually I started to include more animal protein into my diet and actually enjoy it. Our typically family dinners would consist of protein like fish, steak, or chicken with rice and veggies. In school, I remember learning about the food pyramid and the importance of a “balanced diet” consisting of whole grains, fruits and veggies, meat protein, dairy, and only a little bit of fats, oils and sweets. Based off my diet and active lifestyle playing sports such as basketball and volleyball, I always thought I was healthy. However, all the signs showed otherwise. I always had stomach problems and would get sick at least once a year. I couldn’t understand why. Even after becoming a yoga teacher, I thought I would be healthier and happier because of it. Yet, the truth is that I still continued to have stomach issues and last year I got sick six times. I even went to the hospital because my stomach pains were so bad. I got a series of blood tests, did an ultra sound, took several different kinds of medications, got a colonoscopy and endoscopy, and saw an allergist. Yet, after all of that, the doctors couldn’t give me answers.
Upon, seeing the Netflix documentaries, I was stunned. There were so many things I didn’t know about the food industry, including regulations, funding, animal cruelty, propaganda, and health issues brought on by eating meat. I couldn’t believe that I had gone 25 years eating the way I was. I always thought eating in moderation was key, but moderation nonetheless was still causing me stomach pains, migraines, lack of energy, and lack of immunity. I decided to commit two weeks to going completely vegan.
Flash forward to today, my digestion has improved and I feel invigorated and more energized than before. Although the first two days of my diet change where the hardest, I stayed the course and was dedicated to making the switch. I was surprised to find that even in Southern California, it was still challenging to find vegan food choices when eating out at local restaurants. I love trying new places and having the ability to choose from wide menu options, but it was a bit disheartening to be so limited. It did however save me money in the long run because I didn’t eat out as much. After the first two weeks, I tried adding cheese back into my diet because let’s be honest, I missed it. However, I immediately regretted it after feeling bloated and groggy.
I can’t promise that I will be a true vegan forever, nor should I attach myself to such things at this time. However, I can say that through this enlightening experience I have realized that I hold the power to make my own choices on the food I eat to make a better impact on my life and my environment. Most importantly, I have grown as a human being and hope to continue moving forward with the knowledge I have gained in a positive manner.
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Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.