In 2014, big things happened for me as a result of little tiny bits of change every day: I became a runner and I committed to a plant-based diet. These have been the two most significant positive changes I have made in my life (well, maybe close behind getting my faithful companion, Zipper – “the best decision I never made”).
Growing up, my parents were both superb in the kitchen and we ate healthfully, but from puberty I had an insatiable carb and sugar addiction that I now know was the reason I was always tired (and slightly overweight). I also loved steak, chicken, and of course, bacon and cheese. I also always loved animals and we had dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and I think even some birds growing up, but I refused to acknowledge the cruelly drastic differences between the ways we treat animals we have as pets, and those we eat. I haven’t watched any of the slaughterhouse/factory farm documentaries (like Earthlings), mainly because I am so sensitive – but the little I have seen, I just cannot un-see. I’ve learned that I am an empath and it is extremely distressing for me to watch these things. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and cried A LOT about it. I think that people should watch some of these films so they can really understand what happens to get food in pretty packages in the grocery store. As an alternative to the films, a couple great websites that have informative articles that I read are: Free from Harm and A Well Fed World. A couple of concepts that articulate the view I’ve come to hold:
- “If we could live happy, healthy lives, without causing unnecessary harm, why wouldn’t we?” This is basically the the motto of Edgar’s Mission, an australian farm sanctuary and also of Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary. Follow these excellent organizations for daily heartwarming photos and stories of rescued farm animals.
- “When something is so horrible that we can’t stand to look at it, perhaps we shouldn’t be tolerating it!” I’ve seen this phrase used widely in the advocacy that I follow.
These are pretty self explanatory, but think these quotes boil down the concept that we just cannot, as common inhabitants of the earth, dissociate our choices with the suffering of other sentient creatures.
Naturally, at a certain point, eating animal products lost its appeal to me. I distinctly remember one day when I took an open package of bacon out of the fridge and placed the strips in the frying pan – I felt nauseous and threw it in the trash. I can honestly say I don’t miss it, and do not intend to ever go back. Some days I am completely crushed by the weight of it all, and think of all of the animals who are suffering, but other days I have hope that we can all treat each other and animals with compassion.
Simultaneous to my gradual diet changes, my energy increased noticeably. I still sleep a good, hard 8-9 hrs a night and I LOVE laying on the couch, but I don’t feel like I want to take a nap under my desk after lunch, and most days I don’t have that mid-afternoon slump. So, in the Spring of 2014, after my sister ran a trail marathon and my brother competed in a 40+ mile randonne race in the Rockies, I knew I had to get my %$#& together. I signed up for a 15K, run in conjunction with the Sugarloaf Marathon and completed the race with a respectable time.
My first training “run” was a 2 mile jog around the neighborhood that took me almost a half hour, and I just slowly built up from there. I always despised running, but realize now that I am just a bit slower than everyone else. The reason why it never “stuck” on previous attempts was that I would try to go too fast and get out of breath, my calves would cramp, I would get frustrated and quit. I didn’t know it then but my diet was also dragging me down. In the Fall of 2014, I ran a half marathon the day before my 37th birthday, ran another one in FL in March 2015, again in Maine in the fall of 2015 and in FL in Feb 2016. Now, I consider myself in perpetual half-marathon training. I also joined a gym in Nov 2014 (I was forever I gym hater) and started strength training.
In very a positive way, this shift away from animal products, and into fitness, blew the doors open to a whole new healthy lifestyle that I basically can’t shut up about. There are SO MANY incredible, inspiring people doing wonderful things for animals and the earth, cooking and sharing amazingly creative plant based meals, and accomplishing some crazy feats of human endurance (fueled only by plants) – the sources of inspiration are endless! Just get on the Google machine! As David Carter (a.k.a. The 300 Pound Vegan) says: “Being vegan is not only the most efficient way to be full body strong, its also the most humane. Everybody wins.” I LOVE that!
The primary reasons I started the blog (and my Twitter and Instagram feeds) are to show people how easy it is to create healthy and satisfying vegan meals, to inspire people to get outside and set some fitness goals, and to help spread the word about compassionate choices. Check out my other pages (in the header of the home page) for links to my favorite recipe, athletic and animal sites. I’m not a “perfect” vegan (shhhhh, don’t tell the vegan police!), but every day I have choices, and when presented with these choices, I choose with compassion. I am also pragmatic and EXTREMELY thrifty (I fix holes in my socks for Pete’s sake) and I am aiming for minimalism. So, I still own (and use and wear) my wool, leather and down, and I will until these items fall apart and are unusable; then I will search for sustainable, compassionate alternatives.
I hope you enjoy these posts. Have a beautiful day!