Nutrition

Food Freedom

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Nutrition | 2 comments

 

It was years that i searched for a truly healthy, sustainable diet. And it was years that I suffered.
I came to low fat raw veganism desperate for a more peaceful relationship with food. Now it is 7.5 years later and i continue to feel grateful for its influence in my life.

 

kat-green-raw-vegan-girlSure, food is not 100% of what it takes to be healthy, but it is certainly a part of it.

If we can take care of this basic need we can alleviate significant stress and free up energy for other mental, emotional, physical and spiritual endeavors. can you imagine what you might do if food became a non-issue in your life?

I’ve put together multiple recipe books to answer the some very common questions. “Just fruits and veggies, what the heck do you eat? doesn’t that get boring?”

I’d love for others to know it is possible – to have meals that are free of guilt and free of addictive qualities; to nourish the body without compromising taste; and to have more ease with their diet.

 

 Like this post? You may also enjoy My Story or Diets That Stick.

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Dietism

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Nutrition, Thoughts | 0 comments

“Are you an omnivore/locavore/paleo/vegetarian/vegan/raw vegan?” There are a million ways we label ourselves and get labeled by others because of our food choices. It is this labeling that has lead to much of the tension that I’ve witnessed in my community.

I’m not 100% certain that this would qualify as oppression and for the record I certainly don’t want to give it as much weight as something like racism or sexism or adultism. I’m posting out of curiosity of others opinions; and also to bring light to something that has been present in my life, perhaps it’s present in yours too?

For me, this issue has a history as far back as grade school (back before being vegetarian was considered trendy), where, because of my decision to abstain form meat, I became the subject of bullying. The following are thoughts coming from my experience as a 21yr long vegetarian, 8yr vegan and 7yr raw vegan.

 

WHY “DIETISM” MIGHT FALL UNDER OPPRESSION

• There are those who are in power → Omnivores have the majority.
I have witnessed and been subject to peer pressure from those who’d like me to eat differently.

• There are stereotypes → “All vegans are frail; all vegans are judging you; all vegans are dirty hippies; all vegans are loud activists etc.”

 

BEING ON THE RECEIVING END OF OPPRESSION AS A VEGAN

• Continually being tasked with the job of educating others… “Yes you can actually get protein from plants.” This comes in response to an institutionalized oppression → the way the public is taught something as basic as the food pyramid does not leave room for alternative choices.

• Compliments are qualified… “He’s pretty strong for a vegetarian.”

• While dining with others who are making different food choices, it’s often the case that their food insecurities come up. They project that I’m judging them. I frequently hear, “I really don’t eat that much meat, just today…” Or, “…I tried being vegan once…” Or, they make a self-deprecating comment about their plate of fast food. “You are being so healthy eating that salad.”  The subtext being, “You are judging me for eating a burger, I’m gonna make you the weird one first.”  (I’m just genuinely surprised how often some reference to my diet comes up when I don’t say a word.)

• There is a pressure to represent the best version of health. I acknowledge that I may be the only vegan you meet. This pressure is the result of non-vegans continually taking almost any issue a vegan has and attributing it to their diet, a conclusion that would not have been immediately made for an omnivore. Any health problem becomes a subtle argument against veganism. “He is low in B12, it must be because he is vegan.” When in reality ~40% of Americans are B12 deficient, and not that many people are vegan.  Observations continue – “her skin doesn’t look good; he is not muscular enough etc… It’s because they aren’t eating enough meat.”  Like any minority, it’s a lot of pressure to think that you are representing all of your people. One vegan in a sea of omnivores at a backyard BBQ is likely going to feel something to this effect. Imagine you, as a human being, going to another planet. If you’re going to be all those aliens know of the human race, you might feel a pressure to be on your best behavior.

• There is embarrassment around eating at other’s houses as it often causes inconvenience for a host. (It has gotten a lot better over the years, but a lack of vegetarian choices is built into the standard North American diet.)

• Being bullied in subtle or explicit ways. Being at the butt and of jokes.

• Lack of understanding. “Yeah I know I didn’t order a veggie pizza for the group, but you can just take the pepperonis off.”

• Seeing a diet choice as one clearly defined thing that’s been solidified and isn’t leaving room for personal choices. “She couldn’t be vegan, she is wearing leather shoes.” Putting another person into a box of which of which you are designing the perameters.

 

INTERNALIZED “DIETISM”

• Many really like being a part of a group, so much so that they wholeheartedly take, vegansim for example, on as their identity. It dominates the foreground of the expression of themselves; it becomes a community they seek out as to reinforce their persona; and it becomes a lens through which they view the world. (I believe a part of what paves this path is how often one is continually receiving labels from the outside. Being put in the same box time and time again, the subject grows to see that box as their home.)

• Within one group of eaters, let’s say vegan, I’ve observed that when members of the group make choices to try something different, and reintroduce eggs for example, there are repercussions. They are often harshly judged and even shunned from the group. It is now the vegans who have learned to occupy the role of their oppressor. They act out the ways they’ve have been oppressed on others within their group, or against others in another diet minority group. Members of the group also work to reinforce stereotypes they’ve come to believe. “If all vegans are dirty hippies, let’s judge her for wearing make-up and dressing preppy.”

• I’ve witnessed over the years that diet groups have become more and more fragmented. Where it used to be just omnivore or vegetarian, it’s now broken down into pescaterian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, paleo, plant-based, whole-food focused, locavore, beegan, vegan, high carb vegan, raw vegan, low fat raw vegan, fruitarian, raw till 4pm vegan etc. Choice is great and labels can certainly be helpful in a restaurant; but when walls go up simply to give individuals something to push up against, no-one wins. Why is this important? Because it keeps our focus on the space between, so much so that we loose sight of what is there holding us together. As long as we stay divided we stay distracted. As long as we as we seek separateness, we sacrifice strength.

 

OVERALL

• I’ve seen that diet is a particularly charged subject for everyone, sometimes to the intensity of religion or politics.

• Many of the pieces around oppression – skin color, first language, ethnic background, country of origin, and biological gender stay with us our whole lives. Food does as well, and so the stories around it become quite involved and engrained. We don’t have much freedom over if we eat, the one thing we do have some freedom around is what we eat. Perhaps that’s why this choice is such a point of sensitivity.

 

TO THE READER

• In your opinion, would this fall under oppression?

• Have you experienced, let’s call it, “dietism”?

 

vegan-blogger

 

DIETISM, A RESPONSE…

[I received many comments on this post, some of which I hope to address below. One @Friend1 in particular found herself quite triggered by this comparison. A long time vegetarian herself, she has managed to make do regardless of her food environment (coming up with creative solutions like eating chips in cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!) She acknowledged that remarks have been made about her diet, but doesn’t report on it having a negative affect.]

Wow, thank you so much for sharing your input! I so value friends I can talk openly with and who can be fellow travelers on my thought explorations such as this one.

I totally hear you @Friend1, and appreciate your input. I can see how it wouldn’t qualify as oppression in the eyes of some, that’s why I posed it as a question (an invitation for discussion really), rather than a fact.

I by no means believe that even the possibility of the existence of dietism holds close to the same weight as something like racism or sexism. My preface was an attempt to be clear on that and to be sensitive & respectful to these more severe forms of oppression. I apologize if my emphasis on the space between was not strong enough.
Oppression is certainly an edgy topic and one that i only recently started to investigate more thoroughly. A curiosity sparked in me by a class I’m taking, in which we examined its definition. I wanted to extract the components of it and see where else it may be applicable in an effort to expose some possibly hidden ways we as humans are holding each other back – to bring awareness to some of the barriers that are in the way of a truly loving connection between groups of difference.

One definition that was shared: “oppression = prejudice + power”. Other definitions I’ve read around the internet are pretty much variations of: “the exercise of power in a cruel manner.”

What I want to bring attention to firstly is that something as seemingly subtle as teasing might be received as cruel. Secondly, that any group who holds the majority holds a type of power – a privilege worth acknowledging. With a sense of being among the majority one feels safe and therefore free to act in a provocative manor with confidence of no repercussion. The members of this group are also not challenged to explore their own naiveness because they all share the same blindspots. They unconsciously work to reinforce the established perspective, a natural mechanism of group self-preservation.

I commend the creativity of your Thanksgiving “salsa” @Friend1 😉 I’m glad to hear you didn’t find the remarks bothersome. Think though, that there were remarks/laughing in the first place, says something. That there is a convention in which the teasing of a minority is accepted, to me, that would qualify as oppression on a small-scale. I recognize that whether a remark is considered cruel is subjective. I have, in my circles heard and read of more overt cruelty directed at someone because of their food choices, perhaps this has not been a part of your world.

I can relate though with not feeling directly affected by something others feel as an oppressive force. for instance, I understand the concepts of sexism and see others who are quite affected by it. I however, have never personally felt the target of overt sexism, definitely not in a way where I have felt oppressed or endured a powerful suffering. However, just because I haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the world.

I also don’t believe acts of oppression need to be dramatic to have an affect. I see the way men are suppressed and it can be quite subtle – in the form of a passive comment, “suck it up, be a man.” We all know what that means. It embeds stoicism into the definition of gender. The translation: “because you have a penis, if you cry, you wont be accepted.” It seems like a harmless comment, but what is the affect? > Half of our population surprising their emotions. Their resentment, anger, insecurity, confusion, build until it spills over into other relationships. The oppressed man then becomes the oppressor and acts out against his child; against females; against other races etc. He is desperate to regain power and unconsciously finds it at the expense of others. The cycle perpetuates.

I acknowledge my privilege as a white, North American, working class, educated, “religionless”, english-speaking, female and see how that has both afforded me opportunity and also kept me naive. This is likely why I was more sensitive to aforementioned expressions of dietism – because i was sheltered from more severe forms of oppression. Someone who had to endure the cruelty of unprovoked physical abuse, unwarranted arrests, denial/lack of government assistance for instance, would not pick up a rude comment about their hummus, as even a blimp on their radar.

My post was never about trivializing these atrocities. Rather, it was to highlight how the relative weight of dietism, though may be small, is not inconsequential.

The ways we interact with each other through micro-aggressions (like teasing and making uneducated comments) may seem insignificant, but, like seeds planted, if left unattended, they’ll grow; like one straw after another, eventually they’ll break through the camel’s back. And it is the small size, the subtleness of these aggressions, that are what make them so dangerous. They aren’t seen as aggressive enough to warrant attention and so they continue.

I really liked what you said @Friend2, “tolerating being ignored/discredited on one level gives people the room for ignorance to grow, because their ignorance is never questioned. … and it then grows to the proportions mentioned in your first paragraph.”
When looking at the atrocious ways humans have demonstrated oppression through racism and sexism for example, we can ask, where did this stem from? – It came from lack of awareness and lack of education. These are the same origins I am proposing exist at the root of dietism. My initial inquiry points to the next question: What if we could uncover the areas we still remain unaware and uneducated as a population and address them? How much future suffering might be alleviated? What if we could’ve made this possible before genocide and slavery came to be?  Why should an opinion or exchange have to escalate to war to be addressed?

My hope is that by being overly sensitive we can nip more potential violence in the bud.

I’m sorry @Friend1 that you are saddened by this whole comparison. my goal was to illuminate blind spots, not to cast a shadow over the suffering of another.

I so appreciate your participation and for helping me better understand this complex topic. It sounds like what we can all connect on, is that what we would like is to see is a world more free from cruelty. I think that comes with maintaining an open mind and continuing an open dialogue. So, thank you for being a part of that dialogue.

 

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Diets that Stick

Posted by on Mar 26, 2016 in Nutrition | 0 comments

low-fat-raw-vegan-recipe

I love that eating healthy doesn’t have to be a compromise! The number one most important thing to me with whatever diet one chooses is sustainability – for the planet, for the animals and for oneself. Sure many diets “work” for a period of time, but at some point there is a falling off of the wagon – often because there is lack of enjoyment in the designated meals or because one has become undernourished and is simply hungry! What this reveals is evidence of a diet that is unsustainable.

With the low fat raw vegan approach I never feel as though I’m missing out. I eat to my mouth and body’s content and always feel satisfied. To me, that is the only model of sustainability.

vegan-girl

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